Readers of wine blogs think wine bloggers only review high-caliber wines, often waxing poetic about said wine, the winery that mother’d it, and/or the winemaking staff. They paint wine bloggers as having the luxe life of tippy-toeing like a dainty ballerina through a Skagit Valley field of tulips and daffies, and sipping God’s afternoon cocktail while gnawing on incredibly rare (and expensive) Iberico ham and admiring their Greek goddess of a partner (or in Karen G’s case… a centaur– half male, all ass). Weyyyyyllll, you got that one wrong, boffo boy! Read on.
Winemaker’s dilemma question… whatever the reason, being poor fermentation, defective equipment, inept winemaking, or experimentation gone awry, you have a batch of odd-tasting wine that comprises some 25% of your annual output. What do you do with it? Do you send it to the bulk market and hope some sucker bids on it? Do you use it as a blend or non-vintage wine? Do you spill the entire lot down to Brightwater? Or, do you sell it under your primary or secondary label? What. To. Do?
Ripasso (Italian origin), a recently developed winemaking style, is an unusual method of winemaking in these parts. This is actually the first wine I have tasted that underwent “re-passing” where, if done under the proper conditions with the accomodating grape, should enhance a great wine with additional character and personality. Keyword: SHOULD.
Ripasso winemaking involves a second primary fermentation where, after initial maceration, the pomace (skin, seeds, stems, pulp, and sometimes- bugs, amphibians, and reptiles) from the initial press is added back to the must to make for an extended maceration. Chemically, what’s going on is the addition of tannins, glycerin, and phenolic molecules that wine drinkers interpret as adding “complexity” to the wine. That means more puckery drying, heavier density, deeper color, and higher alcohol levels. Some Italian producers of amarone wines tend to favor this style for their “second wines.”
Kaella Winery sprouted in the D-sector of the Woodinville warehouse district in the spring of 2010. Owner/winemaker Dave Butner advanced his winemaking prowess from his beginnings in the Boeing Employees winemaking club. He furthered his education at the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle Community College. After sharing space with other pico-wineries, Dave chose to move out his winery to a lower-rent locale in the south warehouse district. Kaella Winery currently shares tasting room space with Convergence Zone Cellars and a few others. Current wines (red only) include a Ciel du Cheval syrah, a Conner Lee blend, and a rose of sangiovese (saignée method).
Tasted at 57-61 degrees on the IR temp gun. Color: garnet-edged magenta. Nose: sudsy, rubbing alcohol, dirty cherry. Mouthfeel: tangy, soft medium-bodied. Tail trail: 4 seconds. Flavors: sour cherry punch, midpalate Bhopal-style alcohol plume, green cranberry, chainsaw’d oak, heavy dose of drying tannins. Even rougher 24 hours later.
Alcohol: 14.3%. Ripasso-style. Red Mountain AVA. Harvested October 19, 2010. Bottled July 5, 2012. pH 3.39. TA 0.71%. 75 cases. Rated: 59. Value: $0.89. Paid: $25. Music pairing: “Take A Walk” by Passion Pit. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.