Friday, February 27, 2009

Thirsty Pagans!

Once upon a time in the valley of Walla Walla there were three very thirsty amigos. Unfortunately, wine was not always within their reach. Rob Chowanietz and Crandall Kyle were raised in ultra-religious environments where alcohol was strictly forbidden. Not necessarily raised in a religious household, but attended church in her youth, Jeanie Inglis-Chowanietz would pass the time away by dreaming of wine coming out of the bathtub faucet.

Rob and Crandall finally discovered the joys of fermented grape juice while waiting tables at the local country club, where they would indulge in half-empty bottles of expensive wine left over from wedding receptions. And Jeanie couldn’t get enough of the real wine her church used during communion. Is the rest history or is history to be made?

Over a decade ago, when the Walla Walla wine industry was in her youth, you could find these three amigos all over the Walla Walla Valley. Rob was being guided by long time friend and mentor John Abbott, former winemaker for Canoe Ridge Vineyard (John is now at Abeja) and later Rob could be found as the cellar master for Woodward Canyon. Jeanie started her wine career in Walla Walla as the manager for Waterbrook Winery’s wine club and as PR director for Cayuse Vineyard. Crandall started his wine career doing books for L’Ecole No. 41 and later for Canoe Ridge Vineyard. And to this day he is still doing the numbers for Dunham Cellars. By day, Jeanie has moved onto her own wine consulting business and Rob is now winemaker for the Corus Estates and Vineyards in Sunnyside, WA. But by night and weekends - - all three of these amigos turn into - - Thirsty Pagans!

What started as a garage wine (isn’t that the way with most thirsty pagans - - hiding in garages?) is now being released to the public! Shriek! Gasp! Hide the children! Hold me mommy! Thirsty Pagan’s first release, Communion Red - 2005 is a fine blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. All of the fruit for this rich blend is from the Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills with the vineyard overlooking the Columbia River. With the help of Mother Nature, Rob is thoroughly involved from vine to the wine. But have no fear o' righteous ones, as the Thirsty Pagans do not have any plans to take over the world. The wine rests 22-months on 100% French oak and then another 12-months in the bottle. Small lots and producing only 250 cases annually makes it a no-brainer for these Thirsty Pagans to implement a screw cap, while leaving the risk of faulty corks behind them.

And now as we are near the end of our tale, how does Communion Red taste? Holy alter boy! This ain’t yo’ typical watered down fermented grape juice! The color is red and rich as the color of - - well - - Red Cross bag of blood! A nose of cherries, sage, and rock welcomes the nose followed by flavors of dark ripe cherries, brown sugar and concentrated dried cranberries. Spicy notes, yet smooth tannins satisfy the tongue while leaving just an edge of the ol’ smoky cigar box.

So, open your mind and take a walk to the "other "side. The other side holds the promise of a great wine for a great price of $26 a bottle - - so get into the holy habit!


Unknown said...

This is a great wine !!
I got a few bottles to try and really like it.
Can't wait for more !!

wild walla walla wine woman said...

Hi Frank,
Thanks for writing. It is a great wine! As a matter of fact, I am sipping a glass of it now!

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