Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Spring Valley Katherine Cabernet Franc with artisan cheeses

Spring Valley Vineyards "Katherine" Cabernet Franc with artisan cheeses and bacon wrapped dates .. 

A quiet winter night by the fire bingeing on a TV special series, Linda prepared blue cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates with a plate of artisan cheeses. I pulled from our cellar a big fruit forward tangy spicy wine as a perfect pairing for the occasion. 

Often we select a big fruit filled Syrah/Shiraz but tonight I pulled a Bordeaux varietal, a grape used to add structure and spice to the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A wine that is 100% single varietal with those characteristics isn't for the feint of heart, but fits the bill perfectly for our tastes. 

Tonight we opened this Spring Valley Vineyards "Katherine" Walla Walla Cabernet Franc 2016.

We discovered and acquired this wine during our visit to the Spring Valley Vineyards tasting room in Walla Walla back in 2018 as covered in this blogpost - October 27, 2018 - Spring Valley Vineyards Tasting and Vineyard Visit.

We joined their wine club and as members receive regular quarterly shipments of their wines. We amassed a collection of the complete portfolio of wines including this label. Our Cellartracker records show we have 95 bottles of 35 different Spring Valley wines in our collection.

One of the great historic Walla Walla wineries, Spring Valley Vineyard lies 12 miles northeast of the town of Walla Walla, amid the picturesque wheat fields of southeastern Washington and the Blue Mountains in the distance. The land that was originally used for farming dating back to the the 1880s. 

Founded by Uriah, Katherine, and continued by the next generation, Frederick, and Nina Lee Corkrum, Shari Corkrum Derby and her husband Dean Derby continued to operate the wheat fields, vineyard and winery. Shari and Dean Derby planted vines on the land from 1993 and made their first vintage in 1999.

Today, Spring Valley have 110 acres of vines planted, all in the relatively cool micro-climate of Walla Walla Valley in the southeast corner of Washington State.

We had the pleasure of meeting Dean Derby on the property during our visit to the estate.during our appellation visit to the Walla Walla (Washington) wine region in the fall of 2018. We visited the Spring Valley Vineyard tasting room in downtown Walla Walla, then ventured out to the vineyards and winery northeast of town. There, we met Dean Derby, patriarch, and husband to Shari Corkrum Derby, grand-daughter of Uriah Corkrum, founder and namesake for their Bordeaux Blend label, husband to Katherine, namesake for this label. 

Meeting Mr. Derby was one of the highlights of our Walla Walla Wine Experience, especially since he has since passed on. We posted a Tribute to Dean Derby and memorium of that visit - Spring Valley Vineyard toward the end of 2021. 

We thought of him last week as his alma mater, University of Washington played in the NCAA national football championship, and next year join the Big Ten conference. I wrote about Dean playing on and being captain of that football team in my tribute blogpost.

The Derby's son Devin Corkrum Derby served as winemaker until his passing in 2004. Devin’s assistant and friend Serge Laville took over as winemaker and has been crafting wines since. Originally they focused on varietals from the Northern Rhone region in France, they expanded production to Bordeaux varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and this Cabernet Franc, and a Right Bank and a Left Bank style Bordeaux Blend. 

 I've written often in these pages about Spring Valley Vineyards portfolio of wines named for members paying homage to the family and ancestors dating back to the first generation founders at the turn of the last century. We have several vintage releases of their annual case that features six of these labels - each one commemorating a different family member. This Cabernet Franc is named in honor of founder Uriah Corkrum’s wife Katherine, a native of Wales who immigrated to Walla Walla Territory in 1897. She and Uriah had four sons, including Frederick Corkrum.

We have a vertical collection of seven vintages of this wine. Normally, as part of cellar management, I would open the oldest, earliest vintage to drink, but, I pulled a bottle from the rack, not thinking that we have a couple older vintages in the decorative OWC - Original Wood Cases, each with a vertical collection that include this label. I'll need to 'break' those collections at some point and consume the older releases. 

Spring Valley Vineyards ‘Katherine Corkrum’ Walla Walla Cabernet Franc 2016 -  

This wine commemorates Katherine Williams Corkrum, born and raised in Wales, then came to America and settled in Walla Walla Washington to eventually marry Uriah Corkrum. Together they raised a family with three sons that would follow for three generations developing the property. 

This is 100% estate grown Cabernet Franc. The vines follow the north-south slope of the hills in vertical rows, an orientation that when combined with the declination of the slope, allows the vines to take optimal advantage of air drainage, sunshine, and the reflective nature of the surrounding wheat fields.

The wine was aged 18 months in 100% neutral French Oak, mostly new, 2-year-old and 4-year-old barrels

Winemaker's Tasting Notes -  “The 2016 Katherine has floral and almond notes with a rich texture and minerality. The finish is dominated by rich cherry flavors and lingering tannins.”
~ Winemaker Serge Laville  

The 2016 vintage was “much better than average, with plenty of time to pick at the right time.” The harvest lasted six weeks, which was relatively long for Spring Valley Vineyard,

Interesting that the producer's published 'Food Pairings' for this wine includes "Beef bourguignonne, cassoulet and grilled portobello mushrooms". These are the exact hearty foods we love and enjoy pairing with appropriate wines such as this.

This release was rated 94 Points by Jeb Dunnuck, 93 points by Owen Bargreen, 91+ Points by Vinous Media and 89 points by Wine Enthusiast.
Dark ruby colored, medium full bodied, full round with a silky smooth texture, ripe dark blackberry fruits with notes of spice, tar, mocha chocolate, herbs and hints of cherry with toasty oak on a lingering finish. 
RM 91 points.