2016 Hightower Cellars, Red Mountain Reserve, $55
Winery info: Founded in 1997 in Woodinville by Tim and Kelly Hightower with the simple winemaking philosophy: “Get the best grapes and don’t screw them up.” They moved to Benton City in 2002 when they had an opportunity to purchase a 15-acre site on Yakima’s coveted Red Mountain. Today they farm ten acres planted to Bordeaux varietals. Their aim is to produce wines with character that let the powerful, concentrated fruit from the Red Mountain terroir speak for itself.
Winemaker: Tim and Kelly oversee every step of the winemaking process, from vineyard supervision and harvesting to fermentation and bottling.
Grapes: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Malbec, 12% Cabernet Franc. Aged in 92% new oak, a mix of French, American, and European.
Vineyard source: 50% each from their Hightower Estate Vineyard and E&E Shaw Vineyard, both in the Red Mountain AVA.
Flavor profile: Dark in color and medium-bodied, with elegant flavors of blackcurrants, earth, and spice, underpinned by the bold, but balanced tannins from the Red Mountain fruit. This is an ageworthy wine, with great structure, texture, and complexity.
Production/Availability: 169 cases produced. This vintage should be in decent supply for a while.
Drinkability: Best from 2023 to 2025. We’d recommend decanting first if you want to enjoy it sooner.
Food Pairing: They suggest pork shoulder braised with dried chilies (from a recipe in Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food). Or you could pair it with braised short ribs with polenta and chanterelles.
2017 RJ Wines, Moxie, Yakima Valley Syrah, $29.75
Winery info: Founded by Rachel Joy who, when working in biotech in Boston, discovered in wine, a beverage “that is art and science all rolled into one.” She relocated to Napa and in the ensuing years worked alongside many talented winemakers around the globe. Rachel wants to stay small so that she can handcraft small lots of wine, paying attention to every detail. She was definitely under our radar until she brought this wine by for us to try recently and we were thoroughly impressed.
Winemaker: Rachel Joy
Grapes: 100% Syrah, clone 174
Vineyard source: Boushey, in the Yakima Valley, one of the state’s most sought-after vineyards.
Flavor profile: A soft, supple, very elegant Syrah, with aromas of brambly blackberry and underlying notes of cloves and spice. The tannins are smooth and delicate, perfectly supporting the savory flavors of dried red fruit and black pepper. Very inviting and satisfying.
Production/Availability: 137 cases made. The wine is still in fairly good supply.
Drinkability: Delicious now or through 2025.
Food Pairing: Rachel says she designed this wine to be food friendly, pairing well with anything from barbecued grilled meats and fish to winter comfort foods such as rich braised dishes or stewed meats.