I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during whatever meeting at Ash Hollow Estate Vineyards and Winery ended with something like "screw that, we're calling ours 'Headless Red' and the label better damn well have an epic shot of the headless horseman looking all majestic in a foggy wooded area." In a market of boring and generic naming/labeling/marketing, it certainly caught my attention. A little bit about Ash Hollow as described by their website:
Ash Hollow is about family, friends, food, fun and great wine - Ash Hollow is also about roots and place; and that place is Walla Walla, Washington. A sense of place is pervasive and a friendly spirit of camaraderie is contagious. From the estate vineyards, to the boutique winery, to the quaint downtown Walla Walla tasting room, there is that certain something that can't be defined by logic or science - that sense of place and warmth that are so special and unmistakably woven into the Ash Hollow experience.
It's also located at a site local folklore claim to be haunted by a headless dude who could be found chillin in the area where their vineyard currently resides! Has the winery kept him at bay with offerings of delicious wine? I'm not sure, but you can read the entire story about the headless ghost on their website.
While having a decapitated ghost riding a horse on your label is certainly bad ass and will turn even more heads as we near Halloween, that same strategy kind of ups the difficulty in that the wine better be just as good. Ash Hollow blended their 2007 Headless Red with 95% Cab Sauv and 5% Petit Verdot to be not just "legendary," but "WICKED GOOD." Ok, enough with the marketing, I promise I actually drank some.
I'll also note for full disclosure that this was a promotional bottle sent to me by Ash Hollow. Like all beverages we review, I'm still going to be just as critical as I would otherwise.
My bottle of Headless Red poured a light ruby color that almost looked more similar to a Pinot. My immediate thought was that this wine was going to be quite lighter than what I was used to with typical Walla Walla Cab Sauvs. While I was right, it wasn't as much of a stretch as I imagined. A little bit of earthiness was accompanied by black cherry, currant, and just a hint of strawberry in a way that celebrates the best of Walla Walla Cab Sauv in a way that is a bit more inviting to casual wine drinkers. While you could pair this with numerous options, this wine certainly stands up on its own and would be a big hit at gatherings (say, a Halloween party). Coming in at $18, it's not the cheapest entry red out there, but it's also leagues better than a lot of its competition.
A huge thank you goes out to Jennifer Gregory at Ash Hollow for sending this our way. I'm certainly going to add Ash Hollow to my next Walla Walla visit. If I'm lucky, I plan on sharing a bottle of this with their headless vineyard resident.