This is part of a report on 2009 Walla Walla Fall Release Weekend. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.

The story behind El Corazon Winery is a familiar one in the wine industry. Yet somehow these stories always retain their vitality. Spencer Sievers was born in Walla Walla but was living in Lawrence, Kansas when he felt the pull back home to become involved in the town’s emerging wine scene. After working harvest at Reininger Winery in 2007, he and his friend Raoul Morfin set out to make their own wines. They named the winery El Corazon because they were doing what was in their hearts.

Sievers and Morfin take a unique approach in terms of the varieties they select and how they handle these varieties. Their goal is to show that many grapes that are commonly thought of as blending varieties, such as Carmenère, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc, can stand on their own in Washington. The duo are also more interested in expressing fruit than oak, with each wine aged in mostly neutral barrels.

The results are fascinating and enjoyable varietal expressions. While at times it seemed more oak or blending would have fleshed out certain facets of these wines, the El Corazon wines provide a great opportunity to try varieties that infrequently see single bottlings in Washington at consumer-friendly price points.

El Corazon produces 350 cases annually.

Follow El Corazon on Facebook.

El Corazon Carmenère Tigers Blood Walla Walla Valley 2008 $32
Rating: * (Excellent)
Crazy white pepper and spice aromas dominate the nose. Glides along the palate with medium-bodied fruit. Opens up beautifully. Barely a trace of oak influence which, in this case, might have fleshed out some of the missing pieces but overall works on this wine. 100% Carmenère. Seven Hills Vineyard. Aged in neutral French oak. 14.1% alcohol. 75 cases produced.

El Corazon Supernova Malbec Rattlesnake Hills 2008 $21
Rating: . (Decent)
An extremely floral nose that is reminiscent of stargazer lilies along with light licorice and spice notes. Taste is dominated by spice flavors. 100% Malbec. Kolibri Vineyard (Rattlesnake Hills). Aged in neutral French oak. 13.5% alcohol. 145 cases produced.

El Corazon First Crush Columbia Valley 2007 $21
Rating: + (Good)
Nose marked by anise and chocolate along with streaks of coffee. Lots of baking chocolate and cherry on an enjoyable taste. 100% Cabernet Franc. Weinbau Vineyard. Aged in neutral French oak. 14.8% alcohol. 48 cases produced.