A impromptu tasting of Washington wines

Seattle, WA
Tasted Sunday, March 26, 2006 by Eric with 725 views

Introduction

Last night my friend Dhiren invited a few folks over to open up some wines while his wife was traveling. He was very eager to try a new 2002 Kestrel he had purchased recently, so we set the theme as young Washington Cabernet. I brought some paper bags so that we could work our way through the lineup without any bias, and soon we were down to business for this single blind tasting.

Flight 1 (3 Notes)

We opened ip with a couple of the bigger names, but this flight was disappointing on the whole.

  • 2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon

    USA, Washington

    This was my fifth try of the 2002 Quilceda Creek. This bottle was popped and poured at a tasting and could have been a few degrees cooler. Some medicinal elements and heat (think cough syrup) come to the front of the nose, then some candied fruit and seawater, hints of cheddar-cheese later. The palate starts out sappy, soft, very saturated, amazing color, sweet and a bit oaky, surprisingly round and approachable. Of the four tasters present, no one was especially enthralled with this, and three of four tasters guessed its identity. Once we unveiled it, I suggested decanting for the remainder of the time, as I have seen this wine show very awkwardly without a lot of aeration. The decanting helped a lot, as this picked up a LOT of weight in the mid-palate. However, this was NOT a strong showing for this wine. Let 'em sleep...

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  • 2002 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley

    Popped and poured, this opened up impressively with a big nose of oak, some brett and a spicy/leafy personality. The longer it sat the more the brett was swallowed up to be replaced by a very resinous aroma. The palate started out dry and leathery with a green edge, not offering as much as the Quilceda, yet it is fairly long and tasty. At the time we poured this, all the tasters found this the most interesting of the flight, but as the night wore on this got more and more dried out. Not bad and a different flavor profile than I expected without any vanillin character to the oak. However, this has clearly seen a LOT of oak, and that has dried it out.

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  • 2003 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley

    This starts out dusty with some nice minerality and a lot of high-toast oak showing as roast espresso. The palate is spicy with nice black fruit, but there is not enough fruit to stand up to the copious oaking this has seen. As the night wore on though, this was certainly pleasant enough. If I had any, I would drink it in its youth, as I think the oak is only going to dry this out over time.

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Flight 2 (3 Notes)

In this next flight the Ross Andrew and DeLille showed quite well. After tasting it, Dhiren was wondering why he had bought the Kestrel.

  • 2002 Ross Andrew Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley

    Spicy nose sporting a little oak, hints of Brett evidenced by a fleeting whiff of dirty diaper, and a spicy almost Cab Franc personality. The palate shows good grip and acidity with tannins that definitely hang onto your front teeth. And then as this airs, it fills out beautifully showing lots of deep, rich black fruit, a hint of leather and old world intrigue, really rounding out exceptionally well. In fact, once the bags were off and as the night wore on, this was my favorite wine of the tasting. Nice!

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  • 2002 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain

    This has the most expressive nose of the flight. Cedar, resin, lightly candied with some nice, soaring notes of raspberry. The palate is a bit of a blueberry milkshake, huge, saturated, with licorice and spice, a fair bit of oak showing. Still, this is a rather sexy and tasty wine.

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  • 2002 Kestrel Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Edition Old Vine

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley

    Plummy with some stalk showing, tomato leaf, nice and reasonably dark. The palate is a different story with an unappealing, edgy and raspy texture. Showing more like cola or birch beer. Not too nice.

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Flight 3 (3 Notes)

We finished up a flight where only the Betz showed well.

  • 2002 Baer Winery Arctos

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley

    This opened up very poorly with a candied nose that had a hint of ripe pineapple, clear tart/citrus notes in the bouquet. On the palate this was sweet, too sweet, soft with lots of unnatural acidity overlaying the wine. This one probably improved the most with air, as the sweetness and overt acidity receded leaving a pleasant, round Cabernet.

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  • 2002 Betz Family Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley

    A big, black, slightly medicinal nose gives way to a juicy, vibrant palate showing loads of black fruit. This is really classy with dusty tannins and fantastic balance, opening up to show lots of licorice. This was the favorite wine of the night for 3 of 4 tasters with me putting it in 2nd behind the Ross Andrew. No flaws on display here, just an impeccable Cabernet.

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  • 2002 Cadence Tapteil Flawed

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain

    Massively flawed with huge notes of volatile acidity obscuring anything this wine has to offer. I did hazard one taste, and there is plenty of interesting stuffing. However, it is impossible to get past the VA. Bummer!

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Closing

After this point the bags came off, and chatted for a few hours as we kept tasting the various wines. For me, I lined up the Quilceda, Betz, Ross Andrew, DeLille and Abeja to taste and follow and then cycled through the rest in my last spare glass. It was a surprising showing for a number of the wines with only the Betz, Ross Andrew and DeLille shining for me.

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