A pair of 2005 Willis Hall Reds

Like most small wineries, Willis Hall prides itself on staying as close to the “purity of the fruit” as possible and sources from the best vineyard sites it can get its hands on. Winemaker, John Bell, is extremely passionate about his craft and is always eager to share the wines he produces.

Willis Hall has sort of carved out a small cult-like following and is one of the wineries that are starting to put Snohomish County on the map (well, that and some help from the scores  Quilceda Creek wines have garnered).

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting John a few times now over the past several months and am always impressed on how personable he is and the gleam in his eye whenever you get him started talking about wine – it’s great to see his passion.

2005 Cabernet Franc: Charbonneau Farms –  W.E.P. Rating: 100%

  • Alcohol by Volume – 13.2%
  • Blend – 90% Cabernet Franc; 10% Merlot
  • Vineyards – Charbonneau Farms
  • Barrels – 100% French Oak (50% New; 50% One Cycle Used)
  • Ageing – 22 Months
  • Price: $32

Nose: Cherries, raspberries, black cherries. The smell reminds me of a warm, safe place where as a child I’d Hide (Guns n’ Roses rocks!) – seriously, this wine has comfort-101 all over the nose. It’s pleasant, soft and full of fruit that you’d love to pound by the fistfull.

Taste: The sheer balance of tannin structure and dark fruits of this wine are “off the chain” – this is a Cab Franc that is truley world-class and shows good evidence as to why Washington State kicks ass with this grape. It has the classic darker berry fruits on the front-end with an incredible mid-palate transition that layers on a sort of caramel-pie-crust-like layer and the finish lasts for weeks.

2005 Dolcetto – W.E.P. Rating: 90%

  • Alcohol by Volume – 13.7%
  • Blend – 91% Dolcetto; 9% Sangiovese
  • Vineyards – Morrison Lane; Snipes Canyon Ranch
  • Barrels – 100% French Oak (40% One Cycle Used; 60% Neutral)
  • Ageing – 22 Months
  • Price: $28

Nose: Shampoo, black cherries, rhubarb, sour cherries, white pepper, bubble gum and beef jerky.

Taste: Good amount of an ocean-spray tartness that goes on in the fruit attack of this wine – flavors of cherries, raspberries and lognberry. A solid mid-palate transition that brings on some nice layers of cocoa, white pepper and a hint of medicine cabinet. Good finish that lingers on nicely for hours.

On the web: www.willishall.com

  • http://www.WilisHall.com John Bell

    Dang! Thanks, Duane! I'm especially happy that you chose to review a couple of varieties that really are a bit out of the main stream. This solidifies my contention that WA can grow pretty much anything well. Our AVAs rock! Additionally, this state has some pretty awesome winemakers who can, and aren't afraid to, compete with the best from the rest of the world! Thanks for keeping our wines in front of those who enjoy and love them!

    John