As we were enjoying a bottle of 2014 Trine over dinner tonight, I was thinking of how the wines in the valley have changed since I came back to Walla Walla in 1985. The AVA was already known for its big red wines which were earning the area its reputation for world class wines.
When Jean-François Pellet joined me to start making wines for Pepper Bridge Winery in 1998 he helped lead the shift in the valley to full texture wines that were pleasant to drink younger.
I remember guests in the tasting room in the early 1990s telling me that these were great wines but they would not age. They were so used to drinking wines that overpowered their pallet with coarse tannins that they assumed they were required for a wine to age well. However, for a wine to age well it has to be balanced, with expert winemaking this balance can include a lush texture, a wine that is enjoyable with or without food can be achieved. We still wait three years from crush to release to let the tannins smooth out. I used to tell those early guests that the wine they were tasting in 2000 would be around for a long time. I do not have many left in my cellar, but I still pull Cabernet Sauvignon from 1998 through 2000 to enjoy with guests.
— Norm McKibben