buty’s new beasts

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beast is the name given to the limited edition, single vineyard and winery direct wines made by Buty. The winery website calls Beast “the alter-ego” of Buty.

Offered first to club members, and generally released on Halloween and April Fool’s, these wines have traditionally been hard to come by for non-club members. The infrequent opportunities I have had to sample a few Beast wines over the years have proved them to be as carefully crafted as the mainline Buty releases.

Now there is a new series – a second generation – of Beast wines. Named the Sphinx, the Hartebeest, and the Wildebeest, they are available in select national markets and at retail, as well as the winery tasting room and through this Facebook page.

I chatted with winemaker Caleb Foster, who introduced two of the three new releases. The Beast 2010 Sphinx Riesling is sourced from the biodynamically farmed section of the Wallula vineyard. This is the vineyard that is pictured on the cover of my book, but along with its spectacular location, it is capable of producing spectacular fruit.

Previously the riesling from this block went exclusively to Pacific Rim, but Foster has gotten hold of some of it (“How?” I asked. “I called and asked” he replied). Just 150 cases were made in 2010, and none in 2011. The alcohol is right under 13%, and this is as bone dry as riesling can be, with intense minerality and concentration. Grapefruit and lemon rind scents and flavors, powerfully fruity and complex, are coupled with astonishing minerality. The acidity is high but natural, and perfectly integrated. This is hand-made, artisan winemaking, in the same quality category as Eroica, Poet’s Leap, and Pacific Rim’s own excellent rieslings.

The Beast 2009 Wildebeest Red comes mostly from the Phinny Hill vineyard, with about a quarter of the blend from the estate's Rockgarden site in the Rocks. Happily, 900 cases were produced. The blend is 45% syrah, 40% cabernet sauvignon, and 15% malbec. Foster describes it as having been “built like a Bordeaux super-second”. Basically, it is assembled from individual lots that were grown, vinified and aged exactly as the lot selections that end up in the blends for the Columbia Rediviva and Rediviva of the Stones. What is not used in those two wines is certainly not second in quality; it has simply been left out of the final blend because of the dictates of the percentages. A cuvée selection, if you will, from a surplus of some perfectly good lots.

The Wildebeest does not need to take a back seat to the other wines, though the blend is unique. It offers fragrant and plush aromas and flavors of cassis, blueberry and black cherry, with strong notes of licorice and black olive. Silky, detailed, supple and beautifully proportioned, this is a terrific value.

Both of these wines are priced at $25, and offer outstanding quality for the price.

1 comment:

PaulG said...

I stand corrected re: the Hartebeest. It was a one-time only cabernet, made in 2008, sold out, and not scheduled for a repeat at this time. But here's an idea for another release, sourced from the same vineyard in the Rocks (or Stones!?!)... Beast of Burden! Mick and Keith and the boys would love it.

Post a Comment

Your comment is awaiting moderation and will be posted ASAP. Thanks!