"Trey Busch and team continue to show their wine making talent with these latest releases, and I was impressed with the entire lineup. Don't let the whimsical names fool you, these are top-notch wines. In addition, there's some killer value here as well."
June 2017 Wine Advocate
REVIEWS BY jEB DUNNUCK
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Archimage"
Rating (92 - 94)
A cellar selection, the 2015 The Archimage is a Cabernet Franc dominated cuvee which incorporates 43% Merlot. Still aging in 30% new French oak, it offers a medium to full-bodied, nicely textured, even structured style to go with classic dark berry fruits, peppery spice, damp earth and hints of chocolate. It shows more classic floral Cabernet Franc notes with time in the glass, and is a beautiful wine that has both purity and richness.
2014 Sleight of Hand "The Illusionist"
A blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot, the 2014 The Illusionist is a gorgeously pure, elegant beauty that offers terrific notes of cassis, leafy herbs, earth and lead pencil shavings. Medium to full-bodied, with terrific fruit intensity, polished tannin and a great finish, give bottles a year in the cellar and enjoy over the following 7-8 years. It's slightly more streamlined than I remember from barrel, but I like its length, and if it fills out with bottle age, it should get closer to that barrel score.
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Illusionist"
Rating (92 - 94)
Another beauty is the 2015 The Illusionist. Made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, it has classic Cabernet notes of crème de cassis, tobacco leaf and underbrush, with medium to full-bodied richness, sweet fruit and ripe tannin. It drops off a touch on the finish, but it's still impressive.
2015 Sleight of Hand "Crooked Arm" Cabernet Franc
Rating (94 - 96)
A smoking barrel sample, the 2015 Cabernet Franc (the official name is still TBD) checks in as 100% Cabernet Franc all from the Blue Mountain Vineyard in the northern part of Walla Walla, that’s still aging in 50% new French oak. Scheduled to be bottled in June, it's vibrant purple/ruby color is followed by classic notes of crème de cassis, high class oak and spice. Full-bodied, pure, layered and gorgeously balanced, with a blockbuster finish, it's a seriously good 2015 readers shouldn't miss. Unfortunately, there’s just 50 cases made.
2015 Sleight of Hand "Levitation" Syrah
Just bottled, the 100% Syrah 2015 Syrah Levitation is a gorgeous, voluptuous and hedonistic beauty that's overflowing with notes of blackberry jam, cassis, licorice and pepper. Deep, rich and unctuous, it has full-bodied richness, no hard edges and a layered, low acid, decadent texture. It's a seriously sexy Syrah to drink over the coming 6-8 years. 775 cases.
2015 Sleight of Hand "Flip Side" Syrah
Rating (93 - 95)
Tasted out of barrel, there's just 55 cases of the 2015 Syrah Flip Side. Made from 100% Syrah from the Lewis Vineyard, aged in barrel, it offers fabulous crème de cassis, vanilla bean, creamy licorice, toasted bread and cured meats. Deep, rich and layered, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, sweet tannin, a boat load of texture and a great finish. It's going to be a beautiful Syrah!
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Enchantress" Chardonnay
Made from 100% Chardonnay, the 2015 Chardonnay The Enchantress is fresh and steel, with vibrant notes of citrus blossom, sappy herbs and white flowers. Barrel fermented and aged 11 months in neutral French oak, drink this racy effort anytime over the coming 3-4 years.
2014 Sleight of Hand "The Archimage"
The 2014 The Archimage checks in as a blend of close to an even split of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It has a complex, nuanced bouquet of ripe black fruits, charcoal, smoke tobacco and licorice. This gives way to a medium to full-bodied, supple, pure and polished red that's impeccably balanced and shines for its drinkability. It drops away on the finish more than expected, but is still a beautiful wine.
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Psychedelic" Syrah
Brought up in 30% new French oak and made from 100% Stoney Vine Syrah, the 2015 Syrah The Psychedelic offers a fabulous bouquet of black olive, lavender, damp earth, pepper and black (and some blue) fruits that continues to change and evolve with time in the glass. Rich, unctuous and low acid, it has beautiful richness, a rounded, sexy texture and no hard edges. Drink it anytime over the coming decade.
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Conjurer"
Rating (90 - 92)
A blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot and a splash of Petit Verdot, the 2015 The Conjurer should end up being a smokin’ value. It offers complex notes of tobacco leaf, black currants, spice and earth in a medium to full-bodied, nicely textured, balanced style. It's going to drink nicely right out of the gate.
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Spellbinder"
Rating (90 - 92)
More herbal and earthy, with lots of black fruits and dark chocolate, the 2015 The Spell Binder is plump, medium to full-bodied, and forward on the palate, with impressive purity and length. Made from 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Franc, it's another terrific wine from this estate, as well as a great value.
2017 Wine Spectator
REVIEWS BY TIM FISH
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Enchantress" Chardonnay
Focused and expressive, with floral apple and pear aromas and delicately complex flavors accented by notes of spicy cinnamon, clove and quince. Drink now through 2019. 500 cases made. –TF
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Magician" Riesling
Sleek and vibrant, with lemon zest, stony mineral and nectarine flavors. Drink now. 600 cases made. –TF
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Conjurer"
Sleek and expressive, with a structured core wrapped in floral black cherry, orange zest and spice notes that sail toward a long finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2023. 1,500 cases made. –TF
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Spellbinder"
Lithe and vibrant, with floral cherry and sassafras aromas and easygoing raspberry and spice flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2021. 2,500 cases made. –TF
2014 Sleight of Hand "The Illusionist"
Plush and generous, with expressive black cherry and mocha-espresso aromas and rich, layered blackberry and savory licorice flavors that linger toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2023. 1,100 cases made. –TF
2014 Sleight of Hand "The Sorceress" Grenache
Precise but expressive, with floral raspberry and smoky cinnamon aromas and flavors that are supple and snappy, offering pepper and plum accents. Drink now through 2021. 225 cases made. –TF
2014 Sleight of Hand "Levitation" Syrah
Dark and powerfully built, with floral boysenberry and smoked pepper aromas leading to layered flavors of black raspberry and espresso. Finishes with fine tannins. Drink now through 2022. 600 cases made. –TF
2015 Sleight of Hand "The Psychedelic" Syrah
Plump, ripe and supple, with a structured core and exuberant smoky blackberry, tapenade and anise flavors that linger on the finish. Drink now through 2022. 350 cases made. –TF
June 2016 Wine Advocate
REVIEWS BY JEB DUNNUCK
2014 “The Conjurer" Red Blend
Giving up lots of leafy herbs, graphite, licorice and dark fruits, the 2014 The Conjurer is a charming, supple, straightforward blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot that’s ideal for drinking over the coming 5-6 years.
2014 Sleight Of Hand Syrah Les Collines Block 50
Scheduled to be bottled in November, after two years in barrel, the flat out sensational 2014 Syrah Les Collines Block 50 (Name TBD) was fermented with 100% whole clusters and aged all in older French oak barrels. Deep, rich and concentrated, with black, black fruits, pepper, dried violets and gunpowder aromas and flavors, it has awesome mid-palate depth, building tannin and awesome purity. I don’t think there’s much of this to go around, but it’s up with the crème de la crème of the vintage.
2014 "The Archimage" Red Blend
Tasted out of barrel and a mix of 53% Cabernet Franc and 47% Merlot, the 2014 The Archimage has a gorgeous floral character as well as lots of red and black berry fruits, spice and underbrush characteristics. Full-bodied, layered, beautifully concentrated, yet always fresh and lively, it should be the finest vintage of the cuvee to date.
2014 "The Enchantress" Chardonnay
The only white presented, the 2014 Chardonnay The Enchantress comes all from the Wente Clone and vines planted in 1978. It sees partial malolactic fermentation and just a touch of batonnage. Elegant, fresh and lively, with bright acidity giving lift to notions of apple and green citrus aromas and flavors, it picks up a touch of brioche and oak with time in the glass, is nicely balanced and has a great finish. Drink it over the coming 2-3 years.
2013 Lewis Vineyard Syrah
Extended Barrel Age 94-97 points
Another insanely good barrel sample is the 2013 Syrah Lewis Vineyard Extended, which will see a longer elevage in thicker staved barrels. Reminding me of Guigal’s la Turque Cote Rotie with its meaty, vanilla bean, crème de cassis and graphite bouquet, it has incredible purity, full-bodied richness and fabulous tannin quality. While they like to include some whole cluster with their Syrahs, they opted to completely de-stem this cuvee, as they feel that this site can impart green notes. Either way, this is a blockbuster that will be one of the top Syrahs in the vintage.
2015 "The Magician's Assistant" Cabernet Franc Rose
Made all from Cabernet Franc, the 2015 Cabernet Franc Rose The Magician's Assistant is clean, crisp and refreshing, with lots of cherry
blossom and herbes de Provence-like aromas and flavors.
2014 "Levitation" Syrah
Already bottled and 100% Syrah that saw 40% whole clusters, the 2014 Syrah Levitation is a ripe, sexy, full-bodied beauty that’s loaded with black and blue fruits, pepper, licorice and savory herb aromas and flavors. Despite the masses of fruit, it has solid underlying structure and will cruise for a decade or more.
2014 "The Illusionist" Cabernet
The first vintage to include Merlot, the 2014 The Illusionist checks in as a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Merlot. The idea with the Merlot was to soften the profile slightly, and the Merlot was the best two barrels in the winery. It is a seamless, full-bodied, incredible looking barrel sample that has pure, layered notes of cassis, graphite, blue fruits and toasted spice notes that continue to change with time in the glass. Give it a few years of bottle age and enjoy it through 2034.
2013 "The Illusionist" Cabernet
A blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and the balance Petit Verdot, aged 21 months in 61% new French oak, the 2013 The illusionist has a beautiful perfume of black cherries, currants, lead pencil and leafy herbs to go with a medium to full-bodied, rich, yet elegant and lively style on the palate. This is a high quality 2013 that has ripe tannin, good mid-palate depth and will drink nicely for a decade or more.
2014 "The Psychedelic" Syrah
Another full-throttle, downright sexy wine is the 2014 Syrah The Psychedelic. Made from 100% Syrah that was fermented with 50% whole clusters and aged in a scant 10% new French oak (and never racked), it has loads of ripe dark fruits, lavender, peppered meat and olive to go with rock-solid concentration, sweet tannin and a killer finish. It’s already hard to resist and I see no need to delay gratification.
2014 "The Sorceress" Grenache
The 100% Grenache 2014 Grenache The Sorceress is an elegant, savory effort that has classic Grenache notes of kirsch, dried spices,
herbes de Provence and licorice to go with a medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated feel on the palate. There’s a touch of dry tannin, but it’s still outstanding and will drink well for 4-6 years.
2014 "The Spellbinder" Red Blend
A blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc, the 2014 The Spellbinder has lots of leafy herbs, olive, earth and black currant characteristics in a plump, medium to full-bodied, charming, even sexy style. It should drink nicely for 5-6 years, probably longer.
2013 "The Archimage" Red Blend
The 2013 The Archimage (56% Cabernet Franc, 38% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc) shows a darker, smoky edge, with more black olive, ripe black fruits and graphite emerging with time in the glass. Like a lot of 2013s, it lacks a huge back-end level of concentration, yet has medium to full-bodied richness, excellent purity and ripe tannin, all suggesting it will drink well for a decade or more.
March 2016 Wine Enthusiast
REVIEWS BY SEAN SULLIVAN
2013 "Psychedelic Syrah" Stoney Vine Vineyard
The winery’s first release off its estate vineyard in The Rocks offers expressive, captivating aromas of peat, dried flowers, fire pit, herbs, grilled asparagus, funk and green olive. The flavors are sweet, sumptuous and rich, showing depth and detail. It’s a knockout.
2013 "Levitation" Syrah
Reserved aromas of cherry, chocolate, thistle, moist earth and dark berry lead to red and black fruit flavors that are sumptuous, rich and layered. It brings immediate appeal but also offers plenty of cellaring potential—a complete delight that appeals on multiple levels.
2013 "The Sorceress" Grenache
A mixture of Stoney Vine (70%), Upland (20%) and Les Collines vineyard fruit, this wine displays reserved aromas of crushed violets, dried orange peel, brown stems, gravel, smoke and peat. Then sweet raspberry and savory flavors float like a magic carpet, showing exceptional length. It’s an elegant, compelling expression of the variety.
August 2015 Wine Spectator
Reviews by Harvey Steiman
2014 “ The Magician" Riesling
"Bright and tangy, with a dry feel, though a tinge of sugar keeps the bright acidity in balance, shooting off sparks of lime, grapefruit and green pear as the finish persists. Drink now through 2021. 1,006 cases made." – HS
2012 “The Illusionist" Cabernet Sauvignon
"Rich, ripe and generous, plush in texture but not heavy-handed, with fresh plum, blackberry and clove flavors that swirl through a polished finish. Shows depth and persistence. Drink now through 2022. 750 cases made." – HS
2012 “The Archimage" Red Blend
"Lively and expressive, rich in texture and lifted in structure, brimming with ripe blackberry, coffee and spice flavors that glide easily over polished tannins. Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now through 2020. 750 cases made." – HS
June 2015 Wine Advocate
Reviews by Jeb dunnuck
2014 “The Magician’s Assistant” Cabernet Franc Rosé
Sleight of Hand has fashioned a solid rosé, the 2014 Cabernet Franc Rosé The Magician's Assistant (100% Cabernet Franc aged in neutral oak), which has lots of sweet cherry fruits and dried-herb characteristics to go with a medium-bodied, fresh, crisp and refreshing style on the palate. One of the more complex, interesting roses out there, this is rock solid and well worth a look.
2014 “The Magician” Riesling
Possessing 11 grams of residual sugar, the 2014 Riesling The Magician stays fresh and lively, with lots of lychee, green citrus and a touch of peach in its medium-bodied, racy and clean profile. It's downright gulpable and will be versatile on the dinner table. I'd drink it over the coming year or so while it's still vibrant and fruity.
2013 “The Enchantress” Chardonnay
The 2013 Chardonnay The Enchantress is one of the few outstanding Chardonnay’s coming from Washington. It offers classic white peach, apple and citrus notes to go with a clean, crisp, nicely focused and refreshing style on the palate. Drink it over the coming 2-3 years.
2013 “The Spellbinder” Red Blend
Functioning as the second wine of The Conjuror, the 2013 The Spellbinder is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, yet also incorporates Syrah and other varieties. Aged 10 months in neutral oak, it has beautiful cassis, blackberry, spring flower, and lead pencil shaving nuances to go with a vibrant, forward, medium to full-bodied profile on the palate. It's straight up delicious and will drink nicely for 4-6 years. It's a killer value!
2013 “The Conjurer” Red Blend
The 2013 The Conjurer is a smoking blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 15% Merlot that spent 11 months in 15% new French oak (some being larger oak tanks). It’s a beautiful wine with lots of dark fruits, charcoal, spring flowers and sappy herb-like aromatics. These give way to a medium to full-bodied, pure, elegant and fresh red that’s ideal for drinking over the coming 8-10 years. It’s a killer value.
2012 “The Archimage” Red Blend
The best vintage for this cuvee to date, there are 775 cases of the 2012 The Archimage (49% Cabernet Franc, 48% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon). It offers classic blackcurrants, graphite, leafy herbs and hints of charred meats to go with a full-bodied, supple, layered and beautifully pure profile on the palate. Seeing 20 months in 39% new French oak, it has enough mid-palate depth and fine tannin on the finish to evolve for 10-15 years.
2012 “The Illusionist” Cabernet Sauvignon
The Cabernet Sauvignon dominated 2012 The Illusionist, which incorporates 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, is another straight-up brilliant effort from this team. Crème de cassis, smoked herbs, lead pencil shavings and hints of licorice all give way to a full-bodied, ripe, concentrated and balanced Cabernet that has the purity and texture to drink well in its youth, yet the class and depth to evolve for 15 years.
2013 “Levitation” Syrah
More focused, straight and elegant than The Psychedelic release, the 2013 Syrah Levitation is a more classically styled Syrah that offers pretty violet, smoked black fruits, earth and hints of chocolate. Full-bodied, ripe, layered and balanced, I like its mid-palate depth and it should age gracefully. Give it a year or two in the cellar and enjoy bottles through 2025.
2013 “The Sorceress” Grenache
Trey continues to be a jack-of-all-trades and excels with just about every variety, even the more temperamental Grenache. His 2013 Grenache The Sorceress, which incorporates 20% Syrah, exhibits impressive blackberry, kirsch, damp earth, truffle and peppery notes, medium to full-bodied, richness, and a supple, sexy personality. Aged 11 months in 20% new French oak, it’s one of the best examples of this cuvee to date, and will drink nicely for another 7-8 years.
2013 “The Psychedelic” Syrah
A blend of 100% Syrah, the 2013 Syrah The Psychedelic is a sensational effort that comes all from the Stoney Vine Vineyard in Walla Walla, which is in the Rock region. It offers lots of mulled black fruits, olive, smoked duck and lavender nuances to go with a full-bodied, big, ripe, hedonistic personality that never comes across as over the top or heavy. Replacing the Funkadelic release, enjoy this beauty through 2023.
2013 “The Archimage” Red Blend (barrel sample)
The Cabernet Franc dominated 2013 The Archimage will certainly be an outstanding wine. It has classic black and blue fruits, flowers and dried-herb characteristics, medium to full-bodied richness and nicely integrated acidity. Fresh, lively and balanced, it's a beautiful barrel sample that will have a decade of prime drinking.
2013 “The Illusionist” Cabernet Sauvignon (barrel sample)
There's roughly 900 cases of the 2013 The Illusionist, and it's a blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot. It offer lots of cassis, graphite, lead pencil shavings and a touch of herbs in a full-bodied, elegant, beautifully ripe profile. Coming mostly from Blue Mountain Vineyard in Walla Walla, Red Mountain Vineyard in Red Mountain, and Scooteney Flats Vineyard (also in Red Mountain), it's still aging in 60% new French oak and is scheduled to be bottled in late June of this year. Given the purity and depth of fruit, I expect it to drink nicely on release, but it will have an easy 15+ years of overall longevity as well.
2013 Scooteney Flats Vineyard Malbec (barrel sample)
One of the most impressive Malbecs I was able to taste for this report, the 2013 Malbec Scooteney Flats (the final name is still TBD) comes all from the Scooteney Flats vineyard on Red Mountain and will see 50% new oak and bottling only in magnum. It's inky purple color is followed by drop-dead gorgeous notes of black and blue fruits, liquid violets, crushed rock and graphite. This is followed by a layered, full-bodied red that has fabulous concentration, building, sweet tannin and a great finish. It's showing its oak elevage at the moment, but I expect this to completely integrate by the time it's in bottle. Bravo to the team here for a rockin' bottle of wine!
June 2014 Wine Advocate
Reviews by Jeb Dunnuck
2011 “The Archimage" Red Blend
A blend of almost equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Franc, the 2011 Archimage comes from vineyards in Red Mountain and Walla Walla. Aged 23 months in 34% new French oak, it offers fabulous complexity with notions of blueberry, plum, smoked peat, lead pencil shavings and spice emerging from the glass. Medium to full-bodied, nicely textured, balanced, with excellent mid-palate depth and ripe tannin, it’s a gorgeous effort to drink over the coming 8-10 years.
2012 “The Archimage" Red Blend (barrel sample)
Made from 49% Cabernet Franc, 48% Merlot and the balance Cabernet Sauvignon, that was aged in 39% new French oak, the 2012 Archimage is a medium to full-bodied, forward, supple and already complex effort that gives up plenty of black plum, raspberry, flowers and pepper to go with an overall beautifully pure, elegant style. Another wine that will be ready to go on release, it will cruise for upward of a decade in the cellar.
2013 “The Magician's Assistant" Rosé
In addition to his reds and whites, Trey makes a serious rose. Coming from a direct press of Cabernet Franc, the 2013 The Magician’s Assistant Rose possesses a light pink/salmon color to go with crisp, refreshing Provencal-styled aromas and flavors of herbs de Provence, cherry blossom and strawberries. Medium-bodied, beautifully made, crisp and refreshing, enjoy it over the coming summer months.
2012 “Black Circle" Cabernet (pre release barrel sample)
Bottled only in magnum, the 2012 Black Circle is 100% Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon that’s still aging in 100% new French oak at the moment. Showing classic Red Mountain flair with its savory, masculine, mineral laced profile, it offers plenty of black currants, dried flowers and hints of chocolate to go with a medium to full-bodied, structured and nicely concentrated feel on the palate. It will need short-term cellaring once released, yet evolve gracefully for two decades or more.
2012 “The Sorceress" Grenache (pre release)
The 2012 Grenache The Sorceress is floral and red fruit-driven, with loads of kirsch, strawberry, dried spice and rose petal-like aromas and flavors. Beautifully textured and downright creamy (it has more than a little polish), this medium to full-bodied, balanced effort has no hard edges and a terrific finish. Hard to resist now, it should evolve gracefully for 5 to 7 years.
2013 “The Magician" Riesling
Made from 100% Riesling that wasn’t harvested until October, the 2013 Riesling Magician is an impressive, outstanding effort that gives up plenty of juicy citrus, lime and hints of lychee, and subtle minerality in its medium-bodied, lively and refreshing personality. Showing just a hint of sweetness on the finish, it will be versatile on the dinner table and drink nicely for 2-3 years.
2012 “Flip Side" Syrah (pre release barrel sample)
A wine that was still in barrel at the time of this tasting, the 2012 Syrah Flip Side comes all from the Lewis Vineyard and is 100% Syrah that will be bottled only in Magnum. Already perfumed and complex, it has a slight funkiness to go with classic Washington State Syrah aromas and flavors of black raspberry, blackberry, ground pepper, bacon fat and hints of truffle. Medium to full-bodied, elegant and seamless, this puppy hits the palate with no hard edges, superb mid-palate depth and building, fine tannin on the finish. Count me a fan, and it will have upwards of 10-12 years of longevity.
2012 “Levitation" Syrah (pre release)
Kicking off the 2012s and my favorite vintage to date, the 2012 Syrah Levitation is a blockbuster-styled effort that possesses fantastic creme de cassis, blackberry, licorice, graphite and crushed flower-like aromas and flavors. Full bodied, balanced and awesomely textured on the palate, with integrated acidity and building, sweet tannin on the finish, this is the real deal and will dish out loads of pleasure over the coming 7-8 years, possibly longer.
2011 “Levitation" Syrah (SOLD OUT)
Also superb, the 2011 Syrah Levitation has some underlying funkiness in its blackberry, blueberry compote, pepper and wild herb-styled aromas and flavors. Made in a forward, up-front and approachable style, this medium to full-bodied, rich and beautifully textured effort should be consumed over the coming 5 to 7 years.
2012 “The Conjurer" Red Blend
Trey’s entry level Bordeaux blend that has impressive Cabernet grip and structure, the 2012 The Conjurer Columbia Valley is a solid value that gives up plenty of black currants, graphite, lead pencil and leafy herbs in its medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated and classically styled profile. Made from 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Cabernet Franc and 24% Merlot that spent 11 months in 20% new French oak (a combination of small and larger barrels), it will have over a decade of longevity.
2012 “The Illusionist" Cabernet (barrel sample)
The Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated 2012 The Illusionist (incorporates 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot) gives up classic Cabernet character with its green herbs, tobacco leaf and hints of meatiness being balanced out nicely by core of creme de cassis and black raspberry styled fruits. Showing more floral and violet qualities with time in the glass, this medium to full-bodied, supple, elegant, yet nicely concentrated Cabernet blend can be consumed anytime over the coming 10 to 12 years.
2011 Illusionist Cabernet
A blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot that comes mostly from Red Mountain, but also includes a small portion from Phinny Hill, the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon The Illusionist saw 23 months in 56% new French oak prior to bottling. Medium to full-bodied, concentrated, rich and layered, with beautiful precision and focus on the finish, it gives up classic crushed rock-like minerality, dark currant and raspberry fruit, licorice, leather and liquid smoke on the nose. It can be consumed anytime over the coming 10 to 12 years.
July 2013 Wine Advocate
Reviews by Jeb Dunnuck
"Winemaker Trey Busch has produced a bevy of brilliant 2010s and 2011s that make the most of the cool vintages. Leaning more towards the leaner, more focused side of the spectrum, his 2010s are easily the most traditional wines I’ve tasted from him, and while they will delight Old World wine lovers, they have ample texture and richness, and are all around classy wines. The majority of them will benefit from short-term cellaring. More up-front and near term efforts, Trey’s 2011s show slightly less concentration and depth, yet stay perfectly balanced and textured, with charming profiles. Drink these while you wait on the 2010s. In addition to the 2010s and 2011s reviewed here, I was able to taste through a full lineup of Trey’s 2012s and across the board, they had voluptuous, pure characters, gorgeous fruit and solid concentration. They should be up there with best wines yet from this first rate estate."
2010 “Black Circle" Cabernet Sauvignon (magnum only)
A new release that’s 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Scooteney Flats Vineyard in Red Mountain, the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Black Circle was fermented in stainless steel and then aged 20 months in two new French oak barrels. Bottled only in magnum and sold as a two pack with the Petit Verdot Fifth Element, it’s a full-throttle, awesome Cabernet and oozes aromas and flavors of creme de cassis, wild herbs, graphite, spring flowers and edgy minerality. Inky purple in color and tasting like a barrel sample, with massive extract, incredible purity and a seamless, yet decadent texture, it possesses a massive amount of tannin on the finish and needs a solid 4-5 years or more of bottle age to round into shape. Brilliant on all accounts, it will have two decades or more of longevity! Drink 2016-2030.
2010 “The Fifth Element" Petit Verdot (magnum only)
Also bottled only in magnum and paired with the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon The Black Circle as a two pack, the 2010 Petit Verdot Fifth Element is made from 100% Petit Verdot and comes from the Blue Mountain Vineyard in the northern part of the Walla Walla Valley. Aged 20 months in neutral oak, its inky black color is followed by a masculine, dense bouquet of black fruits, crushed stone, charcoal, tobacco and smoke. This gives way to massive, full-bodied wine that has off the charts extraction, a great texture and a serious amount of tannin that emerges through the mid-palate and finish. Backwards, dense and impenetrable, it is a serious effort that will require a serious chunk of bottle age to become civilized. I’m impressed and can’t wait to see how it evolves over the coming decade. Drink 2015-2030.
2010 “The Archimage" Red Blend
More earthy and gamey, the 2010 The Archimage checks in a blend of 45% Cabernet Franc, 43% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Aged 20 months in 50% new French oak, it delivers a wild, Cabernet Franc-dominated profile with loads of chocolate covered red and black fruits, wild herbs, tobacco and damp earth all showing on the nose. Deep, rich and layered on the palate, with a medium to full-bodied, elegant texture, lip smacking levels of acidity and quality tannin on the finish, it will benefit from short-term cellaring and drink nicely for upwards of a decade. I’d like to see more mid-palate depth here, but there’s no denying the overall quality. Drink now-2020.
2011 “The Archimage" Red Blend (barrel sample)
Looking at Trey’s 2011s tasted out of barrel, the 2011 The Archimage checks in as a blend of 54% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc and a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon that’s aging in 34% new French oak. Scheduled to be bottled in September of this year, it is a rock solid 2011 that has classy spice, plum, underbrush, new saddle leather and violets that flow to a medium to full-bodied, balanced and rich palate. One of the more age-worthy 2011s, with sound underlying structure and tannin, it should flesh out nicely in bottle and have a 10-12 year drink window. Drink 2015-2023.
2010 “The Illusionist" Cabernet Sauvignon
One of the most impressive and age worthy of the 2010 lineup, the 2010 The Illusionist is a smoking blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc that was aged 20 months in 60% new French oak. Deep, awesomely pure and drenched in minerality, it offers up notions of smoked black and blue fruits, herb, chocolate, graphite and layers of crushed stone to go with a medium to full-bodied, energetic and lively texture on the palate that carries superb richness, integrated acidity and masses of finely polished tannin. Not a blockbuster and with a traditional, almost old school feel, this beauty will benefit from 2-3 years in the cellar and impress for 12-15 years. Drink 2015-2025.
2011 “The Illusionist" Cabernet Sauvignon (barrel sample)
The 2011 The Illusionist (96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot) comes from Phinny Hill, Red Mountain and Scooteney Flats Vineyards and sees 56% new French oak. Also with outstanding potential (and then some) and possessing a medium to full-bodied, elegant profile, it’s loaded with sweet kirsch, raspberry, underbrush, cedar, spice box and graphite aromas and flavors. With knockout purity, notable tannin and serious length, it will benefit from a handful of years in the cellar once released and shine for 10-12 years or more. Drink 2015-2023.
2010 “Levitation" Syrah
More serious, rich and textured, the 2010 Syrah Levitation, a multi-vineyard 100% Syrah that spent 20 months in 20% new French oak, is inky purple in color and offers up a deep, backwards bouquet of smoked blackberry-like fruits, pen ink, hints of herbs and wet slate-like minerality. Full-bodied and loaded with fruit on the palate, it nevertheless stays beautifully pure and fresh, with solid acidity and focus carrying through the finish. Already delicious, yet benefitting from a decant, it’s a rock solid Syrah that will impress for upwards of a decade. Drink now-2020.
2011 “Levitation" Syrah (pre-release bottle sample)
The outstanding 2011 Syrah Levitation is a 100% Syrah that comes mostly from the Les Collines Vineyard, yet also has smaller portions from the End of the Road Ranch and Funk Vineyards as well. Fermented with 33% whole cluster and aged for 14 months in a scant 12% new French oak, it is a pretty, seamless and supple Syrah that has plenty of ripe black cherry, spring flowers, leather and creamy licorice as well as a medium-bodied, moderately concentrated, yet pure and seamless mouthfeel. Elegant and already delicious, it has enough depth and tannin to evolve for 7-8 years. Drink now-2019.
2011 “Funkadelic" Syrah (pre-release bottle sample)
Also already in bottle and one of my favorite Syrahs from Trey, the 2011 Syrah Funkadelic is a meaty, aromatic effort that’s overflowing with dark cherry, river rock-like minerality, pepper, herbed meat and hints of flowers on the nose. This 100% Syrah comes from the Funk Vineyard (which lies in an old riverbed) and is medium-bodied, supple and gorgeously textured, with good acidity and plenty of ripe tannin. Enjoy it over the coming 7-8 years. Drink now-2021.
2011 “The Sorceress" Grenache (pre-release bottle sample)
Already in bottle, the 2011 Grenache Upland Vineyard is 100% Grenache that comes from the tiny Snipes Mountain AVA, which is one of the warmest terroirs in the state. Harvested on November 3 and aged all in neutral oak for 14 months, it offers up a light ruby color to go with perfumed cherry, flowers, strawberry and white pepper-like aromas and flavors. Pinot Noir-like in its perfume and texture, this medium-bodied 2011 has an elegant, yet rich mouthfeel, loads of fruit and a seamless finish. Already complex and evolved, it will drink nicely for 4-6 years. Drink now-2017.
2011 “The Conjurer" Red Blend
Starting off the reds, the entry level 2011 The Conjurer is a Bordeaux blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc that saw 14 months in a scant 26% new French oak. Perfumed, classy and with a traditional, herbal slant, it has loads of charm and a juicy, up-front and lightly concentrated feel. Showing plenty of currant bud, underbrush, smoked earth and mineral aromas and flavors, this medium body, fresh, focused and slightly lean 2011 opens up nicely with air and should be consumed over the coming 3-4 years. Drink now-2017.
2011 “The Enchantress" Chardonnay
A step up is the old vine 2011 Chardonnay The Enchantress, which comes completely from the French Creek Vineyard, which was planted in 1978. Whole cluster pressed and aged, on lees, in neutral French oak barrels, it is an outstanding, Burgundy-like effort that possesses a slightly cloudy, pale gold color to go with a rich, yet energetic array of ripe apples, vanilla cream, white flowers and lime on the nose. The lees contact comes through on the palate where it shows a medium to full-bodied, rounded and supple texture that’s cut by lively acidity, excellent purity of fruit and building richness on the finish. It benefits from air and opened up nicely over the evening. While not something I would hide in the cellar, it should drink nicely for 3-4 years. Drink now-2017.
2012 “The Magician" Riesling
Starting off the whites, the 2012 Riesling The Magician is composed of 100% Riesling that comes from the Evergreen Vineyard which is located just off of the Colombia River. Very lively and fresh, with notions of lychee, star fruit and tangerine, it is a medium-bodied, juicy and crowd-pleasing effort that is very well made. Enjoy it over the coming handful of years. Drink now-2015.
2012 “The Magician's Assistant" Cabernet Franc Rosé
The 2012 Rose The Magician’s Assistant is a unique rose made from 100% Cabernet Franc. Coming all from the Blackrock Vineyard and light salmon in color, it seems almost Provencal in style at first, with crisp melon, mineral, orange rind and spice qualities showing on the nose, yet turns surprisingly savory and herbal on the palate, with crisp acidity, good fruit and plenty of length. Interesting and certainly worth the price of admission, it will be versatile on the dinner table and drink nicely for 1-2 years. Drink now-2014.