Washington Wine Club – March 2014

2010 Cadence, Tapteil Vineyard
One of the most festive days of the year in our shop is the last Saturday in January, when Ben Smith comes to pour his new releases. Ben’s wines are so meticulously crafted and so elegant that you can’t help but be impressed. In our judgment, the lineup from the cooler 2010 vintage was his most impressive ever, with all four of his single vineyard blends (Ciel du Cheval, Tapteil, Camerata, and Bel Canto) outstanding. It’s no surprise that every year Ben wins at least one “Winemaker of the Year” from some publication. For nine years in a row we have put the Bel Canto in this club, and we will do so again in May, but this year we also felt that we should make sure that Washington Club members get a bottle of the Tapteil. This blend is usually a bit slower to develop than Ben’s other wines, due to the high percentage of Cabernet in the blend. However, this year the Tapteil was the hit of the tasting, along with library releases of the 2006 Camerata and Bel Canto. Bright red in color, it’s fat and rich, with notes of raspberry and strawberry syrup, accented by a dusty minerality. It’s $45, would be a great match for a nice pepper steak, and is still in good supply. In addition we have older vintages of most of Ben’s wines, including the 2006 releases from Ben’s own Cara Mia vineyard, and even a four-year vertical of his Camerata. And we are very proud that our customers have become such strong supporters of what we think is the best winery in Seattle and one of the very best in this country.

2010 Balboa Winery, Mith
Although 2010 was a cooler year in Washington, we are seeing plenty of impressive, full-bodied, elite Washington wines. A case in point is this tasty Bordeaux blend from Tom Glase, the winemaker at Beresan, who founded Balboa Winery to make inexpensive yet elegant, ready-to-drink Washington wines from up-and-coming new vineyards. It’s a collaboration with Mike Sharon of L’Ecole 41 and is about 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the remainder divided pretty evenly between Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It’s sourced mostly from Tom’s own Eidelon vineyard and Beresan’s Waliser vineyard, both in Walla Walla. While the 2011 Mith, from an even cooler year, has just been released and definitely
needs some time, the 2010 release is in its prime and would be a great match for barbecued ribs. It is $39.75, and we can get more, as the distributor still has plenty left in their warehouse.