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Washington Wine Month Stop #5: Doubleback Winery

NFL fans, specifically New England Patriot fans, are going to fall for our 5th stop on our Washington Winery tour.

Retired quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, caught up with his childhood friend, Chris Figgins, who just happened to study enology to open Doubleback Winery in 2007.

From pads and helmet to jeans and polo shirt, Bledsoe has found his niche.

So get lined up in formation and brace yourself for some stellar Cabernet from Bledsoe and Figgins.

History:

Figgins and Bledsoe go back many years, as they grew up a stone’s throw from each other, some 400 yards from the Leonetti Cellar Estate in Walla Walla, Washington. After high school, they both went on to pursue their own ambitions and personal successes.

The two reconnected in early 2007 when Bledsoe made the decision to enter the wine business. After much research, Bledsoe decided on his hometown of Walla Walla as his first choice for his vineyard and winery location. Figgins was at the top of Drew’s list for a consulting winemaker but was unsure of Figgins’ interest outside of Leonetti Cellar.

The timing was very serendipitous as Figgins had just started Figgins Enological and was looking for the perfect client for his first consulting collaboration. Figgins, having a very high respect for Bledsoe, seriously entertained taking on Doubleback as his client and their business relationship became official in the spring of 2007 just as Bledsoe announced his retirement from the NFL.

Figgins consults on all winemaking and viticulture practices as well as assisting in the vineyard design and planting for McQueen, Drew’s estate vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley.

Doubleback was conceived from the dirt. It all started in the vineyard with the long term goal of producing only estate wine. Both Bledsoe and Figgins believe in using only the best site- specific viticulture practices including high density planting, Compostea and water conservation all under the sustainable growing practices of VINEA. They have an intense focus on their goal to create what they hope to be a world class vineyard producing exceptional wine.

It is a true collaboration from dirt to bottle.

Why the name Doubleback? (As featured on Washington Wine Report)

Figgins pushed hard to name the winery ‘Bledsoe’, saying, “I love the name. It’s so unique.”

Bledsoe, however, wanted the wine to speak for itself. He says, “I didn’t want anybody to have the perception that this was just an endorsement type deal. If the wine is good enough, it doesn’t need a celebrity endorsement.”

Bledsoe also believes that discovery plays an important part in the joy of wine. He says, “With wine there should be a sense of discovery where you look at our bottle, try the wine, really like the bottle, and turn it around to find out more and find out ‘Cool. That’s Drew Bledsoe’s bottle.’”

With the name ‘Bledsoe’ ruled out, coming up with a moniker for the winery proved to be considerably harder than anyone anticipated. Bledsoe “thought a name would just fall out of the sky.”

After working with the Seattle-based firm, Kendall Ross, the group came up with a dozen names to choose from. One of those names was Doubleback. Bledsoe liked the name with the connotation of returning, or doubling back, to his hometown on Walla Walla with the winery. Having the letters DB in the name was a happy coincidence.

About the Vineyards:

Bob Healy Vineyard
AVA – Walla Walla Valley
Acres – 9.7
Elevations – 1170-1370 feet
Soil – Walla Walla Silt Loams
Rainfall – 9 inches per year
Trellising – VSP
Planted – 2007
Varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Tempranillo

McQueen Vineyard
AVA – Walla Walla Valley
Acres – 40
Elevations – 1200-1425 feet
Soil – Wind-blown Glacial Loess
Rainfall – 8-9 inches per year
Trellising – VSP
Planted – Spring 2007
Varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot

Drew Bledsoe and Chris Figgins

2012 Vintage Notes:

The 2012 growing season in the Walla Walla Valley could not have been more different than the last two vintages. More in line with a “classic” Walla Walla season, we began with normal bud break and bloom times, punctuated by our normal shots of spring rain.

The summer was just glorious, staying fairly consistent with daytime temperatures in the upper 80’s and low 90’s and nighttime temperatures were dependably cool. We recorded thirteen straight weeks without a single drop of rain! Harvest began on September 21st with McQueen Merlot, and ended on Oct 19th with the last of the Petit Verdot.

As I write this, the wines are all pressed out and barreled down and looking just fabulous. This vintage is reminding me, at least initially, of 2008 as the wines are all dark, fruit saturated, and aromatic. I don’t think there’s a single “dog” in the cellar and I look forward to tasting comprehensively as the wines clarify.

- Chris Figgins, Consulting Winemaker

About their Cabernet:

Out of the bottle, the 2010 vintage is dark as port. The nose is full of pure, blue and black fruit, hints of dust, pine needles and sweet forest floor. I tasted the bottle opened for these notes over 7 days and the fruit never left. Cassis, baking spices, notes of cedar and caramel dominated until the end.

To witness a wine evolve this seamlessly while open for over a week on my counter speaks volumes to how it will evolve in your cellar. Lay this wine down for decades if you wish or enjoy it now! The acid and tannins are in perfect balance, highlighting the elegance which Drew has tasked me with extracting from the fruit.

- Chris Figgins, consulting winemaker

The 2010 vintage may prove to be a benchmark for years to come. The long, late growing season produced deeper, darker fruit than in past vintages. In the glass, the classic ruby color we love is joined by a hint of purple.

The nose exhibits the high-toned floral notes we have made a hallmark while also showing plum, maraschino cherry, vanilla and Asian spice notes. On the palate the wine exhibits the balance we continue to strive for; nicely integrated tannins, crisp acidity and beautiful Walla Walla Valley fruit.

The bright red fruit is married nicely this year with some darker fruit flavors. The finish lasts and lasts. This is a wine that will reward with some bottle age but, if you must dive in, please decant for a couple of hours to allow it to really shine.

- Drew Bledsoe, Proprietor

Doubleback

PO Box 518
Walla Walla, WA 99362

Tasting Room:

229 E Main St.
Walla Walla, WA 99362

Phone 509-525-3334

info@doubleback.com

www.doubleback.com

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    Theresa Dillon

     
    Theresa Dillon
    Theresa Dillon earned her bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU. In her spare time she enjoys reading, attending concerts, weekly trivia nights, watching movies (especially her favorite The Wizard of Oz), and of course wine.