2016 Sleight of Hand Cellars, Psychedelic Syrah, $60
Winery info: Sleight of Hand Cellars was founded in 2007 by Trey Busch, former winemaker at Basel Cellars, along with Jerry and Sandy Solomon. Their goal, they say, is to produce world-class wines “while having the most fun that is legally possible.” They have been lauded as part of the next generation of up and coming Washington wineries, and were called one of the “Next Cult Wineries” by Seattle Magazine. They produce their wines at their southern Walla Walla winery from a combination of estate-grown fruit as well as fruit from other top vineyard sites in the state.
Winemaker: Trey Busch, with Jerry Solomon and Keith Johnson
Grapes: 100% Syrah, aged 25% in new French oak.
Vineyard source: Their estate, Stoney Vine Vineyard in the Rocks District of Milton Freewater, one of the most distinctive AVAs in the country. Planted on an ancient riverbed with old basalt-based cobblestone soil, it is known for producing Syrah with a signature minerality and touch of savory funk.
Flavor profile: Trey produces wines that are richly textured and full bodied yet have ample elegance and finesse. This Syrah has expressive flavors of dark fruit, black licorice, and olive tapenade, with a touch of herbs and the minerally meatiness characteristic of Rocks wines.
Availability: 650 cases made. There are about 40 cases left, and they are going quickly.
Drinkability: Drinking well now, or you could enjoy it over the next three to five years.
Food Pairing: Savory foods, such as roast chicken, herb-crusted lamb, or wild mushroom risotto.
2016 Powers, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Champoux Vineyard, $29.75
Winery info: Founded by Bill Powers, who planted his estate Badger Mountain Vineyard in 1982. Today, Powers is part owner of the highly acclaimed Champoux Vineyard (along with Quilceda Creek, Woodward Canyon, and Andrew Will). From the beginning the winery’s goal has been to craft concentrated, structured, age-worthy wines with depth, complexity, and balance, that showcase Washington’s diverse terroirs and distinctive vineyards.
Winemaker: Jose Mendoza has been head winemaker since 2011.
Grapes: 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% each Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec. Aged 32 months in 55% new French oak and the rest in second-fill and neutral French oak.
Vineyard source: All from Champoux Vineyard, originally planted in 1972 in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. The old vine Champoux fruit produces some of the best Cabernet Sauvignons in the state.
Flavor profile: Rich, layered, and complex, with aromas and flavors of dark fruit, a touch of spice, and a hint of dusty cocoa. It is a powerful, yet elegant Cab, typical of Champoux fruit, with hints of earth and spice and soft, dusty tannins.
Availability: 1190 cases produced. The distributor still has a fair amount left.
Drinkability: Enjoy now or up to around 2025.
Food Pairing: Beef, venison, or other hearty fare.