2009 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.
This might be the most powerful Clos de Betz ever. As Bob has noted, “Mid-summer heat built Merlot power in 2009.” It features lots of chocolate and baking spice on the nose, creamy vanilla from the French oak barrels, and black cherry fruit with notes of black pepper. The grapes (29% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot round out the Merlot) are sourced from top vineyards in Red Mountain (51%), the Yakima Valley (30%) and the Horse Heaven Hills (19%). When it comes time to open it, sometime in the next three years, enjoy it with a sumptuous meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, or your favorite special occasion fare. It is $54.50 and there are a few bottles still available, along with a small amount of the Père de Famille at $70.
2009 Animale, Red Mountain Mourvedre
Regular attendees at our monthly Saturday tastings know that one of the highlights every year is when they get to sample the wines of geologist and winemaker extraordinaire Matt Gubitosa. Matt makes tiny amounts of unusual and distinctive wines in his basement in Ballard, using fruit from cooler growing sites (allowing longer hang-time for the fruit), and never employing industrial processing methods such as filtration or fining. His goal is to make wines that are true to both varietal character and to the place where they are grown. A wonderful example is this Mourvedre, a grape increasingly popular in Washington for both its powerful fruit and savory nature. Matt’s Mourvedre (with 5% Syrah) comes from the Kiona Vineyard in Red Mountain and is aged in neutral French oak for nine months. As you might expect, given the varietal and the vineyard, it’s a massive, full-bodied wine, with aromas of blackberries and lots of spiciness. Matt recommends pairing it with “robust, flavorful foods.” It’s very tasty now, but could develop for another three years. He only made 24 cases, but we do have a bit more available at the bargain price of only $26.