2012 Betz Family Winery, Clos du Betz, Columbia Valley Red Wine
This wine hardly needs any introduction. If you’ve been in this club for a while, you could now have nice vertical of this offering from Bob Betz, one of Washington’s most talented and respected winemakers. He is also one of less than four hundred people in the world to have passed the rigorous exams and be awarded the degree of Master of Wine since its inception in 1953. Bob is now in the process of retiring, but he still oversees the winemaking with his incomparable passion, skill, and humility, evident in all of his wines, especially his Bordeaux-style blends, the Père de Famille, a Cabernet-based blend, and this, his Merlot-dominant Clos de Betz.
After two challenging harvests, the 2012 vintage in the Columbia Valley was a welcome return to a worry-free growing season. A moderate spring, hot August, and long, mild autumn ripened fruit perfectly, producing generous, pure, and expressive wines. The Merlot fruit, 67% percent of this blend, shines through with aromas and flavors of black currant and plums, and provides a deep, textural fullness. Cabernet Sauvignon (27%) and Petit Verdot (5%) add complexity and inviting notes of underbrush. Thanks to the excellent vintage, this wine shows well young, but Bob advises not to be too hasty: it could develop a long time in the cellar, up to 15 years if you can wait that long. This is, as always, a wine to enjoy with a special meal, perhaps roast beef and Yorkshire pudding or a sumptuous steak. It is $61.50.
2008 Zephros, Champoux Cabernet
Zephros was founded by Richard Freeman, an eastern Washington native whose career in finance led him to Tokyo where he lived and worked for a number of years, including as a partner in a sushi bar, thanks to his keen interest in the restaurant and beverage industry. Eventually his love of wine and the dream of having his own world-class winery brought him back to his home state. He chose Greg Powers, a friend from his college days, as his winemaker who, along with his highly-respected winemaking experience, brought with him access to some of the most coveted vineyards in the state. This Cab is sourced from Champoux Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, which supplies fruit to some of Washington’s most elite wineries. In 2008, cool temperatures delayed harvest, but when it finally warmed up the fruit ripened quickly. Zephros’ low-yield vineyard blocks produced nicely restrained wines, complex and flavorful, with much finesse. They made only 367 cases of the Champoux Vineyard Cab, and it is a modest $29.75. You could lay it down for a bit, but it is very drinkable now, with anything from burgers to strip steak.