Strange as it sounds, it was Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino who passed along his appreciation for Washington wine to his then-backup Damon Huard — a standout at the University of Washington who spent his early childhood in the Yakima Valley. After talking about it for 15 years, they decided to team up on a boutique winery, and they’ve made a great call in handing off their winemaking to acclaimed Avennia vintner Chris Peterson. Their debut release spotlights rising Cabernet Sauvignon site Discovery Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, backed by Merlot from Klipsun (9%) and Cabernet Franc (5%) off famed Champoux Vineyard. A program of 21 months in new French oak barrels creates alluring scents of roasted coffee, black cherry, dark plum, cocoa powder, horehound and blackstrap molasses. The angle to the palate is rich and focused with flavors of blackberry jam on buttered toast and Chukar Cherries. The hallmark is elegance and supreme balance from the midpalate on back thanks to beautifully managed tannins. Even a Cougar could appreciate the greatness and promise shown with this attempt, which Huard and Marino plan to follow up with a Cab from the Walla Walla Valley and another off Red Mountain.
Production: 500 cases