2018 Sleight of Hand, “Levitation,” Syrah, $45
Winery info: Founded in 2007 by Trey Busch, former winemaker at Basel Cellars, along with Jerry and Sandy Solomon with a goal, they say, of producing world-class wines “while having the most fun that is legally possible.” They have been lauded as part of the next generation of up and coming Washington wineries, and were named one of the “Next Cult Wineries” by Seattle Magazine. Their wines continue to grow more and more elegant and the Wine Advocate recently noted, “they’ve hit a new level recently, and the wines are now up there with the crème de la crème of the state.” They use a combination of estate-grown fruit as well as fruit from other top vineyard sites in the state.
Winemaker: Trey Busch, with Jerry Solomon and Keith Johnson
Grapes: 100% Syrah, Phelps clone. Aged 16 months in a combination of concrete and new (25%) and neutral French oak.
Vineyard sources: Lewis Vineyard, in the Yakima Valley AVA, and Block 23 of Les Collines Vineyard, in the Walla Walla AVA.
Flavor profile: Medium to full-bodied, with inviting aromas of blackberry, black cherry, crushed black pepper, and savory hints of roasted meat. It is complex and balanced, with layers of dark fruit flavors and a nice touch of herbs.
Availability: 600 cases made. It is in good supply for now.
Drinking window: While drinking well now, it should continue to evolve over the next eight to ten years.
Food pairing: A great wine for lamb dishes, or more rustic fare such as stews or braised meats.
2017 Cadence, Ciel du Cheval, $45
Winery info: We’ve featured numerous wines from Cadence over the years, so the 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 weren’t able to do our annual tasting of Ben’s current line up in the shop in January, so here’s another chance to see what you missed. (By the way, this wine was named one of the “40 Most Exciting Washington Wines of 2020” in the Wine Enthusiast.)
Winemaker: Ben Smith
Grapes: 42% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Petit Verdot, and 8% Merlot. Aged in 40% new French oak, the remaining in second- and third-fill barrels.
Vineyard: Ciel du Cheval, on Red Mountain, named for its sweeping view of the Horse Heaven Hills and prized for producing grapes with distinct character that express both power and elegance.
Flavor profile: Dark and concentrated, with vibrant notes of plum, cassis, and graphite, and dusty tannins that soften as the wine opens up. Ben notes that this Ciel is more fruit driven than previous vintages. It is smooth and focused, with a long, balanced finish.
Availability: 278 cases made. This vintage is still in good supply.
Drinking window: Give it three to five years in the cellar, then enjoy anytime up to 2030.
Food pairing: Just about anything in the meat world, from a burger (even a veggie burger) to filet mignon. Lamb or hearty dishes with a bit of fat to counter the tannins would also go well with this wine.