Thursday, October 20, 2022

Spring Valley Vineyard Derby Cabernet Sauvignon

Spring Valley Vineyard Derby Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

We enjoyed Spring Valley Vineyards Frederick Red Blend for dinner the other night. When I was pulling together info to write up my blogpost I realized it was exactly a year ago that patriarch co-owner and co-producer Dean Derby passed away.

Ironically, on the anniversary of his passing, we received our wine club allocation shipment, the 2019 release of his namesake tribute label wine, Derby Cabernet Sauvignon. Hence, we felt it only fitting to pull a bottle of Derby in tribute and remembrance of Dean, replacing the older vintage with the just arrived vintage release, as part of cellar management to drink the older bottle from our cellar collection.  

We pulled from the cellar a bottle of Derby Cabernet for dinner in a fitting tribute to Dean, whom we had the pleasure of meeting Dean when we visited the estate vineyards a few years ago during our Spring Valley Vineyards Tasting, Estate and Vineyard Visit. That was one of the highlights of our appellation visit to the Walla Walla (Washington) wine region in 2018.

Dean Derby was a bigger than life character. He was a delightful man of faith and family. 

With his family he moved to Walla Walla in 1945 where he met Shari Corkrum in the 6th grade at Sharpstein Grade School. Upon graduation from Walla Walla High School, Shari and Dean attended the University of Washington in Seattle. They were married in 1954.

In 1956 Dean Derby was captain of the University of Washington football team. He still holds the record for longest run from scrimmage for a touchdown at Husky Stadium (92 yards against Illinois).

Dean was drafted into the NFL as the 1st pick of the 4th round by the Los Angeles Rams, then traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 1st league game in September 1957. He is named All Pro Defensive Cornerback and plays 4+ years with the Steelers and 1+ years for the Minnesota Vikings.

Back at their homestead ranch in Walla Walla, Devin Corkrum Derby was born in Spring Valley to Dean and Shari in 1956. 

Dean and Shari first planted wine grapes on the ranch in Spring Valley in 1993.

Devin Corkrum Derby took over management of the ranch and winery at Spring Valley in 1999. As founding winemaker he oversaw the first crush and crafted the first wine – Uriah, a Merlot-based red blend which debuts in 2001.  This was also the first vintage release of Derby Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as the Frederick Cabernet Sauvignon-based red blend, and Mule Skinner Merlot.

Devin also designed the labels for Spring Valley’s wines. 
Devin Corkrum Derby was killed in a tragic car accident in 2004 and winemaking duties were taken over by assistant winemaker Serge Laville. Serge Laville was a French winemaker who had met Devin in Walla Walla and moved from France to become assistant winemaker at Spring Valley Vineyard.
I've written in these pages, (as late as two days ago posting) about the portfolio of Spring Valley wines with each label featuring a member of three generations of the Corkrum family reaching back to first generation founding producers Uriah Corkrum and his wife Nina Lee.

As I mentioned above, Dean Derby was husband of Sharilee Corkrum Derby, who is daughter of Frederick (subject of the label consumed the other night) and grand-daughter of founder Uriah Corkrum. Each of them are featured on SVV labels as tribute to them and features of their portfolio of estate grown varietal wines and blends. 

The SVV portfolio features estate grown Bordeuax varietals, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, as well as Left Bank and Right Bank blends. 

This label, Derby, is the Cabernet Sauvignon offering from that collection.

Spring Valley Vineyard Derby Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

For dinner, Linda prepared a home-made pizza and this wine was a wonderful accompaniment. Some Cabernet's may be too firm or structured for such a dish, better paired with a beefsteak, but this was sufficiently full and fruit forward that it was perfect. 

Label from 2016
This is 100% estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon from the Spring Valley Vineyard that lie twelve miles northeast of Walla Walla, amid the picturesque expansive wheat fields of southeastern Washington. 
The ranch consists of total vineyard acreage to 109 acres of grapevines including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
The vines follow the north-south slope of the hills in vertical rows that take advantage of air drainage and sunshine. Every grape cluster is tended by hand, including crop thinning, leaf pulling and harvesting.
The final blend was aged 19 months in French oak, 20% new

Winemaker's Notes: "As usual, a very limited number of barrels were able to go under the label 100% Cabernet Sauvignon “Derby ”. Complexity and purity is the ultimate goal for this wine. Rose petal on the
nose. Flavors are focused on ripe cherry. Intense mid pallet and finish on herbal notes."

It was rated 93 points by both Jeb Dunnuck and James Suckling, and 89 points by Sean Sullivan of Wine Enthusiast.

Bright garnet colored, medium bodied, bright vibrant blackberry, black cherry and plum flavors accented by spice notes and herbs with a long smooth polished finish. 

RM 92 points.