During our last trip to Walla Walla, we had the good fortune to stop by the Figgins wine studio, where we enjoyed some wonderful wines expertly crafted by Chris Figgins.
“Crafted” might not be the best word — the Figgins’ website clearly states: Figgins wine is “grown” not “made” and as such, the wine quality is achieved through meticulous, sustainable farming practices and carefully controlled, yet “hands-off” winemaking.
We’ve been fans of Figgins wine for years; more recently, Chris introduced us to Toil Oregon wines at the Northwest Wine Encounter at Semiahmoo Resort. The silhouette on the Toil label is taken from a photo of Chris’ father and great uncle William Leonetti, planting the first Leonetti vineyard in 1974. The family history in the valley goes back even further; they moved to Walla Walla in 1902.
Although Chris was traveling during our visit, we had a first-class experience from assistant winemaker, Chad Honsinger. Chad took us on a tour of the tasting room and the production facility, where 2,772 cases of Figgins Estate Red Wine were produced along with 700 cases of Toil Oregon Pinot Noir. Chad’s passion for wine was evident throughout our conversation. He also told us that the first vintage of Figgins Estate Red was 2008, while 2012 was the first vintage for Toil.
Chad then poured tastes of Figgins 2013 Estate Red Wine, as well as Toil Oregon 2015 Pinot Noir. Not surprisingly, Toil 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir sold out quickly, since only160 cases were produced for its first vintage. Thankfully, we tasted it at Northwest Wine Encounter — clean and crisp, with balanced acidity and flavors of fresh berries — and we look forward to the next release.
Figgins 2013 Estate Red Wine ($85)
This polished, rich wine is Cabernet-based, blended with Petit Verdot and Merlot. Chad called this release of their flagship blend “a monumental vintage.” A beautiful nose of dark cherries, violets, cassis and cocoa leads to brilliant flavors of dark fruits, coffee, anise and a lovely minerality. The Wine Advocate noted the wine’s harmony and purity, awarding it 94 points. It drinks extremely well now, but should be best from 2020-2033.
Toil Oregon 2015 Pinot Noir ($50)
Chad calls this dark, deep beauty “a Pinot for Cab lovers” — which explains why we love it. More specifically, we were wowed when we tasted it upon release at the Northwest Wine Encounter, and adored it even more a few months later in Walla Walla. Earthy, big and complex, the Toil Pinot opens with a pretty nose of raspberries, blueberries, cherries and spices, followed by similar flavors through the long, juicy finish. Gorgeous, glorious and dazzling are not often words we use to describe Pinot Noir, but fit this one perfectly.
For many people, the prices of these two wines mean they will be poured on special occasions. And believe us, Figgins 2013 Estate Red and Toil Oregon 2015 Pinot Noir are the epitome of special.
Margot and Dave