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Retrospective - Betz La Côte Rousse 2001

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reminder Preliminary voting for the 2009 Reader Survey Wine of the Year and 2010 Wine to Watch continues until 9pm Friday. Finalist voting will begin late Friday/early Saturday. Read more about the survey here.

If ever one needed inspiration to sit on a high end wine, this is one of them.

Betz Family Winery is one of Washington’s top producers and consistently makes exceptional, age-worthy wines. The winery currently makes three Syrah-based wines. The first, La Serenne, was first produced in 1999. This wine is composed of fruit from Boushey Vineyard, one of the finest Syrah vineyards in Washington. The second, La Côte Rousse, had its first vintage in 2000. Fruit for this wine comes from Red Mountain. The third, La Côte Patriarche, was added in 2007 and first released earlier this year. The fruit for this wine comes from the oldest Syrah planting in Washington, Red Willow Vineyard.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sample Betz Family Winery’s 2001 La Côte Rousse at one of Full Pull Wines’ Thursday pick-up events. This wine is in an incredibly pretty spot right now. While it still has life left, I can’t imagine it getting any better, so if you have a bottle or two stashed away, the holidays might be a good time to think about opening it.

Regarding the name of the La Côte Rousse, Betz writes:

“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.”

The grapes for this wine came in about a week to a week and a half earlier than their historical averages due to the heat of the 2001 vintage. Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes were thick skinned and starting to shrivel. In fermenting the wine Betz writes “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.”

Paid off indeed. This wine received a 92 point rating from Wine Spectator with a drinking window to 2011; 91 points from Wine Advocate (Pierre Rovani) with a drinking window to 2010. I would say both were spot on in terms of the drinking window.

Betz Family Winery La Côte Rousse Red Mountain 2001 $38  Rating: **
Dark in color, almost opaque. An expressive, developed nose with pencil lead, leather, dried cherries, and floral notes. A nose to linger over a long, long time. On the taste, an exclamation point of a wine that is beautifully structured with grainy tannins. Still a fair amount of fruit on the palate but it is gently working its way to the background leaving a well-scaffolded structure. Persists seemingly endlessly on the finish. 140 cases produced.

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