2018 Cadence, Camerata, $60
Winery Info: 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, including his own, Cara Mia Vineyard. We’ve featured many of Ben’s wines in this club over the years, but this may be the first time we’ve included the Camerata (the 2008 vintage was served at a White House dinner in 2012).
Winemaker: Ben Smith
Grapes: 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, aged in French oak, 50% new.
Vineyard: Ben’s estate Cara Mia Vineyard on Red Mountain, planted in 2004. Of Ben’s wines from this vineyard, Stephen Tanzer (of Vinous) wrote: “There are any number of powerhouse Bordeaux blends being made in Washington today, but very few wines with this degree of class.”
Flavor Profile: Beautiful and expressive, with notes of blackcurrants, herbs, and forest floor, and a seamless, elegant texture. Everything is in perfect balance, and the tannins are silky and well integrated. Ben notes that this vintage is “a truly exceptional Camerata, every bit the equal to the 2008 served at the White House in 2012.”
Availability: 270 cases produced. Because of the outstanding reviews (and scores) this wine is receiving, it is selling quickly, but it should be available at least through the end of the year.
Drinking Window: With its youthful freshness, it’s very approachable even now, but it will certainly continue to develop beautifully for another ten years.
Food Pairing: Perfect, of course, for red meat dishes, steak, boeuf Bourguignon, or hearty fall stews.
2018 Betz Family Winery, The Untold Story, $35
Winery Info: Bob Betz has long been one of Washington’s most respected winemakers and is one of very few people in the world to have earned the Master of Wine degree. He sold his winery in 2011 but remained as patriarch, mentor, and winemaker. In 2016 Louis Skinner was promoted to full time winemaker. They created The Untold Story to be a wine with a purpose. As strong believers in giving back to their community, Betz will donate five dollars from every bottle sold to Russell Wilson’s Why Not You Foundation, providing food and resources to children and families in need during the pandemic.
Winemaker: Louis Skinner (with consulting winemaker, Bob Betz)
Grapes: 40% Cab Sauv, 40% Syrah, 10% Merlot, and 10% Grenache, aged 14 months in French oak.
Vineyards: Sourced from the same top vineyards Betz works with for their regular stunning line-up.
Flavor Profile: Bright and aromatic, with vibrant notes of red and black fruits, blueberries, and cassis, along with notes of dried herbs and baking spice. With plush texture, fresh acidity, smooth tannins, and a long finish.
Availability: 1,900 cases produced. This wine should be available through spring.
Drinking Window: Enjoy it anytime over the next three to five years.
Food Pairing: It would pair well with grilled red meats or roasted white meat. Or you could try it with dishes involving dark mole sauce, or even aloo gobi.