2012 J. Albin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Heather Hill, $49.75
Winery Info: J. Albin Winery (recently renamed Six Peaks) is a small, family-owned and operated winery in Hillsboro, Oregon.
It is still run by the Albin family, who planted their first vineyard in 1981 and now have decades of viticulture and winemaking experience in the Pacific Northwest. During that time, John Albin developed strong relationships with many top growers in the region. This wine was part of their small lot program, designed to “seek out singular vineyards with uncommonly delicious fruit and transform the fruit into sumptuous wine.”
Winemaker: John Albin
Grapes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 8, planted in 2001. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, half new and half one-year old.
Vineyard: Heather Hill, a 19-acre vineyard near Milton-Freewater, on the southwestern border of the Walla Walla Valley AVA. Owned and farmed by Walla Walla’s Abeja Winery, the site is noted for producing expressive, complex grapes of exceptional quality.
Flavor Profile: We were pleasantly surprised to find this stunning Cab from a top Walla Walla vineyard, produced by an Oregon winemaker, and from the excellent 2012 vintage. It is rich, balanced, and silky smooth, with red and black fruit flavors and notes of cassis and savory earth. Now, with almost a decade of age on it, it is beautifully developed, textured, and elegant.
Availability: This wine is still in reasonably good supply.
Drinking Window: Enjoy now or over the next few years.
Food Pairing: Rack of lamb, grilled lamb chops, a juicy rib eye steak, or grilled burgers or portobello mushrooms with blue cheese.
2016 W.T. Vintners, “Gorgeous” Destiny Ridge Syrah, $33
Winery Info: Woodinville-based W.T. Vintners was founded in 2007 by Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen and his wife Cortney, along with two business partners. Jeff is an award-winning sommelier who has worked with a number of top Seattle restaurants, most recently as wine director at RN 74. He has also worked harvests at top estates in Burgundy, New Zealand, and here in the northwest. His focus is on limited production, terroir-driven wines sourced from top vineyard sites in Washington.
Winemaker: Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen
Grapes: 100% Syrah
Vineyard: Blocks 1 and 17 of Destiny Ridge, in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. The cooling effect of the nearby Columbia River allows an exceptionally long growing period for the fruit to develop rich flavor and vibrant acidity. Jeff says he feels that the Syrah grape best expresses the potential of this vineyard.
Flavor Profile: This Syrah is smooth, aromatic, and savory, with flavors of blue and red fruit, and a touch of herbs and smoke.
Availability: About 330 cases made. We’re getting most of what’s left with the distributor of this vintage.
Drinking Window: Drink now or over the next three to five years.
Food Pairing: Our rep said this wine was excellent with an herbed roast pork loin, and also with eggplant tagine. It would also be great with grilled meats.