Two Wines from Covington Cellars

Hello friends. Covington Cellars is a Woodinville producer that has traditionally flown a bit under the radar. David and Cindy Lawson built a strong winery-event side to their business, which has allowed them to sell a large portion of their production directly through the tasting room (and has made their wines relative rarities on retail shelves).

In the past year or two, the wines have taken a notable step up in quality and consistency, and a recent tasting of the portfolio revealed a strong lineup and a burgeoning house style. Since 2007, the winemaking team at Covington has included Morgan Lee. Hired after a stint at Columbia Crest, he was involved in the 2007 and 2008 vintages and took on lead winemaking duties in 2009. We have offered Morgan’s Two Vintners wines in the past (Two Vintners is a companion brand to Covington), and they were well-received. Today is our inaugural offering for the Covington label:

2008 Covington Cellars Sangiovese

Sangiovese has been an area of focus for Covington from the beginning, and while the portfolio has swelled (and, more recently, shrunk), Sangio has remained a point of emphasis. They bottle a varietal Sangiovese, and they produce several Sangiovese blends. Because they were on the Sangio-train early, they have access to some of the older vines and better vineyards in the state.

This 2008 comes predominantly from two different blocks at Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla, and it is rounded out with fruit from Kiona and Kestrel Vineyards. The goal here is varietal expression, so the new oak is dialed way down (20%), and the aromas (black licorice, barnyard) are lovely and expressive.

What I really love about this wine is that it would appeal to an Italian palate. It’s a populace that craves acidity (think tomatoes) and bitterness (think Campari), and this wine has both. Tart, juicy, and earthy, this one is not for the kids.

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($25); [REVIEW TEXT WITTHELD]. Rating: + (Good).”

2007 Covington Cellars “Starr” Seven Hills Vnyd (Syrah-Sangio)

Covington has experimented with a number of Sangiovese blends over the years, and one that has stuck is Starr, a Syrah-Sangiovese mix. Non-traditional to say the least. I know Charles Smith blends the two varietals for his Guido, but I can’t think of any others. Guido is about 80/20 Sangiovese/Syrah, while Starr is nearly the reverse (78% Syrah/22% Sangiovese), all from Seven Hills Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley, and at a production level of just 182 cases.

It’s a modern blend, and it’s a modern style. Much riper than the 2008 Sangiovese (perhaps in part due to 2007 being a warmer vintage), this has a luscious nose of char, mocha, vanilla, and blackberry (there is an exotic side to the smokey char notes here, likely from the fact that all the oak here is Hungarian, 50% new). The blend works here because it has everything we love about the riper side of Washington Syrah (deep, rich fruit; supple texture), but with a kick of verve and energy from the Sangiovese. The Sangio doesn’t really impact the flavor here so much as the texture and mouthfeel, and it’s a positive addition to be sure.

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($29); [REVIEW TEXT WITTHELD]. Rating: * (Excellent).”

First come first served up to 12 bottles of each, and the wines should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping.

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