Hightower Cellars 2012 Reserve Red, Red Mountain,: The husband-wife team of Tim and Kelly Hightower use Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain to build the foundation for their Reserve, which opens with tones of chocolate-covered pomegranate, blueberry and lilac. The hallmark of Hightower Cellars red wines is exquisite balance, and that indeed applies here as suave tannins and juicy blueberry acidity make for a long farewell.It is not red, nor is it a mountain, but “brown ridge” doesn’t sound like much of a grape growing region.
Red Mountain is a 4,040-acre bench in Washington’s eastern Yakima Valley, and in the 40 years since the first wine grapes were planted amid sand and sagebrush, Red Mountain has developed into what is arguably the most important region in Washington. It also is the state’s smallest American Viticultural Area.
Red Mountain doesn’t produce the most grapes in Washington, but it does have the reputation for growing arguably the best. And most of them are red (more than 90 percent).
On average, Red Mountain is the warmest spot in Washington. As such, the grapes never have trouble ripening. In addition, Red Mountain vineyard land is by far the most expensive in the state.
And about the name: It comes from cheatgrass that grows on the ridge and turns reddish in color each spring.
Doug Charles from the esteemed Compass Wines in Anacortes chose Hightower Red Mountain Reserve as one of his 12 favorite wines of the year! Thanks Doug!
And no mention of Red Mountain would be complete without including two of my old favorites, Kiona Vineyards and Hightower Cellars.At Hightower Cellars, the 2012 Murray Cabernet Sauvignon (about $20) features a new label with a Celtic rose that should be on your must-try list. The wine’s delicate floral aromatics are almost perfume-like, and delicious red fruits are backed with plenty of structure and a slightly herbaceous finish.
... the 2010 Reserve is made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot that spent 20 months in 90% new oak barrels. Loaded with notions of cedar, toast, licorice, graphite and smoked dark fruits, this beauty hits the palate with full-bodied richness solid concentration and classic red mountain structure. Give it 2-3 years in the cellar and enjoy bottles over the following 10 to 15 years.
Hightower Cellars is a Red Mountain favorite of mine that gets a perennial visit due in large part to the husband-and-wife owners and winemakers, Tim and Kelly Hightower. They make touring and tasting wines in this area an absolute pleasure.
The Hightowers had the foresight to buy 15 acres in this now world-famous Washington appellation in 2002. I've followed the growth of their 10 acres of estate vineyards since they were planted in 2004 and it's safe to say these have matured into some of the region's finest.
Two Hightower wines I enjoyed as of late absolutely blew me away, especially the 2010 Murray Red (about $20). Despite the Columbia Valley label designation, all of the fruit for this wine was sourced from Red Mountain vineyards.
The 2010 Murray is a delicious Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, petit verdot and cabernet franc. There's a pleasant, wet stone, mineral-like aroma - indicative of Red Mountain terroir - that leads off and follows through to the finish. In between, this overachieving red wine offers generous, mouthwatering boysenberry and blueberry flavors that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Also a pleasure to taste is the 2010 Merlot (about $25). Subtle black cherry, plum and currant flavors are complemented with a 15 percent contribution of malbec, which gives it a gentle but distinct brambly, blackberry finish. Here, the Hightowers show how attention-to-detail winemaking can result in an excellent wine despite a challenging, cooler vintage.
We are solid double gold here at Hightower Cellars!! All 4 of our wines that we submitted (Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah) received double golds at the Seattle Wine Awards!
Bud break - the season of rebirth in the vineyards. Bud break is when the grape starts its annual growth cycle. In the Yakima Valley this stage typically begins in mid-April, a little earlier here on Red Mountain, as it is one of the warmest sites in Yakima Valley. If the vines have been pruned during the winter, the start of this cycle is signaled by a “bleeding” of the vine which happens when the sap begins to flow. Bleeding reflects new root growth and warming soil temperatures.
Tiny buds on the vine start to swell and eventually shoots begin to grow from the buds. The shoots sprout tiny leaves that can begin the process of photosynthesis, which creates the energy to accelerate growth. These shoots grow relatively slow until the vines begin to enjoy really warm temperatures (85 degrees and above), which in the Yakima Valley typically occurs in mid-May. It is during this time that the acceleration of growth begins. Growers will easily see 2-3 inches of growth per day, maybe more if it is real warm.
On November 1st, 2013 finished pressing off the last of their 2013 wine into barrels. It was a beautiful sunny day. We celebrated with lots of good wine and food and showers!