2011 Kiona Vineyard Mourvèdre

Varietal: 100% Mourvèdre
Appellation: Horse Heaven Hills
Vineyard: Kiona
Alcohol: 14.7%
Production: 46 cases

This Spanish variety, also known as Mataro, is one of the three varieties often used in blending of Cotes-du-Rhone wines, the other varieties being Syrah and Grenache.  In the vineyard it is late to bud and late to ripen so it needs a warm site, such as the Red Mountain appellation, to fully ripen.  It produces a wine of moderate tannins with good acidity and flavors of perfumed blackberries with a hint of black pepper.  It is a great accompaniment to meals that call for a flavorful wine but without the tannin and weight that Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon possess.

These grapes come from the Kiona Vineyard on Red Mountain.  This vineyard was planted in 2006 after Scott Williams, winemaker and owner of Kiona Vineyards and Winery, returned from a trip to the south of France where he enjoyed a number of Rhone wines which are usually a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, commonly called GSM blends.  Scott planted only four acres, enough to parse out grapes to just a few wineries.  Fortunately for these wineries, this exotic Mediterranean variety does well in the unique calcareous and well-drained Red Mountain soil which produce ripe flavorful grapes reflecting the terroir or environment they were grown in.

These grapes were harvested in late October and fermented in a one ton bin.  After daily punch downs to extract color and tannin the wine was pressed and then put immediately into second-fill French oak barrels so as to slowly age the wine without overpowering it with oak.  The wine was aged in barrel for 17 months and then bottled where it was aged another 15 months in bottle to soften and meld the wine.


2007 McKinley Springs Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Horse Heaven Hills
Vineyard: McKinley Springs
Alcohol: 14.7%
Production: 51 cases

The Horse Heaven Hills located in South East Washington, with its Northern margin overlooking Prosser and its Southern border formed by the Columbia River, is renowned for its red wines.  Sandy-loam soils with low water and nutrient holding capacity, warm temperatures and breezes coming from the Columbia Gorge help to form small canopies and berries concentrating color and flavor.

McKinley Springs block 6 Cabernet is one of the older blocks of Cab planted by the Andrews family.  It is a small block where that the rows are oriented North/South and it breaks over a knoll in the middle of the vineyard giving it a slight North and South facing slope.

The late ripening variety Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested in early October at the peak of ripeness when color, tannins and flavors came into balance.  The grapes were fermented in one-ton bins, punched down three times a day and pressed off to French oak barrels where the wines were age and transformed over two years.

Great Northwest Wine                                            August 10, 2013 

Rating: Excellent

2007 McKinley Springs Vineyard – McKinley Springs is a vineyard in the southern Horse Heaven Hills whose legacy stretches back to before World War II, when the patriarch of the Andrews family cleared thousands of acres of sagebrush to prepare the region for farming. The vineyard was first planted more than 30 years ago and is one of the most respected in Washington. This single-vineyard Cab from winemaker David Forsyth opens with aromas of thyme, tarragon, black pepper, boysenberry and dark chocolate. On the palate, it offers sensual flavors of plum, black currant, espresso, cocoa powder and exotic spices. It’s an elegant wine with modest tannins. 


2007 Desert Wind Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Wahluke Slope
Vineyard: Desert Wind
Alcohol: 15.2%
Production: 48 cases

The Wahluke Slope is one of the warmer Washington appellations and is particularly good for growing red grapes to produce some of Washington’s great red wines.  It is not unusual to find a piece of petrified wood in the ancient soils that make up the vineyard floor.  These sandy soils allow for good drainage and low nutrient capacity which along with the warm days and breezes produce small canopies and berries for concentrated flavors and color.

This wine is made from grapes grown by the Fries family in their Desert Wind vineyard. This particular block was planted in 1993 and I’ve been making wine from this block starting with the first crop in 1996.  The vineyard’s hallmark is great Cabernet Sauvignon character with excellent structure and good acidity.  These grapes were fermented in small one ton bins and punched down by hand daily.  Once flavors, color and tannin had been extracted to a nice balance the wine was pressed off from the skins.  The wine was then racked to French Oak barrels where it was aged for two years.

Great Northwest Wine                               July 20, 2013

Rating: Excellent   

2007 Desert Wind Vineyard – Longtime Washington winemaker David Forsyth created Forsyth Brio as a small family side project to his day job at Zirkle Fruit Co.’s winemaking facility in Prosser. He made just two barrels’ worth of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Desert Wind Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. This opens with aromas of salted caramel, lavender, dark chocolate and espresso, followed by gorgeous flavors of black olive, graphite, Rainier cherry and blackberry on the finish. This is a suave wine with nice breadth and depth.  


2007 Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Red Mountain
Vineyard: Kiona, Pioneer Block
Alcohol: 15.2%
Production: 58 cases

The Red Mountain appellation at 4040 acres is the smallest Washington grape growing appellation.  Paradoxically sitting within the cooler larger Yakima Valley appellation it is one of the warmer appellations primarily due to its Southwest facing slopes.  The soils are a well-drained silt loam with high calcium carbonate content.  The low water and nutrient holding capacity of the vines produces small canopies which directs more energy into developing the fruit flavors and tannins in the grapes.  Red Mountain fruit is known for its intensity and big tannin structure.

For Red Mountain fruit we went to the vineyards of the Williams family of Kiona winery fame.  They were the first to plant grapes in the Red Mountain area when John Williams and Jim Holmes teamed up to plant wine grapes in 1975.  This wine is produced from grapes from that original vineyard planting. The grapes were fermented in a small bin and punched down three times daily until color and tannins were extracted and in balance. The wine was then drained from the skins and placed in French oak barrels.   The wine shows complexity and depth with rich sweet tannins which turn the usually assertive Red Mountain tannins into a supple, complex and memorable wine.

Great Northwest Wine of the Week            August 6, 2013

Rating: Outstanding

2007 Kiona Vineyard  – Longtime Yakima Valley winemaker David Forsyth is crafting superb Cabernet Sauvignons with this small project.

He uses grapes from Kiona Vineyard on Red Mountain for this wine, and it’s one of his best to date. It opens with aromas of malted milk balls, sage, plum, black pepper and dark chocolate, followed by flavors of juicy boysenberry, coffee, toffee and black olive. The ample tannins back up all the rich, bold fruit and provide a lengthy finish.

This earned our top “Outstanding!” rating in a blind tasting.


2006 McKinley Springs Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Horse Heaven Hills
Vineyards: 95% McKinley Springs (Horse Heaven Hills), 5% Kiona Vineyards (Red Mountain)
Alcohol: 14.5%
Production: 53 cases

McKinley Springs block 6 Cabernet is one of the older blocks of Cab planted by the Andrews family.  It is a small block that the rows are oriented North/South and it breaks over a knoll in the middle of the vineyard giving it a slight North and South facing slope.

At an elevation of 800-1200 ft, this vineyard is planted on well drained silt loam soils over laying broken basalt.  The low water and nutrient holding capacity of the soils coupled with the warm days and breezes reduce vine vigor and berry size leading to concentrated deep rich wines. The late ripening variety Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested in early October at the peak of ripeness when color, tannins and flavors came into balance.

The one ton of grapes was fermented in a small bin and punched down three times daily until color and tannins were extracted and in balance. The wine was then drained from the skins and placed in barrels.  Through the alchemy of fermentation and slow barrel aging these grapes were transformed into a sublime mixture displaying aromas of figs and cherries enrobed in the earthiness of truffles and chocolate.  A small amount of Kiona Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was blended in to add complexity. Aged in French oak for two years this wine is rich and full-bodied with a powerful structure and supporting tannins.