2020 Brook and Bull, Malbec, $45
Winery info: Ashley Trout’s career in Washington wine began when she was a student at Whitman College and helped out at Reininger Winery.
Fast forward to 2020 when she was named one of Wine’s Most Inspiring People by the Wine Industry Advisor. This was no doubt in part for her generous work founding and overseeing Vital Wines, a non-profit that helps Walla Walla Valley vineyard and winery workers access affordable health care. She was also named one of the country’s “Top 40 Tastemakers Under 40” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Somehow she still found time to create her third winery, Brook and Bull, in 2016.
Winemaker: Ashley Trout
Grapes: 90% Malbec and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Vineyards: Sourced from vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley AVA.
Flavor profile: A classic Washington Malbec, with smooth, savory flavors of dark fruit, white pepper, and a hint of meat. With great underlying stony minerality and a touch of herbs.
Availability: 257 cases made. This vintage was just released so it should be in good supply for a while.
Drinking window: Ready to drink now, or over the next few years.
Food pairing: Great for meat dishes or anything off the grill.
2019 J.B. Neufeld, Ciel du Cheval, Cabernet Sauvignon, $45
Winery info: Justin Neufeld has been winemaker at Gilbert Cellars since 2007, and in 2009 he took over management of their extensive vineyards as well. His J.B. Neufeld label is a side project, where he focuses exclusively on Cabernet Sauvignon from a number of Yakima Valley vineyards, aiming to showcase a unique sense of place in each wine. He has access to fruit from some of the top vineyards in the state and each year he goes through his barrels to determine which vineyard really stood out that harvest. In 2019, it was Ciel du Cheval.
Winemaker: Justin Neufeld
Grapes: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon (clone 337), 20% Merlot, aged 17 months in 63% new and 37% neutral French oak.
Vineyards: Ciel du Cheval, in the Red Mountain AVA, prized for producing fruit with distinct character that expresses both power and elegance.
Flavor profile: Medium bodied, with notes of bright cherry and raspberry and good complexity and depth. The tannins are firm, yet supple, and will soften as the wine opens up.
Availability: 198 cases made. The winery is sold out of this vintage and the distributor has only a few bottles left.
Drinking window: Give it two or three years to develop, then enjoy anytime up to around 2028.
Food pairing: A no brainer for any red meat dishes.