Pursued by Bear
It is maybe no surprise that veteran actor, Kyle MacLachlan, named his winery after the renowned Shakespearean stage direction, “Exeunt…pursued by a bear” (from A Winter’s Tale, for those who are curious.) given his award-winning film and theatre resume. It also may be no surprise that he returned to his home state to start his winery given his strong connection to his family roots. Having grown up in Eastern Washington, his love for the terroir of Washington State’s Columbia Valley is apparent when he speaks about his wines and how this project came about.
‘Making wine has many creative similarities to filmmaking. The fellowship of director, actor and camera working together conjure the magic of a great film, much as the essential elements of winemaking - winemaker, terroir and barrels work in harmony to produce a world-class wine.’
Pursued By Bear began as a partnership with Walla Walla winemaker Eric Dunham, although the baton has since passed to another celebrated Walla Walla winemaker, Daniel Wampfler, (also head winemaker at exclusive estate Abeja Winery). This partnership has allowed Kyle access to some of the top vineyards in Washington State, which is where his fascination lies. During our first tasting of the wines, Kyle explained the allure that Washington vineyards hold for him; the mega-floods that shaped the landscape during the last Ice Age have carved out pockets of different soils and left steep slopes and plateaus across the Columbia Valley and the Columbia River Gorge, so that one vineyard might have completely different characteristics from the one next door. The fruit from these vineyards yield gorgeously complex and layered wines.
Washington Wines are often known for their richness and concentration, but Kyle and Daniel have a light hand and pick early enough that his wines (Pursued By Bear, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and Baby Bear, a Syrah) have a gorgeous thread of acidity that lifts them up – no mean feat for Washington State.
Winemaker: Kyle Machlachlan and Daniel Wampfler
Since the start of the winemaking project, Kyle MacLachan had looked to add a 100% Syrah to the portfolio and the first vintage of Baby Bear coincided with the birth of his son, hence the slightly unusual name. Make no mistakes, this is not a `baby` wine nor a second wine as one may expect with the name. Intensely rich with a touch of eucalyptic, a distinct floral (potpourri) note on the nose and palate and a sprinkle of black pepper giving Syrah typicity. Despite its volupteous fruit, there is plenty of fresh acidity to balance The very fine tannic structure is flawless and though ready to drink now with its bold flavours, it would be fun to see how it develops in the cellar. Until recently I thought of Washington reds as being Cabernet Dominated, but the rise of Syrah makes perfect sense. The long, hot summers of Eastern Washington is well suited to Syrah and wines like this showcase just how good Washington Syrah can be. A tiny annual production of around 300-400 cases
Dark crimson in colour with an enticing Cabernet blackfruited nose intermingled with spice from a 100% new oak, I expected the Pursued by Bear to be a beast, which is clearly isn`t. Don`t get me wrong, it is a bold Bear with a hedonistic nose and plenty of volume on the palate with sumpteous fruit, but the tannins are beautifully refined and there is a sense of restrained on the dark plummy fruit and what most surprised me was a sense of impeccable balance.