Origin: United States
- Columbia Valley
Bésoleil is our Spanish/French whimsy for “kissed by the sun”. It alludes to the warm, sunny days in the south of France that impart an intensity of character to the Grenache grape and its southern Rhône relatives. Imagine the windswept vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the inspiration for this wine, where Grenache thrives alongside a dozen or more other grape varieties.
The story of Bésoleil begins with our long-held belief that a precise marriage of soil and site can produce a profound expression of Grenache in Washington. We put that belief to the test with Bésoleil’s first vintage in 2003. While the Grenache in the earliest vintages of Bésoleil was sourced from various vineyards throughout the Columbia Valley, two sites in particular (Olsen Vineyards in the Yakima Valley and Upland Vineyards on Snipes Mountain) have excelled as uniquely distinctive for Grenache. These two sites are the sources for the entirety of the Grenache in Bésoleil today.
Grenache is the star of Bésoleil, but it’s not the whole story. Additional southern Rhône varieties have found their way into the blend and today the wine includes Counoise, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Our cellar treatment has also evolved in several ways in order to promote additional nuance from these southern Rhône gems. Larger, neutral oak cooperage of 300 and 500 liters provides less surface-to-volume ratio, resulting in slower evolution and less oak influence in the final wine. Aging up to two-thirds of the blend in concrete vessels helps maintain a bright, fresh fruit character.
2015 marks the second vintage in a row that Cinsault, Counoise, and Mourvèdre have all played a larger than usual role in Besoleil. The quality of these “southern Rhone” grapes has been rising as growers and winemakers learn how to handle them. Through careful management of yields, and a strict selection process during harvesting, these grapes express more intense flavors than ever before.
This years Bésoleil reflects a wide range of sites in the Yakima Valley. Upland and Olsen vineyards both supply Grenache grapes for this blend. The character of Upland Grenache is fleshly with a soft texture. Here the fruit is delicate, offering cherry and raspberry flavors. Olsen vineyard Grenache is denser, with darker fruits and more spice. Olsen Grenache imparts all important tannic structure, providing “tension’ to the blend.
Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Counoise are all farmed at Olsen Vineyard. Cinsault contributes a velvety texture, with bright Raspberry fruit and floral notes. Counoise provides aromatic complexity including white and black pepper, fresh herbs, and lilac blossom. Mourvèdre brings stucture, combingin the perfume of blackberry blossoms with the herbal tones the grape is known for.
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