Full Pull Chief Lonely Heart

Hello friends. Two lovely Cabernets from the team of Mike MacMorran and Mark McNeilly at Mark Ryan today, under two different labels, and at two very different price points:

2014 Board Track Racer (Mark Ryan) The Chief Cabernet Sauvignon
The Board Track Racer (BTR) label has been a great success for Mark Ryan, combining unused juice from the main label with purchased fruit when required. Two important notes for this 2014. First, this vintage has a high enough proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%, the remainder Merlot and Petit Verdot) that it can be labeled as such. Second, no purchased fruit was required here: the Cabernet is entirely from younger vines at two important vineyard sources for Mark Ryan: Phinny Hill in the Horse Heaven Hills, and Quintessence on Red Mountain.

I’d suggest filing Quintessence Vineyard away in your brain. It’s a relatively new site on Red Mountain, and I have heard nothing but raves from the winemakers working with the fruit. Eric Degerman wrote a terrific article for Great Northwest Wine about Marshall Edwards, the gentleman who is managing this site. It was planted in 2010, so we’re just now starting to see the first usable fruit in bottle. And it is fabulous.

Violets, crème de cassis, and dusty earth combine on an attractive Cabernet nose. Simply luscious in the mouth, this fans out texturally, coating every nook of the palate with its rich black fruit and dusty tannins. There is a lovely spicy/leafy character that emerges as well, especially on the finish, which also sees the tannins pick up heft and power, culminating in a final impression of cherry-tea that lingers and lingers. You might recall that we offered the 2012 vintage of this, which received a 92pt review from Harvey Steiman in Wine Spectator and seemed a strong candidate for their year-end Top 100 list (it didn’t end up making the cut). For my money, this 2014 is an improvement over that vintage, and I expect strong reviews once the periodicals get their hands on this one.

2013 Mark Ryan Lonely Heart Cabernet Sauvignon
This was originally on the docket for an early-summer offer, but it got moved up after I received the following e-mail from one of the folks at the winery on March 11:

We’ve had a pretty good run on the Lonely Heart so far, and we’re getting down to the nitty gritty. I have [REDACTED] cases left in my allocation for Seattle, and it looks last year like you sold [REDACTED; imagine a number very similar to the number of cases remaining] cases on the offer. I think we could do even more [this year], but it needs to be soonish.

Okay then! Goodbye early-summer offer. Hello late March offer. I have to say: this is a pretty damned impressive rate of sales. The wine was only released on Feb 12, and less than a month later, the winery is sending out vaguely panicky last-call e-mails.

Some of the sales pressure might be due to Jeb Dunnuck’s barrel-sample review, which he ranged out at a score of 94-97pts. If he comes in at the high end of that range for his eventual bottle review, that’ll be the strongest review for any vintage of Lonely Heart, from any of the major publications. Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

This comes entirely from Force Majeure (!) and Ciel du Cheval Vineyards on Red Mountain. It clocks in at 14.8% listed alc and pours inky red-black into the glass. The nose combines smoky black cherries, espresso, and loamy soil. The mix of rich fruits and fecund earth tones is spot on. In the mouth, you get the sense right away that the winemaking team, in their barrel selection, was going for texture above all else, because this is seamless, immaculate Cabernet. Densely packed layers of fruit. Walls of earth and structure. This seems perfectly sculpted for long-haul ageing. It’s as deeply an impressive 2013 Cabernet as I can remember tasting from Washington to date.

The Chief is first come first served up to 24 bottles. For Lonely Heart, please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. 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.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: