Like the previous two, 2014 was another all around ‘A' rated vintage. But it was hot (warmest on record) and early (on average two weeks earlier picking than normal). Thankfully, the fruit set was excellent, allowing a healthy yield, yet surprisingly good balance, acidity, fruit concentration, and excellent tannin quality (textured but soft). There was no winter damage or spring freezes, and rain fell at the right moments, so we were very thankful for that. Despite the early start in warm areas, we picked up through Halloween in the cooler sites and had optimal ripeness all around. Since the 2012 vintage, all of our Syrah has been fermented whole cluster (with stems) in stainless tanks with fermentations started with native yeasts that come from the vineyards. The Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested and fermented separately, whole berry (stems removed) in stainless steel tanks also with native yeast for both primary and secondary fermentations. From beginning to end, the Cabernet and Syrah were on their skins for 35 days on average. Fermentations proceeded slowly and the wine sat on the skins post fermentation for a week or so for additional extraction. This sort of slow, small batch winemaking is almost unheard of at the scale that we produce. It brings an intensity and richness that belies the low level of alcohol (13.5%) and price point. The resulting wine is bold, rich and textured but not over the top – it remains wonderfully restrained and focused. Aromas of cocoa, coffee, tobacco, sweet black cherry, licorice, underbrush, gravel, and loads of cassis (fancy for black currant). It's an intense dark blue / purple in color with tremendous purity, depth, and focus. Tannins are present giving firm structure, yet the wine is still quite soft for being so young. The blend this year is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah.
We are incredibly fortunate to work with a sensational group of farmers across the full reaches of Eastern Washington. The following are our primary growers in order of biggest to smallest. Goose Ridge in Benton City which brings rich, deep dark fruit and power; Jones and Washington which are tremendous Wahluke Slope vineyards with sandy soils that grow small concentrated berries and give big fruit, yet still bright acidity. In the Yakima Valley, Upland and Art Den Hoed vineyards bring black fruit, and a savory earthy/gravely quality. Last, but certainly not least, further north and east is the Frenchman Hills vineyard that we love. TA-0.58%, pH-3.89, RS-0.36%, Alc-13.5%.