Tag Archives: Red Mountain

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



Passing Time 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Passing Time Impulse

Passing Time 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Fellow wine lovers, you may have heard the buzz over one of the most highly anticipated new wineries in Washington, Passing Time. Why is it so highly anticipated? Well, for starters, the wines are made by winemaker Chris Peterson, of Avennia, which you already know is the hottest new winery of the last three or four years. Moreover, Passing Time is a project started by NFL quarterbacks, Dan Marino and Damon Huard, who drafted Chris Peterson as they winemaker. I’m always skeptical over celebrity wines, but they held a sneak preview of their unreleased wine last year, and the crowds really went wild for this stuff. This one has great pedigree, both in the winery, and in the vineyards where they’ve sourced grapes from line-up of the best sites in the state.

In fact there’s legend going around about how they got their hands on grapes, for 2014 harvest, from one of the most sought after pieces of land in Washington – a 1984 planting of Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon at Klipsun Vineyard on Red Mountain. The story goes that Chris Peterson went to Klipsun to ask the owners if they’d be interested in selling him grapes for this new winery. The owners of the vineyard, whose grapes are highly vaunted and heavily wanted, told Chris that this 1984 has very limited availability, “hardly a stone’s throw worth of vines”. It was at this time that Chris said, “I’ll tell you what, why don’t I have the owners of the winery come out here themselves, and they can throw a football up the rows of vines, and however far they throw the ball, that’s how many rows of vines we get… don’t worry about it, they are just a couple of retired guys, how far could they possibly throw the ball?” Of course, when the time came, it turned out to be Dan Marino and Damon Huard who were throwing the ball, and they were able to secure lavish contract for the Old Vine Cab… Okay, maybe this isn’t the real story, maybe I just made that up…. Let’s talk about the awesome wine!

Passing Time 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $74.99

Passing Time might just be a new icon for Washington State, right up there with the likes of Betz, Force Majeure, Leonetti, and Quilceda Creek. This a big and powerful Cabernet, with loads of stuffing, yet still very nimble. Just releasing now, it’s already received a score of 92-94 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, and a score of 93 points from Sean Sullivan of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Sean also labelled it as a “Cellar Selection”, suggesting that he feels this wine is highly worthy of laying down in your cellar for several years. Truly a collectors’ wine!

The nose kicks off plenty of spice and a bit roasted coffee aromatics, passing to hints of Madagascar Vanilla. The first thing I notice on the palate is how luscious and smoothly textured it is. The full bodied wine runs down with notes of licorice, pepper corns, and spicy herbs. It starts out very tight, and merits a decanting, because when it opens up, it really opens up. You start to see lots of intense dark fruit notes, with blackberries, creme de cassis, and black cherry, scoring extra points with very bright hints of orange peel and violets. With lots of complexity and a very long finish, it’s easily one of the biggest, most dense wines I’ve had lately, yet like all of Chris Peterson’s wines, it never comes off as overbearing, and doesn’t weigh you down. Really sets a new mark for Cabernet.

Only 500 cases were produced of the 2012 vintage, and we’re really pleased to have just 24 bottles to offer on Impulse, first come first serve.

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Passing Time 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Passing Time 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

re to order the Passing Time Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Horse Heaven Hills AVA, Washington State
Vineyard: Discovery, Champoux, and Klipsun Vineyards
Grape: 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 5% Cab Franc
Aging: 21 months in New French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2025, maybe longer
Body: Full
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Big Cabs, Napa Cab, Force Majeure Cab
Press: 92-94 Points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, 93 Points & “Cellar Selection”
from Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Food Pairings: Steak!
Production: 500 cases
Availability: 24 bottles



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



Mature Impulse: Lawrelin 2000 Cabernet & 2001 Syrah

Fellow wine lovers, it can be difficult to predict just how well a bottle of wine can age, even harder to have the patience for holding on to it for an extended period of time. Luckily, winemaker Kendall Mix has done the hard part for us, all we have to do is enjoy the pre-aged wines of Lawrelin Cellars, some as old as 14 years now.

Kendall has made wine with the best of them, having spent 10 years at Chateau Ste. Michelle working under some of the most recognizable winemakers in Washington such as Charlie Hoppes, Mike Januik, and Ron Bunnell. Eager to put his own philosophies to practice, he quietly start Lawrelin Cellars in 2000, with the intention of showing just how well Washington wines can age. Eventually, Kendall left Chateau Ste. Michelle to make wines for Corliss Estate in Walla Walla, then Goose Ridge near Red Mountain, and has continued to keep Lawrelin as a side project, with very small production.

It’s important to note the distinct characteristics that a wine arrives at with age. The fresh, fruity, fun and youthful qualities fade away gently, giving rise to secondary qualities of leather and earth. As wine matures, the roughness of tannins smooth out and the flavors mellow and coalesce. When opening aged wines you’ll want to remove corks very slowly and gently, as they can become fragile, even brittle, over time. You may also notice the color of the wine gets lighter, showing hints of brown, and there may be a build-up of sediment in the bottle, which can be a natural occurrence in wine, especially aged wine. To counter the presence of sediment, you can pour the wine slowly and gently, or decant it, and even use a strainer if you like.

Lawrelin Cellars 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon $36.99 regularly $40

Cabernet being among the first in wines we think to age, it’s a natural choice for a project like Lawrelin. Sourced from Kiona Vineyard on Red Mountain and Sundance Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope. The two different sources, from two different areas, compliment one another very well, with the rich and dark fruit qualities of the Wahluke slope being balanced by the bold, structured, tendencies of Red Mountain. If you’re attending the seminars at Taste Washington this weekend, the 2000 Lawrelin Cab is featured in the “Washington vs The World” session, where Kendall Mix himself will be among the panelists.

Prior to its extended bottle aging of 12 years, it was laid to rest in 60% French oak and 40% American oak, 60% of which was new, for 22 months. Matured perfectly and drinking beautifully now after nearly 14 years of deep slumber, the 2000 Lawrelin Cabernet shows lots of leather with a savory umami factor. There are also gestures of black tea leaves, sun dried tomatoes and preserved berries. Great with Prime RIb or meatloaf. Kendall made only 122 cases

Click here to order the Lawrelin 2000 Cabernet

Region: Columbia Valley, Washington
Vineyard: 46% Kiona Vineyard (Red Mountain) 54% Sundance Vineyard (Wahluke Slope)
Grape: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Aging: 60% French oak 40% American oak, 60% of which was new for 22 months, then aged 12 years in the bottle
Drinkability: Already aged 14 years, so it’s ready to drink now
Food Pairings: Prime Rib, meatloaf
Production: 122 cases

Lawrelin Cellars 2001 Syrah $33.99 regularly $36

Syrah isn’t always thought of as the as the most age worthy variety, but in the right hands it certainly can be, especially here in Washington where we are quite possibly turning out some of the best in the world. Kendall sourced his syrah from Kiona Vineyard on Red Mountain and Clifton Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope, with the inky dark fruits of the Wahluke Slope being balanced by the earth and acidity of Kiona on Red Mountain.

Lawrelin 2001 SyrahAged for approximately 18 months in 67% French and 33% American oak, 67% of which was new, then laid down for another 9 years in the bottle. Starts with notes of fruit leather and beef jerky, then hints of soy sauce and dried figs. Finishes with a touch of brandied cherries and crimini mushrooms. Great with slow braised meats like lamb or beef, and tomato based sauces. Kendall only made 71 cases of this beauty.

Click here to order the Lawrelin 2001 Syrah

Region: Columbia Valley, Washington
Vineyard: 49% Kiona Vineyard (Red Mountain) 51% Clifton Vineyard (Wahluke Slope)
Grape: 100% Syrah
Aging: 67% French 33% American, 67% of which was new, for 18 months, then 9 years in the bottle
Drinkability: Already aged 12 years, so it’s ready to drink now
Food Pairings: Slow braised Lamb, tomato based sauces
Production: 71 cases



Avennia Impulse: Avennia “Oliana” Sauv Blanc, “Justine” GSM, “Arnaut” Syrah

Fellow wine lovers, I have another new release from one of last year’s favorite wineries, Avennia. Last June I featured their first set of releases, saying that they would quickly become among the most highly coveted Washington wines. You can read my original profile on them here. Since then, winemaker Chris Peterson and his Avennia wines have gone on to garner big scores from critics locally and nationally, with 92 and 94 points. Seattle Magazine named Chris Peterson 2013’s “Winemaker To Watch”, with his “Arnaut” Syrah winning red wine of the year in their blind tasting. Those of you who were quick enough to get in on last year’s offer later came back to me with rave reviews and inquiries about re-ordering. Given the trajectory they’re on, you can rest assured that Avennia is headed for absolute stardom. The word is quickly spreading, which means the wines are selling out even faster.

Avennia 2012 “Oliane” Sauvignon Blanc $24.99

Last year I had planned on offering you all the “Oliane” Sauvignon Blanc, but that vintage sold out just before I made my initial feature. That’s exactly why I’m jumping on this year’s model in January, I’ve learned my lesson. I got to taste this one a few months ago and liked it so much, that when Seattle Metropolitan Magazine interviewed me about what my favorite wine of the moment was, it was a no brainer. You can read that small blurb here.

A shining example of how far Washington Sauvignon Blanc has come. Less than a decade ago, it wasn’t uncommon to have Sauvignon Blancs which were heavy, high in alcohol, over-ripe, and tasting of sweet candy, and today’s top producers like Avennia have changed all of that. This is light, dry, crisp and clean. Vibrant acidity illuminates the palate of grapefruit, guava, white flowers, and a hint of spiced apple cider. The fruit comes from two of my favorite vineyards in Yakima, Boushey and Red Willow, and it’s aged in 20% new French oak, giving it just a perfect hint of warm toasted spices.

4 out of 5 star (Excellent) from Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report “An alluring wine with a beautiful mixture of barrel spices, fruit aromas that range from peach to kiwi, and fresh herbs. The palate is rich, concentrated, and flavorful with a long, drawn out finish. A thoroughly delicious, lip smacking wine that is true to the warmer vintage while still retaining its typicity and acidity. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Boushey (approximately two thirds) Avennia 2012 Oliane Sauvignon Blancand Red Willow vineyards. Barrel fermented in French oak (20% new) and aged sur lies for 7 months. 13.8% alcohol. 190 cases produced.”

Region: Yakima Valley
Vineyards: Boushey and Red Willow
Grape: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Aging: Fermented and aged sur lie for 7 months in 100% French oak, 20% new
Drinkability: Now – 2016
Press: 4 out of 5 (Excellent) – Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report
91 Points – Washington Wine Special Report by Tim Atkin MW and Christy Canterbury MW
Food Pairings: Truffles, ripe cheeses, shellfish
Production: 200 cases

Order the “Oliane” Sauvignon Blanc by clicking here

Avennia 2011 “Justine” Red Blend $37.99

This is my personal favorite of the three, the one that keeps me up at night. When I tasted this with Chris Peterson, I had no question that it was worthy of showing to the Impulse group. Complex yet easy, dark yet eye opening, it’s perfect for all occassion, pairs with almost any food, and pleases all palates. A Châteauneuf-du-Pape inspired blend of 46% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 24% Syrah, it show exactly why Grenache might just be the most talked about grape among Washington wine collectors.

94 Point – Washington Wine Special Report by Tim Atkin MW and Christy Canterbury MW “An exploration of eastern Washington’s spice rack of vineyards, this wine is seasoned with 46% Grenache (Alder Ridge), 30% Mourvedre (Kiona Heart of the Hill) and 24% Syrah (Angela’s Vineyard). The nose is aromatically dense (thanks in part to 15% whole cluster use)with barbecue spice, red plum, red currant, blueberry and rose. Tongue-tying glycerol coats the full-bodied palate, which is encased by middling acidity. The moderate finish shows some warmth, but it’s not unpleasant.”

4.5 out of 5 (Excellent/Exceptional) from Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report “Dark in color. An aromatically complex wine with dark cherries, huckleberries, herbs, grilled meat, and peppery spices. It’s high on the delicious scale with structured pomegranate flavors and mineral accents. An impressive first release of this wine. 46% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 24% Syrah. Aged in French oak (0% new). Alder Ridge (Grenache), Kiona Heart of the Hill (Mourvèdre), and Angela’s vineyards (Syrah). Aged 16 months in neutral French oak. 14.9% alcohol. 320 cases produced.”Avennia 2011 Justine GSM Red Rhone Style Blend

Region: Yakima Valley
Vineyards: 46% Alder Ridge Grenache, 30% Kiona Heart of the Hill Mourvedre, 24% Angela’s Vineyard Syrah—Clone 383
Grape: 46% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 24% Syrah
Aging: 100% Neutral French oak for 16 months
Drinkability: Now – 2021
Press: 94 Points in “Washington State Special Report” by Tim Akin MW & Christy Canterbury MW
4.5 out of 5 (Excellent/Exceptional) – Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report
Food Pairings: Rack of lamb, duck, smoked cheeses
Production: 320 cases

Order the “Justine” Red Blend by clicking here
Avennia 2011 “Arnaut” Boushey Vineyard Syrah $47.99

The “Arnaut” is the big bold Syrah of the bunch; deep, dark, and savory. It’s thick, coating the inside of your wine glass, but carries itself with grace on the palate. It’s fermented using wild yeast, then bottled unfined and unfiltered to coax out, then preserve, Syrah’s untamed nature. It’s fierce with black cherries and raspberries, dark chocolate, freshly ground coffee beans, and smoky hints of bacon. Oh so smooth and silky on the the tongue.

5 out of 5 (Exceptional) – Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report “A dark, glass staining wine that brings a lot of aromatic complexity with high toned aromas of peppery spice, mulberry, mineral, and roasted meat. The palate is rich, textured and intensely flavored with lively acidity and great purity of fruit. Among the finest examples of Syrah I have had from this esteemed vineyard. 100% Syrah. Aged 16 months in French oak (15% new). 14.9% alcohol. 310 cases produced”Avennia 2011 Arnaut Syrah

Region: Yakima Valley
Vineyard: 100% Boushey Vineyard
Grape: 100% Syrah
Aging: 16 months in 15% new French oak
Drinkability: Now-2020
Press: 5 out of 5 – Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report
Food Pairings: Prime rib, skewered meats, aged cheeses
Production: 310 cases

Order the “Arnaut” Syrah by clicking here

Fortified Impulse: Sonoris Port

Fellow wine lovers, things are getting frosty around here and I think it’s about time we feature our first fortified wine. Something to make you feel toasty and warm from the inside.

Sonoris 2010 Port Wine $36.99 (Normally $40)

You may remember our initial offering of Sonoris wines, during the summer, where I wrote up some background info on Hillary Sjolund, the owner and winemaker. You can review her story in the past offers archive by clicking here. Her wines were so popular with all of you that I think it’s time for another offering, this time something a little more winter appropriate.

Port is a fortified wine, which means it’s fermented just like regular wine, only the fermentation is stopped about a two thirds of the way through by adding alcohol, bringing it up to 18% alcohol by volume. The higher alcohol environment isn’t hospitable to the yeast, so they go dormant before converting all the sugars, leaving a bit of sweetness in the wine, 3% residual sugar in this case. Technically Port is the name of the fortified wines made in the Douro Valley of Portugal, while wines made in this traditional style hailing from other locales are referred to as “Port Style”.

Hillary made her port style wine using the traditional Portuguese grapes, so it’s a blend of 33% Touriga Nacional, 33% Tinta Cao, and 34% Souzao, all harvested from the Red Heaven Vineyard on Red Mountain. Traditionally, Port is made using a neutral grain spirit, but in this case, Hillary used a neutral grape spirit from Clear Creek Distillery in Portland, which I think adds a vibrant character. After adding the grape spirit, the wine was allowed to continue soaking on the skins for another several days. The alcohol acts as a solvent, and helps to extract even more color and flavor from the grape skins, making this an especially dark and full bodied wine. Then it’s aged for 24 months in neutral oversized 318 liter barrels called “puncheons”.

The extra steps and long aging make Port an especially complex wine that can age for years. I’ve tasted this one a few times recently and I have to agree with Hillary when she says, “The older it gets the better it gets!” I think this one can age for another 10 years. It’s full bodied and sweet, but not too sweet. There are lots of concentrated notes of dark berries, some stewed cherry flavors, dried figs, plums and hints of vanilla. This is a wine you can decant for several hours while you enjoy dinner, and then have it afterwards with chocolate cake or cigars. Hillary only made 27 cases of 500 mL bottles, and there are only 6 cases left at this point.
Sonoris Logo
Vineyard: Red Heaven
Region: Red Mountain AVA, Washington
Grapes: A blend of 33% Touriga Nacional, 33% Tinta Cao, 34% Souzao
Food Pairings: Chocolate cake, Cigars, BBQ
Aging: Age in neutral 318L Puncheon barrels for 24 months
Drinkability: I like Port with some age, Drink Now- 2023
Sugar and Alcohol: 3% Residual sugar, 18% abv
Production: 27 cases
Availability: 6 cases (500mL bottles)

Click here to order the Sonoris Port

Heavenly Impulse – Côtes de Ciel 2012 Viognier

Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain is one of the undisputed champions of vineyards in our state. They provide grapes to the best of the best of Washington wineries, including Betz, Andrew Will, Fidelitas, Mark Ryan and many more. They’ve even been recruited to plant and manage the estate vineyards of Quilceda Creek (Galitzine Vineyard) and DeLille (Grand Ciel Vineyard), and are the masterminds of the famed Grand Reve and Force Majeure Vineyards. Now they have a new wine of their own, featuring the fruit of Ciel du Cheval.

Côtes de Ciel 2012 Viognier $16.99 (Regularly $22)

Red Mountain is considered by many to be the Grand Cru appellation of Washington, and Ciel du Cheval is one of the original vineyards to take root there. It could be said that Jim Holmes founded the vineyard as the serendipitous result of a few failed get rich quick schemes. Having originally come to Tri-Cities as an engineer with Handford, he was always looking for clever financial ventures. After some failed investments in the stock market during the 70’s, he hatched a plan to invest in real estate and, along with John Williams, purchase some inexpensive land on Red Mountain with intentions of turning it over.
CotesdeCiel 12 VI
Soon after, they got wind of Walter Clore’s research on the great potential for vineyard land in Washington, and suddenly they had a gleam of grape growing in their eyes. Together they planted what is now Kiona Vineyard on the land they had acquired, and later Jim Holmes parted ways to plant his own vineyard. He named it Ciel du Cheval, which roughly translates to Sky of Horses, or Horse Heaven, in French.

The consistently warmer weather and unique soils have made Red Mountain the sight of many top red wines, especially Cabernet and Syrah. The hot nature of this area discourages many from growing whites, but Ciel du Cheval is among a select few who do it, and do it really well. This is the very first vintage of their Côtes de Ciel label, and they’ve tapped Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas as their winemaker. It’s a great example of a well balanced Washington Viognier; pretty, but not too fruity or perfumed. It has hints of minerality, flavors of peaches and apricots, a touch of white flowers, and is rounded off with nice crisp acidity.

Region: Red Mountain
Vineyard: Ciel du Cheval
Pair with: soft cheeses, dried stone and tree fruits
Drinkability: Now to 2016
Production: 539 cases

Click here to order this wine