Washington Wine Club – February 2010

2007 Cadence Bel Canto
This is now the seventh consecutive vintage of Bel Canto that we have put in this club, and Ben thinks it is his best wine ever. For the second year, his flagship wine was sourced completely from Ben’s own Red Mountain vineyard, Cara Mia, planted in 2004 and named after his daughter Cara McNutt Smith. You can taste Ben’s hard work and great craftsmanship in this Right Bank blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, which is powerful, intense, and full of deep flavor. The great wine writer Hugh Johnson even compares Cadence to the famed Bordeaux estate Cheval Blanc, concluding that Ben is “making Old World wines with prototypical Washington fruit.” Give it three to five years for the finely-wrought tannins to “gracefully unwind,” as Ben puts it, and then try it with a nice pepper steak or roasted duck. It is $55 and we have a tiny amount left. We also have small amounts left of his 2006 and 2007 Camerata, his Cabernet from the same vineyard, as well as a few bottles of his three other Red Mountain wines.

2007 Bunnell Family Vif
Ron Bunnell makes quite a few wines under the Bunnell and RiverAerie labels, but the stars are his “vins de l’esprit,” New World versions of the fresh country wines of the Rhone Valley. “Vif” is a colloquial term meaning vivid, lively, and bright, and this wine delivers those quantities in spades. The components are 60% Syrah, 26.7% Mourvedre, and 13.3% Petite Sirah, sourced from vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills and the Wahluke Slope and then aged in 17 months in American and Hungarian barrels. With those grapes and that oak profile, it’s no surprise that it’s big and juicy, with lots of spicy aromas and dark fruit flavors. It’s ready to drink, although it might require decanting, and would pair really well with pork roast. It’s $33 and in good supply.