Dunham Cellars was created by Eric Dunham in 1995 and is one of the older and most prestigious wineries in Walla Walla. The winery has evolved in recent years with the change at head winemaker, hiring their winemaker from Gordon Estates, Tyler Tennyson. While the current lineup were still made by former superstar head winemaker Dan Wampfler, it will be very exciting to see what Tennyson does when he fully takes over. Dunham wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Trutina (Bordeaux style blend), Three Legged Red (red table wine) and the "Shirley Mays" Chardonnay, a dedication to Eric's grandmother. They also have an offshoot winery called Pursued by Bear, that makes some impressive reds. Dunham has also gained a very strong nationwide reputation for their Syrah and Riesling wines.
I have been tasting at Dunham for more than 15 years. This recent stop to the winery was very impressive. Some of their fantastic new release wines included the 2013 Dunham ‘Trutina’ Red Wine (WWB, 92), a wine that showed beautifully straight out of the bottle with rich fruit flavors and earthy terroir. Another gorgeous new release was the 2014 Dunham ‘Lewis Vineyard’ Riesling (WWB, 92), that showed rich tree fruit flavors and a beautiful mineral streak. Finally, one of the best Syrahs that I have sampled this year is the incredible 2012 Dunham ‘Artist Series Lewis Vineyard’ Syrah (WWB, 95) that showed wonderful density, structure and dusty terroir from the esteemed Lewis Vineyard. Look for these awesome wines at great wine shops like Met Market, Esquin, and Total Wines, as well as some area grocery stores like QFC. Some Costcos also carry their Trutina wines. Learn more about Dunham at dunhamcellars.com. Here are the great new release wines from Dunham Cellars.
2014 Dunham ‘Lewis Vineyard’ Riesling- This was made with 1.4% residual sugar. The wine comes from Riesling vines planted in 2001 and 2002. The wine opens with aromatics of Gala apple, green papaya and hints of petroleum and starfruit. There are flavors of lemon/lime, crushed wet rock, lemon zest and white peach. This has a gorgeous range of flavors and complexity. Drink 2016-2024- 92
2014 Dunham ‘Shirley Mays’ Chardonnay- The wine was aged 50% in oak (50% new oak) while the rest was aged in stainless. The wine begins with aromatics reminiscent of creme brulee, toasted oak, roasted haze nuts and golden delicious apple. The wine has flavors of Pazzaz apple, vanilla cream, Meyer lemon rind and minerals that sit alongside a rich mouthfeel. This is exceptional Washington Chardonnay. Drink 2016-2023- 92
2015 Dunham Rose- Made from Double Canyon vineyard Cabernet Franc the wine opens with aromatics of rose petals, red cherry, red raspberry and Welches white grape juice. There are flavors of red cherry, red raspberry and guava puree. Drink 2016-2020- 90
2014 Dunham ‘Three Legged Red’ Red Wine-The wine begins with aromatics of smoked brisket, creosote, black cherry and anise. This leads to flavors reminiscent of red cherry, anise, red currant and black olive. Lithe and polished this is a fantastic value with a smooth mouthfeel. Drink 2016-2021- 90
2013 Dunham ‘Trutina’ Red Wine- The wine starts with aromatics of cassis, black plum, red cherry and hints of baking spices. There are flavors of red cherry, red raspberry, vanilla and black olive. There is a lovely minerality and mouthfeel as this wine glides on the mid-palate. With nice structure and richness, I can see this cellaring beautifully into the next decade. Drink 2016-2028- 92
2013 Dunham Syrah- This rich wine is sourced primarily from the Lewis Vineyard and the Kenny Hill vineyard. It begins with lush aromatics of black cherry, black olive, smoked brisket and sagebrush. This leads to flavors of red cherry, black raspberry, coffee grounds and sagebrush. This has a wonderful mineral streak that cuts through the richness. Drink 2016-2025- 93
2012 Dunham 'Lewis Vineyard Artist Series' Syrah- The wine has a deep core and opens with intense aromatics of black cherry, blackberry cobbler, smoked pork shoulder and anise. There are flavors of black cherry, smoked pork shoulder, tar, blackberry pie and black olive. This has a hedonistic edge with the rich black fruits and ripe texture. The minute long finish accentuates this incredible deep Syrah. Drink 2016-2029- 95
2012 Dunham 'Lewis Vineyard Artist Series' Cabernet- The wine opens with aromatics of black tea, sagebrush, anise, red bell pepper and hints of smoke. This leads to suggestions of black cherry, creme de cassis, anise and hints of Turkish coffee. Give this another year for the tannins to settle in this excellent and structured Cabernet wine. Drink 2017-2030- 94
2013 Dunham 'Stone Tree Vineyard' Zinfandel- The wine begins with aromatics of prune, red cherry, fennel and black plum. There are fruity flavors of black cherry, black plum, boysenberry jam and black tea. The combination of fruit flavors and minerality makes this Zin a one of a kind in Washington wine. Drink 2016-2026- 93