What better time to introduce a new Washington winery than the New Year?
In fact, Palencia Wine Co. is so new that its website is still a work in progress.
I've been fortunate to taste the first wines from this promising winery to watch. They'll be hitting the market in small quantities as we move into 2014.
If you're up on your Washington winemakers, you may already be familiar with the name Victor Palencia, who has filled that role at Jones of Washington winery since 2008.
The 28-year-old Palencia has been a "boy wonder" of sorts, with a 15-year background in the wine industry that started with work in the vineyards, progressed to his graduate work at Walla Walla Community College's enology program, and, in addition to Jones, includes experience at Zerba Cellars and Willow Crest Winery.
Palencia's new venture is a return to his winemaking roots in Walla Walla, where Palencia Wine, and a second everyday label, Vino la Monarcha, have been established next to several other startup wineries at the city's airport.
I've chatted with Palencia a handful of times in person and online. You can't help but be impressed with the personable, wise-beyond-his-years young man.
In addition to his current releases, a tempranillo, albariño and, as he told me, "a few other Spanish blends I'm cooking up," are in the works. We should all look forward to what he has in store for us as time progresses.
Three wines with the Monarcha label also carry the nicely affordable $15-a-bottle price.
The 2010 Wahluke Slope Merlot opens with red cherry flavors that develop into dark plum, notes of espresso, and good tannic structure that hints at excellent cellaring potential.
The 2012 Columbia Valley Chardonnay carries plenty of bright, lean apple flavors, a touch of oak, and a crisp, food-friendly finish.
A mouthwatering 2011 Pinot Noir Rosé may well be the quintessential amuse bouche for wine lovers. It explodes with watermelon and candy-apple flavors that melt into a slightly sweet crescendo with a splash of tangy tangerine.
The Palencia Wine label includes the 2012 Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc (about $18), an overachieving wine that will blow you away. Fresh clover and stone fruit aromatics lead off, luscious cantaloupe flavors hit the palate, and nuances of lemongrass and orange zest shine through on a crisp, yet lingering finish. Outstanding!
Finally, the Palencia 2010 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (about $40) suggests both strength and elegance. Black licorice, fig and dried plum on the nose, dark flavors of cherry and black currant, and a whisper of toasted French oak combine to deliver a seductive, impeccable effort.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.