Hello friends. It’s not all about Syrah at Dunham Cellars.
Because of the combination of strong reviews and scarcity, our focus lately has been on the Syrah end of the portfolio, but the truth is, the entire portfolio is as strong as I can remember it being. There is a deeply positive vibe at Dunham right now. It starts in the estate vineyards, all managed by Kenny Hart. Many of you know Kenny through his winemaking at Tulpen Cellars, but he is above all else a farmer first, and his careful management of Dunham’s estate vineyards leads to immaculate fruit.
In the winery, the yin-yang combination of Eric Dunham (senior winemaker) and Dan Wampfler (winemaker) seems to be hitting its stride. Dan, who was hired in 2008 after time at Chateau Ste Michelle and Columbia Crest, brings a left-brain sensibility to Eric’s right-brain creativity, and the results have been pure magic:
2009 Dunham Cellars Riesling Lewis Vineyard
Several of you inquired about this one after seeing it on Paul Gregutt’s Top 100 list. Sitting at #24 on the list, it is the least expensive in the top 50. Here is PaulG’s review, which is set to appear in the February issue of Wine Enthusiast:
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($20); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
Lewis Vineyard is quickly moving into the conversation of elite Washington Riesling sites with bottlings like this. We offered the 2008 vintage of this in May 2011 and a 2008 late-harvest from the same vineyard in September 2010. Both of those were outstanding, and to see the 2009 hit the same level of quality (perhaps even a smidgen better) is encouraging indeed.
At 12.4% alc and 2.3% residual sugar, this drinks on the boundary between a Kabinett and a Spatlese. The natural-fruit sugar is there, and it is balanced beautifully by citrusy acids. A lightly petroled nose gives way to a layered palate that seems to visit each category of fruit: tree fruit, stone fruit, even bordering on tropical. There’s something for everyone here, and the spritz from dissolved CO2 conveys real vibrancy to all those fruit flavors. This is becoming a standard-bearer for single-vineyard Washington Riesling.
2008 Dunham Cellars “Trutina”
This is drinking beautifully right now and will make a terrific companion piece for those of you who purchased the 1998 vintage through our library offering.
Equal parts (42% each) Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, the remainder Merlot, this comes mostly from estate vineyards (Lewis, Double River, Frenchtown), with some purchased fruit in the mix as well (Phinny Hill, Double Canyon). Usually when I’m referencing any of those vineyards, we’re talking about a wine whose tag starts in the $40s and goes up from there.
This Trutina is an exceptional value, and aromatically, the luxury oak treatment is apparent, with notes of coffee and cocoa powder weaving among black cherry fruit and graphite. On the palate, we find plenty of warm barrel notes framing some truly delicious fruit. It’s a dense, substantial Trutina, with concentration and power to spare.
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($26); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”
Both of the reviews above will be released in the February Wine Enthusiast, so for now, we have access to large parcels. First come first served up to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you see fit), and the wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.