Seven Hills Winery 2006 Walla Walla merlot

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on March 22, 2010:

We interrupt tonight’s segment of odd news with some really odd news: Washington State’s governor plans to sue her State attorney general, who is suing the Federal government over the recently-approved health care resolution. All Sues in the State, including Susan, Suzanne, Susie, and Suharto, are aghast that they are pawns in the middle of this political power play. By the way, I used to have a crush on two Sue’s before high school was done with so I can speak for them in an unauthorized manner. If you’re a Sue and disagree, then take a break and use your feminal standing up. But, I digress.

To know about Seven Hills Winery is to understand the recent history of the once-dilapidated town of Walla Walla. The Winery was established in 1988 by Casey and Vicky McClellan, eight years after the McClellan family (partnered with the Hendricks family) planted the first vines on old alfalfa land at Seven Hills Vineyard, located in the southern edge of the Walla Walla AVA in Oregon. The winery itself was originally located in Oregon, but moved to its current location in the restored Whitehouse-Crawford Planing Mill just over a decade ago. The Mill was sold to the city and slated for demolition to make room for a new development but the townsfolk protested and the building was purchased and restored by Salvation! LLC. One of the original feel-good stories that led to the preservation of other landmarks in Walla Walla.

As for the Vineyard, the family increased its plantings of cabernet sauvignon and merlot to 24 acres before selling it to today’s North Slope Management LLC/SeVein, who have converted the land into one of the most technologically advanced vineyards of the world. The family was intelligent enough to retain, on contract, the same rows in the Old Block (between Windrow and Markham Banks) that they have been harvesting since 1988.

As for the Winery, it lays claim as to bottling more vineyard-designated cabernets and merlots from the Walla Walla AVA than any other winery. That’s a statement, considering the prolific L’Ecole No 41 is five years its elder. It also lays claim to bottling the first malbec in the AVA and planting the first tempranillo (at Double River Ranch) in the State. The winemaker, Casey, has also worked with Wahluke Slope and Red Mountain fruit years before those regions gained AVA status. Which begs the question…what is the good of a newly designated AVA?

And, that does not lead to my next observation: what the hell is up with the yahoos and their pompoms who think Walla Walla is the sh*ts? Let’s see their viewpoint…oh they attract the latest (and so-called “greatest”) wineries to their area. Well…Quilceda Creek is still in Snohomish (and doesn’t make a single Walla Walla-designated wine), Adams Bench is still in Woodinville, Andrew Will is still on Vashon Island, and Cote Bonneville is still in Sunnyside. None of them make a Walla Walla AVA wine. Next blubbery: they make the greatest wines that encase that for-winos-only incense of “terroir”. Hey numbnuts, ever heard of Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun on Red Mountain AVA, Red Willow and Boushey of Yakima AVA, Conner Lee of the Columbia Valley, Celilo of the Columbia Gorge, to name just a few? Done with my slaps or do you need more? Ayy-deh ayy-deh ayy-deh…

The deal with a few Walla Walla-philes is simply…they have low self-esteem and need to vent by casting themselves as a legend in their own mind as a substitution to their missed Zyprexa doses at their residential sanitarium. Listen, you W2-knuckleheads, I’ll give Walla Walla its due…there are a lot of fine wineries sprouting up some talky wines, but DON’T STEP on your fellow brethren in the other AVAs within Washington State! So your whole town used to look like Blue Mountain Mall…big effin deal! You can restore the buildings but if you polish up a redneck by the same measure…you still have a redneck!

Tonight’s chow was a 4-plate wonder from T&T Seafood in the Bermuda Triangle that is Mountlake Terrace-Lynnwood-Edmonds. The mesmerizing Chinese cuisine has been a beacon for those craving real I-left-the-restaurant-full Asian food, saving a trip into Seattle’s International District. My order was chicken fried rice, beef with Chinese broccoli, spicy mabo tofu, and chicken/Chinese mushroom chow mein. This was a match made for the Forbidden City. So screaming good, I can make a billion babies tonight!

Color: deep garnet. Nose: black cherry, black plum, cedar, mint. Mouthfeel: lush, velvety. Tail trail: 9 seconds. Flavors: black fruit basket, wood, cocoa, subtle tannins, no explosions. I think this has not reached its peak yet (and that’s scary). Balance: almost ideal; just needs a little more time. Power: the essence of elegance. Depth: Jacques Cousteau. Finesse: take me back to a jazz club in the ’30s.

Walla Walla AVA. Seven Hills Vineyard. Alcohol: 13.7%. Music pairing: “The Way You Look Tonight” by Michael Buble. Rated: 93. Value: $50. Paid: $30. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

Purchased at, of all places, Uwajimaya in Seattle. Now, that’s hardcore.

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