Bringing together everything we love about great merlot and cabernet franc, this is a gorgeous expression of what can be achieved in an iconic vineyard in a great vintage. A deep, rich core of spiced cherry from the merlot is surrounded by layers of rose and sage from the cabernet franc, which also contributes excellent acidity and beautiful finegrained tannins. Oak aging has subtly imparted hints of cinnamon, smoke and cobbler, underscoring the merlot’s body and richness. The finish is long and lingering with pure red berry and spice notes.
This vintage was sourced exclusively from the sloping, sandy soils of the famed Conner Lee Vineyard. Originally planted in the early 1980s, Conner Lee is located at an elevation of approximately 2,000 feet on the plateau of Radar Hill south of Othello, Washington. Farmed by Jerry Bookwalter and Tom Thorsen, it is a cool site in a warm, sunny region. In our Eastern Washington desert environment, the spring and fall nights can be 50 degrees cooler than the daytime temperatures. The hot summer months of July and August ripen the fruit, while cooler fall temperatures keep the acids high and the pH low. Buty has bottled a blend of merlot & cabernet franc since 2000, our inaugural vintage.
Vintage & Harvest:
2012 was an exceptional vintage, providing ideal weather at every stage of development. Spring was cool to temperate with almost all of the rain falling in May and June. July and August were dry, with beautiful weather and no extreme heat events. In the run-up to harvest we had temperatures in the 65º to 70º range, allowing us to pick exactly when we wanted with a perfect balance of sugar and acid. We harvested our merlot from Conner Lee on September 28th and our cabernet franc a month later, on October 29th.
|Vintage:||2012||Grape Varietals:||63% Merlot and 37% Cabernet Franc||ABV:||14.5%|
The fruit is hand-sorted and destemmed. To preserve aromatics, the merlot was gravity transferred to small fermenters and fermented for 17 days. The cabernet franc was fermented in wood tanks for 15 days. Both were aerated during fermentation, and only free-run wine was selected for the blend. The wines were aged 15 months in Taransaud and Bel Air French Château barrels and 500-liter puncheons, with 40% new oak and minimal racking. The final wine was blended just prior to bottling in January 2014, with an alcohol of 14.5%.
|Item Number||Unit||Units/Case||Type||UPC - bottle||SCC - case||SRP/Unit|
|W0EE207021BRL||750ml||12||Glass||7 84585 01401 9||1 07 84585 01401 6||$42.95|
"Red currant and mocha aromas leading to a structured core wrapped in supple black cherry and spice flavors. Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2025.—T.F."
- Wine Spectator's Insider (May 10th 2017), 93 pts
"Supple, broad and expressive, layering rose petal–accented cherry and plum flavors against powdery tannins, finishing with sleekness and harmony. Drink now through 2024.—H.S"
- Wine Spectator's Insider (October 5th 2016), 92 pts
"Aromas of fresh, savory green herbs and red fruit lead to sumptuous black olive and red-fruit flavors. It shows a lot of elegance and grace, leaning hard into the savory."
- Wine Enthusiast (November 2016), 89 pts
"One of the standouts in the lineup is the 2013 Merlot and Cabernet Franc Conner Lee Vineyard, which is 61% Merlot and 39% Cabernet Franc. Aged 15 months in a mix of barrels and 500-liter puncheons, this medium to full-bodied 2013 has lots of plum, black olive, underbrush and spring flower notes in a medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated, seamless package. Showing a touch of herbal character, as well as slight bloodiness, with time in the glass, it’s an impressive bottle of wine that will drink nicely through 2026. - JD"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue # 225, June 2016), 92 pts
"Bright, dark red. Slightly exotic aromas of red fruits, quince, clove and menthol. Sweet raspberry and mace flavors hint at quick-ripening grapes, but the wine delivers good freshness, texture and berry intensity. Nicely pliant on the middle palate but still a touch youthfully aggressive on the finish. - Stephen Tanzer"
- Vinous (November 2015), 90 pts
"A fine vintage yields a classic wine that seems sculpted out of rock. Firm lines and clear definition showcases racy raspberry fruit, limned with chiseled stone and a vein of gun metal. Excellent focus and length."
- Wine Enthusiast (November 2014), 92 pts
"(a 63/37 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc): Bright ruby-red. Lively aromas of redcurrant, coffee and mocha. Sweet, smooth and suave on the palate, but currently showing a medicinal reserve to the red berry and sexy oak flavors. Subtle floral lift contributes to the wine’s appeal. Not a monster of concentration but quite seamless and long, with sweet tannins and a repeating floral note. I’d expect this beauty to put on weight with time in the cellar. Two thousand twelve is the first vintage made by new winemaker Chris Dowsett from start to finish. - Stephen Tanzer"
- VInous (December 2014), 92 pts
"Ripe, velvety and expressive, offering blueberry, dark plum and spice flavors on a supple frame, lingering gently and persistently on the finish. Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2020. 315 cases made. - HS"
- Wine Spectator (Web only 2014), 91 pts
"The 2011 Merlot Cabernet Franc Conner Lee Vineyard (labeled simply “Conner Lee Vineyard”) is a blend of 67% Merlot and 33% Cabernet Franc that spent 15 months in one-third new French oak. Semi-opaque purple in color, it offers up an energetic profile with blackberry, tobacco, underbrush, pepper and floral nuances leading to a medium-bodied, elegant and deftly textured palate that has juicy acidity, good balance and a clean finish. Vibrant and perfumed, it is already approachable and delicious, yet should continue to impress for 7-8 years, possibly upwards of a decade. Drink now-2020. - Jeb Dunnuck"
- The Wine Advocate (Issue #207, June 2013), 91 pts
"(13.9% alcohol; a 67/33 blend of merlot and cabernet franc): Bright, full medium red. Complex aromas of musky red berries, plum, truffle, game, smoke, flint and leather, with some enticing high notes of flowers and spice providing lift. Concentrated and juicy, with an almost glyceral texture but an uncanny light touch to the flavors of red berries and spices. Very complex and subtle Washington blend. Finishes long and smooth, with savory red fruit and cinnamon flavors, a captivating hint of rose petal, and fine-grained, ripe tannins. - Stephen Tanzer"
- Vinous (November 2013), 91 pts
"Supple, focused and distinctive for its exotic spice and guava overtones around a core of cherry and green olive flavors, persisting easily on the long, expressive finish. Drink now through 2019.-H.S"
Wine Spectator (Insider, October 17th 2012), 92 pts
"Light red-fruit flavors are spcied up beautifully with cinnamon and sweet toast. This is an elegant, peppery wine that's well defined and still showing some youthful sharpness. It will reward additional bottle age and should cellar well for up to a decade - PG"
Wine Enthusiast (July 2012), 90 pts + Cellar Selection