Hello friends. Marie-Eve Gilla’s winemaking is turning into a veritable tour de France here in Washington. Of course, her aptitude with Chardonnay is no surprise, as she studied at the University of Dijon and worked at several Burgundian wineries before landing in Washington. But she also makes some of the most successful, well-priced Cabernets and Merlots in Washington each year (hello Bordeaux), and a recent tasting confirmed her burgeoning mastery of the Rhone Valley as well:
Ultimately, much of any winemaker’s success comes down to vineyard sourcing, and Marie-Eve has done well here. A full three-quarters of this blend comes from Dick Boushey, in the form of 55% Syrah and half of the 40% Grenache (the remaining Grenache is from Lonesome Springs, also in Yakima Valley, and the 5% dollop of Mourvedre comes from Kiona Heart of the Hill on Red Mountain).
It’s practically taboo in Washington to blend Boushey Syrah with anything else, but you can see what Marie-Eve was thinking when you taste this wine, which she calls her homage to Gigondas. It was aged mostly in French oak, and mostly neutral, which translates to wafts of woodsmoke and high-cacao chocolate in the glass. The fleshiness and generosity of the brambly/brushy red raspberry fruit of the Grenache pairs beautifully with Boushey’s smoke and meat and pepper and olive Syrah bass notes, and that Grenache adds a balancing richness that belies the cooler 2011 vintage.
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
[Note: of the 28 red Rhone blends from Washington reviewed in Wine Enthusiast so far in 2014, only Gramercy’s 2011 Third Man received a higher score (94pts), and that one retails for $50; high praise indeed!]
Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ****/***** (Excellent/Exceptional).”
Tough to decide whether to hold this and watch it evolve, or to open it now and pair it with dinner. Marie suggested Duck Confit Cassoulet, which was enough to make me long for winter. First come first served up to 12 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.