I have driven by Tempus Cellars many times as I drive to the Stan Clarke Vineyard or during crush at Lagana Cellars thinking I had to make time to get into that tasting room; it was at the top of the list to visit when my partner in wine and I decided to stay local and visit some Walla Walla wineries. (No, we haven’t been to all of the wineries in Walla Walla yet.)
Tempus, Latin for ‘time’, refers to the time it takes to make wine, especially red wine. From the moment grapes arrive at the winery to bottling time is critical to allow each phase of the process to complete for optimal flavor, mouthfeel and agability. Winemaker Joe Forest prefers to age his red wines for 22 months in barrel and another six months in bottle before releasing them. Joe is a graduate of the WWCC Enology & Viticulture program! The first vintage of Tempus Cellars wines was in 2006, released in 2009. The wines in our flight comprised 2010-2012 reds, 2013 Riesling and 2014 Rose’; the latter two not seeing oak didn’t require the additional time.
- 2013 Evergreen Vineyard Riesling – 12.7% ABV, 1.1 RS, a delightfully crisp apricot and nectarine rich white with enough residual sugar to make the fruit flavors pop and balance the acid
- 2014 Grenache Rose’ – 14.1%, kiwi and cherry on both the nose and palate
- 2012 Yakima Valley Grenache – 14.8% ABV, neutral oak for 16 months presents the dark, acidic fruits from start to finish
- 2011 Yakima Valley Syrah – 14.4% ABV, blending two clones (Joe Phelps and Tablas Creek) to arrive at the silky smooth, full-bodied fruit and earth Syrah with a subtle spice on the finish
- 2012 Red Blend – 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc 14.7% ABV, easy drinking, smooth black cherry, black plum and fennel
- 2011 Yellow Bird Vineyard Tempranillo – 14.2% ABV, a small lot of a very nice wine from dry-farmed Walla Walla grapes explodes with wild blueberry, herbs and leather with a hint of campfire
- 2011 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – 14.4% ABV, aged in all new French Oak the richness of the black currant and blackberry stand up well to the 22 month aging
- 2010 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 14.2% ABV, more astringent than the Red Mountain CS, the black currant and blackberry are joined by Red plum and herbs
Happy to meet Molly, Co-owner and winemaker’s wife/assistant, for a fun visit. Notice the turtles on the Cabernet Sauvignon labels? They signify the naturally slow process, time, a key ingredient in making Tempus Cellars wines.