2017 Little Sister Reviews Vineyards Past Vintages

Vineyard Source

Quintessence, Red Mountain
Red Willow, Yakima Valley


100% Merlot



Release Date

October 4, 2018


220 cases

Download Tasting Notes PDF

(92-94) points, Jeb Dunnuck

"From the Quintessence (84%) and Red Willow (16%) vineyards, the 2017 Merlot Little Sister (100% Merlot) is the Reserve Merlot of the estate. It's a juicy, red and black fruit-driven effort that has classic Merlot chocolate and spice characteristics, medium-bodied richness, ripe tannins, and a good finish. It's a juicy, elegant Merlot from this team that's going to benefit from a year or two in bottle and keep for a decade."



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From the 2016 vintage

92 points, Jeb Dunnuck

"Based on 100% Merlot, the 2016 Little Sister comes from the Phinny Hill and Red Willow vineyards and was brought up in 44% new French oak. It has beautiful black cherries, crushed flowers, violets, and forest floor notes, with subtle Pomerol-like juiciness and earthy minerality. Medium to full-bodied, fresh and lively, with good acidity and purity, drink this fleshy, pretty Merlot over the coming 10-12 years."


Red Willow 

Red Willow vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards in the state, a true Washington pioneer. Owned and operated by Mike Sauer, his wife Karen, sons Jonathan and Daniel, and son-in-law Rick Willsey, Red Willow remains a family operation. The vineyard is located on the Yakama Indian Reservation, on steep south-facing slopes in the Cascade foothills, in the Yakima Valley AVA. The first wine grapes were planted in 1973 under the direction of Dr. Walt Clore. Red Willow represents classical non-fruit qualities with stunning balance and grace.


Quintessence Vineyards is a 410-acre parcel of land with a base elevation of 675 feet, rising to 1,025 feet as it reaches Red Mountain AVA's southwest-facing slopes. Quintessence founders Dick Shaw and Paul Kaltinick planted their first vines as partners on Red Mountain in 2010. They launched Quintessence with a planting of 68 acres along Red Mountain's southwestern slope. Positive response was immediate, with customers pointing to "world class vineyard management" and "spectacular fruit" as some outstanding attributes. Additional planting followed, with similar success. Now, with the expansion along the eastern ridge and slop of Red Mountain, Quintessence will encompass some 300 acres in total. Quintessence is made up of premium land, a talent for farming, dedicated management, ideal growing conditions, and a love for what they do.


More to come!