Saviah Cellars Une Vallée Vertical, 2003-2008



By Kori ~ July 14th, 2010.

Recently when we were in Walla Walla for the Wine Bloggers Conference, we had the pleasure to visit with one of our favorite Washington winemakers, Rich Funk of Saviah Cellars. We selected Saviah Cellars as our Best Washington Winery of 2009.

Saviah Cellars is a family-owned winery located south of downtown Walla Walla, near the Oregon state line in the Walla Walla Valley AVA. Founded in 2000 by Rich Funk and his wife Anita, Saviah Cellars currently produces about 9,500 cases per year. The name Saviah is a family name from Anita’s great-grandmother.

Rich took us through a vertical tasting of his Saviah Cellars Une Vallée Red Wine from the 2003 through the 2008 vintage. (For those of you who are not familiar with a vertical tasting, it is one in which you taste different vintages of the same wine from the same winery.) Une Vallée is French for “one valley”. This Left Bank Bordeaux-style blend features fruit from the Walla Walla Valley. When Rich founded Saviah, there were not a lot of vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley so his goal from the beginning has been to blend together the best wine that he can from the Walla Walla Valley. The only exception so far has been the 2004 vintage when the Walla Walla Valley suffered from a terrible freeze; the fruit for that wine was sourced from Columbia Valley vineyards.

“I want to make a wine that really showcases my style as much as the elegance and silkiness that Walla Walla wines portray. I think that the essence of Walla Walla is the silkiness that we have in our wines. The Une Vallée has always been about restraint rather than trying to make a big, bruiser, over-extracted wine.” –Rich Funk, winemaker

As I have said before, one of the things that I really admire about Rich’s winemaking style is that he strives for elegance rather than over-extracted huge wines. As a winemaker, he is all about the fruit, but his wines are not fruit bombs. Rich’s wines show balance, complexity, and elegance.

You can’t go wrong with any of these wines; they are all very good. However, the two that really stood out to us were the 2007 and 2008. Both are very young but are already excellent and should open up even more with a few more years of age. These wines also deliver some serious bang for your buck.

Tasting notes, in the order we tasted them:

2003 Saviah Walla Walla Valley Une Vallée (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Very aromatic with black fruits, spice, licorice, cinnamon, and a hint of leather on the nose. Blackberry and black cherry dominate the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $32

2004 Saviah Columbia Valley Une Vallée (Columbia Valley, Washington): 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. Herbal notes, black cherry, and clove on the nose; black plum and oak on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $32

2005 Saviah Walla Walla Valley Une Vallée (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc. Aromas of ripe blackberry, citrus, coffee, and a hint of mint. Flavors of black and red fruits and spice. Full-bodied with lively acidity and medium, silky tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $32

2006 Saviah Walla Walla Valley Une Vallée (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc. Very aromatic with floral notes, black fruits, herbs, and slight vegetal aromas on the nose. Ripe black cherry, red cherry, and earth on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and smooth tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $32

2007 Saviah Walla Walla Valley Une Vallée (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc. Very aromatic with black and blue fruits, vanilla, and spice on the nose. More black and blue fruits, spice, licorice, and floral notes come through on the palate. Full-bodied, crisp yet smooth, medium to high tannins and a long finish. Well-balanced, good complexity, should get even better with some age.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $32

2008 Saviah Walla Walla Valley Une Vallée (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc. Gorgeous nose with black fruit, baking spice, and licorice aromas that lead to blackberry, black plum, and spice flavors. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long finish. Well-balanced with good complexity. A very young wine but shows amazing potential.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $32


Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

Leave a Comment