It’s been a long hard road with more bumps than rest stops. I’ve tried and tried to love the Rhone Rangers, but few have delivered interesting wines. The only really consistent one has been Steve Edmunds and those wines were born out of his unique sensitivity and search for terroir-driven wines that make you think instead of just drink.
Tonight I opened yet another “Rhone Blend” more out of duty than interest, but upon inserting my expecting to anesthetized nose into the glass, I found that elusive quality that Rhone wines often deliver but New World wines rarely do. That is the combination of power and balance and a richly intoxicating earthiness. “Boy” did I find one!
The 2004 “The Boy” from K Vintners in Walla Walla Washington is one of the very few blends of Rhone varieties that I’ve tasted that can take on fine Chateauneuf du Pape in depth and complexity. A blend of 50% grenache, 18% syrah and 14% mourvedre (very CdP-like) this is a wine that sings in a deep rich, warm baritone.
First you should focus on what this wine is not. It is not a dark purple, oaky cassis fruit-bomb nor a port-like monstrosity. What it is is a big, yet balanced and richly complex wine. Its deep scarlet hue is still translucent with just a touch of garnet - more pinot than Rhone Ranger. The aromas are wonderfully spicy with a deep, warm earthy touch of wild mushrooms, steak tartare and truffles layered with a smoky sweetness.
While eastern Washington may be renowned for its cabernets and merlots, wines like this will soon make you think the Rhone should be the inspiration for Washington’s winemakers instead of Bordeaux.
What stands out most about most about this wine compared to its other west coast cousins from California and Washington is this wine never got boring - one glass demanded a second. After all, that is the difference between commercial plonk, over-extracted goo and real wine.