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2012 Rhone-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
Bésoleil Syrah La Côte Patriarche Syrah La Serenne Syrah La Côte Rousse

2012 Bésoleil

Washington southern Rhone varieties continue their winning streak, proving to excel in cool and hot vintages. Fans of this Southern Rhone-inspired wine will note that there’s no Counoise in the 2012 blend as there has been in recent vintages; that variety ripened fine, but they lacked the penetrating character needed to complement the final wine. The Mourvedre fraction (15%) stepped right up to fill its place, its deep, brooding and sweet ink character carrying through in the wine, making the 2012 deeper, more structured yet finely layered. Grenache (50%) still dominates the blend, with its creamy black raspberry, wild dried strawberry, dried herbs and floral notes. Cinsault (20%) fills in with its dusty blue notes, and Yakima Valley Syrah (15%) provides more backbone. This is a Bésoleil for the cellar, dense and full, and a few years of aging will expand its Chateauneuf-like appeal.


Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • 50 % Grenache
  • 20% Cinsault
  • 15% Mourvedre
  • 15% Syrah

Aging Profile:
  • Best from 2015 through 2021+    
  • Serve cool, 60-62°F
AVA or Vineyard Detail
Vineyard Sources:
  • 75% Yakima Valley
  • 15% Red Mountain
  • 10% Snipes Mountain
Acclaim
Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate, 94

A Rhone-styled blend, the 2012 Besoleil is made from 50% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 15% Syrah and 15% Mourvedre that’s aged all in neutral oak. Gorgeous on all accounts, it has fantastic density and depth, with medium to full-bodied richness, beautiful freshness and classic Grenache-driven aromas and flavors of raspberry, black raspberry, pepper, herbs de Provence and flowers. Already hard to resist, it should evolve gracefully for over a decade.

2012 Syrah La Côte Patriarche

This old block of Syrah at Red Willow Vineyard (Washington State’s oldest) provides amazing “dark” consistency regardless of the year’s growing conditions. We always net a black/purple wine, rich texture and subtle power, but the brooding profile in 2012 is another step up. It’s the darkest color of our three syrahs (no small feat), its darkness all encompassing: aroma, flavor and texture are consistently “black”. Sweet blackberry, plum, spicy pepper and smoke lead the aromatics, with a bit of wild roasted meat. Despite the sheer volume of fruit, there’s a charming presence of subtle blueberry, crushed dried herbs, roasted grain. The palate is huge, concentrated yet with fine grain tannins. This seeming dichotomy of size and yet delicacy must be soil driven: the ancient, pre-Missoula Flood soils provide a challenging, low fertility medium for the vines and, to this observer, deliver finesse and elegance to the wine. Hard to resist now, tuck this away as well; long cellaring will reward with increased complexity.


Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • 100% Syrah from the Red Willow Vineyard, west end of the Yakima Valley

Aging Profile:
  • Best from 2015 through 2024+    
  • Serve cool, 60-62°F
AVA or Vineyard Detail
Vinyard Detail:
  • 100% Syrah from the Red Willow Vineyard, west end of the Yakima Valley
Acclaim
Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate,  96

A cuvee that’s not produced in every vintage, the 2012 Cote Patriarche comes all from the Red Willow vineyard and mostly from the oldest Syrah vines planted in Washington. Inky purple in color, with mineral-laced blackberry, cassis, crushed flowers, smoked earth and licorice, this beauty hits the palate with full-bodied richness and depth, a seamless texture and an overriding sense of elegance that carries through the finish. Knockout stuff, it too will have 15+ years of longevity.

2012 Syrah La Serenne

Syrah La Serenne’s character in 2012 reinforces the loose axiom: cooler sites produce their finest wines in warm vintages; think of Mosel Rieslings or Cote Rotie Syrahs, both cooler than other nearby appellations, and how they shine in warm vintages.  So too with the higher altitude, cooler-temperature Boushey Vineyard, for 13 vintages the sole source for La Serenne.  The vineyard made great use of the warm late July and August, yielding small berries with thick skins, providing extraordinary density and richness.  Supple and fleshy are hallmarks of this vineyard in any vintage, butin 2012 pack on more textural breadth, and add more of Syrah’s  wildness, a meaty, spicy, earthy nuance.  It’s inky black, with dark plums, creamy black fruits, generous smoke and anise, and yet it still retains its cool site vitality.  Don’t be deceived by its supple tannins and juicy approachability: this is one that will live a long life in the cellar.



Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • 100% Syrah
  • Boushey Vineyard, mid Yakima Valley

Aging Profile:
  • Best from 2016 through 2023+
  • Serve cool, 60-62°F
AVA or Vineyard Detail
Vineyard Detail:
  • 100% Syrah
  • Boushey Vineyard, mid Yakima Valley
Acclaim
Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate, 96

".. As for the Syrah-driven wines, they do two main cuvees, one focusing on Boushey Vineyard, the La Serenne, and the other on Red Mountain, the La Cote Rousse. The 2012 Syrah La Serenne is a 100% Syrah that was aged in 50% new French oak prior to bottling. I think the greatest vintage of this cuvee to date, it boasts an incredibly inky purple color to go with notions of creme de cassis, damp earth, graphite, smoke and licorice that flow to a full-bodied, voluptuously textured profile on the palate. Despite all of the richness, it stays thrillingly focused and shows the purity and elegance of the site. Enjoy it anytime over the coming 10-15 years."

 

2012 Syrah La Côte Rousse

We get to play a lot (read “challenging”) with Syrah La Côte Rousse at the blending table. In the months following harvest we taste through the barrels of four different Syrah clones from four distinct blocks, all within a stone’s throw of each other on Red Mountain. Each clone gives its unique signature to the mix, contributing various shades of texture, color, aroma or taste. This diverse blending material ultimately gives a more complex wine, especially from a “terroir –dominant” region like Red Mountain. The 2012 comes across with classic Red Mountain signature: a powerful, dense nucleus of black fruits, supported by layered complexity of violet, dusty gravel, leafy underbrush, spice and black olive. The palate is bold, vigorous and persistent, jammed with blackberry, black plum and spice. It’s the sturdiest of our three 2012 syrahs, most demanding of cellaring; its concentration and sheer power will easily support a decade or two in your cellar.


Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • 100% Syrah
  • Clones 174, 383, 99 and Phelps

Aging Profile:
  • Best from 2016 through 2023+
  • Serve cool, 60-62°F
AVA or Vineyard Detail
Vinyard Detail:
  • 65% Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain
  • 35% Ranch at the End of the Road, Red Mountain
Acclaim
Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate, 95

More mineral-driven, with savory spices, dried earth and floral notes balanced by a rocking core of fruit, the 2012 Syrah La Cote Rousse is more backwards and reticent than the La Serenne, and will need short-term cellaring to unwind. Possessing full-bodied richness, beautiful concentration, high, yet sweet tannin, and a terrific finish, this awesome Syrah will be at its best from 2017-2027.
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