2018 Mark Ryan Winery, Water Witch, $60
Winery Info: Founded in 1999 by Mark Ryan McNeilly. As production increased, he relocated to his current location in Woodinville.
His goal from the beginning has been to produce handcrafted wines that represent the vineyards from which they came, the character of the grape variety, and the winery style. His Water Witch is one of the original wines in his lineup, named in honor of Mark’s grandfather who worked as a water locator in eastern Washington years ago.
Winemaker: Mark Ryan McNeilly and Mike MacMorran
Grapes: 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot, aged 21 months in 80% new French oak.
Vineyard: Quintessence Vineyard, in the Red Mountain AVA. Mark Ryan partnered with the Quintessence team in 2012 to plant a 13.6-acre vineyard on the south slope of Red Mountain and no expense was spared in their effort to create a world-class site. Fruit for the Water Witch is selected from the top performing blocks of the vineyard.
Flavor Profile: We loved the amazing structure and texture of this wine. The rich, dark fruit flavors are all in perfect balance and continue to develop as the wine opens up. It has fine, smooth tannins and just a hint of oak.
Availability: 600 cases made. This vintage is still in decent supply.
Drinking Window: You could enjoy this one now, with decanting, or let it develop further up to 2026 or so.
Food Pairing: Grilled meats, such as flank steak, or perhaps Portobello mushrooms.
2017 Saviah Cellars, Cabernet Franc, $29.75
Winery Info: Rich Funk founded Saviah Cellars in 2000. He had studied microbiology in Montana before relocating to Walla Walla in 1991, and had originally considered a career in beermaking. But after getting acquainted with some of the local wineries through a job with the county working on water quality issues, his interests turned to winemaking. With his enormous talent, strong background in chemistry and soil science, and access to top vineyard sites, Rich quickly gained great respect for his well crafted wines which continues to this day.
Winemaker: Rich Funk
Grapes: 100% Cabernet Franc, aged 17 months in French oak, 25% new.
Vineyards: Watermill, Dugger Creek, and Summit View, all in the Walla Walla Valley AVA.
Flavor Profile: Very aromatic, with notes of fresh herbs, pepper, and ripe berries, and savory dark fruit flavors. There is a touch of earthiness from the Watermill fruit (in the Rocks District) that adds a nice hint of the classic “Rocks funk.” With soft, fine tannins and excellent mineraltiy.
Availability: 291 cases made. The distributor still has more of this vintage, although the winery has moved on to the 2018.
Drinking Window: Drinking very nicely now,
Food Pairing: A great match for pepper steak, but it would also go well with chicken or pork dishes.