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Kontos Cellars, Walla Walla (Oct, 2022)

There is a growing reputation for big bold reds that drew us to Kontos. Kontos Cellars was born in 2007, as a collaboration between brothers Cameron and Chris Kontos. Cameron was assistant winemaker at Forgeron Cellars previously. Kontos Cellars sources from the Walla Walla Valley, including the Les Collines vineyards, Seven Hills vineyards, and Pepper Bridge vineyards.

Their beautiful tasting room downtown Walla Walla is firehouse-like, armored with brick walls, with high ceilings, and polished with industrial and brass finishes.

2018 Merlot

100% Merlot

Walla Walla Valley AVA

"This is an exceptional rendition of Walla Walla Valley Merlot. It displays a deep ruby color and a seductive nose of wild raspberry, Bing cherry, black currant, wild roses, pipe tobacco, sandalwood, rosemary, sage, and sweet incense. The flavors are simultaneously velvety and muscular, with layers of dark fruits that are infused with black licorice, bittersweet chocolate, roasted coffee beans, and silt and basalt minerals, On the back, the wine stays focused, with sensations of macerated fruits, roasted pecans, framboise and cassis liqueurs, nougat, graphite, and lanolin (“legs”), followed by a lingering ripe moderate tannin finish."

Price $47

Rating 4.4

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Walla Walla Valley AVA

"Nearly opaque ruby colored, this 100% Cabernet emits intense aromas of blackberry, Bing cherry,Damson plum, crushed roses, sweet tobacco, sandalwood, fennel, sage, black olive and stick incense. The flavors are deep and muscular yet refined, with layers of dark fruits that are infused with black licorice, dark cocoa, French roast and minerally earth. On the back, the wine turns chewy textured, with macerated fruits, roasted walnuts, mocha, kirsch and graphite, and then thrusts forward into a thick yet ripe and satiny lingering finish."

Price $49

Rating 4.3

2019 Alatus Blend

49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 10% Malbec, and 3% Syrah

Walla Walla Valley AVA

"Deep ruby color and intoxicating aromas of wild blackberries, black cherries, Damson plums, crushed black roses, mulberry, sweet tobacco, sandalwood, and smoldering incense. On the palate, flavors are attention-getting, with deep cored black and blue fruits that are intermixed with licorice, bittersweet chocolate, French roast, and dusty earth. On the back, the wine takes an elegant turn, with macerated berries, roasted pecans, kirsch, crème de cassis, plum preserves, and lanolin, all pushing on into a lingering firm yet ripe tannin finish."

Price $49

Rating 3.9

2020 Syrah

100 % Syrah

Walla Walla Valley AVA

"This is a delicious Syrah. It exhibits a deep ruby-crimson color and seductive aromas of wild fruits – blackberries, mountain blueberries, brambly black currants – with scents of crushed black roses, bayberry, pipe tobacco, lavender, olive tapenade, violets and spiced sweet incense. The flavors are thick and lavish yet focused, with black and blue fruits that are infused with licorice, dark chocolate, extra dark roasted coffee beans and silty minerals. On the back, the wine invigorates, with sensations of macerated berries, roasted nuts, crème de cassis, blueberry preserves, burnt charcoal, all followed by a lingering, savory sweet-dry tannin finish."

Price $53

Rating 4.0

2019 Malbec

100% Malbec

Walla Walla Valley AVA

"Inky purplish-ruby colored, this wine emits intense aromas of wild blackberries, mountain blueberries, black currants, crushed black roses, sweet tobacco, lavender, sweet pea flowers and oriental incense. The flavors, as well, are dramatic with mouth encompassing black and blue fruits that are infused with licorice root, cocoa powder, black tea and silty minerals. The penetration continues on the back with macerated berries, roasted hazelnuts, toffee, crème de cassis, blueberry preserves and ground charcoal, followed by a firm yet ripe tannin finish that is lifted by vivid fruit acids." (2020 vintage notes)

Price $53 (2020 vintage)

Rating 4.5

Despite Kontos being our last visit on a long day of wine tasting, they held up to what I expected. They were impressionable for sure - I recalled bold reds with great structure and holding power. For whatever reason, we purchased 2 bottles of Merlot, so apparently there was something special about it. We did get a taste of the Dorsey Seven Hills Vineyard, but I do not recall the vintage, and rated it 4.5. The 2019 Malbec was an equal good contender , also with a rating of 4.5.

The next time we return to Walla Walla, Kontos will be high on the list for tastings for sure.


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