Who Is Andrew Latta?
Latta Wines was founded in 2011 by winemaker and owner Andrew Latta. It is the product of years of sweat equity. He was once one of us. He started at the bottom to arrive where he is now. He was born and raised in Kentucky, the restaurant world his path to wine. A similar trajectory up from the basement as a busser to a Sommelier working in Thailand exposed him to the wines of the world. While developing award-winning wine programs, Washington State stood out among all the emerging and traditional wine-growing regions. So, sight unseen, fifteen years ago he jumped into his first harvest in Walla Walla and year after year Washington still delivers. (He is not Captain Washington. There can only be ONE haha)
Latta Wines puts uncommon varietals from the most unique vineyards in Washington State on center stage. Years of scouring the geologically diverse soils of Eastern Washington led to an initial release of two very special wines, then four and so on. The extremely small production, mostly Rhone offerings are put forward from sustainable vineyard sites after fermentation with native yeast and aging in mostly neutral french barrique and puncheon (Larger French Oak Barrels). Speaking of RHONE OFFERINGS……
2015 Latta Upland Vineyard Grenache
First in order to make great wines we need great grapes. Upland Vineyard is one of the best for Grenache grapes. It is in the Snipes Mountain AVA which is part of the larger Yakima Valley AVA.
Upland Vineyard is a rolling extremely sloped site located in the Snipes Mountain AVA. Snipes Mountain was named for Ben Snipes, an early Yakima County pioneer who built a house at the base of a mountain in the 1850s. The area was first planted in 1917 by Washington State wine pioneer William B. Bridgman. The vineyard on Snipes Mountain was one of the first to plant Vitis vinifera in Washington. Snipes Mountain is a seven mile long anticline ridge created by fault activity. The “peak” is 1,290 feet high, rising from the floor of the Yakima Valley with unique, rocky soils, known as aridisols. Soil deposits below the area are composed of gravels and sediments left by ancient river beds, deposits range in size from a fist to a football. The rocky composition of this warm site provides the backbone of this Grenache block from Upland.
Great care is taken in the vineyard to produce the finest fruit possible. Many thinning passes and removal of the shoulders of the cluster to concentrate the full expression of Upland Vineyard. 2015 Was WARM WARM WARM! A lengthy maceration with 50% stems and 50% whole berries lend to the aromatics and length to the finish. This 100% Grenache is aged in neutral 500L puncheons for 22 months before bottling. Let’s review:
Needed an hour of aeration and a slight chill down to 68 degrees before review. The wine is a brilliant star bright ruby color. Aromatics pop big time from the glass of wild raspberries, dark cherry not those maraschino things, white pepper and beautiful herbaceous notes of grilled rosemary and sage. Made me think I should have waited till Thanksgiving. An extremely rich, intense flavor profile on the palate from start to finish. You will get brambles and those forest berry flavors with the herbs and even roasted medium rare meat like flavors staying intense all the way from the mid palate to the back end for a finale of sweet tannins and white pepper spice and and everlasting ending. I think Sean Sullivan’s 93 from Wine Enthusiast is a fair score but to me this might be one of the best expressions of the Single Varietal Grenache I have had in years. This is a 96 point rating in my view out of 100. It also provides the American Dream. You can start off as a Busser in a Restaurant and work your way from the bottom up to making a Beauty like this under your own wine label. This wine over delivers. !!!
I got the pleasure on his way out the door to briefly meet Andrew Latta. He produces his wines and bottles in a warehouse district like strip center in an area called SODO or South Of Downtown Seattle. This isn’t a Chateau Ste Michelle Deal. This is as boutique and artisan as you can get. I don’t think Andrew will get his production up to the point of getting outside of Washington State nor from speaking to him, I don’t think that is his desire. He will sell his wines through his tasting room, mailing list and website sales. I tasted through a bunch of his wines and from the GSM to the Malbecs and this Grenache…I would strongly suggest you immediately get on his mailing list and order some wine before the word leaks out about this under the radar small production winery and there won’t be A LATTA Left (How often do you think he hears that joke lol) $40-$45 per bottle. Industry peep like me got 10% off but even at full price these wines are worth every penny. I wish I brought more home!!
Grape-fully yours, Larry
What A COOL LOGO Too.