Spring Valley Vineyard 2004 Frederick Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
March 20, 2010 by Erin Thomas
*Bottle #90: Spring Valley Vineyard 2004 Walla Walla Valley “Frederick” Cabernet Sauvignon-Blend
*Price Tag: $55
*Running Tab: $1,211
Call it a small world. Call it a relationship. Even call it incestuous. But in the wine industry, there are family lines that cross, vineyard borders that merge, production facilities that are shared all the way to one-time bartenders gone distributors to making their own wine. The wine industry just doesn’t go full-circle with its members, it does loops.
Marriages, book clubs or job opportunities, one position comes from another, from some connection within the industry and it’s a tough one to leave (the booze is so often free!). Many operations are owned by couples or family members. Everyone knows everyone, even if only by a name or a face. You could easily link a winemaker in Finger Lakes to a wine blogger in Phoenix and somewhere recognition will apply.
Likewise with the founding members of Spring Valley Vineyards in Walla Walla. The Corkrum and Derby families have been farming in the area since the late 1800s. Shari Corkrum, daughter of the region’s initial family, ended up marrying one of the other first families’ sons, Dean Derby.
Shari and Dean now oversee the winery to date while Dean’s brother, Gaynor Derby, manages the vineyard. The winery is also one that is part of the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates collection, now holding 11 wineries in its “string of pearls” from the Pacific Northwest. Hinting at more incest…
The current location of the family farm has been sitting pretty since 1910, continuously being tended by the blended Corkrum-Derby families.
Only until about 17 years ago did the family put vines in the ground, starting with a two-acre planting of Merlot to see if this innovation would flourish.
Keeping it more in the extended family, each wine Spring Valley Vineyards puts out is labeled and dedicated to the literal founding fathers of the farm. “Uriah,” a Merlot-based blend named after Shari’s grandfather, has received several 91+ point wines since the 2001 vintage.
Son of Uriah and father to Shari, Frederick Corkrum received this particular Cab-based blend in his honor. The picture on the label is a little creepy and he looks a little like The Situation from the “Jersey Shore.” Just sayin’…
59% Cab, 24% Merlot, 12% Cab Franc and 5% Petit Verdot off the ol’ Spring Valley farm, the wine spends its time in oak, mostly French with a touch of American oak and only half of it being new, for about 20 months.
The nose is bursting with spice and vanilla aromas, inkling toward my favorite sensations of a Snickerdoodle cookie – cinnamon, sugar, vanilla and the baked cookie itself included. Mocha, cedar, blackberry and currant are secondary with more red fruit and licorice. The 15.4% alcohol content and new oak is also prevailing but sweet in its intensity.
And then sweet on the palate as well, in the fruit-forward way of the term, however you are reminded that this is made up of mother-f’ing Walla Walla Cab and it’s gonna rip your taste buds out to make sure you don’t forget next time.
Spice and grainy tannic grit give that awkward greeting at the door while the ripe and dusty red fruit and licorice smooth out the bumps by sweet-talking you into sitting down on the couch and staying for awhile. The finish wipes it all up with a dry yet balanced portrayal of all the emotions and flavors you never thought you could go through from just walking into the Corkrum’s hypothetical wine house. Multi-faceted and fierce, this truly is a Walla Walla Cab-blend.
With plenty of aging possible to soften this wine over time but considering where its from, I think this Cab-based blend will stay true to its tannic structure. As it should, the tannins do not detract from the wine, they just let you know who it is and where it’s come from. Which overall kind of gives a respectful nod to Frederick himself.
Whether they are or not, the wine makes it seem like them Corkrum and Derby kids are proud. Incest and all.