Heath Payne is an exciting young winemaker. We had worked with previous vintages of Lonely Hunter and when we tasted the 2013, we were sold. When we learned the price, we were stoked! One of the discoveries of the year in Washington red wine.
From Heath: “The 2013 Lonely Hunter is composed of 65% Syrah from Royal City and 35% Mourvedre from Yakima Valley. A testament to the complexity of soils in the Columbia Valley. Aged for 22 months in combination of new French oak puncheons and one-year-old barriques. The wine invokes classic aromas of smoke, dark chocolate, oil-cured olives and herbs. The palate showcases ripe, dark fruits and spice with hints of dried flowers and licorice. This is Washington to the bone while paying homage to its old-world inspiration.
The Syrah comes from Stillwater Creek Vineyard, in Royal City. At roughly 1600 ft this is one of Washington State's highest-elevation plantings of Syrah. It also boasts the most diverse clonal selections in the entire state. Grown in shallow soils with plenty of fractured rock on the surface and a steep south-facing exposure that looks across the valley to the Wahluke Slope. Hot days and cold, windy nights make this site perfect for nurturing everything we love about Washington Syrah. Managed by veteran grower (and tannin-whisperer) Ed Kelly whose roots go back to the early days of California's Organic movement. He was coaxed out of retirement to manage Stillwater Creek and when word got out his CA colleagues immediately opened up shop in Washington with guess who growing for them…he's that good. Put simply, I learn more about winemaking by hanging out with Ed in the vineyard than all my schooling and experience combined.
The Mourvedre comes from Sugarloaf Vineyard, in Yakima’s Rattlesnake Hills AVA. Starting at roughly 1000 ft, the Sugarloaf Vineyard is NOT your typical gradual slope, rolling hills Yakima Valley vineyard. It's a small, 36 acre vineyard that twists and turns with a variety of contours and soils that flip-flop from sandy loam to broken basalt and even deep clay. This combination creates intense aromas, rich fruit and plush tannin perfect for highlighting the feminine side of Mourvèdre. I love the dichotomy of such an elegant vineyard being owned by a biker and avid sportsmen, and managed by an Army veteran and cougar hunter.
My winemaking philosophy is pretty simple: VINEYARD FIRST! Spontaneous fermentation with 30+ days maceration time. Pressed straight to barrel. Native malo-lactic conversion. Aged 22 months. No racking. Filtered for clarity.”