2018 Cadence Winery, Bel Canto, $60
Winery Info: This is the eighteenth vintage of Bel Canto we’ve featured in this club so, as we note each year, Cadence 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 once again, that won’t be happening this year, we are offering it in our February club for you to try on your own.
Winemaker: Ben Smith
Grapes: 73% Cabernet Franc, 27% Merlot, aged in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% second fill.
Vineyard: Ben’s estate Cara Mia Vineyard on Red Mountain.
Flavor Profile: Bel Canto is always an elegant, well-structured, and complex wine. This vintage is richly aromatic, with notes of cassis, spice, and savory herbs. It is full bodied, with silky texture, fine tannins, and an endless finish. Ben notes it is “utterly poised and graceful yet packing an enormous presence.”
Availability: 270 cases made. They say it should be around until early summer, although with all the excitement over the 2018s, it’s hard to know for sure.
Drinking Window: Like most Red Mountain wines, Ben’s are built to age. While you could enjoy it now, with an hour in the decanter, it will really reward careful cellaring, up to 10 or 15 years.
Food Pairing: Ben suggests rack of lamb. For the preparation, pulse juniper berries and thyme in a blade grinder. Add salt and pepper and coat the lamb (or venison). Dry marinade 24 hours, then broil.
2018 Fall Line, Cirque Red Blend, $32
Winery Info: Fall Line was established by Tim Sorenson and his wife Nancy Rivenburgh in 2004 in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. Tim began as a “vintern” at Cadence Winery (this month, they meet up again in our wine club!), and brought with him great depth of experience, plus connections to some of the top vineyards in the state. Today he produces his classically styled and highly regarded wines in SoDo. The winery’s motto, “Balance. Grace. Depth” truly defines his style and, as local wine writer Paul Gregutt noted, Tim “has a deft touch and a natural sense of grace and proportion.”
Winemaker: Tim Sorenson
Grapes: 73% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyards: 51% Dineen and 49% Two Blondes (Andrew Will’s estate vineyard). Both are in the Rattlesnake Hills sub AVA of the Yakima Valley. The soils are generally shallow silt loam over rock.
Flavor Profile: What we first noted about this wine was its gorgeous, velvety texture and seamlessness. It is rich and elegant, and perfectly balanced, with inviting savory notes, nuanced flavors of cherry and herbs, and soft, supple tannin structure.
Availability: 119 cases made. This wine was just released (Tim said we’re the first retail shop to get it!), so it should be in good supply for a while.
Drinking Window: Drinking beautifully now, it should continue to develop over the next couple of years.
Food Pairing: Tim suggests roast chicken, pork, mushroom risotto or other earthy dishes—always good matches for Cab Franc dominant blends. Duck or lamb would also pair well.