Bottleology – Sleight of Hand Cellars with Trey Busch
March 31, 2010 by Dave Bender
One of the most complicated things to do in the wine business is to convey the intended message of a wine. This task of describing a wine’s flavor profile, articulating that flavor into words, and delivering truthful content able to be translated by the reader clearly, is forever challenging. There are no photos to explain the flavors. No maps or illustrations. Just words. Respectfully, my role is to do the wine justice–for better, or worse.
Now that’s just wine! Certainly a more delicate subject is the challenge of describing a human being and giving them the accolades they deserve. As I ponder my attempt, I start by telling you that his name is Trey Busch, and his wine is called Archimage. I’m about to try and do them both some justice.
Classifieds: Trey Busch–wine maker and co-owner of Sleight of Hand Cellars in Walla Walla–quickly set the tone, “I am 40 years old, a Scorpio, and I like the color blue, the smell of fresh rain, and 70’s Heavy Metal….just kidding. Not really. Anyway, I own the winery with Sandy and Jerry Solomon, and we started it about 3 years ago.”
Record Label: I’m certain that Trey will be quick to tell you that he LOVES music. After all, his wine label, “Sleight of Hand,” is named after a song from his favorite band of all times: Pearl Jam. He claims (and I won’t argue) that, “We have the best tasting room in Washington State! Where else can you walk in and choose your own music…on Vinyl of course! I think music is a great ice breaker, and it relaxes people. It makes them feel less intimidated about the tasting experience if they’re not used to wine tasting. We are very laid back and want people to enjoy themselves and have a good time, and of course we hope they like the wines.”
KRAFT: Trey was hired by Eric Dunham in 2000 as an Assistant Winemaker. Eric knew that Trey didn’t have any experience, but took the risk. It was Eric who helped to develop Trey’s craft of making wine. Along the way Trey read lots of books and talked with winemakers from all over the world in his attempt to fine-tune his abilities. Trey’s not afraid of taking risks or experimenting to improve his wines. Here’s an experiment:
(1) Boil some macaroni. (2) Strain. (3) Add Kraft powdered cheese packet. (4) Return to heat. (5) Serve and enjoy with excessive amounts of Sleight of Hand Cellars wine (kids 21+). Yum!
Kids Inc. (K.I.D.S.): If you asked his wife Jennifer about the family, she’d tell you that she has three kids–Kailey (age 11), Chloe (age 4) and Trey (age 40). Trey said, “I don’t argue with her on that.” Trey boasted to me that he and his wife have been married for 16 years, and together for 20. I asked Trey if the kids were “bottle feeding” yet, he laughed.
Loop: Trey said he’s forever passionate about “Music, Pearl Jam, live concerts….did I miss anything to do with music?”
MEMOIR-ies: I asked Trey if he remembered his first wine experience, I then cued the chimes to jog his memory…he told me about three: “First, I got into wine with off-dry Riesling, because it was a little sweet and made the transition easy. That was in my early 20s. My first “wow” moment came when I tasted Eric Dunham’s 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon–still a top five wine of all time for me. And lastly, when I opened a bottle of 1990 Cheval Blanc with my good friend Ronnie Sanders in Philly, I knew wine was something that transcended the ordinary. We were in a little Italian Restaurant, and after decanting, the only thing you could smell in this place was the wine. It completely overpowered the aromas of that great Italian food. That bottle housed the greatest wine I have ever tasted to this day.” Afterward, I did a price check: the 1990 Cheval Blanc is selling for $1000.
FREE[time]: Trey LOVES music, so attending concerts is one of his favorite things to do. He said, “And some would say I spend too much time listening to Pearl Jam, but I disagree…” I’ll give him credit and tell you that he also mentioned his joy for spending time with his wife and kids—music PROBABLY takes a CLOSE 2nd to them.
Collect Call: Trey–to no surprise–collects Pearl Jam memorabilia. He has over 150 posters, well over 300 CDs (boot legs, live recordings etc…) and enough miscellaneous memorabilia to fill a museum.
+ Vice: If you’re an aspiring winemaker, here is some advice Trey would pass along to you: “Taste as many wines from different parts of the globe as you can. Start a tasting group with your peers, and always question authority, but never yourself.”
(YOUR NICK NAME/S HERE): I asked Trey if he had a nickname, he said “I’m sure my wife has a few for me.”
RED BULL, rather ROCK STAR!: I’m always curious if winemakers ever feel like celebrities. So I asked Trey if he has ever had a celebrity status moment and he said, “Oh, that one is easy. Having Eddie Vedder drinking my wine on-stage in Chicago this past summer! I have pics from the 5th row!”
A Mouth Full: Sleight of Hand, “Archimage”, Walla Walla, Washington Red Blend $40 297 cs. 54% Merlot 46% Cab Franc
This is a wine that Trey has made to honor Cheval Blanc of Bordeaux, at a fraction of the cost. Translated, the name Archimage means “master magician” in ancient Persia–“Arch” or top, and “Mage” like Magic or Magician. Illusions aside, here’s my translation of Archimage:
Stained woody aromas lend themselves well to spices of cumin, coriander and white pepper. Red fruit of current, cranberry and pomegranate intermix with a moderate twang of menthol. On the palate, the wine creeps in up front, then the red fruit driven high acidity and tannins pry gently at your gum line. This wine is no doubt young. The back label suggests a 12-15 year cellar-ability–it’s hard to say. What I suggest you do is buy this wine for your collection and hang a wine tag on it that says “Disappearing Act – 2013.” For instant gratification year round, buy Trey’s “Spellbinder” red wine blend–it’s almost too much rock for one hand!
Where The Magic Happens:
Sleight of Hand Cellars
16 North 2nd Avenue
Walla Walla, WA 99362
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