“With my idle hands there's nothing I can't do
But be the Devil’s plaything baby and know that I've been used”
-Idle Hands by the Gutter twins
To say Mark McNeilly and Trey Busch like to keep busy is literally an understatement. Both have made a name for themselves in the wine business, not just as winemakers but as leaders in the industry. Both Mark Ryan Winery and Sleight of Hand Winery garner scores in the 90’s across the board in the press. Both, these guys are not just successful winemakers but champions of the Washington wine industry. They are also great friends, lovers of good food and great music.
“Let your hands do what they will do
Stand inside, make your maker’s move”
Launched in 2009 with a wine called Idle Hands, the wine quickly became a cult hit. 'Idle Hands' was named after a song by Gutter Twins - Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees and Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs.
Both of the Underground wine project wines are sourced from Red Mountain. Idle Hands is a 90% Syrah 10% Cabernet Blend sourced from Red Heaven Vineyard. Devil’s Playground is the inverse, 90% Cabernet and 10% Syrah sourced from Quintessence Vineyard. Both these wines are great expressions of Red Mountain fruit.
“My eyes have seen, they have been shown
This is an occupation to stand alone”
In the highly competitive world of wine it is rare to see this sort of collaboration and camaraderie. These guys make great wine and are the sort of guys that make working in the business fun.
DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 (WA) $37.99
This is a delicious, lively and very luxurious Red Mountain Cab for the price. Lots of vanilla laced blackberries, cassis and mocha flavors, with bright, refreshing acidity and juicy tannins. The wine is full bodied and definitely drinks with some sizzle. A nice buy in small batch, top shelf Cab.
IDLE HANDS CAB SYRAH 2014 (WA) $32.99
Super rich and full bodied Syrah based blend From Mark Ryan and Trey Busch using Red Mountain's top vineyards. Dark, sexy and full of mocha, blackberry, plum and roasted coffee bean notes. Delicious with a big steak.
10 years ago, the 2007 vintage marked one of the best in Washington State. Quilceda received another 100 pts score, Cayuse and K Vinters both received 99 pts for Syrah and a little project on Red Mtn got the highest score 97 pts, for a Cabernet sauvignon from Red Mountain in the Wine Spectator. The Grand Rêve Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Collaboration Series Reserve 2007 was jointly made by Ross Mickel and Mark Ryan using Ciel du Cheval fruit. “No Washington Cabernet has rated higher in Wine Spectator annals.”
Grand Reve Vintners started as a collaboration between Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson to focus on the Red Mountain AVA. This was a fascinating project where five top winemakers made wine from the same vineyard. Ben Smith (Collaboration I) made a Cabernet blend, Ross Michel (Collaboration II) a Rhone blend, Mark McNeilly (Collaboration III) a Syrah, Carolyn Lakewold (Collaboration IV) a Merlot, and Chris Gorman (Collaboration V) a Grenache.
One of the releases was that Cabernet Reserve, made with Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan and Ross. Harvey Steiman wrote, “Supple, generous and beautifully focused, accenting its ripe currant and raspberry fruit with hints of licorice, sage, red meat and mineral, lingering on the expressive finish. Combines ripeness with power and exceptional grace.” Only 100 cases were made of this wine. Drink ‘em, if you got ‘em.
Ross got his start in the wine biz working at Canlis with Master Sommelier Rob Bigelow. He went on to work with Chris Upchurch at Delille. (Interestingly Chris’ Eponymous vineyard is on Red Mtn.) He then went on to work with Master of Wine, Bob Betz. For almost ten years he worked at the masters side fine tuning his skills not only as a winemaker but as a scholar and taster. He has traveled the world (Australia, South America, Europe and South Africa) to learn all he could about wine.
Let’s just say Ross knows his way around Cabernet and Red Mountain. What I am writing about today is his 2013 Red Mountain Cabernet. This is made using Red Mountain fruit: Quintessence & Ciel du Cheval and just flat out rocks!
ROSS ANDREW RED MOUNTAIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 $19.99 btl / save $10Rich and dense with black fruit, licorice and spice. Well-structured and refined. This is a powerful blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon & 4% Merlot. This is what Washington State Cabernet should taste like! Seriously the best deal on Cabernet in the state!
This is a great example of Red Mtn Cabernet at $29.99 it is a remarkable value. At $19.99 well it’s just stupid good! get yours while you still can!