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WA 92

The 2013 Syrah Roasted Slope Vineyard is a rock-star blend of 92% Syrah and 8% Viognier that saw 30% whole clusters during fermentation and 18 months in 10% new French oak. It's a classic, pure and layered beauty that exudes notions of black raspberries, peach pit, violets, pepper and spice in a medium-bodied, elegant and seamless style. The purity of fruit is what really sets this apart, and while it's singing already, it should evolve nicely through 2023.

Andrew Murray is on a roll and these latest releases are all superb. All of the wines have distinctive, individual characters and are impeccably made. In addition, they all represent killer values. If you haven't tried the wines from here yet, now is certainly time taste for yourself!

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (Aug, 2015)

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)
The palate is powerful and extremely focussed with great depth of fruit character that is well framed by fine grain tannin, and drawn together to a long finish by naturally balanced acidity. Aged in fine grained oak predominantly hogsheads (70% new being a blend of 80% French and 20% French coopered American oak plus 30% being one and two year old French/American oak) for 18 months.
The Arizona take on a Super-Tuscan blend: 50% Cabernet, 30% Merlot, 20% Sangiovese. Aged 18 months in new & neutral French oak, making for a lush and spicy wine perfect with steak or veal, and especially compliments red sauce dishes.Located in the Verde Valley of Arizona, Caduceus operates under the direction of founder/winemaker/musician Maynard James Keenan, himself a descendant of Italian winemakers. The grapes come from his own Merkin Vineyards in Jerome, AZ, where he grows a multitude of varietals.
WE 91

A classic Cab blended with smaller handfuls of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, this 2011 is balanced and supple in plum, cassis and minty chocolate. The oak is accented in pretty ways by clove, sage and cardamom spice. Structured and soft, the finish is lengthy and the wine perfectly capable of waiting until 2019–2021 in a cellar.

- Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast (Nov, 2014)
WS 90

Well-proportioned, tight and smoky, with a firm, structured beam of licorice- and blackberry-tinged fruit. Ends with fine-grained tannins and a long, clean finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2030.

- James Laube, Wine Spectator (Oct, 2016)
WE 93

A blend of 30% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, this opens with aromas of ripe blackberries, Mediterranean herbs and cedar. The firmly structured palate doles out layers of black currants, blackberries, white pepper and licorice alongside chewy tannins. Drink through 2022.

- Kerin O'Keefe, Wine Enthusiast (March, 2017)
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)
WA 91

The 2012 Musée is Bedell's upper level, a roughly equal blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot with 18% Malbec. It was aged for 14 months in French oak (25% new; the rest second and third use). This is my favorite of the reds this issue. It gets the nod for the purity of fruit--the fruit flavor is just concentrated and delicious here, while nonetheless avoiding anything overtly sweet or jammy. In other words, it remains a cool-climate red with a sense of refinement and understatement. That concentration of flavor without the feel of richness gives it a distinguished, classic feel. I used the word "purity" notwithstanding the extra hit of oak here. Even with that, the beautiful fruit, with just a hint of beef on the end (the Malbec?), rises above it. It also has the best length on the finish and the best structure of Bedell's group this issue.

It will be a pleasure to drink over the next decade. Hopefully, it will develop and not just hold in the cellar, too. That, admittedly, is my main concern. Dive in now; you won't care. There were 300 cases produced.

- Mark Squires, Wine Advocate (Oct, 2016)
WA 93

A blend of predominately Cabernet Sauvignon (76%) and Merlot (12%) with some Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, the 2012 Cyrus has a deep garnet color and slowly evolving nose of crème de cassis, plum preserves and cedar box with hints of underbrush, pencil lead, cloves and charcoal, plus a waft of bay leaves. The medium-bodied palate delivers tons of muscular fruit with a firm frame of grainy tannins and lively acid, finishing long with plenty of berry preserves, herb and earth layers.

- Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate (April, 2017)
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 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)
Our 2014 Estate Red is soft and rich with a fragrant bouquet of black cherry, black tea and lavender. The palate is plush and round, offering flavors of black currants, tobacco leaf, dark chocolate and leather. As the flavors fan out across the palate, a distinct oak nuance intermingles seamlessly with supple tannins on the long finish. This wine is appealing in its youth, but will also age beautifully over the next 10 years.
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, WE 93

The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot) is beautiful. Giving up lots of black and blue fruits, tobacco leaf, sweet oak and graphite, this fabulous Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernet is medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated and focused, with fine tannin and impeccable balance. It shows its class on the lengthy finish as well. It's a baby and needs to be forgotten for 4-5 years and will have more than two decades of overall longevity.

Located on the warmer, eastern/northern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Eden Vineyards is one of the most historic estates in California. In addition, their wines have one of the longest track records in the region for aging beautifully. Originally planted in 1945, the estate covers roughly 40 acres today and Jeffrey Patterson makes the wines. Under their Mount Eden label, they release three Chardonnays, a single Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Domaine Eden label is focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from a vineyard lying just to the south of the estate, and also includes Bordeaux varieties from throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.

- Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (Oct, 2016)
27% Merlot, 27% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Petite Sirah, 5% Petite Verdot. This is a deep, dark wine that brims with layered aromas of black fruits, crushed rock, violets, earth and black spice. Lush and intricate, each sip reveals more and more of this complex blend. Flavors boom long across the mid-palate, framed by well-integrated oak and ample tannins. The finish is long with hints of black spice, turned earth and mocha.
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 88

The 2012 Tribute Estate Proprietary Red (from a biodynamically-farmed vineyard) is a blend of Bordeaux varietals. Its deep plum/ruby color is followed by sweet notes of cassis, black cherries and subtle oak, medium body, and good opulence as well as roundness. This consumer-friendly, lush red possesses good purity and character. Drink it over the next 7-8 years.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2014)
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)
JS 94, WA 93, WE 92

The 2013 Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve, sourced from a cool vintage, is a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, 6% Carménère and 5% Petit Verdot; it fermented in small stainless steel vats and matured in French oak barrels (65% new) for 22 moths. It has a very classical nose, a Bordeaux blend with aromas of blackberries, faint balsamic notes, cedar wood, graphite, cigar box, cracked peppercorns and tobacco leaves. It has a lot less new oak than the vintages of yesteryear. The palate is medium to full-bodied with the telltale Cabernet tannins, juicy fruit, and tension keeping the freshness balancing the sweet fruit. One of the finest versions of Don Maximiano.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2015)
The Nth Degree label by Wente Vineyards are small-production, handcrafted and terroir-driven wines. Small amounts of Syrah and Cab Franc were added to this wine, adding dark fruit aromas and flavors and acidity. Hints of earthy loam and oak spice frame the wine, which needs a bit of air right now, but is drinking nicely.
WA 92

Carter makes his 2014 Proprietary Red Hossfeld Coliseum, which is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, from a relatively obscure vineyard back on Soda Canyon Road in Southern Napa Valley. This wine is big, chewy, chocolaty and mocha-infused wine with black cherry and blackcurrant fruit, loads of texture, lushness and a heady, chewy finish. It is sexy wine and there are 193 cases of it. Drink it over the next decade.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2016)
WE 94, WA 93, WS 92

This beautiful wine includes 9% Cabernet Franc that gives a lift of floral violet and grainy cedar. Classic all around in its etchings of coconut shavings, graphite, spice and dust, the fruit is additionally savory in bright red currant and a crunch of cassis, with an underpinning of soft, succulent blackberry.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2014)
WE 91

Made from a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon with a sizable addition of Merlot and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, The Discussion is lovely in spicy black pepper and clove, full bodied and softly integrated in terms of tannin and oak. A brightness of red fruit shines through, along with a distinct taste of fig.

- Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast (Aug, 2016)
WA 91

As for the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Blueline Estate, this wine is an outstanding wine from Tony Biagi. Classic blackcurrant notes intermixed with forest floor, underbrush, cedar wood and spice box are present in this full-bodied wine that is meant to be drunk over the next 10-15 years.

Tony Biagi, the winemaker at Hourglass, is one of my favorite personalities in the valley. I met him years ago when he was the winemaker at Plumpjack. He is now handling both Hourglass estates, which is somewhat confusing to the consumer, in that there is actually a Blueline Estate that is a 20-acre vineyard across from the Three Palms Duckhorn Merlot Vineyard and not far from the Switchback Vineyards. The other, the Hourglass Estate, is a little more than a dozen acres situated near Colgin’s Tychson Hill Vineyard off Route 29 north of St. Helena. It is important to note in the reviews that follow whether they contain the Hourglass Estate or the Blueline Estate designations.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2016)
WA 95

I only tasted one wine, the 2012 Proprietary Red, a brilliant blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot aged 18 months in 80% new Taransaud barrels. This 640-case cuvée exhibits an opaque purple color, full body, supple tannins, and sweet blueberry and blackberry liqueur notes intermixed with hints of chocolate as well as dusty, earthy, forest floor notes. Drink it over the next 15-20 years. It is one of the finest efforts produced by the Roy Estate to date.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Oct, 2014)
WA 92-95

As for the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Fay Estate-Grown, this has a similar saturated purple color, terrific presence on the palate, great ripeness, loads of minerality, floral notes and beautifully pure blackcurrant liqueur intermixed with licorice and spice. It is full-bodied and rich with well-integrated tannin and wood. This is another 20- to 25-year wine, but should drink well after its release.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2016)
WA 94-97

I’ll just mention this wine since it’s not in bottle yet, but it looked fabulous, is the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate the Lion. I’m not so sure that it will ultimately match 2013's power, but it is more supple, more perfumed and shows great, great potential for drinking early and lasting two decades or more. It is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec and the rest Petit Verdot.

As I indicated last year, the Hess Collection winery up on Mt. Veeder is profiting from a complete makeover and producing better and better wines as well as more special cuvées. This was a winery that burst on the scene in the mid-1980s with some terrific wines and then became moribund. That’s all changing now, as the recent releases strongly evidence.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2016)
WA 92

The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Mon Chevalier is composed of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot and the rest Malbec and Petit Verdot, all from Knight’s Valley and aged in large oak puncheons. The least expensive of the Morlet Cabernets, the open, round, light 2012 offers sweet white chocolate, blackcurrant and mineral notes in a full-bodied, opulent style. It can be consumed now and over the next 10+ years.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Oct, 2014)
WA 94-96

The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23 Estate-Grown is a big-time winner with great fruit, terrific texture, full body, sensational purity and plenty of blue and black fruits interwoven. The amazing thing about all of these wines is that no oak shows through whatsoever, although I suspect the percentage of new oak is relatively high. That’s an example of the extravagance and richness of the fruit that the winery is achieving. Again, purity, harmony, complexity and individuality are hallmarks of these wines. Drink this 2014 Cask 23 over the next 25 years.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2016)
WA 95, WE 92

Celebrating its 40th anniversary vintage, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Stag’s Leap Vineyard (S.L.V.) Estate-Grown may be one of the all-time great offerings from Stag’s Leap Vineyard. It’s not easy to say after 40 years of achievement, but it is certainly a candidate for one of the finest Stags Leap Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons ever made, particularly under this moniker (We have to exclude the Cask 23 and the Fay Vineyard.) Opulent, with fabulous texture, a dense purple color, great blueberry and blackcurrant fruit with spice and flowers, this is sexy Cabernet Sauvignon that should drink beautifully for another 20 years or more. The balance is sensational.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2016)
WA 92-95

As for the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Fay Estate-Grown, this has a similar saturated purple color, terrific presence on the palate, great ripeness, loads of minerality, floral notes and beautifully pure blackcurrant liqueur intermixed with licorice and spice. It is full-bodied and rich with well-integrated tannin and wood. This is another 20- to 25-year wine, but should drink well after its release.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2016)
WA 94-96

The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23 Estate-Grown is a big-time winner with great fruit, terrific texture, full body, sensational purity and plenty of blue and black fruits interwoven. The amazing thing about all of these wines is that no oak shows through whatsoever, although I suspect the percentage of new oak is relatively high. That’s an example of the extravagance and richness of the fruit that the winery is achieving. Again, purity, harmony, complexity and individuality are hallmarks of these wines. Drink this 2014 Cask 23 over the next 25 years.

- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2016)