WINE REVIEW: Mullan Road Cellars 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, WA ($45)
by Andrew Chalk
This blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc is important for two reasons. First, it is the first Cabernet Sauvignon from Mullen Road since the winery first released a wine in 2012. Second, and more profoundly, it is from the Royal Slope AVA, a new AVA (American Viticultural Area) just approved by the Federal Government. The grapes come from two vineyards, the Stillwater Creek Vineyard and the Lawrence Solaksen Vineyard.
The Royal Slope AVA is a sub-AVA of the vast Columbia Valley AVA. The reason that the latter is the AVA that appears on the label, even though all the grapes come from the subsection that is the Royal Slope AVA, is that Royal Slope was approved in 2019, and the vintage of this wine is 2017. The Feds don’t allow you to go back and re-label your older vintages in this scenario. However, it is accurate, and helpful to consumers, to point out on the web site and social media that this wine would qualify for the new AVA if it had been a 2019 or later.
So much for the background, how is the wine? The color is a medium ruby with a purple rim, expressing a wine still in a youthful state. The nose has forward dark fruit of blackberry and undertones of chocolate and licorice. The hard spices of cooking like thyme float around in the background jazzing up the mix. In the mouth the fruit just explodes. A medium plus acid level is good too, keeping the wine lively on the palate. Tannins are chewy and bold, another sign of the wine’s youthful state.
All in all, I would keep this and reassess it in five years. If you do taste it now fatty red meat (Texas barbecue brisket anyone) would be the best match.