November Virtual Tasting - Russell Creek Tributary Red 2006

Owner and winemaker Larry Krivoshein began making wine at his home in eastern Washington twenty years ago. His early wines were under the “Digger” label, a nod to his nickname from his days as a funeral director. Russell Creek Winery, named after a stream located by Krivoshein’s farm, was bonded in 1998. The winery is located in the airport region of Walla Walla, Washington.

Russell Creek devotes itself almost exclusively to single varietal wines, a Sangiovese – their biggest seller - a Cabernet, a Merlot, a Syrah, and series of “Winemaker’s Select” wines of these varietals. The Tributary Red is the only red blend the winery makes.

The Tributary Red has consistently received high marks from Wine Spectator – 2004 (91); 2003 (89); 2002 (91); 2001 (90) – especially for a $20 wine. I liked the 2006 Tributary quite a bit. I thought that it had a good deal going on in terms of both the nose and the taste. I gave the wine a + as opposed to a * because I did not think all of those things were completely in balance. I decanted the wine for an hour plus without significant changes, although a bit of an herbal component started to come through. Overall, a fun, enjoyable wine and a good wine for the money.

For this virtual tasting, I also did a live tasting as well which was a lot of fun. Hopefully we will get some of those notes up soon.







Russell Creek Winery Tributary Red 2006

On first pour, spice mixed with chocolate and black pepper. As the wine opens up, the chocolate comes off and stewed plum and sweet currant dominates. On the taste, the wine coats the palette and has a nice mouth feel with a lot of dried fruit flavors. The wine is fairly astringent and has a touch more alcohol on it than I care for. Tasted at 65 degrees. 56% Cabernet; 44% Merlot. 14.1% alcohol. 1,700 cases produced.

Where: Purchased at Pete's for $18.70. Esquin, Pete’s Bellevue


Sean P. Sullivan

Please e-mail any comments or questions to


  1. Nose - At first this wine had hints of blackberry on the nose, but the dusty and tomato leaf-like component predominated. After decanting I got quite a bit of black pepper. I really enjoyed the nose, but wanted just a tad more complexity or change to it over time.

    Taste - There were a lot of tannins for sure! I thought that it had a nice build up from the initial taste, throughout the mid-palate and finish. Again, really my only complaint was that there was not enough complexity or change.

    Overall - It is a pretty big wine, which is my style so I liked it. If you like big dry wines with lots of tannins you will like this wine. I'd definitely by it again for under $20! I would give it a +, but it is very close to a *. Only reason for the + is that it left me wanting just a bit more out of it.

  2. I gave this wine a + on the Sullivan Scale. It was deep purple in color and spicy on the nose with pepper and a hint of eucalyptus. The primary fruit was cooked plums. This was a very tannic, thick wine - a softer finish would have bumped it up to a *.

  3. Sean-

    I thought I was all set to try the Tributary. I was planning on picking up a bottle at Cellar 46, where I'm working now on Mondays. But lo and behold, they carry just about every Russell Creek except the Trib. So, I'm bummed to have missed November's tasting but will look forward to something festive in December.

  4. Sorry to hear that Paul. Hope you're enjoying the work at Cellar 46. Let me know if you have any thoughts for December's tasting.

  5. Other than some of the notes already mentioned, on the nose I found a spiciness that was almost herbal, and the word anise came to mind, which later made its way into a green pepper bite. The taste revealed lots of prune and raisin, warm plums on the stove and a tacky-tart mouthfeel. All in all, a one-star rating from me on the Sullivan scale

  6. I think a rating of one-star is appropriate. This seems a big wine for the price, and the spiciness increased on day 2 for me. For those of you that enjoy this price point, I picked up Woodenville winery's 'Little Bear Creek' for $17 and enjoyed this as much as the Tributary


Your comment will be published after it has been moderated.