Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Mark Ryan Water Witch Red Mountain Red Wine 2015

Mark Ryan Water Witch Red Mountain Red Wine 2015

On one of our last nights at home before taking an extended road trip, Linda prepared grilled filets of beef with pasta and a hearty red sauce with homegrown tomatoes and herbs, baked bread and grilled asparagus. I pulled from the cellar this full bore complex aged vintage Washington State Red Mountain Red Blend Cabernet for the occasion.This was a perfect pairing of food and wine enhancing the enjoyment of both for a fabulous meal.

We discovered, tasted and acquired this wine at the producer's Woodinville tasting room during our Seattle/Woodinville Wine Experience in 2018. Mark Ryan Winery was actually recommended to us by one of the other producers that we visited during that tour. We weren't aware of or familiar to the producer previously.

As featured in my producer profile and visit report at that time, Mark Ryan wines are the artwork of Mark Ryan McNeilly a self taught winemaker who learned the craft working with well known producers, acquiring Bordeaux varietal grapes from renowned vineyards in the Columbia Valley Red Mountain appellation.

Established in 1999 in Woodinville, Washington, by Mark Ryan McNeilly, Mark Ryan Winery produces an extensive portfolio of wines from across the region, but is most notably known for several art crafted Bordeaux Blends.

McNeilly crushed and produced his first vintages in garages of friends and family and in the years since its founding, the winery has grown in size, earning respect and acclaim from both wine lovers and critics. 

In 2017, production shifted from Woodinville to Walla Walla, allowing tasting rooms to open in both cities and helping Mark Ryan become the 14th largest winery in Washington. 

Specializing on Red Mountain. Mark Ryan McNeilly produces wine from grapes grown in the high desert, on a very warm site. They are "big-shouldered wines that we coax a great amount of finesse and elegance. We utilize specific vineyard sites to create our style, and have continued adding a portfolio of the most sought-after vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills, Yakima Valley, and Columbia Valley."

We tasted and acquired these wines at the Mark Ryan tasting room in Woodinville, Washington 

 Woodinville is a Seattle suburb that has become a wine mecca with several dozen tasting rooms of producers of wines sourced from vineyards in the Columbia Valley in the center of the State, three hours to the east. The tasting rooms inhabit numerous free standing sites as well as several commercial centers that resemble outlet malls but filled with wine producers. 

We tasted this wine flight as part of the wine flight offered at the Mark Ryan tasting room that included Burgundian varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Oregon, as well as several Bordeaux varietal blends sourced from the Washington State central Columbia Valley. 
The scheduled tasting flight on offer for the day was as follows and as pictured. This is a great bargain to taste this range of quality wines for $15, which is refundable with purchase. As usual, we tasted, and acquired several wines beyond the standard flight.  
Mark Ryan dutifully lists the vineyard sources for each of its wines accordingly. They represent the notable famous sites from the Central Washington State appellations. Vineyards and their applicable appellations that provide grapes for Mark Ryan Wines include Red Willow from the Yakima Valley AVA, the famous Ciel du Cheval vineyard from Red Mountain AVA, Klipsun, Red Mountain, Quintessence and Obelisco Vineyards from Red Mountain, Olsen Vineyard and Red Willow from Yakima Valley and Phinny Hill Vineyard from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.

The fact that these famous vineyards source grapes to many producers, the differences in their various labels is the result of their handicraft of winemaking since they all come the same sites, rather than the difference of the vineyard sites themselves. Never-the-less, we were extremely impressed with the quality of wines coming out of the Columbia Valley producers. 

Many of these wines rival the premium wines from California notable regions such as Napa and Sonoma Valleys, some at relative bargain prices of up to half less, since they don't yet have the cache of the more historic areas. 
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 is important of course to reflect Terroir, the unique essence of climate, soil, site, as it manifests itself in the wine, consistently over time, from vintage to vintage. 

Readers of these pages know we're fans and collectors more based on Bordeaux Varietal wines and have we focused the following wines that were comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Interesting, these wines were based on grapes sourced from the same vineyards, as noted above and were largely differentiated by the composition of the Blend of the grapes in each label.  

Mark Ryan "Water Witch" Washington State Red Mountain Red Wine 2015

Vineyard Source was the Quintessence Vineyards on Red Mountain

Producer's note:

Quintessence Vineyards is a 410-acre parcel of land with a base elevation of 675 feet, rising to 1,025 feet as it reaches Red Mountain AVA's southwest-facing slopes. Quintessence founders Dick Shaw and Paul Kaltinick planted their first vines as partners on Red Mountain in 2010. They launched Quintessence with a planting of 68 acres along Red Mountain's southwestern slope. Positive response was immediate, with customers pointing to "world class vineyard management" and "spectacular fruit" as some outstanding attributes. Additional planting followed, with similar success. Now, with the expansion along the eastern ridge and slop of Red Mountain, Quintessence will encompass some 300 acres in total. Quintessence is made up of premium land, a talent for farming, dedicated management, ideal growing conditions, and a love for what they do.

310 cases produced; aged in 70% new French oak barrels

This is a classic traditional 'left bank' Bordeaux Blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.

Tonight's tasting was consistent with that previous tasting of this wine back in the fall of 2018 

This was dark garnet and purplish colored, full bodied, rich concentrated bright forward extracted black raspberry fruit accented by layers of exotic spices, sweet mocha chocolate and notes of sweet oak and creme de cassis with silky polished tannins on a full long smooth polished finish.

This was rated 93 points by Jeb Dunnuck and 92-94 Points by The Wine Advocate.

As with my first tasting, tonight I gave this 93 points.