Making Memories: Spring Valley Vineyard Frederick 2016
Yes. I know. I don't write as much about wine as I used to in my former blog, Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman. The truth? I don't drink much alcohol. I am retired from the wine industry, so I don't go to many wine events like I used to. Also, I don't like to drink alone. For me, when I drink a glass of wine (or two), the fun part is being with other wine nerds and geeking out about the wine from the nose to the flavor notes to food pairing. And frankly when and if I do have a glass of wine or any alcohol (my last glass was Thanksgiving), the wine especially needs to stand out and grab my attention by its reputation or a new label out of curiosity.
When I think of a true Walla Walla wine, Spring Valley Vineyard is always at the top of my list. Their former wheat fields go back as far as the mid-1800s when Uriah Corkrum was farming the land. Let's flash ahead to a new century in Walla Walla when Uriah's granddaughter, Shari Corkrum Derby, and her husband Dean Derby planted the first wine grapes at Spring Valley in 1993. Their first vintage of the estate wine was produced in 1999 by Devin Corkrum Derby, Shari and Dean's son. Devin and his wife Mary Tuuri Derby were instrumental in the energy of the new winery until Devin's untimely death in 2004. Devin’s assistant and friend Serge Laville took over as winemaker and continued the legacy of Spring Valley Vineyard winemaking until 2023. Spring Valley Vineyard is now onto a new generation of winemaking with Shari and Dean's granddaughter, Kate Derby who worked under the leadership of Serge. In 2006, Mary Tuuri Derby became the co-founder and wine creator of DaMa Wines, one of the first woman-owned wineries in Washington State.
A fellow wine nerd, good friend, and writer and I have a running wine nerd "argument" on which of the two Bordeaux-style wines from Spring Valley Vineyard (Walla Walla) we prefer. I have always been a huge fan of Frederick and he has always been a fan of Uriah, yet we both agree that we would never turn down either wine. Both wines are exceptional and show the style of the Walla Walla terroir.
Postum is a powdered roasted grain beverage created in 1895 by the founder of the Post Cereal Co. It was a popular and healthy coffee substitute that Grandpa used to drink instead of morning coffee. Frederick smelled like "home." Serge understood the smell I was referring to. He understood the terroir of Spring Valley.
A few months ago my fellow "wine nerd" companion joined me at a wonderful family gathering with my adult nieces and nephews. He generously brought to the gathering a bottle of Spring Valley Vineyard Frederick 2016. It had been a few years since I had a sip of Frederick. This Left Bank Bordeaux-style blend consisted of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, and 2% Malbec. It was complex, yet there was that distinct smell of wheat and earth. My palate was still sound as ever as I detected flavor notes of cherry pie filling like my Grandmother made from the tree she referred to as her "pie cherry" tree. There was a layer of dark chocolate, vanilla, and spice, and just a hint of pyrazine (green pepper) on the finish. This 2016 vintage is like other past vintages of Frederick. Elegant. It also has the potential to hang out in the cellar for a few more years.
Wine and food pairing recommendation? From a piece of prime rib with roasted vegetables to a rich bite of dessert prepared with semi-sweet chocolate. For the adventurous diner, perhaps a hunk of wild game roasted with a cherry glaze.
As always, Frederick did not disappoint. This bottle also completed what a good wine should do - bringing back old memories, and making new memories at our family gatherings while sharing a great bottle of wine.