I came into contact with Marty Johnson, winemaker and co-owner of Magdalena Vineyards, when doing research for an article about the lesser-known varieties growing in Washington’s wine regions. Marty hails from the Rattlesnake Hills AVA near Zillah, Washington. All his wines produced (a modest 200-plus annual case production) are made from grapes grown on his petite 1-acre vineyard that he manages with his wife and co-owner Ryan.
His focus is on Spanish varieties: Tempranillo, Graciano and Garnacha Tinta (Grenache Noir). Marty said he chose these varieties from Rioja because after traveling to the northern Spanish wine region, he noticed that the climate was quite similar to that of eastern Washington. “It surprises most people to learn that we get very little precipitation this side of the Cascade Mountains — just around 5.5 inches a year … most of which comes in winter and early spring,” he said in an interview.
Intrigued by this passionate small producer, I was more than happy to accept a bottle (or three) from him to taste what this Washington winery is all about…
Flavor Profile: Upon opening the bottle the first thing I smell is a salty-sweetness that makes me think of caramel straight away. Based on the color that seems to radiate out of the bottle, this rosé does not exude excessive fruitiness, instead calling to mind more savory-sweetness like a hazelnut caramel. And this is just from the neck of the bottle…
This rosé is a very pale peach on the pour. In the glass still maintains that peachy-ness, but is a bit fuller, richer, but still more salmon-hue than “pink”
Once in the glass, here I find the strawberry, the watermelon, a hint of citrus as well. There’s clearly some floral aromas hidden so swirl. Swirl and release the scent of sweetpea flowers after a warm spring rain. Those fruit aromas sensed early are enlivened even more, and that savory note sensed from the glass lingers in the background: yes some nuttiness, but also a bit of fresh green herbaceousness. Is that basil? Float away, and there’s a bit of a sweet-tart fruit aroma reminiscent of a raspberry coulis.
The palate of this Garnacha-rosé is smooth-ish—there’s a bit of effervescence that cuts through. It’s rich with strawberry, lemon, watermelon. The fruits are quite forward and almost have a sweetness to them. That savoriness is nearly disappeared except for the faint back breath of herbaceous ness. It’s a curious wine that invites another sip if only to help you figure out all the little nuances.
More Info: I received the Ruby Magdalena Vineyards 2016 Rose of Garnacha as a sample for review. (Cheers Marty!) Price: $14. For more information about Ruby Magdalena, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Ruby Magdalena website.
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