Washington Wine Club – March 2011

2006 Côte Bonneville, DuBrul Vineyard Carriage House
Since we put the 2005 vintage of this wine in the Washington Club two years ago, Côte Bonneville has gone from an unknown Washington treasure to recognition as one of the best wineries in the state. Seattle Magazine even named it “Winery of the Year” in 2009. Although DuBrul Vineyard was put on the map by single vineyard wines made by Owen Roe, the Côte Bonneville label is the personal project of the vineyard owners, Hugh and Kathy Shiels. One of the most impressive sites in Washington, the vineyard towers 1375 feet over the Yakima Valley, and has a unique blend of exposed basalt rock mixed with sedimentary soils and volcanic ash. Unlike warmer areas, DuBrul Vineyard wines seem to retain marvelous acidity while producing intense, powerful wines. This wine was one of Stan Clarke’s last projects for Côte Bonneville before his untimely death in November, 2007. The wine is gorgeous and ready to drink now, although it is clearly capable of aging five to ten years. It’s a very elegant wine, with a core of cherry fruit, lots of spice, and a very long finish. The Shiels family recommends pairing it with Greek mousaka or tournedos au poivre (black pepper filets of beef tenderloin). It’s $49, and we do have more available.

2007 Reininger, Seven Hills Vineyard Carmenère
Walla Walla’s Chuck Reininger needs no introduction to West Cellar Cellars customers, and Carmenère probably doesn’t either. On the label Chuck tells the story of Carmenère’s disappearance from Bordeaux after the depredations of phylloxera in the nineteenth century, and its rediscovery in Chile in 1994. Gary Figgins of Leonetti first brought the grape to Washington, dubbing it the “Ancient Bordeaux Varietal,” but he used it only as a tiny component in his wines. Mark Colvin first brought a varietal Carmenère to our shop for a tasting in 2002, and it became an instant hit. Chuck describes his version as “Deep Purple meets Victoria Beckham — smoke and spice.” The fruits are big and dark, and the flavors of peppercorn, dried herbs, eucalyptus and mint are just as intense. It’s drinking very well now, but the experience of the past four vintages shows that it will become more complex and elegant and less “masculine” as it ages over the next five years. As with Cima, Reininger’s Sangiovese blend, the wine is very limited, mostly available just at the winery and at a few selected shops. It’s $35 and we do have some left.