Saturday, July 17, 2010
Fun And Artistic Is The Dunham Cellars Way
One of the things I like most about visiting different wineries is getting to see the personalities behind the wines. One winery that has always stood out to me as being fun and artsy has been Dunham Cellars. I made a special stop though on my trip through last week and found some rather fun new surprises that I hadn't expected. Some of those were in the wines, and some were in the fun atmosphere that they offer.
Dunham Cellars, owned by Mike and Joanne, Eric and Luana Dunham, is located in the airport district in Walla Walla. It was well over 100 degrees that day, and as we were entering one of the winery dogs was lazily laying in the stream that winds through the courtyard.
We were greeted by the tasting room staff as if we were old friends and soon had glasses of the 2008 Lewis Vineyard Riesling in our hands. This wine is sourced from the Dunham Estate grapes and has wonderful orange and peach scents. Flavors of tree fresh peaches, pears, and a slight minerality at the finish. This wine quickly refreshed me and left me feeling like the dog outside in the stream.
The next wine that we enjoyed was the Shirley Mays Chardonnay. The Chardonnay was beautiful and solid. It offered up a beautiful combination of fruit, oak, and creaminess. Well worth the under $20 price for a label that goes to support Breast Cancer research.
On we went through the Four Legged White blend and the Three Legged Red blends. Both have been delicious under $20 blends that I have enjoyed for years. These wines are in honor of the winery dogs that grace the property. The Four Legged is to honor Maysy, Eric's companion around the winery. Three Legged Red is in honor of Port, who was the original Dunham Dog. Port passed away in 2008, but his legacy lives on in every bottle.
Going on, we tasted the 2006 Trutina. This blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Syrah, 17% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc offers up an old fashioned cherry cola on the nose, with flavors of cola and caramel apples. The finish was a rich mocha.
The 2006 Lewis Vineyard Syrah offers scents and flavors of dark cocoa, vanilla, and caramel. Unlike most Syrahs of the region, this is one that stays away from the veggie flavors and finishes smooth.
The 2005 Columbia Valley Syrah has earned many awards, so I was excited to taste it. It opens with dark cherries and blueberries, then turns to sweet tobacco and finishes with chocolate and soft leather notes.
Last but certainly not least was the 2006 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Eric Dunham's specialty is Cabernet. This one is filled with dark cherries and plums, with a background of baking spices and minerality. It finishes very velvety with soft tannins. Well worth the Wine Enthusiast score of a 93.
One thing that I started to mention earlier was the artistic quality both of the wines and the facility. Eric is not only a winemaker, but also an accomplished artist and chef. Basically everything the guy does is art from the time he wakes until his eyes close at night he is creating some form of art or another. The tasting room is a beautiful gallery of his works. I encourage you to come to the winery and check it out.