Origin: United States
- Columbia Valley
If the story of Washington’s vineyards in 2013 was focused on the “Tale of Two Harvests” (early September harvest of Merlot and later harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon), the story in the cellar revolved around the exceptional quality of our Merlot blocks: from our coolest sites in the Yakima Valley, to our warmest blocks on Red Mountain, the resulting merlot wines show density, vibrant fruit flavors, and sweet tannins.
While Père de Famille highlights the later picking dates of this year’s Cabernet Sauvignon, this year’s Clos de Betz reflects the uninterrupted warmth and earlier harvest that Merlot enjoyed in 2013. Merlot showed a “completeness” in 2013 that can be hard to achieve every year from a single variety.
In the glass, the 2013 Clos de Betz displays a deep ruby hue, but the real excitement begins with the aromatics: black cherry, damson plum, and cocoa bean lead the charge, while leather, tobacco, sage, and truffle all show up with time in the glass. The palate offers merlot’s weight and density, yet faithfully expresses the freshness and detail of the vintage. This is further enhanced by the highest percentage ever of Petit Verdot in this blend (20%): dried thyme and pencil lead nuances add stunning complexity. This vintage of Clos de Betz reminds me of a classic, warmer, Right Bank wine, with both readiness and structure, and notable cellaring capacity.
After the cooler vintages of 2010 and 2011, Washington is back to the more typical trend of warmth in 2012 and 2013. Bud break arrived in early April in many areas across the state, a sign that harvest would likely arrive earlier than usual. Flowering took place anywhere from one week to four week early, and in very good conditions. The result was a large crop that could be thinned out to only keep the very best clusters. The heat stayed constant through the summer months, with just a little cooling over a couple days in July when we experienced a small amount of rainfall. As September arrived, an d we began to pick grapes, a cooling trend slowed things down in the second week of September. Some have called 2013 the tale of two harvests, referring to the period before and after the cooling trend. In 2013, the combination of above average heat, and cool nighttime temperatures resulted in rich textures combined with the life preserving acidity we value so much for freshness.
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