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 gamut 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 one white, two reds, and one sticky, all focused on Kiona’s home on Red Mountain and on their estate vineyards.
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.
I’m pretty sure this is the only Riesling planted on Red Mountain, so that imparts a little geek-intrigue onto this one. The vines were planted in 1975, so they’re getting ready to enter their fifth decade underground. Pretty damned old by Washington standards. Stats are 12% listed alc and 2.6% RS, and this has wonderful, densely-packed layers of fruit: citrus (lime), then stone fruit (peach), then tropical fruit (mango). There is terrific palate intensity and old-vine weight here. The fruit is clean and pure and lovely, well-balanced by a sturdy acid-mineral spine. The acid-sugar balance is also well done here. It drinks off-dry – somewhere between Kabinett and Spatlese in style – and is an unapologetically delicious charmer. Is this the perfect foil for your next Thai takeout order of panang curry? It may just be.
We offered (and reoffered) the 2005 vintage of this wine several times over the past year or two. I was fully expecting to roll into the 2006, but was instead presented with the 2012. As it happens, Kiona (which is a grape-growing operation first and foremost) sold most/all of their Sangiovese fruit from the 2006-2011 vintages. Of course, I’m not going to complain about being offered probably the finest vintage of the century to date in Washington. It comes from Kiona’s main estate site on Red Mountain, as well as their Ranch At The End Of The Road, and it offers a wonderful Red Mountain dusty character aromatically, hovering over a core of red cherry and pomegranate fruit. A note of star anise ramps up the exoticism , and adds further complexity. The palate possesses wonderful Sangiovese character: sour cherry fruit, rustic back-end chew, and a great finishing lick of Aperol-flavored bitters. The rich fruit (14.5% listed alc) is well-balanced by Sangiovese’s bright natural acidity, and this put me in the frame of mind to get a nice pot of bolognese bubbling away, despite the season.
Despite the generic Columbia Valley label, this is 100% Kiona estate fruit, all from Red Mountain, and includes a solid chunk of juice from the 1976 block. We have a solid price compared to its $25 release tag. It offers a yumball nose of black plum and black cherry fruit interwoven with threads of smoke and kahlua and soil. Merlot’s fruit-earth-barrel triumvirate is on fine display here. This is honest Washington Merlot indeed. The palate is fantastic, with a silky attack and supple mid-palate transitioning into a powerfully structured finish. That structure comes in the form of both bright acids and substantial espressoey tannins. The lingering impression is one of a delicious cherry cordial. I see this as a sub-$20 wine that can age for 10-15 years. The balance and stuffing. The structure and length. All the components are in place.
And an unctuous sticky to finish the meal. We most recently offered the 2012 vintage of this, which had its legion of fans among our list members. Paul Gregutt also gave that ’12 vintage a 94pt review in Wine Enthusiast, which I’m sure helped that vintage disappear with some alacrity. No reviews yet for the ’14, but it is very much in keeping with the ’12 stylistically. The residual sugar is 172 g/L (17.2%), compared to 170 g/L for the 2012. Listed alc is 9%. Ah the nose: quince paste, peach preserves, honey. And the palate, which possesses piercing purity of fruit. It’s like a mouthful of the most amazing Mirabelle plum jam. There is just enough acidity to counter the gobs of residual sugar, and as you’d probably imagine, this one lingers on and on and on. I’d steer clear of pairing this with another dessert. This is the dessert. Find some pungent cheeses, though, and varying levels of nirvana become real possibilities. Along with lengthy postprandial naps.
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.