The state of Washington has been producing some extraordinary red wines for a couple of decades, in its ever increasing number of appellations. There are over 500 wineries in the state and almost 50 are added each year with no sign of slowing down.
But it is in the Walla Walla Valley, adjoining Oregon, that some of the best reds are being produced. Recently the 2006 Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah Walla Walla Valley Red Wine made the Wine Spectator’s “Top 100” list of the World’s Best Wines for the fourth time in its eight vintage history.
While The Corkrums have been growing crops in Spring Valley for more than 100 years— the family's patriarch Uriah Corkrum arrived in the area in the 1800s — it is only since 1999 that the founding winemakers Devin Corkrum, his wife Sahri CorkrumDerby and his brother Gaynor Derby make the first vintage of Uriah from vineyards nestled amid the wheat fields northeast of Walla Walla. Today with French winemaker Serge Laville, the family is making wines that reflect the distinctive terroir of Spring Valley.
Each wine is named after a founding member of the family and the labels are their old portraits — a tribute to the patriachs who have struggled and succeeded in farming the same land where Spring Valley Vineyard now flourishes. Spring Valley Vineyard is a limited production facility with about 40 acres planted, including Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and produces only Estate bottled red wine. They all retail around $50
2007 Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah Walla Walla Valley ($50)
The mix: 60% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, and 6% Malbec. This Merlot blend gets its name from Uriah (Corkrum) - the grandfather of Shari Corkrum Derby. Born in Walla Walla on June 1, 1866 he began successful farming on his own during the 1880's. Poor weather prevented him from harvesting his crop and he lost everything during the first great depression of 1893. He struggled to persevere and in 1910 acquired land in the area known as Spring Valley.
Uriah, Spring Valley's flagship wine, is elegant and well-balanced, silky and lush, intense with dark chocolate, nuts, plum, cherry, and ripe raspberries, with notes of cedar and exotic spice flavors and a long, creamy, raspberry finish.
Frederick (Corkrum) - Made of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot. This Cabernet Sauvignon blend's name stems from Frederick Corkrum, son to Uriah and father to Shari, who grew up in Spring Valley.
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine is a highly structured, fruit-driven wine with a nose of candied plum, blackberry jam and lowers. The palate is huge yet soft with vibrant lush fruit and a long finish.
2007 Spring Valley Vineyard Nina Lee Walla Walla Valley
Nina Lee This 100% Syrah is rich, ripe and smooth with bright fruit, sweet berry jam flavors and mineral and earth tones, reminiscent of the Syrah make in the steep hills of the Rhône Valley’s Côte Rôtie or Hermitage in France.
The name comes from the wife of Frederick Corkrum. They met in 1928 after she finished performing her Vaudeville act at the local theater. They married immediately and began their struggle to stay afloat during the great depression. Following Frederick's death in 1957, Nina Lee didn't want to depend on anyone for her livelihood and continued to operate the ranch on her own. Nina Lee passed away after 21 years of successful farming.
2007 Spring Valley Vineyard Frederick Walla Walla Valley