2007 Bordeaux-Inspired Wines
Looking back on 35 years of Washington red wines you would be hard pressed to surpass the 2007 vintage. It ranks right up there with the legendary years of ’75, ’89, ’04 in terms of dimension, expression and complexity. Critics and consumers agree about the special personality of 2007 wines: they reflect the even weather patterns that shaped the growing season, fostering a balanced, even ripening for the grapes.
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Pere de Famille
Our 2007 Père de Famille resonates with the high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend; at 85%, the Cabernet fraction provides the depth and fruit purity this wine has come to represent. Penetrating black currant and sweet black cherry are the foundation fruits, with elements of exotic spice, smoke and camphor in tow. Merlot (8%) and Petit Verdot (7%) play supporting roles, contributing mineral and black olive hints. On the palate it’s lush and full, with a pure fruit expression, while fine grained tannins provide structure for a silken mouthfeel and extraordinary length to the finish
85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot
74% Red Mountain, 17% Horse Heaven Hills, 9% Yakima Valley
Both the Wine Advocate (Parker) and The International Wine Cellar (Tanzer) reviewed the 2007 soon after bottling during their summer 2009 visits to Washington.
Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate
: “Betz Family Winery remains one of Washington’s benchmarks for top quality wines from Rhone and Bordeaux grape varieties. Bob Betz’s 2007 collection shows him continuing at the top of his game… a brooding aromatic array of wood smoke, scorched earth, pencil lead, violets, black currant and blackberry. Full-bodied on the palate… admirably combining elegance and power. The pure finish lasts for over 60-seconds. 95 points”
Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar: “These 2007 reds combine the structure of the 2005s with the added juiciness of the 2006s, says Betz, who appears to have made his finest set of wines to date... Pungent Cabernet aromas and flavors of red, black and blue fruits complicated by dried thyme and a floral topnote. The extremely intense yet silky palate offers a stunning wave of sweetness… Most impressive today on the rising but wonderfully subtle finish, which is supported by serious tannic spine and goes on and on… 95 points”
2007 Clos de Betz
Merlot traditionally provides the fleshy foundation for this blend, and it easily assumed that role in 2007. The quality of Merlot in 2007 almost had us bottling a varietal Merlot! Ultimately we decided to let its typical richness set the stage for small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to add their subtle complexity.
The result is a big volume Clos, from its glass-coating appearance to its length on the finish. Deep black cherry, plum and exotic spice aromas lead to a rich, ripe and lush mouthfeel. But this is no fruit salad; it’s an integrated, well-knit wine, filled with deep red notes and added depth coming from an increased quantity of remarkable Red Mountain grapes. Fruit from our Horse Heaven and Yakima Valley vineyards added hints of cola, chocolate and minerals enhancing the final blend.
62% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot
39% Red Mountain, 33% Horse Heaven Hills, 28% Yakima Valley
Here, too, Parker’s and Tanzer’s summer ’08 visits led to their own descriptions that are worth sharing:
Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate: “… an alluring bouquet of spice box, violets, incense, black currant, and blackberry. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, it displays an elegant personality along with considerable complexity. Expressive black fruits mingle with earth and spice notes, plenty of ripe, fine-grained tannin, and a lengthy finish. 94 points”
Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar: “… Black raspberry and licorice… Large-scaled and mouth-filling but with superb floral lift and an added element of density and structure from the petit verdot component… terrific verve and energy for aging. 93(+?)”
2007 Rhone-Inspired Wines
Balance: the 2007 vintage was all about balance. Vineyard weather was uniform across the growing season with few torrid heat spikes, fostering a balanced, even ripening for the grapes. And the wines reflect it: penetrating, without over or under ripeness, varietal purity with a focus on the vineyards used. We love this vintage, sort of a cross between 2005 and 2006: the structure and longevity of ’05 with the hedonism of ’06. It may be my favorite vintage of the last 3.
And with 2007 we introduced a new Syrah to the portfolio: La Côte Patriarche, a wine with heritage, identity and unique character.
As our state’s Grenache vines age the fruit they bear gains more varietal purity. And with every vintage we’re raising the concentration of Grenache in Bésoleil in our attempt to create a classic southern Rhone blend. Grenache is fully 80% of this year’s wine, the balance composed of 15% Mourvedre and 5% Syrah.
A new source of Grenache, from the Olsen Estates in the YakimaValley brought greater vibrancy to the blend. It adds a depth of color and an even more intense strawberry, raspberry aroma. Notes of cherry, licorice, black pepper and spice jump from the glass, while a cherries ‘n cream mouthfeel really satisfies. And yes, there are notes of that elusive “garrigue”, the earthy, dried herb-lavender note typical of these southern Rhone blends.
2007 Syrah La Serenne
Once again, the Boushey Vineyard hit the mark. The small-berried Syrah provided enormous strength and color in 2007. And it’s more brooding, dense and jam packed than the past couple years. The nose is full of black and blue berries, smoke, spice, roasted meat. It enters plush, silky and thick, expanding with blackberry and a bit of this vineyard’s “sauvage” character.
We’ve been farming the same block of Syrah in Dick Boushey’s Vineyard for 8 years now, and have gotten to know this turf well. But 2007 is a slight anomaly: it’s firmer and more brooding than most years, dense and concentrated. Yet through it all it maintains its typical seamless texture and lift.
2007 Syrah La Cote Patriarche
We’re pretty excited about this new member of our Syrah portfolio. A few years ago we were able to carve out an acre of the oldest Syrah planting in Washington, in the Red Willow Vineyard, at the far west of the YakimaValley. Planted in 1986 this is the site that launched Washington’s success with Syrah and provided the impetus, and the plant cuttings, for so many of the Syrah vineyards in the state. Once in our stable we worked with grower Mike Sauer to farm it to our specifications; we’re thrilled with the fruit. Vines are planted on a 15-18% slope to the south on ancient, pre-flood sandstone and gravel soils.
The result is a black red beauty. Concentrated sweet black cherry, speckled with spice, floral and smoky scents. Black pepper, bacon fat and baking spices linger in the background of this pure Syrah expression. The name (the founder’s slope) is a thankful nod to Mike Sauer, Red Willow owner/grower, and DavidLake, past Columbia winemaker, who had the vision to plant Syrah in our state.
2007 Syrah La Cote Rousse
The only one of our three Syrahs to come from two separate vineyards, sited about a mile from each other on Red Mountain. Three French clones and the classic “Phelps” clone combine in a multi-layered expression of fruit, dried herbs and earth. The French clones are grown at Ciel du Cheval , while the Phelps comes from Scott Williams’ “ranch at the end of the road”.
This mix of sites and clones provides a wine of dimension and complexity. This ’07 vintage is expressive with black raspberry, plums, black olive and a rocky minerality. Lush and sweet on the palate it’s more integrated early on than some past vintages, offering immediate appeal. But the RedMountain heritage certainly provides ample structure for cellaring.