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'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Fresh Sheet March 23rd 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011








Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent Washington wine releases – includes wines from Betz Family Winery, Quilceda Creek Vintners, :Nota Bene Cellars, Cave B Winery, Maryhill Winery, and Ott & Murphy Wines.

Betz Family Winery


Any new set of releases from Betz Family Winery is worthy of anticipation. The spring releases are for the winery’s Bordeaux-style blends, the fall for its Rhone-style wines.

The 2008 Clos de Betz, the winery’s Merlot-dominant blend, has a slightly larger percentage of Merlot than in recent vintages, a sign of the continuing development of the rows the winery sources from at Alder Ridge in the Horse Heaven Hills. Winemaker Bob Betz says, “We’ve farmed the same rows there since 1999 and have seen a serious evolution of density and character of the vines. I saw this too in the early days of Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Vineyard and the original Columbia Crest vineyards along the Columbia: ten to twelve years after planting the vines began producing sensational fruit.” This bodes well for Washington’s many young vineyards.

The Cabernet Sauvignon-based Pere de Famille, on the other hand, features a bit more Petit Verdot and a bit less Merlot than its 2007 counterpart. Betz describes Petit Verdot as a “future star in Washington.”

In keeping with recent vintages, the 2008 Clos de Betz is more immediately exuberant than its Cabernet Sauvignon-based counterpart. While still somewhat closed up, this Clos may be my favorite from the winery since the 2003 vintage.

Of note, berry weight was down a bit from 2007, so the winery made about 15% less wine. If you are interested in these wines, make haste as they will not last on the shelves long.

Betz Family Winery Clos de Betz Columbia Valley 2008 $48

Rating: ** (Exceptional) Stains the glass. Aromatics draw you in with smoke, char, blackberries, licorice, spice, and pencil lead. The palate is tight and brawny with a firm grip of tannins, focused fruit, and silky oak flavors. A rich, exquisite offering that strikes a careful balance between fruit and barrel, power and grace. Give 2-3 years. 63% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot. Red Mountain (45%), Horse Heaven Hills (28%), and Yakima Valley (27%). Aged 16 months in French oak (65% new). 14.6% alcohol. About 850 cases produced.

Betz Family Winery Pere de Famille Columbia Valley 2008 $60

Rating: ** (Exceptional) Seductive aromatics of graphite, blackberries, char, spice, and high-toned fruit. Considerably more brooding and aromatically closed up than the Clos at present. On the palate, dark and chewy with exceptionally well integrated, fine grained tannins. As with the Clos, a beautiful demonstration of grace and power, with this wine in particular showing an incredible amount of grace. A lay-me-downer. Give three plus years. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot. Red Mountain (70%), Horse Heaven Hills (23%), and Yakima Valley (7%). 14.6% alcohol. About 900 cases produced.


Quilceda Creek Vintners


Quilceda Creek Vintners is Washington’s standard-bearer with more than thirty vintages under its belt and a long string of well-deserved accolades. In a sign of how well regarded the winery is, its 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was recently served at a White House State Dinner for the Chinese president.

Among the many impressive aspects of Quilceda Creek is its consistent house style. The wines have a unique, often immediately recognizable profile. The 2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon continues the winery’s long tradition of excellence. While the 2008 Red Wine, to be released in the fall, is not the blockbuster that its 2007 counterpart was, it is still about as good a $35 wine as one will find out there.

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $125

Rating: ** (Exceptional) Dark in color. Rich aromas of blackberries, mocha, licorice, earth, and spice. An opulent, expansive wine that opens up and spreads out across the palate. Beautifully structured with the tannins to go the distance. Capped off by an extended finish. 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot. Champoux, Klipsun, and Taptiel vineyards. Aged 22 months in 100% new French oak. 15.2% alcohol. Sampled at 68 degrees.

Quilceda Creek Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $35

Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) Abundant aromas of oak spice, blackberry, chocolate, cherries, and licorice on an appealing, classically Quilceda Creek aroma profile. The palate is rich and silky with the tannins slightly less assertive than in recent vintages. Dips slightly in the middle but picks back up and sails on to an extended finish. 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec. 15.2% alcohol. Sampled at 68 degrees.


:Nota Bene Cellars


Tim Narby of :Nota Bene Cellars is one of a number of commercial winemakers with roots leading back to the Boeing Employee’s Wine and Beermaking Club. Tim and his wife Carol Bryant started out as home winemakers, making their first wine from grapes with a 1986 Zinfandel. The couple decided to start a commercial winery in 2001. After having labeled their home wines NB after the first initials of their last names, they decided on the name :Nota Bene for the winery.

:Nota Bene is located in South Seattle and is one of a number of wineries in the South Seattle Artisan Wineries group. Narby sources fruit from a variety of top Washington vineyards, including Ciel du Cheval, Conner Lee, and StoneTree vineyards. The winery features a diverse array of blended wines with the Bordeaux-style blends the strength of the lineup.

:Nota Bene Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Wine Red Mountain 2007 $35

Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Abundant wood spice notes along with red currant and licorice. Broad and expansive on the palate with focused red and black fruit flavors and chalky tannins. Alcohol shows through at times. 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc. 15.3% alcohol. 200 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Abbinare Columbia Valley 2006 $28

Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Toasty, pickly spices on the nose along with red fruit. Palate is well put together with abundant red fruit flavors and herbal notes. 61% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec. Arianses, Conner Lee, Ciel du Cheval, Stone Tree, Kestrel View, and Verhey vineyards. 14.75% alcohol. 14.75% alcohol. 225 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Abbinare Columbia Valley 2007 $25

Rating: * (Excellent) Aromas of spice, red currant, licorice, and a touch of cola. Palate has focused, rich red and black fruit flavors and chalky tannins. 56% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 11% Malbec. Arianses, Ciel du Cheval, StoneTree, Chandler Reach, and Verhey vineyards. Aged 21 months in French, American, and Hungarian oak. 15.1% alcohol. 200 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Merlot Conner Lee Vineyard Columbia Valley 2007 $32

Rating: + (Good) Abundant coconut aromas along with chocolate, dark fruit and spice. A plush feel on a palate concentrated with dark fruit flavors and soft tannins. Alcohol shows through at times. 100% Merlot. Aged 21 months in French (50%) and American oak. 15.7% alcohol. 15.9% alcohol. 50 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Red Wine Conner Lee Vineyard Columbia Valley 2007 $32

Rating: + (Good) Aromas of toast along with herbal notes, pickling spice, pepper, vanilla, and dark fruit. On the palate, a flavorful wine with plush fruit, soft tannins, and a lingering finish. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. Aged 21 months in French (67%) and American oak. 75 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Miscela Red Wine Columbia Valley 2007 $25

Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatic wine with spice, currant, whiffs of licorice, and dark fruit. Well stitched together on a luscious, broad palate that shows tart fruit flavors, grainy tannins, and a long finish. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon (Champoux, Kiona), 15% Merlot (Conner Lee, Ciel du Cheval), 15% Cabernet Franc (Chandler Reach), and 14% Malbec (Verhey). 15.4% alcohol. 175 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Nota Bene Cellars Una Notte Red Wine Columbia Valley 2007 $32

Rating: . (Decent) Aromatics of toast, spice, and chocolate covered raspberries. Palate is weighted and full of raspberry flavors with a slightly sour finish. 65% Grenache (Stone Tree), 32% Syrah (Stillwater, Stone Tree), and 3% Mourvedre (Kiona Heart of the Hill). Aged in stainless steel, French, and American oak. 14.8% alcohol. 60 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Nota Bene Cellars Mourvedre Kiona Heart of the Hill Vineyard Red Mountain 2007 $30

Rating: . (Decent) Abundant oak aromatics along with spice, dark fruit, and leafy notes. Palate is broad and expansive with grippy tannins. Has a slight bite on the finish. Alcohol shows through at times. 100% Mourvedre. Aged 21 months in once used American oak. 15.8% alcohol. 25 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Nota Bene Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2007 $30

Rating: . (Decent) Aromatics of blueberries, sweet spices notes, and licorice. Palate is tart and up front with a slightly sour finish. 84% Syrah (Stillwater Creek, Stone Tree vineyards), 8% Mourvedre (Kiona Heart of the Hill), and 8 % Grenache (Stone Tree). Aged 21 months in French and American oak (18% new). 15.0% alcohol. 270 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Nota Bene Cellars Syrah Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2007 $35

Rating: + (Good) Aromatics of blackberry syrup, blueberries, toast, and peppery spice. Palate is big, thick, and tart with a tannic lick. Alcohol occasionally shows through. 94% Syrah, 6% Viognier. Aged 21 months in French and American oak (50% new). 15.7% alcohol. 100 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Cave B Winery


Cave B Winery is located in George, Washington, a short distance from the Gorge Amphitheatre. Winemaker Alfredo ‘Freddy’ Arredondo, a graduate of the Walla Walla Community College Enology and Viticulture program, became head winemaker in 2007. Arredondo had previously worked as cellar master at Cougar Crest Winery in Walla Walla. Originally a personal chef, Arredondo has looked to make the Cave B wines more food friendly, notably by using less new oak.

Cave B has 140 acres of estate vineyards and 40 acres of apple orchards. These sites are managed by viticulturist Jeff Cleveringa. A destination winery, Cave B also has an on-site inn, restaurant, and spa. Also of note, Cave B is one of seven wineries located at Seattle’s Urban Enoteca.

The 2008 releases include the winery’s first varietal bottlings of Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

Cave B Winery ‘Sagecliff 100’ Unoaked Chardonnay Washington State 2009 $18.50

Rating: . (Decent) Light in color. A moderately aromatic wine with spice, apple, floral notes, and tropical fruit. Palate is clean with a weighted feel that paints around the edges. An enjoyable, easy drinker. 97% Chardonnay, 3% Viognier. 13.5% alcohol. 393 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Cave B Winery Viognier Cave B Vineyards Columbia Valley 2009 $20

Rating: . (Decent) Pale lemon yellow. Aromatics of floral notes, lemon drop, and mandarin orange peel. Palate is clean with abundant melon flavors. 13.5% alcohol. 293 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Cave B Winery Riesling Cave B Vineyards Columbia Valley 2009 $18

Rating: + (Good) Pale lemon yellow. Aromatics of lemon zest, orange blossom, and light honey. The palate is pleasing and full with just a touch of sugar with a slightly minty finish. 13.1% alcohol. 1.1% Residual Sugar. 253 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Cave B Winery Gewürztraminer Cave B Vineyards Columbia Valley 2009 $22

Rating: . (Decent) Aromas of white flowers and orange rind. Palate has a full feel but needs a bit more acidity to bring it together. 12% alcohol. 1.2% Residual Sugar. 120 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Cave B Winery Cabernet Franc Cave B Vineyards Columbia Valley 2008 $28

Rating: . (Decent) Aromatics initially dominated by oak notes along with black cherry, bittersweet chocolate, and sweet spices. Palate is tart and dry with oak flavors occasionally coming to the fore. 84% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 18 months in 20% new American oak and neutral French oak. 14.7% alcohol. 290 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Cave B Winery Malbec Cave B Vineyards Columbia Valley 2008 $32

Rating: . (Decent) Dark in color. A moderately aromatic wine with pepper, plum, spice, and light green notes. Tart on the palate with lemony acidity. 84% Malbec, 8% Syrah, and 8% Merlot. Aged 18 months in American oak (30% new). 14.1% alcohol. 145 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Cave B Winery Syrah Cave B Vineyards Columbia Valley 2008 $25

Rating: . (Decent) Quiet aromatics of herbal notes, light black cherry, and oak spice. Palate is tart with dark fruit flavors. 80% Syrah, 4% Viognier (co-ferment), and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 18 months in second and third fill American and French oak. 14.8% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Cave B Winery Tempranillo Cave B Vineyards Columbia Valley 2008 $28

Rating: . (Decent) Quiet aromatics of spice, leather, and tobacco leaf. Palate is tart, almost sour at times, with abundant fruit flavors. 80% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Franc. Aged 18 months in second and third fill French and American oak. 14.3% alcohol. 290 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Maryhill Winery


Maryhill Winery is a destination winery located in the Columbia River Gorge at the Washington-Oregon border. The winery makes a broad lineup of 27 wines to support its outdoor concert series. This 4,000-seat amphitheater is adjacent to the winery, overlooking the river. One of the winery’s most popular offerings is its Reserve Zinfandel. Sporting 1.5% Residual Sugar, this wine is perhaps best considered a dessert-style wine as it displays a lot of sweetness. Maryhill produces 80,000 cases annually.

Maryhill Sangiovese Columbia Valley 2007 $18

Rating: . (Decent) Light in color. Abundant notes of char, marshmallow, and spice on an aroma profile dominated by barrel notes. Palate is tart with cranberry flavors and has a somewhat weighted feel. Aged 18 months in French and American oak. Gunkel, Tudor Hills, Milbrandt, and Alder Ridge vineyards. 13.2% alcohol. 1,410 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Maryhill Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley 2007 $32

Rating: + (Good) Abundant herbal notes along with cherry, bittersweet chocolate, green coffee beans, and sweet spices. The palate is tart and light bodied with an acidic kick and dry tannins. 100% Cabernet Franc. 56% Alder Ridge, 44% Gunkel vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (50% new). 14.8% alcohol. 236 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Maryhill Proprietor’s Reserve Zinfandel Columbia Valley 2007 $30

Rating: . (Decent) Aromas of cherry cordial, red vines, sweet spices, toasted marshmallow, and candied cranberries. Palate is sweet and syrupy with lots of brown sugar and candied cranberry flavors. Almost reminiscent of a Port-style wine. 100% Zinfandel (67% Milbrandt, 37% Alder Ridge). Aged 20 months in French oak (70% new). 16.4% alcohol. 1.5% residual sugar. 1,018 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Onesies


Ott & Murphy Double Bluff Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $19

Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Abundant raspberries, blueberries, spice, and light game notes on an appealing wine. Palate is well put together with rich, syrupy blueberry flavors and a slightly sweet finish. 46% Grenache, 44% Syrah, 7% Viognier, and 3% Cinsault. Spice Cabinet, Vineheart, Sugarloaf, and Coyote Canyon vineyards. Aged 18 months in French oak (20% new). 15.4% alcohol. 140 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

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4 comments

  1. Travis Says:
  2. I have to say that when you posted this last week, I was like oh the usual suspects. I was lucky enough to score a few bottles of the 08 Pere de Famille this year, propmtly set aside to cellar. I think I stopped in the Cave B section before I went onto something else. So having missed the O&M write up, and only seeing the label at the top I went to Taste of Washington. It was there I saw the label and that triggered my memory. I pulled out the smart phone, pulled up your blog (love technology!) and there it was, your review. I spent the next 10 to 15 minutes talking with the O&M staff. I also tasted the Temparnillo as well, wow that is an interesting wine and grape! I think O&M is on a good path and make some nice wines, not a plug, just making a comment.
    Thank you for your notes as I do take your notes into advisement if I’m out and about and find a Washington wine I haven’t tasted or heard of with the number of wineries at 700 and growing, I have come to rely on your information. Thanks Sean!

     
  3. Thanks so much Travis! Glad to hear you find the reviews helpful.

     
  4. Anonymous Says:
  5. I would recommend, highly, the 2010 OM Viognier, although I doubt that many bottles can be found any more.

     
  6. Anonymous Says:
  7. Having been an imbiber of OM wines for the past three years, I am looking forward to the 2011 bottling. Just keep up the good work!

     

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