Crack that Cap with Dusted Valley Vintners



By Kori ~ May 16th, 2011.

Dusted Valley Vintners, located in Walla Walla, Washington, was founded in 2003 by brothers-in-law Chad Johnson and Corey Braunel who are co-owners, co-winegrowers, and co-winemakers. Both Chad and Corey are originally from Wisconsin and are proud cheese-heads. In fact, they bring a bit of Wisconsin to Dusted Valley by using some barrels made from Wisconsin oak to age their wines. Their current annual production is over 16,000 cases. Boomtown is their entry-level value brand (12,000 cases), and the Dusted Valley label graces the bottles of their higher-end wines (4,000 cases). “Crack that cap” is a familiar refrain when it comes to Dusted Valley because all of their wines are closed with screwcaps. Both Chad and Corey have science backgrounds and based on their research, they believe that screwcaps are the best wine bottle closures.

We first visited Dusted Valley on a trip to Walla Walla in the summer of 2008 and had the pleasure to meet Chad. Their Walla Walla tasting room is located in a converted garage below Corey’s house. In 2009, they opened a second tasting room in Woodinville in the Hollywood Schoolhouse area to have a presence closer to the population base and tourists in Seattle. In addition to being a tasting room, the Dusted Valley Wine Gallery features the art of local artists. In my opinion, Dusted Valley has one of the best names for their wine club that I’ve ever heard, the Stained Tooth Society. Chad, Corey, and all of the folks at Dusted Valley value their STS members but are also able to have a bit of fun with the club giving new members Stained Tooth Society-logoed toothbrushes.

While they source their grapes from vineyards around the state of Washington, Dusted Valley is especially proud of their four estate vineyards, Sconni Block, Birch Creek, Stoney Vine, and Minnick Hills.

Recently, we had the opportunity to meet with Corey and taste through some of the current releases from Dusted Valley at their Wine Gallery in Woodinville. We also took home three of their wines to put into one of our blind samples tastings. We thought all six wines were very good but were especially impressed with the 2009 Grenache.

If you live near or are visiting either Walla Walla or Woodinville, I encourage you to make a point to stop at one of Dusted Valley’s tasting rooms. Not only are they making great wines, but also they are very friendly, welcoming folks.

2009 Dusted Valley Grenache (Columbia Valley, Washington): 91% Grenache and 9% Petite Sirah. Deep, dark ruby red. Gorgeous nose with blackberry, black cherry, spice, perfumed, and gamey aromas. Black cherry, game, strawberry, plum, and a hint of earth come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and crisp with medium, smooth tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long finish. A great food wine.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $28; Available elsewhere, $22 to $28

2008 Dusted Valley Tall Tales Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier. Deep, dark purple. Very aromatic with smoked meat, earth, truffles, and pencil shavings on the nose. More smoked meat and earth as well as blackberry, black cherry, and blueberry come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high, drying tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $53; Available elsewhere, $46

2008 Dusted Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec. Deep, dark inky purplish red in color. Nice nose with blackcurrant, leather, oak, chocolate, and dusty aromas that lead to black fruit, licorice, leather, and smoked meat flavors. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium to high, drying tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $30; Available elsewhere, $24 to $26

2009 Dusted Valley Wallywood (Columbia Valley, Washington): 63% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 7% Mourvedre. Dark purplish red. Nice nose with earth, spice, and licorice aromas. Red cherry, spice, and Red Vines come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long, smooth finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $42

2008 Dusted Valley Malbec (Columbia Valley, Washington): Deep, dark inky purple-black in color. Nose is a bit tight at first. Black cherry, leather, and spice dominate the palate. Medium-bodied and lively with medium, drying tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $42; Available elsewhere, $34

2006 Dusted Valley Late Harvest Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): Deep, dense purple. Aromatic with raisins, prunes, meat, and savory notes on both the nose and palate. Very different dessert wine; not sweet like most Late Harvest wines. Both sweet and savory. Residual Sugar: 5.1%
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Winery, $30 [375ml]


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Grenache, Malbec, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

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