2016 J. Bookwalter Winery, Protagonist Cabernet Sauvignon, $49.75
Winery info: Before founding his eponymous winery in 1982, Jerry Bookwalter helped manage the planting of three top Washington vineyards, Sagemoor, Bacchus, and Dionysus. He also became the vineyard manager of Conner Lee Vineyard, which remains the largest source of fruit for Bookwalter wines. In 1997, after a career in in business, Jerry’s son John returned to the winery and set about making sweeping changes to improve and expand the winery. It continues to be a highly regarded winery in Washington.
Winemaker: Caleb Foster (co-founder of Buty Winery) took over as winemaker in 2014
Grapes: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, and 2% Cabernet Franc from blocks planted in 1987, 1988, and 1991. Aged 20 months in 75% new French puncheons and 25% in used French oak barrels.
Vineyard source: Connor Lee Vineyard
Flavor profile: The winery notes that 2016 was possibly the finest vintage yet for the winery. This Cab is powerful, yet graceful, with aromas of dark fruit and roasted coffee, and rich, ripe black fruit flavors, with soft, silky tannins. The older, low-yielding vines provide excellent structure and minerality.
Availability: They produced 3,680 six-pack cases. It is in decent supply for the time being.
Drinkability: Enjoy now through 2025.
Food Pairing: Hearty beef dishes, or perhaps a juicy wagyu burger.
2017 DeLille Cellars, Doyenne, $45
Winery info: DeLille was founded in 1992 in Woodinville, by Charles and Greg Lill, Jay Soloff, and Chris Upchurch. They were one of the first Washington wineries to focus on producing Bordeaux-style blends and they quickly gained a stellar reputation for their impeccably made wines. Over the years they have received top accolades for their wines from most major wine writers and publications.
Winemaker: Jason Gorski recently took over from founding winemaker Chris Upchurch as director of winemaking and viticulture. Nick Bernstein is assistant winemaker.
Grapes: 60% Syrah and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 20 months in 100% French oak (40% new).
Vineyard source: 35% Boushey, 24% Grand Ciel, 15% Red Willow, 13% Shaw, 12% Upchurch, and 2% Stonetree vineyards.
Flavor profile: This rich, dark wine opens with inviting aromas of black currant, violets, and herbs that lead to flavors of blue and red fruit and a hint of toasty oak. It is medium- to full-bodied, with plush tannins, layered texture, and balanced minerality.
Availability: This vintage was just recently released so it should be available for a while.
Drinkability: Very accessible now, or up to ten years from vintage.
Food Pairing: The winery has a recipe for Parma prosciutto and tasso ham quesadilla on their website to pair with the Doyenne as well as one for pork belly tacos.