Category Archives: Red Mountain

Underground Wine Project 2014 Devil’s Playground

Devil’s Impulse

Underground Wine Project 2014 Devil’s Playground, Red Mountain, Washington

Fellow wine lovers, another Impulse favorite is back with a new vintage, the Devil’s Playground Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s yet another hit from Underground Wine Project, who also gave us Idle Hands and the Mr. Pink Rosé, all of which are huge hits. Mark Ryan McNeilly and Trey Busch continue to outdo themselves, and just about everyone else, with this collaboration series which brings to the table supremely enjoyable and hedonistic wines, with fantastic pricing.

Devil’s Playground 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon $31.99

The 2014 Devil’s Playground is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon with 10% Syrah added to soften up the tannins and add extra layers of flavor. The grapes are sourced from Quintessence Vineyard, which I’m sure I’ve raved about as being among my favorite new vineyards on Red Mountain. The wine is aged for 24 months in 100% new French oak, and the final product is big, bold, soft, deep, rich, and smooth.

The nose is full of big ripe fruit, baking spices, cocoa nibs, and toast, going down many layers. The palate is medium-full, soft, and easy drinking, with loads of blackberries and raspberries. There are notes of mocha, cassis, vanilla bean pod, and smoke. A serious crowd-pleaser, outright delicious!

Underground Wine Project Devil's Playground 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Underground Wine Project Devil’s Playground 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Click here to order the Devil’s Playground Cab

Region: Red Mountain

Vineyard(s): Quintessence Vineyard

Grape(s): 90% Cabernet Sauvignon 10% Syrah

Aging: 24 Months in 100% Few French Oak

Drinkability: Now through 2020

Body: Medium-Full

Alcohol: 14.9% by volume

Drink This if you Like: Idle Hands, Secret Squirrel, Old Scratch



Force Majeure “Parabellum” Syrah

Major Impulse

Force Majeure 2013 “Parabellum” Syrah, Red Mountain, Washington

Fellow wine lovers, you may have heard of a cult winery in Washington’s Red Mountain region, called Force Majeure Vineyards- formerly known as Grand Reve. They’re known for having the highest elevation vineyard currently producing wine on Red Mountain. They’re also known for turning out big, highly-sought-after, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from their estate vineyard. Force Majeure’s flagship wines can go for as much as $90 upon release. Luckily for us, today we’re able to debut their brand new second label, Parabellum, which comes at a much more approachable price of entry. This inaugural vintage features very small quantities, as only 120 cases have been produced, of which they’re offering us just about a handful.

Being new, the Parabellum wines aren’t yet review by any major wine critics, however Jeb Dunnuck of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has been quoted as saying the following about Force Majeure’s wines in general, “I’ve raved about this producer in the past, and I continue to do so… I urge you to taste through this lineup as the quality of the fruit shows in each wine…I’ve put these wines in numerous blind tastings with the best wines in the world and they always hold their own.”

Force Majeure 2013 “Parabellum” Syrah $44.99

Interesting story about how the folks at Force Majeure came to choose the name for their new wine. Purportedly they found the word “Parabellum” stamped on some shell casings which they discovered at the vineyard site during excavation and planting of the vines. I did a bit of research myself, and learned that Parabellum is the name of a German firearms manufacturer. Hence the crosshair style imagery on the wine’s label.

The wine itself is 100% Syrah sourced from Force Majeure’s estate vineyard, high atop Red Mountain. It’s aged for 18 months in 30% new French oak barrels, is a bright fuchsia color in the glass, and medium-full bodied on the palate. It has an enticing nose, with hints of vanilla, ripe and berries, and notes of smoke. The palate is very gratifying, with velvety texture and delectable flavors of cookie dough, bright raspberry and blueberry, and hints of that signature Syrah meatiness. Overall, a very satisfying wine right out the gate, and I think it will development in complexity with another year or two in the bottle, can keep for several.

Force Majeure "Parabellum" 2013 Syrah

Force Majeure “Parabellum” 2013 Syrah

Click here to order the Force Majeure “Parabellum” Syrah

Region: Red Mountain AVA, Washington State Wine
Vineyard(s): Force Majeure Estate Vineyard
Grape(s):100% Syrah
Aging: 18 Months in 30% New French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2020
Body: Medium-Full
Alcohol: 14.6% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Force Majeure, DeLille Cellars, Mark Ryan
Production: 120 case
Availability: 6 cases



Betz 2012 La Cote Rousse & Besoleil

Betz Family Impulse

Fellow wine lovers, I’ve mentioned here and there that Washington’s 2012 vintage is looking like a showstopper, based on the few wines I’ve tasted thus far. Betz Family Winery recently premiered their 2012’s, and they’re a clear example of just how good the wines of this vintage can be. Winemaker Bob Betz says, “After two years of challenging harvests… 2012 was brilliant right from the start”, stating that the wines are comparable to the the highly coveted 2007 vintage.

Jeb Dunnuck, of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, sampled them back in June and proclaimed them to be, “easily some of the greatest wines I’ve tasted from this estate to date. While these wines always have considerable structure and focused profiles, these 2012 have an extra dimension of depth and texture, and should not be missed!”

Tight allocation this year, as Betz has provided us just a case each of the following two wines. Word got early, and I ended up parting with 2 bottles of each already, so we’re down to just 10 bottles each of the La Cote Rousse Syrah, and the Besoleil Grenache.

Betz Family Winery 2012 La Cote Rousse Syrah $58.99

Often I lean toward the soft spoken nature of the La Serenne Syrah, this year however my hands down favorite is the La Cote Rousse. Powerful and dense, this wine’s quiet strength easily makes it my favorite vintage of La Cote Rousse in recent memory. Showcasing full body alongside firm yet polished tannins, the 2012 La Cote Rousse sets the standard for Red Mountain Syrah, obliging all others towards aspirations for this level of complexity and expressiveness of terroir.

Still youthful, closed up tight, it definitely needs to be cellared for a while, and will benefit from decanting. It’s deep and dark with inky blackberry, stewed plums, violets, black olives, and ripe blueberries. Bob refers to it as, “the sturdiest of our three 2012 Syrahs and its concentration and sheer power will easily support a decade or two in your cellar.”

Jeb Dunnuck gives it an impressive 95 points. I have just 10 bottles, and they’re available first come, first serve.

Click here to order the Betz La Cote Rousse Syrah
Betz Family Winery 2012 La Cote Rousse and Besoleil
Region: Red Mountain
Vineyards: 65% Ciel du Cheval, 35% Ranch at the End of the Road
Grape: 100% Syrah
Aging: 100% French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: 2015 through 2023, decanting recommended
Body: Full
Alcohol: 14.2% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Saint Joseph, Hermitage
Press: Robert Parker 95 pts.
Food Pairings: Grilled Game
Availability: 10 bottles

Betz Family Winery 2012 Besoleil Grenache $47.99

A shining example, not only of the stupendous 2012 vintage, but also of why Washington State is getting national acclaim for our Rhone style wines. No counoise in this year’s blend, as Bob felt it lacked the depth of character he was looking for, Besoleil features 50% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 15% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah, aged in 100% neutral French oak.

It’s starts with notes of herbs de provence and black raspberries, moves into tellicherry peppercorn flavors and notes of scorched earth, and finished big with a taste of black cherry. A beautiful wine that can use some cellar time to open up.

Jeb Dunnuck wrote for the Wine Advocate, “it has fantastic density and depth, with medium to full-bodied richness, beautiful freshness and classic Grenache-driven aromas and flavors… Already hard to resist, it should evolve gracefully for over a decade.”

It received a 94 point score from Jeb, which definitely puts it among the highest scoring Grenache blends from Washington State.

I have just 10 bottles, and they are available on a first come first serve basis.

Click here to order the Betz Besoleil Grenache

Region: Columbia Valley, Washington State
Grapes: 50 % Grenache 20% Cinsault 15% Mourvedre 15% Syrah
Aging: 100% Neutral French Oak
Drinkability: Now through 2021
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 14.7% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Press: 94 points RP
Food Pairings: Jerk chicken, pork tenderloin, beef stew
Availability: 10 bottles



Duckhorn Canvasback 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Lucky Duck Impulse: Duckhorn Canvasback 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Fellow wine lovers, the Red Mountain AVA in eastern Washington is hot right now, perhaps the most talked about, and most happening region in the state. For starters, Red Mountain is one of five wine regions nominated as the best in the world by Wine Enthusiast Magazine this year, and they’re not the only ones to catch wind of Red Mountain’s significance. People are coming in from all over the world to get in on the action, including top California wineries looking to make Red Mountain their second home. The first to market among them is Duckhorn, of Napa fame, who has the bragging rights of having planted the highest vineyard on Red Mountain, just above Col Solare, at an elevation of 1,300 feet.

Duckhorn 2012 “Canvasback” Cabernet Sauvignon $35.99 (Regularly $40)

We must be lucky ducks to have some of the best known wineries in the world set up shop here in Washington. Duckhorn’s Washington project is called “Canvasback”, named for the Canvasback duck, which is native to the Pacific Flyway. While awaiting the maturity of their own estate vineyard, they’ve hired popular local winemaker Brian Rudin, formerly of Cadaretta Winery in Walla Walla, and legendary vineyard manager Dick Boushey, owner of Boushey Vineyards. Together, they’ve identified outstanding vineyard sites on Red Mountain to incorporate into the blend; Klipsun, Ambassador, Shaw, and Quintessence Vineyards.

Together, Duckhorn, Rudin, and Boushey have made a wine that’s 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, aged 16 months in 64% new and 36% neutral French oak barrels. The nose on the Duckhorn Canvasback is fruity and earthy with notes of cherries, blueberries, and hints of scorched earth. The palate is medium-full bodied, with fine grained and firm tannins, notes of anise, cured tobacco leaves and dry desert sage with dried cherries, raspberry fruit leather, and a hint of flintiness. I had the pleasure of tasting this wine twice in the last several months, and have seen it open up, becoming more complex. I expect it will need another 6 months before it’s going at full speed, and am especially excited to see how it will show in the next couple of years.

We have been allotted only 4 cases, and they’re available first come first serve.

Click here to order the Duckhorn Canvasback Cab
Duckhorn Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: Red Mountain, Washington State
Vineyards: Klipsun, Ambassador, Shaw, Quintessence
Grape: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot
Aging: 16 months in 100% French oak barrels, 64% new, 36% neutral
Drinkability: Now through 2018
Body: Medium-Full
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Col Solare, Duckhorn
Food Pairings: Beef Satay, stir fried vegetables
Availability: 4 cases



Deviled Impulse

Gorman Winery Devil You Know and Devil You Don’t Know

Fellow wine lovers, I’ve always viewed Chris Gorman, of Gorman Winery, as a prince of darkness of sorts, so naturally he’s returned to tempt us once again with the second vintage of last year’s guilty pleasure. He’s been experimenting a lot recently, and that’s led to a few new labels from him, including two new red wines: The Devil You Know, and The Devil You Don’t Know. They’re both red blends, with the Devil You Know (DYK) made using vineyards and vinification techniques standard to Gorman Winery, while the Devil You Don’t Know (DYDK) employs new fruit sources, and experimental winemaking- hence the names. 

Gorman Winery 2012 Devil You know Red 26.99 (Regularly $30)

Last year’s feature on Impulse didn’t include the DYK, as we weren’t able to get a hold of any. With much advanced planning this year, we’re featuring both wines in this devilish duo, which is great because each one offers something different and interesting. Between these two, the DYK is more typical of the Gorman wines, with an added component of value, as it’s among the few reds in his lineup under $40. While both of these two wines are rather drink-worthy, I will say that the DYK is my favorite this year, and I’m betting if will get higher scores from the wine media if it gets reviewed, though last year it was the DYDK which brought home the bacon with a 93 point score from Wine Spectator. 

In true Gorman style, the wine is smooth, lusty, and powerful. It’s tightly concentrated, and will definitely benefit from another year in the bottle before you crack it- or at least an hour or two in the decanter is advisable. A blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 13% Petite Sirah, and 8% Petit Verdot, its nose is dense with stewed red fruit, floral hints, and oak notes. The palate is a concerted display of stewed raspberries and strawberries, wild berry bramble, a typical Cabernet black peppercorn, and perfumed rose hips, while the indulgent aging in new French oak Barrels for 16 months produces a showing of baked vanilla. 

It’s great with a tenderloin, and should be drinking nicely for another five to seven years. Gorman only made 825 cases of this still unknown gem. 

Click here to order the Gorman Devil You Know  Devil You Know 2012 by Gorman Winery

Region: Columbia Valley, Washington State 
Grapes: 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 13% Petite Sirah & 8% Petit Verdot. 
Aging: Aged 16 months in French Oak Barrels 
Drinkability: Now through 2021 
Body: Medium-Full 
Alcohol: 14.7% by volume 
Drink This if you Like: Gorman Bully Cabernet 
Food Pairings: Tenderloin 
Production: 825 cases made 

Gorman Winery 2012 Devil You Don’t Know Red $26.99 (Regularly $30)

Ever intent on staying sharp, and never the type to sit still or get stuck in his ways, Gorman is using the DYDK label as experimental grounds. He ventured outside his comfort zone of Red Mountain, into the heart of the Columbia Valley to source fruit of a terroir which is distinct from the Gorman wines we’ve come to know. The body and mouthfeel here are a little lighter than the DYK, while again offering a great value proposition. The winemaking is nothing if not atypical of what we’ve come to know from this winemaker, exemplified best in the use of American oak barrels. All other Gorman wines have been aged exclusively in 100% French oak prior to the advent of the DYDK. French oak has garnered a reputation for being more subtle, and elegant, with a flavor profile which integrates better into wines, allowing the fruit to lead while the oak plays in back. American oak is known as the loud-mouth cousin who makes sure he’s always heard above others, and some are also said to taste of dill weed. Still, when used correctly, American oak is really flavorful, robust, and complex, and certain selections omit those herby dill flavors. The DYDK is a great example of what I consider to be a skilled usage of American oak. 

The DYDK is a little showier right now than the DYK, with lots of up character. Tons of candied black cherries, baked blackberries, and homemade pie jumping out immediately. The tannins are firm and can use another year in the bottle or hour in the decanter to calm them down. The blend of 52% Syrah, 17% Mourvedre, 17% Grenache & 14% Petite Sirah offers up lots of smoky spiciness and hints of flint, calling to be paired with smoked meats and salumi. The 16 months of aging in new American oak barrels have packed this red with an abundance of vanilla bean, toast, and deep mocha character. After opening up for a few hours, it shows delicious blueberry notes, with even more vanilla, half baked cookie dough, and hints of cedar. 

Click here to order The Gorman Devil You Don’t Know

Devil You Don’t Know 2012 by Gorman WineryRegion: Columbia Valley, Washington State 
Grapes: 52% Syrah, 17% Mourvedre, 17% Grenache & 14% Petite Sirah 
Aging: 16 months in New American Oak Barrels 
Drinkability: now through 2018 
Body: Medium-Full 
Alcohol: 15% by volume 
Drink This if you Like: Idle Hands, Napa Syrah 
Food Pairings: BBQ, smoked eats, salumi 
Production: 825 cases made 



Idle Impulse: Underground Wine Cellars 2012 “Idle Hands” Red

Fellow wine lovers, everyone knows the old saying, “idle hands are the Devil’s playground,” and today we have a fiendishly good wine which is a collaboration between two very busy winemakers who refuse to be idle, even for an instant. Always on the move, Mark Ryan McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery and Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars must have about a dozen different individual projects between the two of them, and their latest is called “Underground Wine Project.” Aptly named, since this wine is a best kept secret of sorts, with no website or info available anywhere – an internet search will turn up next to no results. 

Underground Wine Project 2012 “Idle Hands” Red $29.99 (Normally $40) 

Simply put, if you like a big, juicy, hedonistic bottle of red, then the Underground Wine Project “Idle Hands” Red is AWESOME. A luscious combination of 92% Syrah and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon coming from the Red Heaven Vineyard on Red Mountain, this thing is loaded with lots of in your face aromas of fresh vanilla, blueberry jam, and hints of anise. The palate is rich and supple, with full body and gripping tannins which will no doubt soften over time, showing blackberries and smoky oak, with hints of black pepper up front. There are combined hints of coconut and medium-dark chocolate which make me think german chocolate cake, and it finishes with ripe black raspberry preserve and perfumed roses. After letting the wine breath for about 45 minutes, aromas of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies started to show. 

The Idles Hands Red is aged for 16 months in 85% French and 15% American oak, and I think that 15% hint of American goes a long way to make this an especially bold wine. For the last decade or so, winemakers have increasingly backed away from American oak because of it’s reputation for having a flavor profile which many feel is too overt. However, I think the Idle Hands demonstrates how a more restrained use of American oak can add of lot of complex overtones, without overshadowing the rest of the wine’s characteristics. 

The Idle Hands is meant to retail for $40, but they’re temporarily allowing it to debut at lower introductory price of $29.99, which I’m told will go up. Mark and Trey made a very limited quantity, and this wine is set to disappear quickly. 

The name “Idle Hands” comes from a song by a band called, “The Gutter Twins,” and the label reads the lyrics, “with these idle hands there’s nothing I can do but be the Devil’s plaything, baby and know that I’ve been used.” 

Click here to order the Idle Hands Red 

Region: Red Mountain, Washington 
Vineyard: Red Heaven Vineyard 
Grape: 92% Syrah & 8% Cabernet Sauvignon 
Aging: Aged 16 months in 15% American 85% French oak barrels 
Drinkability: Now through 2020 
Body: Full Bodied 
Food Pairings: STEAK, Top Sirloin, New York, Tenderloin

Graceful Impulse: Savage Grace Cab & Syrah/Grenache Blend

Fellow Wine Lovers, last October I was very pleased to offer you the wines of Savage Grace, named so for their balance of the savage, rustic, old world qualities of wines, alongside the graceful, beautiful, pretty qualities. I knew then that they would soon find their way to the front lines of highly sought after Washington wines, and one of our goals with Impulse Wine is to be ahead of the curve, finding the wines everyone will want tomorrow, and offer them to you today. Recently I was excited to see an article from Seattle Magazine featuring their favorite new Washington wines, listed among them some Impulse Wine favorites such as Upchurch Vineyard, Sonoris Winery, and yes, Savage Grace. Just so happens, I was getting geared up to offer you some of their newest wines, this time a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Syrah/Grenache blend.

This offer comes with a 10% case discount, mixed case or otherwise.

Savage Grace 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon $27.99

There’s something about this Cabernet Sauvignon that’s truly unlike any other I’ve had from Washington State; I find it so light and graceful, I would have sworn it came from Bordeaux, France. For those who enjoyed the Cabernet Franc featured on Impulse in October, I know you’ll love this Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sourced mostly from Dineen Vineyard in the Yakima Valley, this relatively cooler sight gives rise to a Cab loaded sweet and savory herbs such as sage, oregano, and rosemary. With 25% of the fruit coming from the relatively warmer Ambassador Vineyard on Red Mountain, which contributes to an undertone of ripe black raspberries and red currants.

Definitely dominated by aromas and flavors other than fruit, this is something lovers of Bordeaux and Chinon (Loire Valley Cabernet Franc) will really enjoy, very smooth, and fairly medium bodied for a Cab. It’s aged using less new oak but with longer aging in barrels (24 months in 25% new barrels) to make for more nuanced complexity that’s not dominated by heavy woody flavors. It brings out the Savage in the wine with hints of wild berry vines and bramble, an innate smokiness and hints of black cherries.

Michael Savage made just 50 cases of this Cabernet Sauvignon, and we’re really pleased to be able to offer 4 of those cases on Impulse. First come first serve.

Click here to order the Savage Grace Cab

Region: Yakima Valley, Washington State
Vineyards: 75% Dineen Vineyard, 25% Ambassador Vineyard
Grape: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Aging: 24 months in French oak barrel, 25% new
Drinkability: Now – 2020
Body: Medium
Food Pairings: Prime Rib, meatloaf
Production: 50 cases
Availability: 4 cases

Savage Grace 2012 Syrah/Grenache Blend $26.99

There’s no going back, the secret is out that Washington is making truly world class Syrah and Grenache, and blends thereof. True to form, this Savage Grace blend is smooth but with an inkling of rusticity. It combines the smokiness of Syrah from Ambassador Vineyard on Red Mountain, the pretty floral essence of Grenache from Den Hoed Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hill, and the earthiness of Syrah sourced from Stillwater Creek Vineyard in the Frenchman Hills or the Columbia Valley.

A nose of violets and lightly candied cherries gives way to a medium bodied palate with flavors of blueberries, cracked green peppercorn, and fruit leathers, rounded out with medium acidity. It’s aged for 11 months in all neutral oak barrels, so there’s no heavy oaky notes, and it’s great with food.

Michael Savage made only 75 cases of this Syrah/Grenache blend, and we’re excited for the opportunity to offer 4 of those cases, first come first serve.

Click here to order the Savage Grace Syrah/Grenache

Region: Columbia Valley
Vineyard: Den Hoed, Ambassador, Stillwater Creek
Grape: 65% Syrah 35% Grenache
Aging: 11 months in neutral oak barrels
Drinkability: Now – 2019
Body: Medium
Food Pairings: Wild Boar Ragu, braised meats
Production: 75 cases
Availability: 4 cases