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'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Cayuse Vineyards (WWFR 2009)

Friday, March 26, 2010

This is part of a report on 2009 Walla Walla Fall Release Weekend. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.

Who could have known that this would be the last Fall Release event at Cayuse Vineyards? Fall Release Weekend originally formed around the release of the Cayuse wines at this time. The winery, which was celebrating its 13th birthday on this weekend, subsequently announced in January that their release event would be moved to Spring (the next one is April, 2011 with the wines still released in November).

Vigneron Christophe Baron makes a series of vineyard-designated Syrah from what is now referred to as “The Rocks” area of the Walla Walla Valley AVA. These vineyards are named Cailloux, En Cerise (French for cherry), En Chamberlin, and Armada. Bionic Frog is the name of the winery’s top of the line Syrah. Cayuse also makes a Cabernet Franc-dominant Bordeaux blend (Flying Pig), a Cabernet-dominant Bordeaux blend (Camaspelo); a Cabernet (The Widowmaker); a Tempranillo (Impulsivo); a Grenache (God Only Knows); and a Rosé.

The wines sampled here – all barrel and bottle samples that will be released in November 2010 - are all beyond reproach, and fans of Cayuse’s unique style will not be disappointed. While many I spoke with favored the 2007 Armada, which had the advantage of an additional year of age, for me the standout was the 2008 En Chamberlain. There are some wines that make me feel almost frightened when I taste them. This was such a wine. When I think of this wine, the image of Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’ appears in my head. Despite its youth, the nose is lively and marked by earth, blood, violets, mineral, and smoked meat. The palate is about as close to perfect as I can conceive. This wine was so appealing that I instinctively gave it a rating of three stars in my notes – something I cannot recall having done previously. All wines sampled at 63 degrees.

Cayuse Vineyards Edith
Rosé Walla Walla Valley 2008 Barrel Sample $35
Rating:
* (Excellent) Pale pink and yellow. Fresh and fruity on the nose. A light-bodied, refreshing wine with abundant mineral aromas and flavors. 100% Grenache. 12.6% alcohol. Sampled at 63 degrees. To be released in 2010.

Cayuse Vineyards Camaspelo Walla Walla Valley 2008 Barrel Sample $50

Rating:
* (Excellent) A deep, rich color. Nose is not settled at the moment, showing a fair amount of funky, sulfurous, and nut aromas. After vigorous swirling it begins to come alive with earth aromas. The taste, on the other hand, is delicious. Beautifully balanced with fruit. Lingers effortlessly and endlessly. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. 14.4% alcohol. To be released in 2010.

Cayuse Vineyards Flying Pig Walla Walla Valley 2008 Barrel Sample $65

Rating:
* (Excellent) Rich and intense. Seemingly lower alcohol and higher acidity than recent vintages. Doesn’t quite have the weight on the palate at present but should fill out. A lot of earth aromas and flavors with a laser-like intensity of fruit. 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot. 14.2% alcohol. To be released in 2010.

Cayuse Vineyards Cailloux Vineyard Syrah WWV 2008 Barrel Sample $50

Rating:
** (Exceptional) Nose is not there at present, although it is starting to develop earth, berry, bacon, and a touch of violets. Big and intense on the palate. Streaky fruit on a wine that is nothing short of exceptional. Seemingly less alcohol than recent vintages. 100% Syrah. 14.1% alcohol. To be released in 2010.

Cayuse Vineyards
En Cerise Vineyard Syrah WWV 2008 Barrel Sample $50
Rating:
*/** (Excellent/Exceptional) An aromatic powerhouse with a cornucopia of red berries, smoke, violets, and game. One of the meatiest wines I have had from Cayuse. A slight let down in intensity on the very back end of the palate but should fill out with time. 100% Syrah. 14.1% alcohol. To be released in 2010.

Cayuse Vineyards En Chamberlain Vineyard Syrah WWV 2008 Barrel Sample $50
Rating: ** (Exceptional) Wow! Earth, blood, and smoked meat on a nose that is already alive and rising out of the glass. The palate is about as close to perfect as I can imagine. I marked this as three stars in my notes, something I can’t remember having done previously. 100% Syrah. 14.6% alcohol. To be released in 2010.

Cayuse Vineyards Armada Vineyard Syrah WWV 2007 Bottle Sample $65

Rating:
** (Exceptional) Holy smokes! Full on black pepper along with violets and game on a nose that is significantly more evolved due to the extra year of bottle age. A persistent intensity on the palate with crazy game tastes. Rich without being fruity. 100% Syrah. 14.2% alcohol. To be released in 2010.

Cayuse Vineyards Bionic Frog Syrah WWV 2008 Barrel Sample $70

Rating:
** (Exceptional) A classic Cayuse nose with funk, game, mineral, and flowers. A meaty taste on an intensely flavored wine. Seems to show a fair amount of alcohol at times. 100% Syrah. Coccinelle Vineyard. 14.4% alcohol. To be released in 2010.

Cayuse Vineyards God Only Knows Grenache Armada Vineyard WWV 2007 Bottle Sample $60

Rating:
** (Exceptional) Nose marked by floral notes along with lots and lots of mineral aromas and streaky fruit. Richly textured across the palate with flavors of bloody roast beef and umami. 100% Grenache. 15.2% alcohol. To be released in 2010.

Cayuse Vineyards The Widowmaker En Chamberlin Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2008 Barrel Sample $65

Rating:
* (Excellent) A completely different nose than the other wines sampled with ground licorice and earth. Reminds me a bit at times of the Gramercy Cabernet. An interesting bit of flatness on the palate. A lighter bodied, approachable effort that is less tannin driven on the taste than most Cabernets. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. To be released in 2010.

Cayuse Vineyards Impulsivo En Chamberlin Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2008 Barrel Sample $65

Rating:
* (Excellent) Dark to the point of being opaque. An intriguing nose with pepper, licorice, and ripe berries. Richly flavored with mineral and light game. Considerably more tannic structure than the other wines sampled here. 100% Tempranillo. 14.7% alcohol. To be released in 2010. Note: Case production not available until wines bottled this Spring.

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7 comments

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Goodness, Were you in a Butcher shop or winery! I was almost offended by your descriptions and tasting notes 63* in the morgue? merlotman

     
  3. cityroute16 Says:
  4. Vegans unite! With the biodynamics employed by M. Baron, I think it is fitting to use the terminology of the butcher shop. Cayuse has created this aura of holistic and eclectic winemaking, if not in reality, in perception. I don't favor their wines, but I appreciate them. Christophe has taken what the earth has let him take, and he has returned it in the form of some very good wines.

     
  5. Anonymous Says:
  6. I find it ironic that a biodynamic vineyard ends up growing meat wines. Perhaps a little overkill on the manure? If minerality can sneak into a wine, why not poop? ~WAwineman

     
  7. Anonymous Says:
  8. "lots of mineral aromas" LOL

     
  9. Anon #1, indeed, people generally feel strongly about the Cayuse wines either positively or negatively. The meaty aromas and flavors of the Cayuse wines some find...not to their taste.

    Cityroute16, I agree that regardless of what you may think of his wines, Christophe Baron's dedication to his vineyards and bringing the fruit they provide to the bottle is laudable.

    WAwineman, I did see a large pile of manure in the vineyards the last time I was out there.

    Thanks for the comments folks.

     
  10. Anonymous Says:
  11. Sean, nice write-up and agree with most of your notes and descriptors. Amazing wines to smell and sip. Syrah is supposed to taste like meatrocks, and blood not caramel and fruit roll-ups! ;)
    Darren

     
  12. Darren, indeed the Cayuse wines define the term "palate expanding." Thanks for the comment.

     

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