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2018 Rhone Tasting Kit
The 2018 Rhone Tasting Kit includes the following wines:
- (1) 2018 Bésoleil, Southern Rhone-style Blend (5 oz)
- (1) 2018 Domaine de Pierres, Ancient Stones Vineyard Syrah (5 oz)
- (1) 2018 La Côte Rousse, Red Mountain Syrah (5 oz)
- (1) 2018 La Côte Patriarche Red Willow Vineyard Syrah (5 oz)
- (1) 2018 La Serenne, Boushey Vineyard Syrah (5 oz)
The name “Bésoleil” is a marriage of a Spanish word and a French word meaning “kissed by the sun,” Beso and Soleil! It speaks to our long-held conviction that a profound expression of Grenache (and its Southern Rhône brethren) can emerge from Washington’s precise marriage of sun and soil. Modeled after Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the classic French Grenache-based gem, it is immediately enticing, richly scented, and seductively textured.
The 2018 Bésoleil shows what it’s made of from the moment it hits the glass, displaying a brilliant, bright ruby color. The aromas are intense and complex: strawberry preserves, orange zest, raspberry, tellicherry pepper, fresh rose petals, and herbs de Provence. The texture is silky and the palate expansive, adding layers of fresh spice and cedar. Freshness and delicacy are the names of the game here as it moves into a focused, lengthy, and saline finish that’s supported by a fine tannic structure. Delicious. The 2018 Bésoleil will continue to gain nuance over the next 8-12 years.
Domaine de Pierres
Domaine de Pierres shows it’s unique origin immediately with a lighter purple core that fades to ruby at the edge of the glass. The aromatics are savory, but with a bright core of expressive fruit as well. Raspberry liqueur, blood orange rind, and pomegranate are immersed into an exotic bouquet of white pepper, green and black olive, hoisin, and dried pipe tobacco. On the palate, it’s lush and round, with a laser beam of rich, black raspberry and cherry supported by fresh sage, cedar, and black tea. The structure is silky and supple but with enough acidity to keeps things fresh. The 2018 Domaine de Pierres shows why “The Rocks” are one of the most sought-out places for Syrah in North America. It can hang in the cellar for at least 12-15 years.
Domaine de Pierres (Field of Stones), is the newest addition to our family of single-site Syrahs. The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA near Walla Walla is named after the softball-sized stones permeating the vineyards there, creating Syrah distinct from any other place in Washington State. Our affection for site-expressive Syrah led us here in 2014 when we purchased the Ancient Stones Vineyard and immediately got to work tilling the soil multiple times each year to expose the latent rocks. Each year we learn more about this exquisite site and we couldn’t be more delighted to share the delicious results.
La Côte Patriarche
The 2018 La Côte Patriarche, per usual, is striking in the glass with its typically dense color; glass-coating, and near-black. The aromas remind us where it comes from: warm rocks and graphite, sagebrush, tar, and wood spice join dark fruits, charred red pepper, and violets. The dense palate is full and powerful with an assertive tannic structure. It somehow manages to maintain its freshness, however, and there’s precise, layered flavors of cedar, roasted meat, salted chocolate, and dried nori. The finish lasts for minutes. This can easily handle up to 20 years in the cellar, but with an hour or two decant is showing some absolute magic now.
La Côte Patriarche (French for "The Founder's Slope") is a heartfelt and thankful homage to Mike Sauer and David Lake MW, the visionaries, who planted Washington's first Syrah at Red Willow Vineyard in 1986. Red Willow has since become perhaps the most influential site for syrah in the state, launching Washington's success with the variety and providing the inspiration and the plan cuttings for many vineyards, including our own La Serenne. That original 1986 planting is what today makes up La Côte Patriarche. Who knew history could be so delicious?
La Côte Rousse
The 2018 Syrah La Côte Rousse is our second vintage to be “co-fermented” with a small amount of Viognier (3%), a technique used in the Old World to bring aromatic lift and paradoxically vibrant color. Deep, dark purple leads out to brilliant magenta highlights at the edge of the glass. The aromas are intense and exotic; black and red raspberries, apricot, and passion fruit nimbly dance with graphite, sandalwood, chamomile, and rose petal. The palate brings intense graphite and dark chocolate with boysenberry and sesame fleshing things out. The finish is lengthy with broad mineral tones and surprising delicacy. We’ve seen La Côte Rousse gain increasing precision and finesse over the last few years and 2018 is no exception. It’s a star of the vintage and will reward short-term cellaring.
La Côte Rousse, French for "The Red Slope" combines Syrah from the two founders of Red Mountain; Scott Williams of Kiona Vineyard and Jim Holmes of Ciel Du Cheval Vineyard. in the 1970s these two made a passionate (and many thought absurd) commitment to the untested and inhospitable sagebrush slopes of Red Mountain. Today Red Mountain is justifiably considered to be one of America's most respected allegations, producing long-lived Syrah brimming with fruit essence and richness.
La Serenne is a superlative example of the ability of Syrah to express itself so distinctly and specifically in one site. It comes from Boushey Vineyard, the highest altitude and latest harvested of the four Syrahs we make. It was planted using cuttings from Red Willow Vineyard, which makes up another of our Syrahs, La Côte Patriarche. We’ve walked these rows with Dick Boushey for almost 20 years now and still are taken aback by the wild, seductive wine that emerges from each vintage.
The 2018 La Serenne shines from the moment it’s poured with dark, glass-coating, black-purple color. The aromatics show the characteristic Boushey “wildness”: smoked meat, lavender, fennel, white pepper, and tarragon swirl along with inky blueberry, marionberry, and cacao nibs. The palate is rich and vibrant adding cracked espresso bean, clove, and dusty mineral tone. The polished tannic backbone indicates long cellar life, at least 15-20 years…if you can manage to resist it now.