Hello friends. The team at Dunham Cellars is special to me. From very early on in Full Pull’s existence, Eric Dunham and Dan Wampfler and Kenny Hart and John Blair have been kind, supportive, and generous. Back in 2011, they let me stay in their guest room above the winery, where we also tasted this ridiculous assortment of library wines, many of which turned into offers for our list members.
I have fond memories of staggering out of that guest room in the morning, bleary-eyed, and seeing Dan and his assistant winemaker Robert Campisi already hard at work. I remember walking across the field between Dunham and the Walla Walla Roastery, and getting yelled at by Kenny Hart in his big white truck (he had of course already been up for like five hours and seemed to take extra delight in my sleepwalking routine). I recall a time when John Blair (Dunham’s GM) probably saved my life by telling me what a terrible idea it would be to try to drive over Snoqualmie Pass with about 40 cases of wine in my Honda Element (the tires were actually bowing outwards).
It’s a wonderful group of people at Dunham Cellars, and it has been a difficult year, since the passing of Eric Dunham in October. In discussing with John Blair the best way to move forward, we settled on offering two wines: one library wine to talk about the past, and one current release to talk about the future. I hope you’ll all join me in continuing to support this terrific winery, these terrific people. The Blairs (David and Cheryll) joined the Dunham family as winery co-owners in 2004 (John is their son), which allowed expanded investments in high-quality cellar operations and estate vineyard plantings. Their ongoing involvement will continue the proud legacy of Dunham, including a series of special events this year to celebrate the winery’s 20th anniversary.
We settled on the 07 Syrah from the library for a few reasons. First off, it was a hugely popular wine for our list members back when we originally offered it in July 2011. And second, it was the last vintage made at Dunham where Eric was the day-to-day winemaker. Beginning with the 2008 vintage, Dan Wampfler came on board, allowing Eric to move into more of a director of winemaking/brand ambassador role.
Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.” [Note: the “now” in that review was 2011, so we’re in the middle of Harvey’s peak drinking window.]
I had a chance to taste this recently, and it is in a wonderful place, aromatically filled with fresh and dried blueberries, soaring white floral notes, and Dr. Pepper spice. Rich and ripe in the mouth, all rough edges have been polished to a fine sheen through the magic of bottle age. Creamy, beautifully proportioned, and overtly delicious, this lingers on and on, all dried blueberry and earth. It’s a fine memory of a talented, aesthetically gifted winemaker.
It is important to note that not much is going to change at Dunham, including winemaking. Dan Wampfler has been taking the lead on the winemaking front since 2008, and he has made a series of beautiful vintages at Dunham: warm vintages, cool vintages, down-the-middle vintages; he’s done them all, and done them well.
And that includes this 2011, which is the current release for Dunham Syrah. It is 100% varietal, and it comes from a combination of Lewis Estate Vineyard and Phinny Hill in Horse Heaven. Raised in a combination of French and American oak, it clocks in at 13.8% listed alc, true to the cooler 2011 vintage. The nose is all breakfast all the time: blueberry, bacon fat, and fresh ground coffee. Spicy and brambly, this hums across the palate, all energy and verve, rolling into a chewy finish redolent of cola spice. It’s a fine example of Dan’s deft winemaking touch.
Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”
Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of the 2007 and 12 bottles of the 2011, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. Both wines should arrive in the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.