2011 Côte Bonneville, Carriage House, $51
Winery info: Hugh and Kathy Shiels bought land in the Yakima Valley in 1991 and soon began tearing out the original orchard to plant classic grape varietals. Recognizing the potential of the site, they founded Côte Bonneville as an estate winery in 2001 to produce classically styled wines that express the unique terroir and microclimates of what is now DuBrul Vineyard.
Winemaker: The Shiels’ daughter, Kerry, who trained at U.C. Davis and worked at a number of wineries as well as alongside their previous winemaker and pioneering Washington viticulturist, Stan Clarke.
Grapes: Predominantly Cab Sauv and Merlot, with about 10% Cab Franc.
Vineyard source: DuBrul Vineyard is one of the most impressive vineyard sites in Washington, towering 1375 feet over the Yakima Valley. It has a blend of exposed basalt rock mixed with sedimentary soils and volcanic ash. Wines sourced from DuBrul tend to retain excellent acidity while producing intense, powerful wines. The fruit is much sought after, and is sold to a very limited number of wineries.
Flavor profile: From the cool 2011 vintage, this wine already has some nice age on it, but its beautiful elegance and texture will continue to develop. The cool vintage emphasizes the savory side of the wine, with flavors of dark berries, fresh herbs, and loamy earth. Another stunning Carriage House!
Production/Availability: The distributor still has a bit left but this vintage won’t be around much longer.
Drinkability: Give it two or three years, then enjoy anytime up to 2025.
Food Pairing: A great wine for juicy steaks (perhaps with a shallot demi-glaze), roasts, or pork chops.
2015 àMaurice Cellars, Gamache Vineyard Malbec, $38
Winery info: Established in 2004 by Tom and Kathleen Schafer who continue to own and operate the winery today. It is situated on 20 acres in the Blue Mountain foothills of Walla Walla and is named in honor of Tom’s father, Maurice, known as a “gentleman, guiding light, and civic leader.”
Winemaker: Anna Schafer who worked several vintages with Paul Hobbs in Argentina and has been involved in every aspect of the vineyard and winery since the beginning. Not surprisingly, she is highly regarded for her stunning Malbecs, which helped put her family winery on the map.
Grapes: 100% Malbec. Aged in 100% French oak (40% new) for 23 months.
Vineyard source: Gamache Vineyard, located on a warm, south-facing slope at around 900 feet elevation on the Wahluke Slope. Planted on sandy loam soil with areas of calcareous rock deposits.
Flavor profile: 2015 was a record warm vintage in Washington, with a very early harvest. The heat tended to produce richer wines with more density and this one is medium-bodied, with aromas of dark fruit and cassis and rich flavors of currants and dark chocolate.
Production/Availability: 321 cases. The winery is nearing the end of this vintage.
Drinkability: Delicious now, or over the next three to five years.
Food Pairing: A nice juicy steak, braised lamb, or blue cheese burgers. Or with roasted vegetables with black beans.