2001 Bordeaux-Inspired Wines
2001 Clos de Betz
In our blending sessions we were surprised at how much Cabernet Sauvignon enriched the Merlot base; it added complexity and weight without detracting from Clos de Betz
's traditional suppleness. The final blend ended up 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc, with the 50% majority made from Merlot. Vineyard selection was fundamental to this decision.
In 2001 our lots of both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla developed a rich, ripe, supple mouthfeel. The Cabernet was plumier and less currant-like than normal and combined seamlessly with the Merlot. The final blend of the Clos de Betz
depended heavily on this sweet fruit character, with 57% of the fruit coming from Walla Walla. Alder Ridge Vineyard played a strong supporting role, especially in the Merlot fraction, making up 22% of the blend. Eleven percent Yakima Valley fruit added soft tannin and berry-like aromas, and Red Mountain grapes played a minor role at 10% of the final wine.
Clos de Betz is a ripe mouthful of wine, with lots of viscosity and still plenty of tannin to give it backbone. Aromas of very sweet cherries, licorice and chocolate have an added dimension of spice. Chocolate and cola flavors mingle with ripe berries and cherry on the palate. As with so many Washington Merlots, this vintage is capable of growing more complex with age, and would reward a few years in the cellar.
480 cases produced
$58/1.5 liter magnum
Steve Tanzer's description (International Wine Cellar
): 90 (+?) "Currant, black cherry, licorice, meaty, graphite and smoky on the nose. Sappy on entry, then tight and minerally in the middle..."
44% Cabernet Sauvignon
6% Cabernet Franc
50% Walla Walla (Seven Hills)
22% Horse Heaven Hills (Alder Ridge)
17% Red Mountain (Klipsun)
11% Yakima Valley (Boushey)
2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille
This is a wine for Cabernet lovers. It's the highest percentage of the variety that we've ever blended into our Père de Famille
, and the wine shows it. Starting with the deep red/black core it shouts Cabernet. Aromas of ripe currants, dried strawberry and black olive further reflect the variety. There are also hints of black cherry, vanilla and leather. It's expansive on the palate with plenty of black fruit character, and subtle wood, toast and smoke. I like the way this wine opens in the mouth, at once expansive and muscular but also penetrating, indicating some early drinking pleasure and yet strong aging potential.
This wine's "Cabernet-ness" is easily understood by looking at the varietal blend and the vineyards used. At 81% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc it clearly is dominated by these structured, penetrating varieties. The 15% balance is Merlot, with its supple, gentle hand playing a role in the overall mouthfeel.
In addition, a full 70% of the grapes coming from Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun Vineyards on Red Mountain, the long even ripening season clearly blessing these warm sites. Twenty three percent comes from Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. Moderated by the nearby Columbia River, this warm site increases the deep berry notes in grapes because of additional time on the vine. The final 7% of the blend is from the Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley; we depend on this fruit to bring a delicacy and balance to our blends.
550 cases produced
$90/1.5 liter magnum
Steve Tanzer's description (International Wine Cellar
): 91 (+?) "Medium red-ruby. Very cabernet on the nose, with currant, graphite, fresh herbs and pepper showing, along with a suggestion of white chocolate. Dense and powerful, with flavors of dark berries, minerals, licorice and herbs. Serious, firmly tannic wine that's not at all overly sweet. Like the Clos de Betz
, this was bottled in May and will almost certainly merit a higher score as it harmonizes in bottle. (The fruit component here is even stronger than that of the very suave 2000 bottling.)"
81% Cabernet Sauvignon
4% Cabernet Franc
70% Red Mountain (Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun)
23% Horse Heaven Hills (Alder Ridge)
7% Yakima Valley (Boushey)
2001 Rhone-Inspired Wines
2001 Syrah La Côte Rousse
First, a little clarification about the name, La Côte Rousse. Syrah has long been the superstar of the appellations of the Northern Rhone Valley of France.
Vineyard areas like Côte Rôtie, Hermitage and Cornas have cultivated extraordinary wines for centuries. In the appellation of Côte Rotie, two small vineyards carry the names La Côte Brune (the brunette) and La Côte Blonde (the blonde), following the legend that a winemaker named the two sites for his daughters. Our Syrah, La Côte Rousse, is named for the third daughter he never had (the redhead), as well as for the fact that our grapes come from a terrific site in the Red Mountain appellation.
Because of the heat in 2001, we harvested this site early: we pulled these grapes off on September 20, a full 7-10 days ahead of average. The berries were deeply colored, very sweet and thick skinned. They had actually started to shrivel slightly, a step that we think adds another dimension of flavor to Syrah. During the eight day fermentation we got rather aggressive with the skins, punching down vigorously twice each day, hoping to extract the full range of color and flavor that these berries held. The efforts paid off with a purple black wine as it went to barrel.
We held the wine in French 225 liter barrels, about 60% new, for 13 months before bottling. During its maturation we racked the wine every 3-4 months, naturally clarifying it. It was bottled without filtration or fining.
This is a wine of wonderful concentration, supple and lingering on the palate. Its core is red black, with an enduring hint of youthful purple. Black candies jump from the glass: licorice, blackberry, blackcherry and plum; there’s also a grapey, spicy zest to the aroma. Leather and roasted coffee play in the background. It's mouth filling, with a raft of black fruits, and a wild, peppery flavor. Hints of barrel vanilla and toast tease the flavor and aroma. Time will tame its tannins, but I find it irresistible right now with a little breathing time.
2001 Syrah La Serenne
Despite the heat in 2001, harvest came late to Dick Boushey's Syrah vineyards in the Yakima Valley. Dick farms three Syrah sites dotting the slopes just north of Grandview, each with its own personality. We picked grapes from all three, 15 to 20 days later than we did Scott Williams' vineyard for La Côte Rousse. The three lots made a more complex and harmonious wine when blended together.
This wine continues the tradition of letting Syrah express its wild side. It's racy and yet stylish. Black raspberries, smoke, pepper and bramble lead the charge in both the aroma and flavor. It resonates with a big volume of black fruit, plenty of soft tannin, and a rich, lush mouthfeel. It has slightly more structure than La Côte Rousse, but has the fruit to stand up and balance it. This wine, too, is pretty irresistible right now, but will reward a few more years in the cellar.
The fruit was fermented similarly to our past vintages, with the objective of extracting the density and complexity that Boushey Syrah offers. The deep color and overall tannin profile attest to these efforts. And its fruit, tannin, acid and alcohol achieve a harmonious balance. Thirteen months in French oak barrels softened the edges and enhanced the aroma and mouthfeel.
As we go to press with this we just received word from Wine and Spirits Magazine that the 2000 vintage of this wine was judged one of the "Top 10 Syrahs in America" for the year. This will be announced in their October, 2003, issue, but we wanted to give you a heads up in acquiring this new release before the word is out. They awarded the 2000 Syrah La Serenne 93 points, and loved the Syrah La Côte Rousse as well, giving it 91 points.