Library Vintages

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2005 Bordeaux-Inspired Wines

2005 has emerged as one of the best vintages in Washington history. The warm yet even ripening period provided top quality material for a successful vintage. Across the board the 2005 wines are plump, ripe and yet have lift and elegance. Both the Clos de Betz and Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille are the longest aging of either wine that we’ve made and should deliver many years of satisfying pleasure. The vintage also provided superb fruit for our first ever reserve style Bordeaux wine, Le Parrain.
Clos de Betz  Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille Le Parrain

2005 Clos de Betz

Clos de Betz
This is simply the best Clos de Betz we’ve made. Our fine tuning of vineyard sources and cellar techniques to focus on the core of the blend, Merlot’s richness and density, have yielded expected results. Filled with deep black cherry, roasted chocolate and spice, the flavor is succulent, balanced and long finished. Grapes from our blocks in the Horse Heavens, on Red Mountain and in Yakima Valley in nearly equal proportions.

Blending Detail and Aging Profile
56% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Malbec, and 9% Cabernet Franc
From Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate from our tasting in July, 2007, four months after bottling:
“… opaque purple colored with bright aromas of pain grille, spice box, cranberry, clove, cassis, and black currant… a harmonious, layered wine with tons of flavor, well-concealed tannins, and outstanding length.” 92 points

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille

Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille
Cabernet Sauvignon excelled in 2005; for me that means it developed complexity without getting overripe, cumbersome and chunky. As a result, this is the highest percent Cabernet Sauvignon (84%) we’ve ever blended into the Père de Famille. The 8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec soften Cabernet’s tannins, but can’t hide its sweet aroma and flavor: black currants, minerals and a structure that gives it both density and lift.

Blending Detail and Aging Profile
8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec
AVA or Vineyard Detail
63% Red Mountain, 21% Horse Heaven Hills, 16% Yakima Valley
From Steve Tanzer in his International Wine Cellar from our tasting in July, 2007, three months after bottling: “…crushed blackberry, licorice, minerals and spices. Wonderfully sweet … subtle cabernet notes of cassis, Belgian chocolate and fresh herbs. This dense, thick wine boasts outstanding structure and dimension, and finishes with terrific persistence. 93+ points

2005 Le Parrain

Le Parrain
The 2005 vintage also gave us the fruit to make a first-ever ‘reserve style” wine from Bordeaux varieties. "Reserve" is a term so misused that it has lost credibility, so we don’t refer to this a “reserve bottling” nor do we use the word “reserve” on the label. We simply call this wine “Le Parrain”, French for “godfather”.

Le Parrain is a six barrel blend, unlike any other wine we’ve made. Our two other Bordeaux-variety reds are notably dominated by a single variety, Cabernet Sauvignon for Père de Famille and Merlot for Clos de Betz. And none of our wines has ever had a significant portion of Cabernet Franc. Le Parrain is uncommon in name, character and how it came together.

Several extraordinary barrels stood out during our 2005 blending trials, but these six knit together to create a dense, silky, thick red, with a range of ripe flavors and an extraordinary long finish. The blend is, by chance, one third each from the Red Mountain, the Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima Valley AVAs. It pulls prominent notes from each of the three varieties: opaque color, powerful black and red fruits, spice and chocolate. But it’s the texture that separates this wine: a supple density that fills the mouth with a gratifying completeness.

Le Parrain 2005 will age beautifully, one to two decades, but it is so compelling right now. My recommendation is to hold it at least for a while. However, like the other two 2005 Bordeaux-variety wines, give this one or two hours open if you choose to try it in the short run.

Blending Detail and Aging Profile
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc
AVA or Vineyard Detail
1/3 each: Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima Valley
From Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate from our tasting in July, 2007, four months after bottling:
“The 2005 Le Parrain is a great addition to the portfolio. It is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, and 17% Cabernet Franc sourced from three vineyards. Opaque purple with superb aromatics including pain grille, plum, blackberry, and black currant, the wine is full-throttle on the palate with huge extract, great depth and concentration, layers of spicy blue and black fruits, licorice, and chocolate. This promising wine requires a decade of cellaring and should provide pleasure through 2045.” 96 points

2005 Rhone-Inspired Wines

Bésoleil  Syrah La Serenne Syrah La Côte Rousse Syrah Chapitre 3

2005 Bésoleil

While dominated by the lively fruit-laden Grenache variety, this year’s Bésoleil offering has a solid dose of Mourvedre, a Southern Rhone grape type that offers black pepper, spice and brooding black fruits. Added to the bright black raspberry spiciness of Grenache, the wine takes on new dimension this vintage: richer than 2004 with more texture and density. Wild dried raspberries, plums, and a floral note define aroma and flavor.  Nine percent Syrah adds a smoky complexity.

We mature Bésoleil in older oak barrels, different from any other wine in our portfolio. The purity of these varieties in this combination needs no weightiness that new French oak might bring. The lack of newer oak barrels also helps Bésoleil to be enjoyed earlier than its more strapping Syrah cellar mates. The 2004 vintage of Bésoleil was voted best Southern Rhone blend made in Washington by Seattle Magazine.

2005 Syrah La Serenne

La Serenne
This was our sixth vintage sourcing grapes from the same block in Dick Boushey’s Yakima Valley vineyard. With each year we seem to learn and appreciate more of this unique Syrah site, one that rewards us with low yields, dense concentration and immense flavors. The even ripening of the 2005 vintage favored slow development, an extra level of ripening, intense fruit development, and a structure that eclipses previous vintages. While the 2005 has the same seamless palate impression as the 2004, there’s more fruit “lift” in both aroma and flavor that takes this wine to another dimension.

At its core La Serenne is an impenetrable black color with a vibrant magenta edge. Wild Syrah notes of smoky wood, spice, grilled meat and black pepper surround a foundation of exotic black/red fruits, dried fruit and roasted coffee bean. The flavor is huge, with a dense nucleus of blackberry and plum, big silky tannin and a more powerful impression than in the past. This is the most long-lived La Serenne to date yet it still captures that immediate appeal of previous vintages.

2005 Syrah La Côte Rousse

Syrah La Côte Rousse
We built on the success of the 2004 vintage by increasing the amount of Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah (40% of total) that we incorporate into this Red Mountain blend. It adds power and structure to the lush and silken Syrah we get from Scott Williams’ Vineyard (60%). Blended together our lots from the two vineyards made for Washington’s top scoring Syrah from the 2004 vintage (Wine Spectator, Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar).

The 2005 vintage is a wine of great fruit intensity. Blackberry, blueberry and sweet cherry are the foundation while roasted meat, smoke and spice add to the overall complexity. It’s ultra lush and rich, but still retains its Red Mountain structure: dense and sinewy. This wine has the stuffing for long term aging. If you choose to open it now please decant and watch it develop; as with La Serenne it, too, is the longest lived of the Côte Rousse Syrahs we’ve made.

2005 Syrah Chapitre 3

Syrah Chapitre 3
Since the 2000 vintage we’ve crafted 2 Syrahs, one exclusively from Red Mountain fruit, the other from Yakima Valley. Over the years they’ve maintained their identities: the silken, plush version from the cooler Yakima Valley and the sturdy, powerful and complex Syrah from the warmer, earlier harvested Red Mountain. So this is our next step, our "Chapter 3", hence the name in French, Chapitre 3.

Four barrels from our various lots, Williams (50%), Boushey (38%) and Ciel du Cheval (12%), came together in an unique expression of Syrah, sort of a morph between our other two styles, but reflecting the extraordinary dimension of the 2005 vintage. The deep black color hints at the concentration that follows. Deep, almost brooding black fruit, with notes of black cherry, blueberry and smoke fill the aroma. It tugs at the palate with a combination of expansion and precision: full, lush and rich, yet sturdy and youthful.

This Syrah demands age. The boldness of the fruit and richness of the tannins will reward many years of cellaring. This is a first for us so I can’t exactly predict a prime drinking age, but 5-12 years will not challenge this wine’s pleasure. Go ahead and try a bottle now as there’s abundant pleasure, but know that the 2005 Syrah Chapitre 3 will grow and develop for years to come. This wine is a first for us and will only be made in exceptional vintages.

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