Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Mark Ryan 'Long Haul' Red Mountain Red Blend

Mark Ryan 'Long Haul' Red Mountain Columbia River Red Blend 2013

Following the Columbia Valley Spring Valley Vineyard Frederick Red Bordeaux Blend 2013 earlier this week, I pulled from the cellar another label from the region from the same vintage for a comparison tasting. Tonight I selected this Mark Ryan Red Mountain Red Blend, another Right Bank Bordeaux Blend

We discovered and acquired Mark Ryan wines when we visited their tasting room in Woodinville, WA during our Seattle Woodinville Culinary Wine Experience back in 2018.

(Son) Ryan and Linda - Woodinville, 2018
Mark Ryan McNeilly founded Mark Ryan Winery in 1999 with the goal to produce the quality wines achievable from Washington State vineyard sources. Largely self-taught, Mark learned winemaking through study and mentorship from some of the area's most experienced producers. 

Mark Ryan produces a broad portfolio of wines that can be found in distribution and are served from their tasting room in Woodinville, an epicenter of more than a hundred tasting rooms of Washington State producers, since most of the vineyards are located hours away in remote locations of Central Washington State. 

This label, Long Haul was one of his first vintage releases, produced crushed and pressed in garages of friends and family, barrel in warehouses in the Seattle area. He opened the Woodinville, WA facility in 2003.  

Like many of the Woodinville and region's producers, Mark Ryan sources its fruit from growers of the large established vineyards. Many of these are long established relationships under contracts for specific rows of a vineyard or blocks. While not Estate wines, where the grapes are sourced from producer owned sites, it offers the next best thing. This consistent sourcing is important and essential if one is to reflect Terroir, the unique essence of climate, soil, site, as it manifests itself in the wine, consistently over time, from vintage to vintage.  

The Long Haul label is a 'Right Bank' blends of Bordeaux varietals, meaning it is predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Franc making up the majority of the blend. The 2013 Long Haul is sourced from vineyards in the Red Mountain AVA in the Yakima River Valley, a Columbia River tributary in Central Washington, the smallest appellation in the state.

Despite what its name suggests, it is actually neither a mountain nor is it composed of red earth. Instead, the name is derived due to the cheatgrass which is prolific and covers the area in springtime, which has a reddish color, hence the area the name, "Red" Mountain. 

The appellation sits on the eastern edge of Yakima Valley with slopes facing southwest towards the Yakima River, ideal for the ripening of grapes and is a notable source of top quality red grapes among premier Washington producers.

Red Mountain fruit produces some of the most mineral-driven, tannic and age-worthy red wines of Washington. This is due to its terroir with a climate that is one of the hottest in the region with normal growing season temperatures commonly reaching above 90F. The soil is particularly poor in nutrients and has a high pH, which results in significantly smaller berry sizes compared to varietal norms. This results in a low juice to skin ratio in smaller berries. This combined with the strong, dry summer winds, leads to higher tannin levels in Red Mountain grapes.

Mark Ryan 'Long Haul' Red Mountain Columbia River Red Blend 2013
This label is comprised of fruit from three of most prolific well-known vineyards in the region. This release is composed primarily of Merlot from the legendary Ciel du Cheval Vineyard planted on calcium-rich clay beds that give the wine a rich, delicate texture and feminine aromatics. 
Combined in the blend are grapes from the equally renowned Force Majeure Vineyard, a relatively younger, high elevation site, which provides rich fruit with bold structure. 
The other vineyard source is Yakima Valley’s Red Willow Vineyard that contributes aromatics and depth and complexity to the blend. 
The reds of the area tend to express dark black and blue fruit, deep concentration, complex textures, high levels of tannins and as previously noted, have good aging capabilities

The blend for this release is 51% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petit Verdot. It was aged in 62% new, 38% once used French Château Ferré in barrels for 21 months. A total production of 1,130 cases were released. 

Winemaker Notes: "The Long Haul offers plum, cassis, and savory aromatic probles on the nose that morphs into a lush entrance of black fruit, caramel, tea, and earth. Silky, velvety tannins combine with mid-palate structure and acidity that leads into a lengthy finish."

The 2013 Long Haul is ruby in color, darkening gradually toward the inside of the glass. Aromatically, the wine shows of brambly, wild blackberry and raspberry, along with sweet baking spices that surprises with bright cherry and darkens to a range of black fruits toward the end of the sip. Subtle minerals mingle
with the ne, dusty tannins bright acidity on the finish. 

This was rated 93 points by Wine Enthusiast.

Dark purple colored, medium full bodied, tightly wound, structured black cherry and black plum fruits open with a layer of cinnamon spice with notes of black tea, earthy tobacco and hints of caramel on the lingering tannin finish. 

RM 90 points.