2002 Clos de Betz
We shifted the Clos de Betz vineyard and variety mix a bit in 2002, and increased its hedonistic personality. There's more Merlot (57%) than the past two vintages, and it shows in the plum, black cherry and bittersweet chocolate notes in both aroma and flavor.
Also, we replaced the Walla Walla Merlot that we used to have with older vine Merlot from the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain. We were able to carve out an entire acre of 1974 planted vines from this classic vineyard. These 30 year old vines are producing Merlot as fine as any in America: complex, rich and silky. Over the past few decades I've come to appreciate the contribution older vines can make to wine quality, especially when grown under the eye of veteran Jim Holmes of Ciel du Cheval.
Cabernet Franc also plays a more notable role in this blend than in the past. At 10% it adds blueberry notes, and an earthy, dried strawberry character Cabernet Sauvignon (33%) is not so evident in aroma but plays a definite role in mouthfeel. The result is a wine that enters as Merlot and exits like Cabernet. It's soft, supple and fleshy up front, with a silky mid palate. But the finish shows power and length, a full lingering finale, evidence that this has some real cellaring potential. Yet even now it's very satisfying, with layers of complex fruit, saddle leather and earth.
2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille
We added Malbec to this blend in 2002. One of the lesser known Bordeaux varieties, Malbec has emerged this past decade as a serious performer in Washington's Columbia Valley, its black-skin adding plenty of complexity to our wines. While it's only 6% of this blend, Malbec added juiciness and notes of sweet blackberry and camphor; without it the 2002 Père de Famille would simply be less complete. We source Malbec from the Alder Ridge Vineyard, thinning the clusters to a maximum 3 tons/acre yield.
Yet the core of the 2002 Père de Famille is still Cabernet Sauvignon (77%). Fruit from the Red Mountain vineyards, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun, dominate the blend with their power and depth. Other Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the blend came from the Alder Ridge Vineyard bringing length and elegance, and the Boushey Vineyard contributing a bright, gentle fruitiness. Rounding out the wine were a few barrels of Merlot (17%) from both Alder Ridge and Ciel du Cheval.
The 2002 is one of the deepest colored Cabernets we've made. Its dense red black core has a hint of purple to the edge. The aroma is expansive black fruits: currants, cherries, and blackberries, with a sprinkling of Asian spice. But this vintage is all about mouthfeel: it enters broad and powerful, with plenty of supple, silky fruit. Flavors are also black fruit dominant, with black cherry playing the major role, while notes of plum and dried orange peel play around the edge.
It's already enjoyable, yet three to ten years in the cellar should further expand its complex aroma and flavor.