WINE REVIEW: Cedar + Salmon 2017 Red Wine Blend, Walla Walla Valley, WA ($25)
by Andrew Chalk
This is a Bordeaux blend from the second largest producing state (after California). It is a blend of 45% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Grenache. The last grape is the odd one out, being a Rhône variety, but at 5% it is only present in trace amounts. This wine most closely resembles a Saint-Émilion due to Merlot and Cabernet Franc amounting to half the blend.
Walla Walla (always make sure you have the correct number of Wallas when you refer to it) is the most wine-centric town in the country. Imagine a Victorian main street where the shops, instead of being turned into frou-frou stores, have been made into winery tasting rooms. Imagine the local airport, not served by commercial air service but with a two-mile runway due to it being used to train B-29 pilots in the Second World War, with more wineries than gates. They restored the troop billeting buildings and leased them out as wineries and tasting rooms. Imagine the local junior college with a major emphasis in enology and viticulture, training just about every winemaker you meet. Imagine one of the best restaurants in town was founded by husband and wife restaurateurs from New York City who came looking for a better place to raise their children. If someone claimed there are over a hundred tasting rooms in this town of just over 30,000 people I wouldn’t contradict them (even though that is one tasting room for every three hundred people).
The town is unlike any other that I have been to. A wine lover’s mecca. An isolated testament to nature’s ability to fashion the hills like corrugated cardboard and man’s ability to cultivate and turn grapes into fine wines.
That brings us to this wine. The seller, 3 Badge Beverage Corporation, appears to be a kind of négociant (of both wines and spirits) based in Sonoma, CA and owned by August Sebastiani of the famous wine making family (we reviewed another wine from the portfolio, Gehricke, earlier this year).
The potency of this wine begins with the appearance which is an almost opaque purple. On the nose, blackberry is emphatic without overwhelming licorice, raspberry, and allspice. On the palate the blackberry combines with clove on a grippy tannic backbone that will allow this wine to age for 5+ years.
Those Walla Walla wineries that I mentioned earlier are focused on their tasting rooms in part because there, and club membership, is how they sell their product. Retail distribution is hard to do nowadays with the shelves groaning with product and the market essentially ceasing to grow. If companies like 3 Badge can help get those wines to a larger audience we consumers will also be winners.
Widely available at retail and on the winery website. Remember, precisely two Wallas.