Beyond the Usual Suspects
Exploring Napa Valley’s lesser-known producers
Tallulah proprietor/winemaker Mike Drash was driven to Northern California from the American South by a love of wine and food. He entered the wine business as a cellar hand at DeLoach, moved on to J (both in the Russian River Valley), then Far Niente and Luna Vineyards of Napa Valley. In 2009, he discovered that the Tallulah wine brand was available for purchase. With a daughter named Tallulah and family ties to actress Tallulah Bankhead, he saw the opportunity as a sign and made the label his.
His Tallulah wines include single-vineyard varietals and blends of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon plus Chardonnay. Many of the grapes are from Napa Valley, but he also uses Sonoma County, Sierra Foothills and Oregon fruit. California-produced Rhône-variety red wines can display a very broad range of personalities, from soft and gooey fruit-driven drinks at one extreme to lean wines at the other, with reticent fruit peaking through complex layers of spice and herb. My experience with Tallulah puts their wines in an attractive middle ground, smooth and satisfying on the palate with a balance of fruit and earthy spice.
Opaque and ruby-black with aromas of dusty black fruit, mocha, game and dark spice. The palate is full-bodied with moderate fine, powdery tannins. Very attractive flavors of mocha, black fruit, game, toasted wood and dark spice. 91+ points
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