2010 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.
The 2010 vintage was ideal for making classic Washington wines. A cool spring and summer gave way to a splendidly warm autumn ripening period. Berries were smaller, with medium skin density and fewer sugars, but full flavor maturity. The Clos de Betz is 60% Merlot, and it’s not surprising it features the vibrant black cherry and cocoa flavors so dear to Washington Merlot fans. The remainder of the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, adding red berry notes and a bit of structure, and Petit Verdot, which ties up the package and renders it supple and plush. It’s a complex wine, worthy of being held in your cellar at least a couple of years and quite capable of developing another five years beyond. Try it with strip steak with sautéed mushrooms and onions. It was $60 and so limited that we put every bottle we received into this club. We do still have some of Bob’s very lush 2009 Pere de Famille and Clos de Betz available, with special pricing for Washington club members.
2009 Coeur d’Alene , MO Mourvedre
Coeur d’Alene Cellars was founded in 2001 by Bob Harris and his wife Kimber Gates to make Washington wines from the best Rhone varietals they could source. Although Bob has moved on to Robert Ramsay Cellars, Kimber and winemaker Dirk Brink have improved on the quite high standards Bob set, as we learned at a tasting here a couple of Decembers ago. Mourvedre was Bob’s favorite Rhone grape, and this tasty wine continues in that fine tradition. As the label indicates, it’s a single vineyard wine, sourced entirely from McKinley Springs, and blended with 24% Syrah. It’s smooth and silky, yet still has a bit of tannin and a touch of gaminess so characteristic of Provençal Mourvedre. The winery recommends pairing it with portabella mushrooms, hummus plates and lamb dishes. It’s $28, in pretty good supply, and ready to drink.