2016 Cadence, Bel Canto, $60
Winery info: This is the sixteenth vintage of Bel Canto we’ve featured in this club, so Cadence Winery hardly needs any introduction. Winemaker Ben Smith produced his first vintage in 1998 and has gone on to become one of the most respected winemakers in the state, if not the country. His focus is on Bordeaux-style blends from select vineyard sites in Red Mountain. He recently poured his new releases at his annual January tasting here in the shop and, once again, we selected the Bel Canto for this club.
Winemaker: Ben Smith
Grapes: 82% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot
Vineyard source: Ben’s estate Cara Mia Vineyard on Red Mountain, planted in 2004. Of Ben’s wines from this vineyard, Stephen Tanzer (of Vinous) writes: “There are any number of powerhouse Bordeaux blends being made in Washington today, but very few wines with this degree of class.”
Flavor profile: Ben describes this wine as “soil-driven,” reflecting the minerality of the cobblestone soils of the vineyard. This Bel Canto is very elegant, with refined flavors of black currants and spice, savory notes of earth, and plush, balanced tannins that carry through to the long finish.
Availability: Although not made in large quantities, the Bel Canto tends to last most of the year.
Drinkability: Ben’s wines definitely reward aging—at least four or five years. It should continue to develop, up to 2035.
Food Pairing: Bel Canto is always a great wine for a juicy steak, roast duck, or herb-crusted lamb.
2017 Lydian, GSM, $25
Winery info: We have featured a number of wines from Avennia over the years—the highly acclaimed Woodinville winery founded by winemaker Chris Peterson. Chris strives to make wines that evoke clarity of place, of type, and of purpose and he was named Seattle Magazine’s 2017 Winemaker of the Year. In 2019 Chris established a second label, Lydian, as a more affordable entry point to the Avennia house style. The 2017 GSM was their first release (in July) and it is an amazing value for a wine with such pedigree.
Winemaker: Chris Peterson
Grapes: 53% Mourvèdre, 26% Syrah, and 21% Grenache, aged 16 months in neutral French oak.
Vineyard source: Their own fruit sources, plus other carefully chosen Columbia Valley vineyards.
Flavor profile: A beautiful example of how delicious Washington Rhône-style blends can be. It has lovely texture and savory notes of earth and spice. With hints of red fruit and fresh herbs.
Availability: About 500 cases made. Released last July, it should be available through May or June.
Drinkability: It is drinking beautifully now, and should continue to show well for up to five years.
Food Pairing: They suggest Mediterranean-spiced roast chicken, ratatouille, herb-scented rack of lamb, charcuterie, or grilled vegetables.