3 from Kiona

Hello friends. Every few months, I ask to taste through the available lineup of Kiona wines, and it is always a fun treasure hunt. Their portfolio is broad, covering a slew of varieties, vintages, and vineyards, and always well-priced. I’ve never come away from a Kiona hunt without treasure, and that’s true today. We’re offering three reds and one white, all focused on Kiona’s home on Red Mountain and mostly on their estate vineyards. One of the reds is a reoffer of one of our most popular reorder targets of 2014; the other three are new wines.

As a reminder, Kiona is the original vineyard on Red Mountain, planted in 1975 by John Williams and Jim Holmes (who went on to plant Ciel du Cheval). The attached winery (run by JJ Williams) 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. Now let’s move onto the wines.

2005 Kiona Estate Reserve Sangiovese

Originally offered April 9, 2014 and then a popular reorder target throughout the rest of the year, I’m sure many of you will be thrilled to see this aged Chianti ringer still available. It began its life with a $25 tag and still costs $23 at the winery, so a $15 price point is fine value indeed. Here are excerpts from that original offer:

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 by the balance and complexity, the mix of sour cherry fruit and insistent earthiness, the adult palate tinged with angostura bitters, and 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.

2012 Kiona Syrah Red Mountain

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

As you’ll see, this wine too is seriously discounted from its original $25 tag. Syrahs from Red Mountain can be wonderful, but they’re frequently quite expensive, so it’s a real treat to see this at such an accessible tariff. From a young vineyard called Emory that the Kiona folks farm under contract, it’s a site very close to Kiona’s own Ranch At The End Of The Road, so JJ Williams is quite familiar with the dirt and the fruit.

This spends 15 months in French oak, just 10% new, and it clocks in at 14.4% listed alc. The nose had enough notes of smoky peaty earth and whiskey barrel to evoke Islay Scotch, beautiful counterpoints to a core of ripe blackberry fruit. It’s an easy drinker, rich and ripe, with soft fine tannins, but there is plenty of stuffing here, and just the right amount of ferrous Red Mountain minerality for complexity. As an introduction to well-priced Syrah from this particular part of Washington, it’s tough to imagine a more compelling example.

2010 Kiona Estate Zinfandel

No reviews of this one, but again, I can’t resist including it because it is being offered at well off its $25 release price, and again it’s just extremely rare to see Red Mountain Zin at all (or Washington Zin for that matter), let alone for $15. Even in a cool vintage like 2010, thermophilic Zin can’t help but tack on the sugars on warm Red Mountain. This clocks in at a Zin-honest 16.5% listed alc (it drinks ripe but never hot) and offers an alluring nose melding brambly raspberry fruit, savories of tomato paste and roasted rosemary, and earthy notes of broken sagebrush. On the palate, we find a ripe, rich, jammy winter red, a generous fruit bomb (I say that lovingly) with plenty of savory and dusty complexities. Oh the fun of slipping this into a tasting of more expensive Cali Zins.

2013 Kiona Chenin Blanc

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

As PaulG mentions, despite the Columbia Valley label, this is all old-vine estate Red Mountain fruit, and it begins with a  fruit-salad nose: musky melon, peach, citrus fruit. The palate is off-dry, with light malty honeyed sweetness balanced by bright citrusy acidity, all on top of a luscious mouthful of fruit. At 12.8% listed alc and 1.1% RS, this is a thoughtfully-done, deeply charming Chenin.

First come first served up to 48 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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