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WA 92

Up there with the top Viogniers coming out of Washington (I’d put this right beside the Viognier from Cayuse), the 2014 Viognier was barrel fermented with no malolactic fermentation (just in 2014). It has fabulous Viognier character in its floral, citrus and peach aromas and flavors, and on the palate it has plenty of depth and texture, yet is pure, clean and layered. It’s a fabulous Viognier to drink over the coming 2-3 years.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2016)
Shimmering, this wine is alive with energy. Vibrant aromatics, red and black fruits and heaps of minerality on a long focused finish. Great today, great in ten years, the Great Milbrandt!
WS 88

Dark and peppery, with a tangy edge to the firmly textured blackberry, fresh sage and tar flavors that play against refined tannins on the finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Best after 2014.

- Harvey Steinman, Wine Spectator (Nov, 2012)
WA 91

50% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc, and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon. The most structured and tannic of the lineup, the 2013 Flaneurs comes mostly from Two Blondes and Ciel du Cheval Vineyards, and spent 21 months in 35% new French oak. Loaded with dark fruits, bouquet garni, licorice and sweet oak, this rich, medium to full-bodied effort has rock-solid purity, plenty of texture and building, chewy tannin on the finish. It needs short-term cellaring and will drink well for a decade. While I think this lacks a touch of the elegance found in the other 2013s, it's a terrific wine.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2016)
WA 95

Another wine that overachieves is the 2013 Syrah Morrison Lane. Easily the best vintage of this cuvee to date, it has a killer bouquet of olive tapenade, grounded, peppered meats and a core of darker fruits. Medium to full-bodied, seamless, elegant and with fine tannin, it’s terrific and will drink nicely for 10-15 years.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2016)
WE 93, WA 92

The medium-ruby colored 2013 Sangiovese Guido comes all from Jack’s Vineyard in the Rocks region of Walla Walla. It has juicy acidity and an elegant, medium to full-bodied style, as well as lots of kirsch and cherry fruit characteristics, spring and spice. It shines on its purity and finesse, and should keep nicely through 2023.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2016)
WA 93-95, WE 94

Tasted as a barrel sample and Betz’s take on a right bank Bordeaux, the 2012 Clos de Betz is 67% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance Petit Verdot. Inky-purple in color (has anyone seen a Betz wine not inky purple?), if offers impressive cassis, plum liqueur, spring flowers and underbrush-style aromas and flavors to go with a mouth-filling, layered and voluptuous style on the palate. I love the mid-palate here, and the tannin builds through the finish, so, while it should have plenty of up-front appeal, it should also evolve for 15+ years.

As always, my visit with Bob Betz and Tyson Schiffner at Betz Family Winery (which has been owned by the Griessel family since 2011) is always one of the highlights of my trip through Washington. For the tasting at the domaine, we focused on the 2012s (I tasted the 2011s from bottle at my office in Colorado), and they are 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!

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2014)
WS 90

Ripe and sleek, with underlying tobacco and chocolate notes adding to the deftly balanced beam of black cherry. Comes together smoothly on the refined finish. Drink now through 2018.

- Harvey Steinman, Wine Spectator (Dec, 2014)
The nose is packed with ripe strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruit as well as a lot of floral undertones. The structure of this wine is abundant with juicy, velvety tannins.

Blend: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec
WA 94

A beautiful wine, with layers of cedary herbs, black cherries, currants, toasted spice and pencil lead, the 2014 El Jefe Tempranillo Stoneridge Vineyard hits the palate with full-bodied richness, an elegant, silky texture, plenty of concentration and a great finish. It’s just another incredible example of this variety coming from Washington.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2017)
WA 93-95

Tasted out of barrel and scheduled to be bottled in June of this year, the 2013 Clos de Betz checks in as a blend of 63% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Petit Verdot, mostly from Red Mountain and Yakima Valley, that spent 19 months in French oak. Inky colored, it has terrific and classic notes of plums, black raspberry, violets, espresso and scorched earth to go with full-bodied richness, lots of fruit and mid-palate depth, and an overriding sense of elegance and purity that carries through the finish. I wrote "classic" about three time in the note, and this is a beautiful 2013 that will cruise for 15 years or more in the cellar.

These latest releases from Betz Family Winery are flat out great, and as I said last year, the 2012s are the greatest wines I've tasted from this estate. While the winery was sold to the Griessel family in 2011, Bob Betz has remained firmly involved and there's certainly been no dip whatsoever in quality; if anything, the wines show another level of texture, purity and structure. While assistant winemaker Tyson Schiffner has moved from making wine to brewing beer, he's been replaced by Louis Skinner, who was the assistant winemaker at Delille for a number of years. In short, readers who want to see the best of Washington State need to check out these latest releases!

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2015)
WA 94

Another wine that’s possibly the best vintage to date, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Mays Discovery is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that spent 18 months in 35% new oak. Inky colored, full-bodied, concentrated and layered, with impressive black raspberry, plum, licorice, wild herbs and spring flower-like aromas and flavors, it has enough texture and fruit to shine now, yet will be better with short-term cellaring, and have two decade of overall longevity.

These latest 2012s from Chris Camarda are easily some of the best wines I’ve tasted from him and they have everything; texture, richness, balance and structure. Chris continues to think 2007 is his best vintage (we tasted his 2007 Sorrella during the visit and it’s an incredible wine) to date, and he describes 2012 as a “bigger 2008.” Nevertheless, I think these 2012s will rival the 2007s in another 4-5 years. In addition, they have a new vineyard near Two Blondes called Pollard Vineyard that’s planted to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I visited earlier this year and the 2013s had not been put together, so I’ll review those (possibly from barrel) next year. These are great wines.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2015)
WA 94

A cuvee that continues to become more and more Cabernet Sauvignon dominated (Bob Betz loves Cabernet and think it’s the top grape of Washington), the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Pere de Famille (89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot) is utterly seamless and elegant. It is full-bodied and open, with forward notes of cassis, crushed flowers, red currants and licorice. Where the 2014s are more exuberant and dense, this 2013 excels on its pretty, pure and overall elegant style. Drink it anytime over the coming 15+ years. While there's a long history of terrific wines from this estate, I think they've hit another level in the past few vintages, and these latest releases show a purity, elegance and textural quality not found in early bottlings. I'm sure this is in part due to the creation of a second wine, and even a stricter selection for all of the top cuvees. In short, don't miss a chance to try these wines.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (May, 2016)
WA 93+, WS 92, WE 91

One of the reserve wines from Ben Smith, the 2013 Bel Canto is a fabulous blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot that saw just under two years in 50% new French oak. It shows the lengthy elevage on the bouquet with a spicy, ripe, incense, dried flowers and currants driven style that shows a hint of evolution at first, yet continues to gain freshness and purity with time in the glass. This gives way to a complex, layered red that has fabulous mid-palate depth, building, ripe tannin and a big finish. Even with the slightly evolved style, this beauty will age gracefully. Give bottles 3-4 years and plan on drinking through 2030.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2016)
WA 95, WE 93

A gorgeous wine that's loaded with that candied lavender, violets, lead pencil shavings, black cherries and licorice aromas and flavors that define this terroir, the 2012 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard is full-bodied, elegant and silky on the palate. It has polished tannin, impeccable balance between its alcohol, tannin and acidity, and a great finish. It's another beauty that will still benefit from short term cellaring and keep through 2032.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (Sept, 2016)
WA 94+

One of the more backwards, structured efforts, the 2012 Champoux Vineyard is a blend of 64% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon that was raised in 35% new French oak. Full-bodied, serious and loaded with tannin, it offers impressive currant and darker fruits, tobacco leaf and crushed rock like aromas and flavors that continue to gain depth and richness with time in the glass. It should hit full maturity at around age 10, and nicely for a decade or more after that.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2015)
WA 96, WS 93

Continuing to drink brilliantly, the 2012 Sorella is up with the creme de la creme of the vintage. Its deep ruby color is followed by a full-bodied, rich and layered 2012 that boasts fabulous notes of creme de cassis, lead pencil shavings, graphite, mineral and toasted bread. Like all of Chris's 2012s, it's still a baby, yet its impeccable balance and purity allow it to dish out tons of pleasure, even today. Nevertheless, it needs 3-5 years of cellaring and will have 25-30 years of overall longevity.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (Sept, 2016)
WA 97

One of the gems in this terrific vintage, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Walla Walla AVA. It offers fabulous notes of black currants, chocolate, toasted spice and graphite. Full-bodied, deep, layered and gorgeously pure, with plenty of heft, it's an incredibly good, even profound, effort to drink over the coming two decades. Hats off to the team for this beauty, and if you can find it, buy it.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (June, 2017)
WA 95

A truly fabulous wine is the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, which incorporates 7% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec, all of which was aged 22 months in 75% new French oak. This inky colored, sensationally textured and polished 2013 gives up classic young Cabernet notes of cassis, licorice, graphite, sweet oak and spring flowers. Full-bodied, pure and nicely concentrated, it has a solid kick of ripe tannin, and needs to be forgotten for 5-6 years. This beauty will have two to three decades of overall longevity.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (May, 2016)
WS 91

Elegant, almost aristocratic, offering subtle layers of blackberry, cherry, tar and licorice aromas and flavors, finishing harmoniously. Tannins are firm but not intrusive. This one should develop beautifully in the cellar. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

- Harvey Steinman, Wine Spectator (June, 2006)
WS 91

Elegant, almost aristocratic, offering subtle layers of blackberry, cherry, tar and licorice aromas and flavors, finishing harmoniously. Tannins are firm but not intrusive. This one should develop beautifully in the cellar. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

- Harvey Steinman, Wine Spectator (June, 2006)