Washington Wine Club – April 2023

2019 Cadence Winery, Bel Canto, $70

Winery info: This is the nineteenth vintage of Bel Canto we’ve featured in this club so, as we note each year, it 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 were back on schedule this year, and were able to pour this vintage at Ben’s annual tasting in January. It was stunning, as always.

Winemaker: Ben Smith

Grapes: 83% Cabernet Franc and 17% Merlot, aged in 50% new French oak.

Vineyard: Ben’s estate Cara Mia Vineyard on Red Mountain, originally 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: Bel Canto is always an elegant, well-structured, and complex wine. Ben says 2019 was an “epic vintage” for Bel Canto, giving the wine “power and complexity, grace and balance.” He notes that it is “strikingly seamless already at this young age,” building from deep plum and blueberry berry notes to its long finish. We especially love the velvety texture of this wine.

Availability: About 300 cases produced. It should be available until fall.

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 loves Bel Canto with lamb. His favorite preparation: pulse juniper berries and thyme in a blade grinder, add salt and pepper, then coat the lamb (or venison) and dry marinade 24 hours. Cook under broiler. Grilled portobellos (or portobello burgers) would also pair well.

2020 T2 Cellar, MG, $22

Winery info: T2 was founded by Todd Threlkeld and Anne Stevens, our neighbors, long-time customers, and club members themselves. They trained in the wine production program at the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle College, where Todd also worked as cellarmaster. They began making wine in 2011 and have since garnered multiple awards for their wines. Todd and Anne partner with outstanding vineyards in eastern Washington to produce their wines.

Winemaker: Todd Threlkeld and Anne Stevens

Grapes: 62% Mourvèdre and 38% Grenache, aged 18 months in neutral oak.

Vineyards: The Mourvèdre comes from Weinbau Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope, the Grenache from Meeks Vineyard, near Benton City.

Flavor profile: Todd and Anne say they keep trying to offer these grapes as single varietals, but just can’t keep them apart, “they have such an affinity for one another.” Indeed, the peppery notes of the Mourvèdre are perfectly balanced by the red fruit of the Grenache in this medium bodied, inviting wine.

Availability: They produced only 40 cases, but there is still some available.

Drinking Window: With its restrained tannins, it is drinking beautifully now, or over the next year or two.

Food Pairing: Todd and Anne suggest lighter meats, such a lamb, pork, or roast chicken, or with pasta with an herbed dressing. Tom enjoyed it with porcetta and roast squash.