We have been fans of Dunham Cellars since their inaugural vintage, a 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2007, when Write for Wine launched, we first visited Dunham’s friendly tasting room in a remodeled World-War II-era airplane hangar in Walla Walla.
Our most recent visit was in May, where we tasted through a wonderful lineup and enjoyed a lengthy conversation, and a trip down memory lane, with general manager John Blair. While all the wines are noteworthy, we thought the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon XIX topped the charts of all the Dunham wines we’ve enjoyed over the years.
Dunham Cellars 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon XIX ($45)
We first sipped on this beauty last spring at a Taste Washington media event and loved it. A few months later at the winery’s tasting room, it was even better. We were not surprised to hear this lovely wine won best of show at the Great Northwest Invitational. Deep and opulent, this 19th vintage is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon — smooth, elegant, luxe and structured. Blackberry, cappuccino, spice and cassis aromas are followed by lush flavors of dark cherry, berries and licorice. Pair it with a big juicy steak.
Dunham Cellars 2013 Syrah ($35)
Another award-winning wine, Dunham’s 2013 Syrah took the best of show honors at the 2016 Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition. A classic Washington state Syrah, this wine is silky, elegant and simply delicious. Aromatics of blackberry, black cherry and a hint of vanilla lead into flavors of dark black fruit, raspberry and a touch of coffee. The finish is long and smooth, with mild notes of dark chocolate, cedar and baking spices. Pair it with beef, pork or spicy foods.
Dunham Cellars 2013 Trutina ($29)
Dunham Cellars is known for this delightful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (42%), Merlot (42%) and Malbec (12%), rounded off with Petit Verdot (2%) and Syrah (2%). This wine opens up with aromas of black plum, cherry and cocoa, followed by chocolate, cherry and vanilla flavors, and a long finish of bright red fruit. Because of its versatility, you could pair it with charcuterie or sausages at a picnic in these late-summer afternoons, or enjoy it with a roast beef dinner or pasta.
Dunham Cellars 2014 Three Legged Red ($19)
Three Legged Red is a price-friendly, appealing wine, packed with fruit flavors and named after their adorable dog, Port, whom we met at the tasting room the year before he passed away. Every vintage, this wine is blended from a portion of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah from their estate vineyard, and aged from the same barrels used for their finest wines. Pair it with pizza or pasta, or enjoy it on its own.
Dunham Cellars 2016 Rosé of Cabernet Franc ($18)
One of our favorite summer sippers this year, Dunham’s Rosé of Cabernet Franc is refreshing, light and crisp, with a beautiful pale pink color. We’ve always been fans of grapefruit aromas, which emanate from the glass along with papaya and cranberry. The light, delicate flavors feature stone fruit, raspberries, cherries and oranges. Enjoy it next to the lake, on the deck or poolside, with tasty cheeses, fresh fruit plates or summer salads.
Many of Dunham’s wines are available in retail outlets, as well as online and in their winery. We recommend you try them — and be sure to stop by their tasting room during your next visit to Walla Walla.
Margot and Dave