2007 Betz Family Winery, Clos de Betz, Columbia Valley Red Wine
Of the many spring releases we look forward to each year, the arrival of the Betz wines is always especially exciting. Winemaker Bob Betz is one of 265 people in the world who have passed the rigorous exams to be awarded the degree of Master of Wine. But it takes much more than knowledge and prestigious honors to make exquisite wine and Bob clearly has that passion and skill as well. This is evident in all of his wines, especially in his two Bordeaux blends, his Père de Famille, a Cabernet-based blend, and the Merlot-dominant Clos de Betz. Several years back we were able to fit both of these wines into the Washington Club, but ever-increasing acclaim, limited allocations, and rising costs make that impossible now.
While this wine is softer and meant for earlier consumption than the more powerfully structured Père de Famille, it could still use a few more years to develop and will easily hold for ten or more years beyond that. The grapes (20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc,and 3% Petit Verdot round out the Merlot) are sourced from top vineyards in Red Mountain, the Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima Valley, and the result is big, powerful wine with aromas of exotic spices and a lush and ripe mouth feel. When it comes time to open it, enjoy it with a special meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, or your favorite special occasion fare. It is $49.75 and there are a few bottles still available, along with three or four bottles left of the Père de Famille.
2007 Guardian Cellars, The Wanted, Stillwater Creek Vineyard
As a worthy complement to an established master, we introduce a rising young star to this wine club. Jerry Riener first discovered the world of wine in the late nineties when, working as a police officer, he checked out a suspicious warehouse in Woodinville, which turned out to be Matthews Cellars. Eager to drive the big new shiny forklift, Jerry soon found himself volunteering forty hours a week. With a college degree in chemistry, he was soon just as fascinated by the winemaking as the equipment, and he started collaborating with Mark Ryan McNeilly in 2001. Jerry first made the elegant Gun Metal and juicy Chalk Line blends for Mark’s winery, and then opened his own winery, Guardian Cellars, in 2007. His wines have been very polished, complex, and sophisticated, and they were a big hit at a shop tasting in September, 2008. The Wanted, an unusual 50-50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, is his best wine yet. It’s massive on the palate, and yet still nicely balanced, with both red plum and dark berry flavors. It’s clearly “a wine in search of a steak,” as John Bell would say. It’s ready to drink, $37, and in good supply, as are Jerry’s other wines.