Two from Kiona

Hello friends. We have one of the happiest surprises of 2014 so far: an estate bottled, Red Mountain Sangiovese going on a decade past vintage; a Chianti ringer with years left in the tank; all for a tariff that is as accessible as can be. [Note: we’ll also include a well-reviewed sticky from the same producer at the bottom.]

2005 Kiona Estate Reserve Sangiovese

Long term list members with elephantine memories may remember that we offered the 2004 vintage of this back in autumn 2011. That one was offered at $19.99 ($17.99 TPU), which was still a strong value, and it was a popular reorder target back in the day. Today’s tariff is just crazy, and if we blow through our entire allotment, there do seem to be out-of-state parcels floating around at $20 and in-state winery-direct at $25.

But enough about pricing; let’s get to the important part: the wine itself. Kiona is the original vineyard on Red Mountain (see location here), planted in 1975 by John Williams and Jim Holmes (who went on to plant Ciel du Cheval). The attached winery produces wines from estate grapes and purchased grapes from across Washington. For more on the winery’s history, I recommend reading Sean Sullivan’s Focus Report from February 2010.

What happened in 2011, back when we offered that 04 vintage, was a distributor swap. Kiona had been distributed through one of our mega-distributors here in Washington, and their wines got a little lost in the shuffle. In ‘11, they switched to a boutique distributor, and that switch unearthed a treasure trove of wine, with parcels covering a broad swath of vintages (2003 on) and varietals (probably about 15 in all). Every few months, we try to taste any newbies in the lineup, and in our recent tasting, this Sangio was just a complete standout.

Coming from a warm vintage and a warm AVA, this must have been picked nice and early, because its listed alc is 13.5%. Perfect, since early-picked, acid-retaining wines tend to age so much more beautifully than their over-ripe brethren. Pour this from the bottle, and you instantly know it has serious bottle age. The color is brick red, moving to garnet on the edges. The nose made me think immediately of well-aged Tuscan wines: dried cherry and dried fig fruit, earth, and dusty Red Mountain notes. Then I tasted the wine, at which point my tasting note turns to squee (I’m not proud to say that the word “WOW” in all-caps was prominently involved). But I was just blown away the balance and complexity, the mix of sour cherry fruit and insistent earthiness, the adult palate tinged with angostura bitters, the maturing mushroom notes. It’s a real marvel, and it certainly has enough intrigue to drink on its own, but where this wine will really shine (as is true of any honest Sangiovese) is with food. Drinking this made me want to run home and make one of my favorite go-to pasta dishes (note: unless you’re a serious hardcore, store-bought pasta and store-bought stock work just fine).

This is definitely in its peak drinking window, but it doesn’t drink tired at all. There’s so little track record with aging Washington Sangiovese that I’m reluctant to say much about drinking window, but I wouldn’t worry at all about holding this for another five years, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a decade from now, this will still be drinking nicely. What a treat. First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2012 Kiona Ice Wine Chenin Blanc (375ml)

And now from the department of dentist-(not)-recommended wines comes this lovely Chenin Ice Wine. I’ve had a few requests since the publication of PaulG’s recent review:

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($25); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

I got to taste this recently, and Mr. G is spot on in terms of quality. It’s a sensational, luscious mouthful, with a real Chenin malt-powder quality to the melon-pear-vanilla nose. Sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious, this has terrific balancing orange-peel acidity for all that caramel-drenched sweet fruit. Pair this with the most pungent cheese you can find, and keep the Lipitor handy.

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