A couple of days ago, I received an email from Chris Kontos asking if Lynn and I would like to come to Kontos Cellars and barrel taste the winery's "The Boss" 2015 red wine. I said sure, and yesterday we drove over to the barrel room next to Chris and Cameron Kontos' father, Cliff's home south of Walla Walla. Before tasting, we chatted a bit and Cliff talked about the time when he and Gary Figgins made wine together and then how he started his own winery, Fort Walla Walla Cellars in 1998.
"The Boss" is Chris and Cameron's tribute to their father, affectionately called The Boss, who helped make the wine. The Kontos family life revolved around cattle ranching, farming, aviation (the middle son, Kip, is a pilot for Alaska Airlines), winemaking and golf. The family still grows wheat and makes wine. Before that, Cliff was a cattle man. Branding was an annual activity that brought the family together.
My tasting notes:
2015 Kontos Cellars "The Boss" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley - Composed of 41% Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Les Collines Merlot and 8% Dwelley Cabernet Franc, this showed an inky purplish-ruby color and an intense, smoky nose of blackberries, cherries, plums, crushed roses, mulberry, pipe tobacco, black olive, sage and incense. The flavors as well were intense, infused with licorice, bittersweet chocolate, Sumatra roast and silty minerals. The back picked up macerated berries, roasted nuts, mocha, toffee and toasty oak all leading into long ripe, chewy yet firm tannin finish. Here, the plus indicates the potential to advance to 19.5 points. 19+/20 points.
Each future vintage of The Boss will contain a percentage of the previous vintage to give continuity to this tribute.
2016 Kontos Cellars "The Boss" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley - This consists of the same percentages of varieties as the 2015. It showed a deep ruby color and a sultry, smoky nose of wild blackberries, cherries, plums, crushed roses, tobacco, cedar and incense. The flavors came on as more closed and taut than the 2015, but stuffed with lots of layered fruits, intermixed with licorice, dark cocoa, French roast and earth. The back picked up roasted berries and nuts, toffee and burnt charcoal followed, again by a long, chewy ripe tannin finish. 19+/20 points.
2015 Kontos Cellars "Caimbry" Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Pepper Bridge Vineyard - Named for Chris' daughter, this wine, made for the wine club, showed a semi opaque ruby color and an intense, smoky nose of blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cassis, crushed roses, tobacco, olive and rosemary. The flavors mirrored the aromatics with thick black and blue fruits that were infused with licorice, bittersweet chocolate, extra dark roast coffee and silty earth. The back revealed roasted berries and nuts, mocha, toffee, dried cherries and integrated oak, followed by a lingering, slightly grainy sweet-dry tannin finish. 19+/20 points.
2016 Kontos Cellars "Tate" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Les Collines Vineyard - Three fourths whole cluster fermented, this showed an opaque purplish color and an intense, perfumed nose of blackberries, blueberries, black currants, crushed roses, lavender, sweet tobacco, violets and oriental incense. The flavors were thick, almost massive, infused with licorice, dark chocolate, Sumatra roast and silty minerals. The back picked up macerated fruits, roasted nuts, pulverized charcoal and ripe, sweetish tannins on the long, Rhone-like finish. 19+/20 points.