2018 The Dissident Reviews Vineyards Past Vintages

Vineyard Source

Quintessence, Red Mountain
Red Willow, Yakima Valley
Klipsun, Red Mountain
Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain
Obelisco, Red Mountain
Phinny Hill, Horse Heaven Hills


70% Cabernet Sauvignon
21% Merlot
7% Cabernet Franc
2% Petit Verdot



Release Date

March 30, 2020


4,500 cases

Download Tasting Notes PDF

Winemaking Notes

Some of Washington State’s finest vineyards have provided fruit for the 2018 Dissident. Cabernet sauvignon from Quintessence, Klipsun and Ciel du Cheval and merlot from Phinny Hill and Red Willow are the foundation of this blend. The fruit was hand harvested between September 6th and October 18th, 2018. The wine was fermented in 1.5, 2 and 5 ton open top fermenters for 7-10 days. Great care is taken in the cellar to handle the must gently; it is never pumped and is gently punched down twice a day. The wine is lightly pressed to barrel where it finishes primary and secondary fermentation and is aged for 18 months in 60% new French oak. The wine was racked three times and gently fined prior to bottling.

From the 2016 vintage - #46 of Top 100 & 93 points, Wine Spectator

"Expressive and multilayered, with lively rose petal and black cherry aromas and sleekly complex flavors that take on richness toward polished tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2029.—T.F"



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Ciel du Cheval

Owned and operated by Jim Holmes and managed by Ryan Johnson, Ciel du Cheval has helped pave the way for the fine wine grapes on Red Mountain. With 120 acres under vine, Ciel du Cheval is a major contributor to Mark Ryan wines. The very first vintages of Dead Horse and Long Haul were packed with fruit from Ciel du Cheval, a tradition that continues to this day.

Balancing polish and refinement in its power and depth, Ciel represents a feminine compliment to Klipsun's brazen muscularity. The vines are planted in a fan trellis system, which provides a more-dense canopy to shield the clusters from the intense heat of the site. This style of management allows the grape's sugars to develop harmoniously with its concentration and physiological ripeness, showcasing deep fruit flavors balanced with non-fruit complexity.


Named by Wine and Spirits magazine as one of the Top 25 vineyards in the World, Klipsun is truly a Washington icon. Located on the western edge of Red Mountain AVA, the vineyard was planted in 1984 by David and Patricia Gelles. There are currently 120 acres planted to vines, managed by Julia Kock. Klipsun fruit is all about power. It's placement on Red Mountain exposes the vines to strong nighttime winds that thicken the grape's skins, making a smaller berry with dense fruit concentration and broad-shouldered structure. These conditions, coupled with the natural, consistent heat of Red Mountain create a wine of big, bold aromas and muscular intensity and power.


A relative newcomer to Red Mountain, Obelisco was planted in 2006 and is a partnership between Doug Long, Paul Kaltinick and Dick Shaw. The vineyard is managed by Marshall Edwards. From the first harvest in 2008, we have had the great pleasure of working with their Cabernet Sauvignon. Obelisco fruit represents a true archetypal Cabernet profile with great texture and length.

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. 


Wine Advocate

2013: 91-93 PointsA killer value, the 2013 The Dissident is the estate's entry-level Bordeaux blend and checks in as a mix of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc and a splash of Petit Verdot. Harvested September 4 - October 4 and aged in 58% new French oak, it has classic creme de cassis, violets, chocolate and tobacco leaf notes to go with a medium to full-bodied, supple, layered and lengthly feel on the palate. It's a killer value that drinks well above its humble price point. I suspect it will drink nicely for at least another decade

2012: 91 Points: Leading off the reds, the 2012 The Dissident checks in a multi AVA blend (Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, Obelisco, Kiona, Red Willow and Quintessence vineyards). Aged in 69% new French oak, it's a gorgeous effort that offers lots of black raspberry, toaste spice and crushed flowers to go with a medium to full-bodied, elegant, seamless feel on the palate. It's not bad not, but will be even better with short-term cellaring. It should have at least a decade of longevity.

2011: 90 PointsMedium-bodied, supple and straightforward, the entry-level 2011 The Dissident checks in as a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc Mourvedre and Petit Verdot. Seeing 21 months in 74% French oak, it gives up plenty of ripe herbs, tobacco leaf, black fruits and mineral-like qualities to go with a nicely balanced and drinkable profile on the palate. It-s a solid value as well as a superb intro into the style here. It will impress for upwards of a decade. 

2010: 90 PointsMade from declassified lots from his upper end Bordeaux blends, Mark’s 2010 The Dissident is comprised of 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 22% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. This kitchen sink styled blend spent 20 months in close to half new French oak. Perfumed, complex and a joy to drink, it offers up layers of black and blue fruits, while herbs, cedar and edgy minerality to go with a full-bodied, fleshy and textured palate. Outstanding juice all around, it is ready to go now, yet has the depth (and tannin!) to evolve for 5-7 years. It’s a solid value.

2009: 89 PointsLike so many U.S. West Coast vintners, McNeilly unapologetically blends, as he puts it, “from the top down,” and his 2009 The Dissident – comprised of Syrah as well as four Bordelais cepages grown at Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun – “is designed to fill a price point,” and consists of the barrels left over after blending his top wines. Given those circumstances, it makes a pretty strong case for itself, with sappy dark berry fruit mingled with roasted red meats, carob, and bittersweet herbal concentrates. There is considerable tannic graininess and chew, but when combined with a Washington-typical burst of energy, this makes for pleasant invigoration. A subtle suggestion of wet stone underlies the wine’s considerable finish.

2007: 90 PointsThe 2007 The Dissident Red Blend was made from declassified barrels of the Bordeaux varietals in the cellar with the addition of 34% Syrah. The nose gives up cedar, spice box, earth notes, sage, clove, black currant and blueberry. Medium to full-bodied and structured on the palate, this dense, full-flavored effort will evolve for 4-6 years and drink well through 2022.

2006: 90 PointsThe 2006 Red Wine The Dissident is composed of 50% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot aged in 20% new French oak. Purple-colored, it displays an expressive nose of wood smoke, black cherry, and blueberry. On the palate, the wine is firm with light tannin as well as layered ripe blue fruits.

2005: 89 PointsThe 2005 The Dissident is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, with the balance Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Sourced from three vineyards, the wine was aged in 30% new French oak. Made in a more easy-going style than its two predecessors, it has a more obviously fruity nose, a soft, supple palate presence, and plenty of forward, tasty dark fruits.

Wine Enthusiast

2011: 92 PointsAromatic with streaks of truffle, cigar and black cherry, this lively six-grape blend is principally Red Mountain fruit, along with some from Red Willow. Substantial and mouth-filling wine, it’s nuanced with rich flavors of cassis, tar, graphite and chalk. It spent 18 months in barrel, 73% new.

2010: 92 PointsThe Dissident blend has morphed in 2010; here it is 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 22% Merlot and small amounts of Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. It’s a more elegant, refined style, reflective of the vintage, and it works well to deliver supple, sleek and bracing flavors. Mixed herb and blackberry along with nuanced notes of earth and barrel (roughly half new) move gracefully across the palate. Delicious now, but should improve with a few years of cellaring as well.

2009: 94 PointsThis is a Merlot-dominant blend, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot in supporting roles. The voluptuous nose introduces a riot of blue and purple fruit flavors—a comingling of berries and plums. Streaks of fresh herb, mocha and cacao enter gracefully, leading onto the rich, deep and lusciously long finish.

2008: 92 PointsThe blend is 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Syrah, and 20% Merlot, delivering pure fruit flavors of black raspberry, blackberry and cassis. Sourced from young vines, and mostly Red Mountain vineyards, despite the Columbia valley label. Succulent and brambly, with dusty tannins and a finish with dark coffee flavors.

2004: 89 PointsA tremendous value, this blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah is named for a Pearl Jam song and matches that band’s vigor and raw energy. Thick tannins and scrapey acids suggest why these grapes may have been cut from the final blends for the other wines, but they show plenty of firm, ripe fruit and tarry complexity. 

Wine Spectator

2011: 90 PointsFirm in texture, with a layer of scratchy tannins around a bright and generous core of strawberry and peppermint flavors, lingering on the expressive finish. 

2009: 90 PointsSupple, generous and refined, with lovely red berry and black cherry fruit shaded with hints of clove and espresso. Lingers on the harmonious finish. 

2008: 92 PointsRich, round, robust and, at the end, refined, offering a plush mouthful of cherry, herb and cedar flavors that remain focused through the graceful finish.

2006: 91 PointsThis is round, with a dynamic range of flavors, offering black cherry, black olive, sweet anise and mocha character that keeps hanging on the long, effective finish, where a tobacco note makes things even more interesting.

2004: 91 PointsFirm in texture, with a straight backbone and lots of cedar and spice running through the focused, lively currant and blackberry flavors.