2018 Elephant 7, River Rock Vineyard Syrah, $45
Winery info: Elephant 7 is a small winery in Walla Walla founded in 2014 by Joshua and Cheryl West, who previously worked at Figgins, Cadaretta, and Dusted Valley in Walla Walla, as well as at wineries in New Zealand. The winery name was inspired by a group of musicians known as “Elephant 6,” who dedicated themselves to making meaningful, independent music, regardless of any commercial success. Elephant 7’s goal is to make genuine, honest wines that reflect a distinct sense of place, with a focus on Rhône varietals, sourced from premium vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley.
Winemaker: Joshua West
Grapes: 100% Syrah, aged 17 months in French oak, about 25% new. They point out, “No chemicals, enzymes, adjuncts, or other nonsense has been added to this wine.”
Vineyard Source: River Rock Vineyard in the heart of the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. Its ancient riverbed cobblestone soil produces wines with a signature minerality and touch of inviting funk.
Flavor profile: Silky and velvety in texture, with savory, earthy notes of blackberry, fig, and forest floor. The Rocks District fruit imparts its characteristic hints of roasted meat, umami, and wet stone. It has great minerality and a long, juicy finish.
Availability: 291 cases produced. The distributor has a small amount left.
Drinkability: The winery suggests decanting, then enjoying anytime over the next ten years.
Food Pairing: You could pair this wine with pork roast (with anchovies), coq au vin, or cassoulet.
2016 Hedges Family Estate, Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, $39.75
Winery info: Hedges was founded by Richland, Washington native Tom Hedges and his wife, Anne-Marie Liégeois, originally from Champagne. In 1989 they purchased 50 acres on Red Mountain in the Yakima Valley and began planting it to Bordeaux varietals. They were instrumental in getting official AVA status for this now-coveted wine region, which was awarded in 2001. To them, wine is all about place, in this case, Red Mountain.
Winemaker: Sarah Hedges Goedhart
Grapes: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, with 14% Merlot, 5% Syrah, 4% Cab Franc, and 1% Malbec. Aged 18 months in 30% French and 70% American oak, 13% of which was new.
Vineyards: 35% Hedges, 36% Bel’ Villa, 20% Jolet, and 9% Magdalena vineyards. Organically farmed.
Flavor profile: Dark and well structured, with notes of black fruit, cassis, and baking spice, and a touch of dusty earth. The Red Mountain tannins add a nice bit of grip that will soften as the wine ages,
Availability: About 1900 6-packs made. It should be in decent supply for a while.
Drinkability: Delicious and accessible now, the winery says it should age well, peaking in about eight to ten years.
Food Pairing: This is a perfect wine for rich meat dishes, such as grilled beef, rack of lamb, or your favorite gourmet burger.