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2012 Bordeaux-Inspired Wines

The 2012 Vintage---Finally

After two years of challenging harvests, the Columbia Valley was finally blessed with an easy one.  Not only easy, but stunning.  Yes, we love the 2010s and 2011s, but getting to the end result was challenging because of cooler-than-normal growing season temperatures, but 2012 was brilliant right from the start.  A moderate spring and gently building summer heat to a hot August ensured above average heat accumulation for the year.  This was followed by a long gentle autumn creating predictable and satisfying results.  The wines are generous, pure and expressive, reminding me of the fleshiness of the 1998s and the clarity of the 2007s.  These 2012 Rhone-inspired wines are among the best yet from our cellar.

2012 Vintage Overview by Bob Betz
Clos de Betz, Bordeaux Blend Cuvée Frangin Dolce Mio Figlio Père de Famille, Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Clos de Betz, Bordeaux Blend

The 2012 Clos de Betz opens with the “wow” color of the vintage: an inky black red core with a striking magenta edge, reflecting the deep sense of ripeness achieved that year.  This concentration of color introduces a profound aromatic impression, a breadth of black cherry, black
currant and plums; its Washington Merlot foundations shining through.  A litany of supporting notes then kicks in to create the real charm of this wine: bay leaf, anise, crushed wet stones, flowers and vanilla cream construct a stunning aromatic impression.

Merlot’s dominance in the blend takes center stage on the mid-palate, with a deep, textural fullness.  It’s the weight of this wine which impresses most, with a depth and breadth that envelop the palate and linger for a long finish. Vibrant black and red fruits abound, while Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot that complete the blend add anise, bay leaf and underbrush to the palate.  Because of the vintage the wine shows attractive up-front development, but don’t be too hasty: a long cellar life awaits.

Click Here to download a PDF version of the 2012 Clos de Betz Tasting Notes
Click Here to download ALL the 2012 Bordeaux Tasting Notes


Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • 67% Merlot
  • 27% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 6% Petit Verdot

Barrel Program:
  • 100% French oak barrels
  • 65% new, 35% one fill, for 16 months

Acclaim
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 93-95pts (barrel tasting)

"Tasted as a barrel sample and Betz's take on a right bank Bordeaux, the 2012 Clos de Betz is 67% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the balance Petit Verdot. Inky-purple in color (has anyone seen a Betz wine not inky purple?), it offers impressive cassis, plum liqueur, spring flowers and underbrush-style aromas and flavors to go with a mouth filling, layered and voluptuous style on the palate. I love the mid-palate here, and the tannin builds through the finish, so, while it should have plenty of up front appeal it should also evolve for 15+ years." Jeb Dunnuck

2012 Cuvée Frangin

We decided to tighten up our already-strict selection criteria even more and raise the hurdle for any barrel to make it into the final blends of our flagship wines: Père de Famille and Clos de Betz, our three Syrahs and Bésoleil. The new standards have reduced the amount of these wines and provide the ability to take overall quality to the next level. Barrels that don’t make it into our flagship wines have been blended to make Cuvée Frangin; barrels that don’t meet these new rigorous criteria are sold off as usual.

The results are exciting, uniting the classic varieties that we’ve made and matured side by side every vintage. Our new Washington red blend, Cuvée Frangin (koo-vay frahn-jhan), unites the aromatic complexity and structure of our Bordeaux varieties with the supple mouthfeel of Syrah. The individual wines in the blend have long been separate parts of our family portfolio, and now they weave together seamlessly, providing a compelling richness and balance.

We crafted Cuvée Frangin in a more approachable style using multiple varieties, less new oak, and an overall gentler approach. It is designed to be enjoyed younger but will age for several years.

Click here to download a PDF version of the tasting notes




Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Petit Verdot
  • Merlot
  • Syrah

Barrel Program:
  • 100% French oak barrels
  • 20% new/80% one fill, for 12 months

Aging Profile:
  • Best Now through 2018
  • Serve cool, 60-62°F
AVA or Vineyard Detail
The wine is a blend of Bordeaux varieties and Syrah sourced from some of the most famous vineyards in the Columbia Valley, includung Ciel du Cheval, Kiona and Klipsun on Red Mountain, Red Willow, Du Brul, Boushey and Olsen in Yakima Valley, Alder Ridge in the Horse Heaven Hills and Upland on Snipes Mountain.

2012 Dolce Mio Figlio

Since our first harvest of 1997 every wine we’ve made has been a dry red table wine; even those few rosés were dark, sturdy and dry enough to qualify for that description. Enter the newest member of the Betz Family portfolio: Dolce Mio Figlio, a sweet port-like dessert wine.

So much has been written already about the splendid 2012 vintage in Washington, one of my personal top five harvests in the past 40 years. In addition to great fruit across the board, the vintage provided a chance to branch out with some spicy, special Syrah. The Syrah from Dick Boushey’s Vineyard in mid-Yakima Valley (we’ve farmed the same block since 2000) was extraordinary, deeply colored, and thick skinned and jammed with spicy black fruit character, just the sort of material that begged for toying with.

We took a small portion of that fruit and made a sweet wine using a centuries-old method of fortifying fermenting juice to create a “vin doux naturel”, a “naturally sweet wine”. Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Beaumes de Venise and the most famous of the genre, Port, are vin doux naturel.

Grapes destined for vin doux naturel begin life as other red wines do: sorted, crushed and skins/juice/seeds combined in fermenters. Shortly after fermentation begins, 2-4 days in and after 30-40% of the sugar had been consumed by yeast, we added a precisely calculated amount of neutral grape spirits. This immediately raised the alcohol level of the must to 19-20%, killed the yeast and stopped fermentation. This also protected the remaining sugar from further fermentation and preserved the rich intensity of fresh fruit. By that point the wine had turned fabulously spiced and purple black having absorbed all the flavor and pigment from the grapes. After gentle pressing the wine was matured for two years in a single neutral French oak barrel (there’s not much of it!) and recently bottled.

We’re thrilled with the result, a dense, rich, jam packed dessert wine based on Washington Syrah, with so many of the characteristics of Port: black-purple color, a heady, intense aroma, balanced sweetness, a range of spices and black fruits, and that a structure that lingers long and vivid.

We kept our “family” tradition alive when we named it, this time applying an affectionate Italian name, Dolce Mio Figlio, “My Sweet Son”. Available in 500 mls bottles only, it’s one of those dessert wines that is impossible to keep your hands off of, but will evolve in the cellar for years to come.

Click here to download a PDF version of the 2012 Dolce Mio Figlio tasting notes


2012 Père de Famille, Cabernet Sauvignon

This initial question raised by this vintage of Père de Famille is how this wine, with such a depth of color, texture and weight of the New World retains its aromatic complexity and balance of the Old World.  The answer isn’t precise, but is a reflection of a remarkable Columbia Valley vintage, plus small changes in maturation and the varietal concentration of the final blend.  Its inky purple color, muscular structure and plush texture all point to its New World origins.  But the
aromas of pure, layered black fruits, graphite, crushed rock and lavender (think St. Julien?) lead me back to the Old World. 

The 2012 Père de Famille has the highest level (90%) of Cabernet Sauvignon that we’ve ever used in this wine.  Add to that the high concentration of Red Mountain grapes (84%), deep and structured, and it yields a wine as generous as any Cabernet we’ve made.  It showed such density in barrel that we added three months barrel aging to resolve the tannins and body.  It’s weighty and yet balanced, fleshy yet fine grained, powerful yet polished.  And unabashedly
Cabernet Sauvignon, with its black currants, anise/thyme, savory mouth feel and dusty finish.  Its dimension and
precision indicate long aging ability, but you might be
tempted far earlier.

Click here to download a PDF version of the 2012 Père de Famille tasting notes
Click Here to download ALL the 2012 Bordeaux Tasting Notes



Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • 90% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 6% Merlot
  • 4% Petit Verdot

Barrel Program:
  • 100% French oak barrels
  • 65% new 35% one fill, for 16 months

AVA or Vineyard Detail
Vinyard Detail:
  • 85% Red Mountain
Acclaim
2012 Pere de Famille, Cabernet Sauvignon 94-96pts (barrel tasting)

More Cabernet dominated, the 2012 Pere de Famille incorporates 6% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. This knockout effort has masculine, earthy notes of black currants; smoke, graphite, crushed rock and dusty soil to go with a full-bodied, powerful and focused feel on the palate.
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