new releases from soos creek

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I have written about the exceptional wines of Soos Creek for many years, but outside recognition has been slow to arrive for this producer. Winemaker David Larsen began his vinous journey via the Boeing Wine Club, and was able to use the club’s leverage to source grapes from certain iconic vineyards long before they were iconic. Now he gets his pick of the best of the best, and yet his wines maintain a low profile, and sell for a fraction of comparable bottles from the very same vineyards.

In a note that accompanied his wines, he wrote:

“For what it’s worth, I'm very happy with our 2008 wines. I was more selective in what wines to include in the Artist Series and Palisade blends, so their production is down. But I was able to buy more of my best fruit from Champoux and Ciel because other wineries were cutting back. So their production is going up. I like the wines better with less alcohol. We are now back to the alcohol levels of the 1990's.”

Soos Creek wines have always offered structure – a sense of depth and polish, a style that rewards cellaring. In fact, Larsen has begun holding back the official release of each vintage for an extra four months. Still, these ’08 wines are tight as a tick, and will require decanting and/or further cellaring.

The winery is holding its annual Open House on Saturday. Here’s a sneak peek, from the newsletter the winery sent to mailing list subscribers:

“To reward your loyalty, we are again offering a progressive case discount up to 20%. Please see the website for details. The discounted prices will only be effective for orders received through the date of our open house. This year’s event will be on Sat., March 12, 2011, 12 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. If you would like to pick up your order at our open house, please indicate that on the order form and we will manually reduce the price for the cost of shipping.”

Here are brief notes on the wines, both mine and the winemaker’s:

Soos Creek 2008 Sundance Red Wine; $20
PG: This vintage is 61% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc. A terrific value, with a mix of fresh red and purple fruits that send up fragrant and inviting aromas. The wine is modestly proportioned, but within its boundaries are details of barrel and earth that add life and complexity.
DL: Our second label. The grapes are from the same great vineyards and also aged entirely in French oak barrels. It has the perennially popular combination of delicious fruit and approachable structure.

Soos Creek 2008 Commander Comet Syrah; $25
PG: From Boushey, Riverbend, and Lewis. A fine value; the tang is all fruit, with good natural acidity, plenty of snap. Cranberry, pomegranate, and some darker notes – smoke and licorice and coffee – threaded through.
DL: The quality of the Syrah grapes was better in 2008, plus some winemaking changes produced a darker and more concentrated wine. To show off the delicious varietal flavors of this grape, it is again 100% Syrah and aged entirely in once-used French oak barrels.

Soos Creek 2008 Palisade Red Wine; $25
PG: Pure Merlot, though not labeled as such, this is broadly fruity with a play of strawberry, hard cherry candy, and citrus. The grape sources – Champoux, Klipsun and Bacchus vineyards – are impeccable.
DL: This is our second vintage of this wine, and it is much closer to our original target of a less fruit-forward, Right Bank style. We made some winemaking changes and sourced the grapes only from the Champoux, Klipsun and Bacchus vineyards.

Soos Creek 2008 Artist Series #8 Red Wine
Columbia Valley; $30
PG: This vintage is a blend of 55% Cabernet Franc, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot.
DL: The addition of Merlot for the first time has taken this wine to the next level. The flavors are more complex (dare I say “drop dead delicious”), and the texture is more opulent.

Soos Creek 2008 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Wine
Red Mountain; $30
PG: Winemaker David Larsen builds wines for the long term; everything is in proportion, and the fruit is ripe but never jammy. This is sleek and steely, with veins of iron, mineral, earth and tight red fruits. The oak influence is minimal.
DL: This blend is from vines up to 26 years old and is comprised of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot. It reminds me of our 1995 Columbia Valley wine that was very balanced and drinkable on release but continues to age beautifully.

Soos Creek 2008 Champoux Vineyard Red Wine
Horse Heaven Hills; $33
PG: This shows the muscle and verve typical of Champoux, the rich, full black cherry fruit, and the polished, sexy tannins. A wine to enjoy right now, or to cellar for up to a decade or more.
DL: We now receive grapes from seven blocks of this vineyard including some that are the primary sources for Quilceda Creek’s 100 point wines. The diversity of the component wines and the relatively old age of the vines combine to produce a complex and powerful, yet elegant wine.

Soos Creek


David Larsen said...

Thank you for the review of our wines. We appreciate the extra time you always take to taste the wines closely. From our perspective, we don't feel like we're lacking outside recognition. We've been receiving very good reviews from the other major wine critics for several years. Our low profile is by design. We spend almost no money on sales and marketing because word-of-mouth advertising has worked so well for us. Our lower prices are also by design and have helped our sales remain strong even through the Big R. And we can still make a few bucks because our many volunteers help to keep our overhead costs low. Thanks for the opportunity to provide our comments.

Rich Cushman said...

Great to see the lovely Soos Creek wines getting this well deserved recognition! They have always been very impressive - actually delicious might be better description - as they don't knock you out to get your attention. Dave Larsen is truly a gentleman and shows great care in his winemaking. Salute!

Marlene Rossman said...

I emailed David Larsen of Soos Creek to ask if he would like to be featured in my column in Chef magazine back in July. He never sent me a sample. I bought the wine myself. In July 2010 Larson laconically said he would get back to me.

Maybe the folks at Soos need to learn about marketing? When a major outlet like Chef mag (readership about 150,000) wants to promotes your brand, you gotta get on the train. Just fyi, I am drowning in a sea of $50-100 Cali and WA State Cab/ Cab blends. My garage is no longer used for parking. It is now a wine cellar.

Marlene Rossman said...

...forgot to add as I am on deadline and tired. Here is the link to my September column in Chef mag.
Scroll to pg 29 and click to enlarge.
Please note that all wines featured are samples.

David Larsen said...


I do remember our conversation and that I had intended to follow up. I recall realizing it was an excellent opportunity for us to publicize our wines. However,it simply slipped my simple mind because I failed to write it down on my list of things to do. I sincerely apologize and would love to get together with you if there is another opportunity. I'd be happy to bring you samples of any of our 08 wines.

Dave Larsen said...

Thank you Rich!

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