Hello friends. Our list members can’t seem to get enough of Kyle Johnson’s winemaking. Kyle was the winemaker for the dearly-departed Olsen Estates (we offered plenty of those), and he also makes the wines for the well-loved For A Song wines (we’ve offered plenty of those, too).
But that’s not all.
Kyle also has his own label, called Purple Star, and a recent tasting through this lineup revealed a portfolio studded with wonderful values. And that seems to be Kyle’s calling card, doesn’t it? The ability to craft wines with terrific value for the money.
Let’s dive into the lineup today with two of Kyle’s wines: one red and one white.
2012 Purple Star Cabernet Sauvignon
Yet another data point indicating that 2012 is a phenomenal vintage for value Cabernet. After serious challenges achieving ripeness at the low end of the price point spectrum for Cabernets in cooler 2010 and 2011, 2012 comes to us like a panacea.
This has 2% Petit Verdot in the mix, and it comes predominantly (73%) from a 1996-planted vineyard called Nine Canyon, a site farmed by Scott Williams (of Kiona fame) that sits just outside the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. There is also a sold whack (16%) of fruit from Kiona Heart of the Hill on Red Mountain, a spot whose Cabernet does not usually end up in bottles at this price point. The whole thing was aged for fifteen months in French oak, a mere 6% new, and it clocks in at 14.5% listed alc.
The aromatics are complex for this tariff, offering wonderful savory notes (beetroot especially, also tarragon and bay leaf and loamy earth) to go with the cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Of course with such a low % of new wood there’s virtually no overt oak influence on the aromas or flavors. In the mouth, what was noticeable right away was how polished the tannins are for Cabernet at this price point. It’s a silky mouthful that balances fruit and earth elements beautifully. As a midweek Cabernet, this is difficult to top, with plenty of delicious factor for the task but with sneaky-good, head-turning nuance.
2012 Purple Star Sauvignon Blanc
Back in April, we offered two Kyle-produced 2012 white wines from Caliche Lake Vineyard in the new Ancient Lakes AVA. Those were a Chardonnay and a Riesling, both bottled under the For A Song label, and they’ve been popular reorder targets since. No surprise, I suppose; this area (home to the famous Evergreen Vineyard) and its caliche/limestone soils is about as good as it gets in Washington for white wines.
To complete the trifecta, today we have Kyle’s Sauvignon Blanc from the same vineyard, this time bottled under Purple Star. It was done entirely in stainless steel, and it’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc, 100% from Caliche Lake. Chalky minerals come screaming through on the nose, along with so much citric fruit that you feel like you can positively smell the acid spine. But 2012 was a warm/normal year, and there’s surprisingly plush peach fruit to complement that nervy acid/mineral spine. Three months on the lees fleshed out the mid-palate, giving this wine a nice creamy bridge from attack to mouthwatering finish. Again a fine value and a good candidate as a house white or for summer parties and weddings.
First come first served up to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.