2017 Cadence Winery, Bel Canto, $60
Winery info: This is the seventeenth vintage of Bel Canto we’ve featured in this club so, as we note each year, 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. We usually put this wine in the club after Ben’s annual tasting in the shop in January. But since that is unlikely to happen this year due to the pandemic, we went ahead and put it in our November club.
Winemaker: Ben Smith
Grapes: 73% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot.
Vineyard Source: Ben’s estate Cara Mia Vineyard on Red Mountain.
Flavor profile: We thought this vintage of Bel Canto was utterly elegant, beautifully structured, and surprisingly approachable, even now, with dark fruit flavors of plums and spice, great minerality, and a long, lovely finish. At the risk of repeating ourselves, this is surely one of the best Bel Cantos yet. It is bright and fresh, with balancing depth and power, wonderful concentration, and silky texture.
Availability: 270 cases made. Ben doesn’t make a lot of this wine but it tends to last most of the year.
Drinkability: Ben’s wines are definitely built to age. If you can wait, give it 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.
2016 EFESTÉ, Final-Final, $32
Winery info: This winery takes its name from the initials of the founding partners Daniel Ferrelli, Patrick Smith, and Kevin Taylor, and is pronounced “F S T.” It grew out of Daniel Ferrelli’s tradition of making a small amount of wine each year using his grandfather’s old wine press. In 2001 Daniel and Kevin (his son-in-law) started bottling and labeling that wine—a project that eventually grew into a full-blown winery. They are still based in Woodinville where it all began, now with a tasting room in SoDo as well.
Winemaker: Mark Fioré, who previously worked at Charles Smith, making wines for K Vintners, as well as under the Sixto, Latta, Wines of Substance, and B. Leighton labels.
Grapes: A 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
Vineyards: Angela’s, Ciel Du Cheval, Oldfield, Boushey, Stone Tree, Red Willow, Sagemoor, Kiona, Klipsun, and Bacchus vineyards.
Flavor profile: Wonderfully smooth and well structured, with dark fruit flavors, notes of spice, and a hint of tapenade. There is a touch of oak on the nose that integrates nicely into the wine as it opens up. The Cab and Syrah are in perfect balance in this delicious, approachable blend.
Availability: This wine is in good supply at the moment.
Drinkability: Enjoy anytime now (give it a bit of time to breathe) or over the next few years.
Food Pairing: This is definitely a red meat wine, but it could pair with other hearty foods.