2018 Joe Swick 'Shill-ah-blay’
Region: Columbia Valley < Washington & Oregon
Grapes: Mourvedre, Marsanne
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming; high elevation vineyards on sandy loam soils; grapes are hand-harvested and whole bunches ferment semi-carbonically in 500-liter barrels with daily foot-stomping; skin macerated for about 30 days before pressing. The wine goes into 500-liter 5-year-old barrels for about 9 months of elevage; bottled unfined, unfiltered, no added sulfites; 12.8% ABV
Winemaker: Joe Swick
MOUNTAIN MAGIC: Raw wine from Washington State vineyards at 1650 feet - you’ve seen Twilight, this place is all about the mountains and the rain and the crazy shit that happens in the wild, green forests.
Joe Swick is a 5th generation Oregonian winemaker who is somewhat of a natural wine pioneer in the Pacific Northwest. After traveling and working in wine all over, he returned to Oregon to start his own label in 2013. Like many young natural winemakers, he doesn’t own any vineyards but sources grapes from organic or biodynamic vineyards in the Willamette and Columbia Valleys of Oregon and Washington. He makes a bunch of different bottles, most with no added So2, and all with cheeky names. Like this red + white blend called Shill-Ah-Blay -- at first, we thought he was trying to fancify (or perhaps French-ify) the very chillable aspect of this light red blend. But the true story is even better - the name is an homage to a woman who approached Joe at a wine event and asked for a “shill-ah-blay” wine. After a few minutes of confusion, he realized that she was fumbling the word “chillable.”
The resulting Shill-ah-blay wine, like many of its low-ABV, high-acidity brethren, is indeed especially tasty right out of the fridge. Bursting with bright red and citrus fruit, an intriguing smoky/flinty quality, and vibrant acidity, it’s refreshing and easy to drink, but not simple. This would be an amazing wine with (or before) your holiday dinner!