(93% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Columbia Valley, Washington
WINEMAKER – John Duval
Few winemakers are as synonymous with the iconic wines of a country as John Duval, best known for his work with Penfolds’ Grange, the gold standard for Australian Shiraz. John joined Penfolds winery in 1974 after completing his studies in agriculture and winemaking. He was appointed Penfolds’ chief winemaker in 1986. During his 16-year tenure, John helped establish Penfolds as one of the world’s most celebrated wineries. After 28 years, John stepped down from the company in 2002 to establish John Duval Wines. In addition to making his own wine, John traveled to the Columbia Valley in 2003 at the invitation of Long Shadows Vintners’ founder Allen Shoup to make his first U.S. wine, Sequel, a name chosen in recognition of his life’s work with Syrah.
2015 was a very warm vintage, so winemaker John Duval crafted half this blend from the Yakima Valley, one of Washington’s cooler AVAs, relying on Boushey (32%) and Den Hoed (18%) vineyards to give the wine its bright, lively character and refined elegance. Bacchus Vineyard Syrah, grown on a south-facing block planted in 1993, adds dark color and richness. A Shiraz clone from Sonnet Vineyard at the Benches, along with a small amount of Candy Mountain Vineyard Syrah, contributes power and concentration. Dionysus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon gives the wine its backbone.
Hand-harvested grapes underwent a variety of gentle fermentation techniques to produce a wide spectrum of flavors without imparting bitter tannins. A portion of the lots underwent an Australian technique known as “rack and return” that requires draining the tank twice daily and gently putting the juice back over the top of the skins to extract deep color and optimal richness. Whole cluster fermentation was also used to enhance richness and dimension on the palate. A few lots were fermented with a submerged cap for structure and mouthfeel. Aged 18 months in all French oak, 65% new.
95 points – Jeb Dunnuck