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Last year, perhaps around August or September was when my RNDC/Cumberland sales rep informed me that they were picking up Bookwalter wines from Washington state.  I was a huge fan of Bookwalter many moons ago, yet here in Kentucky, there was a leviathan retailer downstate that had swallowed up all the cool Washington state wines and we in Northern KY were unable to acquire them (or hardly anyone else aside from Hogue and Ste. Michelle).  Well that fact was all in the past, and soon, John Bookwalter was in our store pouring his bad-ass selections, including the Subplot NV, the Foreshadow Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Foreshadow Merlot 2006, and Protagonist 2006 (which I would name my #1 Wine of 2009 later on).

John was also instrumental in helping me get on the Washington Wine Road Trip, which opened my eyes even further to all the incredible Washington State wines that we weren’t able to get and sell – YET.  Wines from Owen Roe, Sparkman, Buty, Bunnell, McCrea, Walla Walla Vintners, Cote Bonneville – the list went on and on.

But I am not going to rehash my massive love affair with Washington Wines, or my indebtedness to John Bookwalter.  No, I want to talk to you about one of his new wines, the Bookwalter Conflict Conner-Lee Vineyard 2007 – an absolutely remarkable red blend that I think ranks amongst America’s best wines right now.

This is the very first vintage of this single-vineyard beauty, and we were privileged to get a sample bottle a few months back.  Opening it with the staff, it was almost like we sneaked a peek into the vaults of Fort Knox, or caught a glimpse of Angelina Jolie’s knickers (while she was wearing ‘em). 

Obviously, this dark, brooding monster was young, needing ample time in the bottle to mellow and mature, yet the components were all still present, still resounding, still glorious.

Comprised primarily of Conner-Lee vineyard fruit (91%), the remainder of the blend was derived from fruit from the McKinley Springs vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills and the Ciel du Cheval vineyard in Red Mountain.  You could argue this as being something akin to Chateau Petrus, with its predominant Merlot component (66%), finishing up the blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The wine was aged for twenty months in both new and once-used French oak barrels, and the resulting wine shows off a dark ruby/purple color, almost opaque, with aromas of perfumed blackberry and black currants rising out of the glass.  The black fruits continue on the palate, displaying their jammy, juicy, rich complexity integrated with a mélange of mocha, espresso bean, black truffle, anise, cedar, tobacco smoke, dusty earth, peat, milk chocolate, vanilla bean, and toasted oak.  My grade:  AMAZING!

I would have to say I am a true disciple of Bookwalter wines, as well as the wines of Washington state, and I look forward to John and the folks at Bookwalter continuing the path they have set out on with this Conflict.

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