This is a salute to winemaker, Douglas James McCrea, who just sold his interest in McCrea Cellars’ spot at the Olympia Wine Tasting Bar to Marchetti Wines (owners Richard Patrick Larosa and Sally Parker).
Suffice this to say, there is no point in regurgitating the long, splendid history that is the future Legend of Washington Wine, and if it hasn’t happened yet, yours truly hereby nominates the Scottish Saint in Mr. McCrea right here, right now. You can read about his trailblazing exploits to bring Rhone varietals to our great State on his McCrea Cellars website, but here’s a compact summary of his resume:
–his 1st Rhone-style wine was made from old grenache grown in the Columbia River Gorge –1990, became the 2nd winemaker to direct commercial planting of syrah vines in Washington (David Lake was the 1st at Red Willow Vineyard in 1986) –1990, crafted his 1st Rhone-style blend, “Tierra del Sol” –1994, first harvest of his syrah grapes while also expanding plantings to Ciel du Cheval and Boushey Vineyard’s Grand Cote section –1996, released Washington’s second-ever syrah varietal bottling –1997 vintage, produced his first viognier –1999-2000, Ciel du Cheval added the following Rhone varietals: counoise, mourvedre, roussanne, and two more clones of syrah –2001 vintage, added syrah from Joe Hattrup’s Elephant Mountain Vineyards to his portfolio of vineyards –2002 vintage, Washington’s first counoise varietal bottling (Ciel du Cheval); his first southern-Rhone blend (“Sirocco”); his first single-varietals in roussanne, mourvedre, and late-harvest viognier –2004; planted mostly Tablas Creek cuttings of marsanne, grenache blanc, picpoul, and cinsault to Dick Boushey’s Lower County Line Road Vineyard –2007 vintage, first Washington single-varietal bottlings of: grenache blanc (from 1 acre in the entire Northwest) and picpoul (from all 0.75 acres in the Northwest) 2008 vintage, first Washington single-varietal bottling of marsanne
Mr. McCrea was thoughtful enough to leave the following Rhone varietals for others to discover in: bourboulenc, brun argente, clairette blanche, clairette rose, grenache gris, grenache noir, muscardin, picardan, picpoul gris, picpoul noir, and terret noir. Best wishes to those who dare…
Little known fact– 2001 was McCrea’s final vintage of a non-Rhone wine in his Elerding Vineyard chardonnay. Note the grape is one of the “fighting varietals.”
On to Salida Wines.
In 2006, Mr. McCrea celebrated his 25th year of making wine by accepting a ton of tempranillo from Two Coyote Vineyard, located a mile west of Sheridan Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA, which allowed him to produce 45 cases that year and the year following, both under his new winery name, Vina Salida. In 2008, Salida’s offerings grew to add two Spanish-style red wines (“Tres Vinos” and “Fuego Sagrado”) and in 2010, albarino was included to up total annual production to 700 cases.
Because tempranillo, grenache (“garnacha” in Spain), and mourvedre (“mataro” or “monastrell” in Spain) are widely accepted to have originated in Spain, Mr. McCrea considered working with these Iberian/Catalonian grapes as a natural progression of his craft. While tempranillo is a relatively “new” grape to Washington, no one currently in Washington has worked with Washington-grown grenache and mourvedre longer than Mr. McCrea.
While it is one thing to be a “first” in the local wine industry, it begs consideration as to just how good a wine is when made from skilled and experienced hands. After all, “salida” means “exit” which likely connotes Mr. McCrea’s slow departure from his Rhone expertise, or more likely, he implies a wine drinker’s departure from the usual as he/she enters a new phase of exploration.
To the wine…
Food pairing was a spicy taco soup splattered over hot dogs. Perfecto!
Tasted at 50-62 degrees on the IR temp gun. Classic blue pigments on the swirl, with a black cherry/purple core in the Riedel and exuding plum cherry aromas. Medium-bodied on the palate with a moderate residence displaying flavors of blueberry, spice cabinet, Cuban humidor, cayenne, grandma’s first-aid kit, and cumin.
Alcohol: 14.2%. Yakima Valley AVA. Vineyards: Two Coyote (50%) and Sugarloaf (50%). Power: 3/5. Balance: 3/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 92. Value: $40. Paid: $25. “Dark & Savory, Elegant & Sensual, Rustic & Supple.” Music pairing: “Shrimp and Gumbo” by Dave Bartholomew. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.