Washington Wine Club – May 2011

2009 Buty Merlot/Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley
Although price doesn’t allow us to put both Buty spring releases in the same club, we made sure we were able to obtain enough of this very limited wine for club members. Most of the fruit for this wine comes from the sandy soils of Connor Lee Vineyard, with about 10% of the Cabernet Franc sourced from Champoux Vineyard, 70 miles to the south in the Horse Heaven Hills. The longer growing season there helps ripen the fruit further, resulting in a rich, elegant wine that would pair perfectly with grilled meat, lamb, or pork. Due to a hot September, this year’s edition is definitely more of a powerhouse than in past years, with the rich Merlot dominating the palate and complementing the Cab Franc’s grip and fragrance. Youthful and accessible now, the intense fruit, high acid, and strong tannins point to an ability to age for another five to ten more years. It’s $39.75 and we have a small amount left from our original allocation.

2008 Robert Ramsay Cellars, McKinley Springs Mourvedre
Like so many other pioneers in the Washington wine industry, Bob Harris, the owner and winemaker at Robert Ramsay Cellars in Woodinville, started off making beer, then hard cider, and finally home-made wine. In 2001, he made the leap from hobby winemaker to professional by helping to found Coeur d’Alene Cellars. When his day job making software took him to the Puget Sound, Bob stayed in the wine industry by starting Robert Ramsay Cellars. He makes small amounts of Syrah and Cabernet, but more and more he is showing a natural affinity for Mourvedre. This 100% Mourvedre is sourced completely from McKinley Springs in the Horse Heaven Hills, and it definitely shows the white pepper notes characteristic of the reds of Bandol, the town in Provence where Mourvedre reaches its highest expression. It is a less powerful but more earthy wine than Mark Ryan’s Crazy Mary, the most recent Mourvedre in this club. Paul Gregutt hit the nail on the head when he praised the Robert Ramsay Mourvedre as “well-made, balanced, and fresh.” It’s also very limited, as Bob made only 80 cases, although we do have a few extra bottles at $42. It would be great with game or other rich foods and is definitely ready to drink.