Recently I received a sample of the Mullan Road Cellars 2014 Columbia Valley Red ($40), a collaboration between Dennis Cakebread (yes, the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Cakebread Cellars) and winemaker Aryn Morell. Evidently Dennis Cakebread was drawn to the high quality wine produced in Washington's Walla Walla Valley and wanted to be part of that wine community. This wine is a Bordeaux styled blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Malbec sourced from three separate vineyards: Seven Hills Vineyard, Lawrence Vineyard, and Stillwater Creek Vineyard.
And the winery's name arises from an interesting historical fact related to the area. Lieutenant John Mullan was "an American soldier, explorer, civil servant, and road builder". In the mid 1800s he explored western Montana and Idaho, discovered the Mullan Pass over the Continental Divide, and "led the construction crew which built the Mullan Road -- the first wagon road to cross the Rocky Mountains to the inland of the Pacific Northwest. Mullan's engineering and surveying was so efficient that modern-day Interstate 15 and Interstate 90 follow the route rather precisely through present-day Montana, Idaho, and Washington. And as a result of the Mullan Road, by 1870, Walla Walla had become the largest town in Washington Territory with a population of 1,394.
While sipping the wine I was reminded of a new song by Phoebe Legere, Men From The Boys, from her Heart of Love release. Like John Mullan, the Mullan Road Cellars 2014 Columbia Valley Red has the "real stuff" - it's sturdy, firm, and will stand out without being overbearing. There's plenty of dark dried fruit and dust, sturdy tannins, and a long smooth finish -- all which "separates the men from the boys" - or in this case separates this wine among among many others. While the Mullan Road Columbia Valley Red lures you in with it's manliness, Legere entices with her sexy vocals. And cheers to "guts and hearts".