1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille
Our blend in 1999 starts with 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, with 18% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc added in. We expanded our vineyard sources in 1999; especially exciting is the addition of both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. Bordeaux varieties from this site right on the Columbia River contribute elegance to the power we get from our other sources on Red Mountain. A small amount of mid-Yakima Valley Cabernet added berry and floral notes, while the Cabernet Franc ratcheted up the spice and earthy character.
Volumes of deep black cherry, cassis, spice and black pepper leap from the glass. There's even a whiff of the classic pencil lead of Bordeaux reds. Black fruit flavors, sweet spice and black pepper envelope the palate. Rich in tannin, yet lush from the gentle handling throughout. The 1999 is penetrating, yet graceful and firm. It finishes long on the palate and is a pleasure today, but I'm anxious to taste it after a few years of cellaring. If you open it now, give it an hour in a decanter for full enjoyment. (450 cases available)
From Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate (tasted July 2001): "...sweet black cherry and cassis aromas as well as a broad, medium to full-bodied character. This intense 1999 is loaded with sweet red and black fruits, and a hint of Washington's trademark fresh herbs. Powerful, highly expressive..."
1999 Clos de Betz
Clos de Betz is the softer, earlier-maturing companion to our sturdier Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille. The mix of vineyards and varietal percentages change each year, but we blend Clos de Betz for the common threads of rich, sweet red and black fruits and up front appeal.
The Clos de Betz blend for 1999 is 42% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Cabernet Franc, but Merlot takes center stage: it's ripe, juicy and sweetly perfumed. We used grapes predominantly from cooler vineyard sites in the mid-Yakima Valley that give us bright notes in the aroma and softer, plusher tannins on the palate. Additional Cabernet Sauvignon from the Horse Heaven Hills and Cabernet Franc from Red Mountain provide backbone.
This wine typifies why people love Bordeaux blends from Washington. A deep red color leads to abundant cherry and raspberry fruit aromas, with hints of chocolate and mocha. Black pepper and sweet oak round out the aroma. Penetrating Merlot flavors of cherry and plum are the base on which spice, licorice and raspberry play supporting roles. There's a lot of early appeal to this wine with its supple, drink-me-now charm, but the added Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc provide enough spine for mid-term cellaring. (210 cases available)
From Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar (tasted July 2001): "...Blackberry, blueberry, licorice, shoe polish and Christmas spices on the nose…displays very good intensity of black fruit flavors."
1999 Syrah La Serenne
This is our first vintage of Syrah, a rather hedonistic wine that friends wanted to buy right out of the barrel last year. The fruit is from the William's "Kiona Vineyard" on Red Mountain. The warm vineyard gave a generous ripeness, and even a bit of shrivel to the grapes just before harvest. This added "hang time" seems to build more complexity into Syrah, creating new aromatic dimensions. Only 11 months in older French oak lets the beauty of this variety shine through: vibrant black fruit aromas, meaty and ripe. It's fat and concentrated on the palate, with substantial alcohol, but the natural suppleness of Syrah keeps everything in harmony. We named this wine La Serenne, one of the local French names for Syrah in the Northern Rhone.
Wine Analysis: pH 3.66
Total Acidity: 5.3 g/l