a first look at the 2010 cayuse wines

Monday, April 09, 2012

This past weekend was Cayuse weekend, as it is widely referred to here in Wallyworld. Vigneron Christophe Baron opened the doors of his “boîte” for just two days, and for those fortunate few on the Cayuse mailing list, the par-tay was on.

Baron’s wines, which are in high demand, and deservedly so, are almost all sold as futures. As clever in business as he is dedicated to his winemaking, Baron sells the futures not only before the wines are released, but before anyone has tasted them. The first chance to taste is at the spring release of wines purchased more than a year earlier. It’s a bit dizzying, but all kinds of fun.

With the exception of the God Only Knows Grenache and the Armada Syrah – both 2009s – all wines being poured were from 2010. A difficult year, considerably cooler than normal, the necessary fruit thinning cut production levels down. The resulting Cayuse wines all display superb craftsmanship, and express the best of what the vintage has to offer. Alcohol levels were not posted (the wines were not yet labeled; some not yet bottled) but based upon flavor alone they seemed lower in alcohol than in most years.

Among the 2010s, here are my notes, favorites first:

Cayuse 2010 En Cerise Vineyard Syrah – seaweed, umami, cherry cola, black cherry, earth, mushroom, excellent texture, depth, and more of the famous Cayuse funk than most of the others

Cayuse 2010 Camaspelo Cabernet Sauvignon – deep and rich, loaded with black cherry fruit, sporting a thick vein of black licorice and a finish laced with espresso and mineral

Cayuse 2010 Bionic Frog Syrah – a fruity Frog, a jumble of berries, citrus, muddled blood orange; juicy, round and luscious, with exceptional balance

Cayuse 2010 Widowmaker Cabernet Sauvignon – lighter than the Camaspelo (at least for the moment), this shows juicy berry flavors, cherry, and a surpassing elegance. Stylish and deep, though more fruity, less funky than usual

Cayuse 2010 Cailloux Vineyard Syrah – tight, youthful, spicy and herbal, with hints of pine tar in the nose and throat; powerful and polished, with superb aging potential

Cayuse 2010 En Chamberlin Vineyard Syrah – here the primary fruit flavor is raspberry, with a dash of funk and umami; stylish and nicely balanced

Not wanting to compare apples to oranges, I leave the 2009s for last.

The Cayuse 2009 GOK Grenache seemed a bit on the green side, with pine needle aromatics dominating, but as always, impeccably made and perfectly proportioned

The Cayuse 2009 Armada Vineyard Syrah tied with the En Cerise for Best of Show; dense and concentrated, with thick, almost jammy fruit, dotted with peppery highlights and tremendous length.

As with all young wines, these can change dramatically before their official release. I never seem to remember which I have ordered in any given year, but I will, as always, be delighted to receive any of them at next year’s Cayuse weekend.

(The image, for those who are confused, is from this year’s button)
Cayuse website


Giventofly said...

Armada was my hands down favorite.
We went Saturday morning and that place was too crouded.
They should call it chaos not Cayuse.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update regarding the most unique wines and winery in the state. I most certainly agree that the 09 Armada was the star of the show with the Widowmaker a close second. I'm disheartened to see that your post generated no comments and that there wasn't as much buzz for Cayuse on the wine boards this past year. Is it just simply that the wines aren't readily available for the public or is it something else? I've never seen a winery who's wines are so lauded by all critics alike (you, Miller, Tanzer, me!) that doesn't seem to get domestic recognition. Could also be that we are tucked up in the corner by Canada!

PaulG said...

Anon, I am not sure either why this didn't get more comments. It did get looked at, according to the stats I have for the blog. And since you had to be there to have an opinion about the wines, there is little room for dialogue or disagreement. I don't think M. Baron is hurting for buzz or customers!

Anonymous said...

I certainly had planned to attend but unforeseen things do happen and we were unable to attend. The first weekend in April is already marked for WW next year.
The Armada is always such a great wine and I'm glad to hear it will be again next year. Consistant product throughout the whole line of wines (which also adds to their demand).
Thanks for the update from those of us who were unable to attend this year.

giventofly said...

Armada was my favorite. We went during peak time on Saturday; it was crazy.
I tried to post earlier but it never showed up, maybe others had the same problem.

PaulG said...

Sorry about the problems posting. Blogger went thru a change of format about this time and it was not working smoothly for a few days. Seems to be back on track now.

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