2014 Johnson Harriss Cuvee Wentz
currant, black cherry, plum, bell pepper, olive, oak, smoke, toast, tar, blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, tobacco, raspberry, cassis, violet, pepper, green bean, cherry, asparagus, spice, ginger and vanilla
violet, rose, truffle, earth, coffee, leather, spice box, cedar, dark fruit, tobacco, broccoli, berry, flower, currant, blackberry, cherry and cigar box
"I am so excited about the 2014 Johnson Harriss! For my second vintage of this project, I discovered some amazing fruit from the mighty Pacific Northwest, and I can’t wait for you to taste it! I had rare access to some of the best cellars in Washington State to do my blending. The result, in my estimation, is nothing short of mind-blowing! -- John Livingston, Owner of Johnson Harriss
The Blend. Washington State excels at merlot and syrah. But it’s different than California merlot and syrah given its latitudinal similarity to Bordeaux, France. And that’s kind of the theme of this wine: more like St.-Emilion than Napa Valley.
After many hours of blending, we concluded assemblage by selecting 50% merlot, 26% syrah, 17% cabernet franc and 7% cabernet sauvignon from some incredibly prestigious vineyards in Washington. Throughout our blending process, we added more and more cabernet franc. It tightened up the wine and produced a much more floral character in the aroma.
The Vineyards. The majority of the fruit came from the Stillwater Creek Vineyard in the Columbia Valley. This vineyard is on the Royal Slope in the Frenchman Hills, which is very climatically diurnal (hot afternoon/cool evening), giving the wine high levels of phenolic ripeness while retaining acidity.
We found about 20% of the merlot from the Conner Lee Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope in Columbia Valley. Connor Lee merlot is a fresh style of the grape, which is exactly what I was looking for in my base.
20% of the entire blend came from the Dineen Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. This is where the cabernet franc and syrah came from. Yakima is more north and a cooler region. This was the portion that we kept adding to the blend to make the whole wine more structured and floral in aroma.
A Little Help From My Friends. My buddy Drew Voit, owner and winemaker of Harper Voit in Oregon, helped me with the blending of the wine. It was like two chefs in that winery! So much fun. And Todd Alexander, former winemaker at Bryant Family in Napa Valley, and current winemaker at Force Majeure in Washington, assembled the wine for me. Todd is a flat out stud.
Tasting Notes. The blend reminds me of Right Bank Bordeaux. It is structured and fresh, a serious wine, not flabby. Yet, at the same time, it is incredibly enjoyable now. The profile is loaded with dark red fruits with blueberry tones, spice, cedar box. The body is plush, rich and long, yet still drives down the middle with acidity and freshness.
Pairing Notes. From a pairing perspective, you will want to match with anything from the grill, red meat, and cured meats. But this is delicious on it’s own too. From a cheese perspective, attack some aged Cheddar, Cheshire, Comté, aged Gruyère, aged Gouda, Pecorino, Manchego, Asiago, or Parmigiano Reggiano. And, of course, kettle-cooked potato chips fit the bill nicely.