This is part of a report on 2009 Walla Walla Fall Release Weekend. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.
Robison Ranch Cellars is a new winery that was having its inaugural release party Fall Release Weekend. And was it ever. Driving on the long dirt road leading to the winery, a third generation, family-owned ranch, I would never have imagined what awaited us.
Inside one of the buildings was a full-on party with a great band and a hundred or more people. This was no black tie event. Rather, hay bales served as seats. The winery had raffle giveaways every half-hour and had a roaring fire outside. What I loved about this party was that the family did it in their own style. Rather than bring in a local caterer, they had family and friends bring food. The result was by far (by far) the best spread of the weekend, including some to-die-for smoked salmon. This was a jubilant celebration of a winery’s first release and was certainly ‘the place to be’.
All of this is a reflection of the excitement and enthusiasm of winemaker Brad Riordan, who along with Jim Robison started the winery. Riordan exudes a joy for the experimentation and discovery of making wine. While Robison has been making wine for several years, the 2008 Rosé is the winery’s first bonded wine and was the only one available for sale. Still, at this event the winery poured an assortment of wines made before they were bonded as well as wines from the barrel.
Robison Ranch sources much of its fruit from Spofford Station, Dwelley, and Windrow vineyards. The wines are varietally correct and are excellent representations of their respective vineyards. Robison Ranch’s first red releases – a 2008 Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet, and Petit Verdot – are still in barrel and will be released in the Fall of 2010. The winery will be releasing a Viognier, Sémillon, and Rosé in the Spring.
Robison Ranch is increasing its production from 200 to 600 cases.
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NB: The Robison Ranch Cellars website will be up in late February/early March.
Robison Ranch Cellars Merlot Walla Walla Valley 2008 Barrel Sample $NA
Rating: + (Good) An aromatic wine with lots of vanilla, blueberries and pretty spices. Fairly grippy on the palate. Dwelley Vineyard. In barrel for 15 months. Will be bottled in February.
Robison Ranch Cellars Syrah Spofford Station WWV 2008 Barrel Sample $NA
Rating: + (Good) Lightly aromatic at present with a nose reminiscent of wines from Lewis Vineyard with cola and black licorice. Tart and tight on the palate at present. Co-fermented with 300 lbs of Viognier.
Robison Ranch Cellars Viognier Walla Walla Valley 2008 $NA
Rating: + (Good) A beautiful nose loaded with floral aromas and stone fruit. The partial malolactic fermentation gives a very interesting and pleasing texture to the palate. Aged seven months in stainless steel. Sampled at 61 degrees.
Robison Ranch Cellars Rosé Walla Walla Valley 2008 $20
Rating: + (Good) Reddish brown in color. Nose shows a touch of petrol along with brown sugar, strawberries, and other red fruit. Crisp and pleasing on a dry palate. Syrah, Viognier, Merlot and Sangiovese Sampled at 64 degrees.
Robison Ranch Cellars Merlot 2007 $NA
Rating: + (Good) Lots of vanilla and baking spices on the nose. A bit over-weighted with oak on the taste, especially on the backend. Still a lot of good things going on here with chalky tannins and a healthy dollop of fruit on the palate. 100% Merlot. Dwelley and Spofford Station vineyards. Aged for 12 months in new American oak then moved to neutral barrels. Note: Wine made before winery was bonded and will not be available for sale.
Robison Ranch Cellars Cuvee Walla Walla Valley 2007 $NA
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Richly textured on the palate. Lots of vanilla and fruit on the palate. 45% Merlot (Dwelley and Spofford Station) 30% Syrah (Spofford Station) and 25% Cabernet (Spofford Station). Aged in American oak (50% new). Note: Wine made before winery was bonded and will not be available for sale.
Robison Ranch Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2006 $NA
Rating: * (Excellent) An alluring nose with licorice, spice, and sprinkles of tobacco. An enjoyable, fruit filled palate that is very nicely balanced. 90% Cabernet (Spofford Station), 10% Cabernet Franc (Windrow). Aged in 50% French and 50% American oak (all new). 13.9% alcohol. Note: Wine made before winery was bonded and will not be available for sale.
Robison Ranch Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2007 $NA
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Nose a bit closed down at the moment. An impressive wine that opens up and expands on the palate. Tannins a bit drying at times. 95.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot, 1.5% Syrah. Aged in American oak (50% new). Note: Wine made before winery was bonded and will not be available for sale.
Robison Ranch Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2007 $NA
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Another impressive wine that shows lots of licorice. Thick and rich on the palate. Lovers of Spofford Station fruit would enjoy this effort. Spofford Station Vineyard. Note: Wine made before winery was bonded and will not be available for sale.
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