2008 Cabernet Sauvignon by Windwalker, El Dorado, California

Tonight’s Occasion: 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon by Windwalker, El Dorado, CA

Dark opaque color. Out of the bottle nose is a little shy but there is an unmistakable honeysuckle and beeswax essence. As it opens up, the nose fills up, thickens into a melange of lemon zest, tangerine, ripe, red berries, and a sharp star anise, it’s sense of place, a hallmark of the Sierra Foothills. Pine, cedar-wood and dusty granite linger in the background. This wine is ripe!

Body is nicely balanced up front. It is slightly fruit forward but nowhere near as much as the nose would suggest. A mild acidic attack quickly hands off to a bold spice heat that intensifies through the body. Ripe plums and Dark cherries add a thick chassis of soft tannins. Oak accentuates the berry and citrus notes nicely. Transition to finish is seamless as the body slowly soaks into the palate leaving behind a slightly moist lips, a fine grained, dusty tannic grit a warm but firm heat. Faint notes of cocoa and caramel linger. This is how this wine was meant to be enjoyed.

There’s endless ways to make a wine. What I find interesting about this winemaker is their willingness to embrace what is most characteristic of this region – hang time. They have a longer ripening season which yields higher sugar, and more intense flavor profiles. At 13.9% ABV it is fairly restrained for this region but the flavors are intense. At 13 years of age, it has had time to integrate very nicely. This is a beautiful wine.

Sierra Midnight (Lot #1) by Windwalker

Tonight’s Occasion: Sierra Midnight – Lot #1 by Windwalker, Fair Play, CA.

Dark opaque color. Thick aromatic nose out of the bottle with firm notes of dark plum, sawdust and a subtle but unmistakable tangerine peel. I remember while barrel tasting with Zach this spring, owner Jim opened one for us to try, this one note was haunting. We both obsessed over it for a while until we finally pinned it down – tangerine skins with a distant hint of all spice. As it breathes a soft licorice emerges, this wine’s sense of place. It only intensifies from here on.

Big, bold and beautiful. The body greets with a thick, somewhat viscous, silky if not slightly chewy mouth feel. Big fruit, matches bold fine grained dusty tannic structure. Ripe dark plums, blackberries and blueberries dominate. A subtle old wet wood leather permeates the entire experience. Gentle spice emerges midway, slowly intensifying through the finish. Transition to finish is seamless, ending with a slightly creamy, dusty, enduring tannic grip and spice heat.

Unshackled from time, this unique signature cross-vintage blend is an exercise in shunning the rules of rigid conventional thinking. Why not? Lot #1 is the first of its kind by this winemaker. After 10 or more years it has had time to integrate very nicely. Layers blend and transition together nicely. It is showing really well. It makes no apologies and embraces what this region is all about.

If you can get your hands on any of the Sierra Midnight lots, I highly recommend you lay them down for at least 10 or more years.

Nicely done Jim, Zach, Ryan and the entire crew at Windwalker.

2019 Grenache by Windwalker Vineyard, Somerset CA

Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Grenache by Windwalker Vineyard, Somerset CA

Beautiful clear ruby color. Out of the bottle nose is a little shy with notes of damp wood and cherry cola. Swirling vigorously unlocks a burst of cherry cola and slightly mineral leather. Faint hints of anise linger in the back. This is El Dorado after all.

Body is more viscous than it looks, greeting the palate with good balance. Restrained acid and subtle tannins in the form of dark, slightly ripe cherries are married together by a refined caramel creating a pleasant silky mouth feel. This quickly dances across a fairly unobtrusive structure, and gives way to a slightly bitter backdrop of cola and wet granite contrasted only by a crisp caramel that lingers on the palate. This marks the transition to a swift finish ending in a slightly moist yet dry palate and spontaneous ignition as gentle but firm heat re-emerges from deep within.

This is my newest favorite winemaker! His style mixes the bold and brash of the classic foothills with a touch of sophistication and daring. Starting pouring wine in the tasting room at a very young age and working his way to winemaker a few years ago, he reminds me of many of the top winemakers I’ve been following for over a decade. This is one to follow closely. This Grenache makes a strong statement.

Nicely done Zach and the entire crew at Windwalker.

Read more about this winemaker on WineSnob