heads up

Monday, June 21, 2010

I want to give you a heads up on some wines that I’ve tasted pre-release that are so good you may want to pre-order. I’m not talking “futures” here – don’t get me started on that scam – I’m going to point out wines that are expected out this fall, and that will be in very short supply.

The first is the Quilceda Creek 2007 Red Wine. This humble name is attached to an exceptional wine. In every vintage, Quilceda Creek does a barrel selection for their QC Cabernet, and now makes two vineyard-designates as well. Once those wines are complete, the Red Wine is made. Due for a September release, it is offered primarily to mailing list customers, but some bottles do make their way into select wine shops in the Seattle area. Don't be shy about asking your favorite wineseller to set aside a few bottles for you; at $35 it’s a steal. In 2007 the blend is 72% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot, 6% cabernet franc, and 2% malbec. The wine is supple, rich and delicious, full-bodied and aromatic, with exotic barrel scents and a lovely mélange of chocolate, mocha, caramel and spice. But the fruit is the main story, and it’s full, ripe and substantial – cherry and cassis, licorice and just a hint of leaf. Without a doubt, this is the best Red ever from this iconic winery.

Grand Rêve is the Red Mountain project of Internap founder Paul McBride and Red Mountain viticulturalist Ryan Johnson. Johnson manages Ciel du Cheval, the Cara Mia (Cadence) vineyard, Quilceda Creek’s Galitzine vineyard, and DeLille’s Grand Ciel – arguably the most impressive vineyard portfolio in the state. He and McBride have planted a vineyard of their own – 20 acres on the rock-strewn slope above Col Solare. While waiting for those vines to mature, they have been able to source small lots of choice fruit from Ciel du Cheval, and have established a Collaboration Series of wines, numbered I through VI, each with a chosen winemaker.

“I’m trying to match up a winemaker with the fruit,” Johnson explains; “fruit first, winemaker second. It’s a vine-by-vine selection as things become available. In addition to the numbered wines in the series, some one-offs are being made. Due out in October is an un-numbered Collaboration Series 2007 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This is 100% Ciel du Cheval, 100% cabernet – if you follow my writing you know that my bell is being rung about as loudly as possible already. The wine does not disappoint in any way. In a vintage that I would rank in the top five of the past 30 years, this is easily one of the top five wines.

Two of the group’s winemakers – Mark McNeilly and Ross Mickel – were each given two barrels worth of cabernet fruit to work with. Once they’d made their two barrels, the wines were blended together – 100 cases of wine total – and the result is flat out stunning. The power and purity of this wine is astonishing – a ringing, pure tone with vivid, racy, thrilling blueberry, blackberry and black cherry fruit. The 100% new French oak is completely absorbed into the wine, its flavors unobtrusive. The essential essence of the vineyard and the grape, this is a must-taste for lovers of cabernet sauvignon and Red Mountain. The price has not been set, but will be higher than the “regular” offering (which is $55).

What totally convinced me about this wine is that it got better on the second day (after sitting open in a half-consumed bottle) and held true on the third day, when I continued to drink it (not just taste and spit) with great pleasure. By day four it was just beginning to fade, but by then there was only a splash left in the bottom of the bottle. Ageworthy? You may bet the farm on this one.


Paul Zitarelli said...

Paul - I just visited the Grand Reve tasting room Saturday, and one of the wines they were pouring was the 2004 Collab I (Ben Smith is the winemaker). All Ciel, of course, and predominantly Cab, the wine was gorgeously integrated already but seems to have years of life ahead of it. Certainly bodes well for the 2007.

Sip with Me! said...

Great review, Quilceda Creek and Ciel du Cheval are no surprise, I'm hoping to taste the Grand Reve at the WBC!

Sean P. Sullivan said...

Paul, I couldn't agree more on the Grand Reve Cabernet. I tried it with Ryan and Paul a month or so back and thought that it was among the best Cabernets I've had from Washington. Planning to get full notes up on the other GR wines after WBC. Really great stuff going on there.

On the 2007 Quilceda Creek Red Wine, less than half-way through the year - summer's here! btw - I think we can safely say that wine is the steal of the year. Will make for years of fun blind tastings with California wine loving friends. 'How much was your bottle? I can't remember the price on this one. I think it was $35.' Make sure to have a camera handy.

See you at WBC!

Anonymous said...

Next to the Ciel du Cheval vineyard is E&E Shaw vineyards. Their merlot is otherworldly.

Anonymous said...

Paul, Absolutely agree on the 07 QC RTW. Drank very well at the release and has lots of life ahead. On a side note, Cayuse just updated their website and added reviews. Your note on the 04 En Cerise was spot on!

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