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Kiona Vineyards NV Pioneer Red, Red Mountain, $23
The Williams clan focused its Pioneer Red project as a bid reaching for balance while providing a sense of Red Mountain. They’ve achieved both with this blend that stretches across three vintages – 2014 (70 percent), 2013 (28 percent) and 2012 (2 percent). The label carries a historic and hilarious crush pad image of patriarch John Williams and longtime neighbor Jim Holmes, who went on to fame with his Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. And while it’s a nonvintage wine, coined as “Version 1,” the blending by Scott Williams and Tristan Butterfield proves it to be a skillful and thoughtful effort. Merlot (65%) from their Kiona Estate planting dominates, but Cabernet Sauvignon (22%), Petit Verdot (5%), Cabernet Franc (5%), Grenache (2%) and Malbec (1%) each have their roles to play in the collection that’s also off Heart of the Hill, Emory and Vinagium-owned Red Heaven. Lush notes of dusty blackberry, cherry cola and cherry pipe tobacco are presented among a structure that’s lithe and finished delicious Marionberry acidity. It was developed specifically to be presented at the tasting room, but it also is available online.
Production: 356 cases