Team Fidelitas decided we would head from Red Mountain to Walla Walla in mid-September. As Jess would put it, “we wanted to see what all the fuss was about.” Everyone came to the same conclusion. Fantastic wines and fantastic people. The great thing about the wine industry in Washington is that we are all friends, even if we have never met. Each winery greeted us with open arms and delicious vino. And that is what helped make our experience in Walla Walla so memorable. It was my first time and will certainly not be my last.
Here is a peak into our three-day itinerary.
Day 2 (the ultimate tasting day):
Spring Valley Vineyards
If you are planning a trip to wine country look no further! From Yakima Valley to Red Mountain to Walla Walla, we have you covered. Just reach out. We will give you some great recommendations.
I love Fall! There is a certain crispness to the air and all the leaves are magically turning beautiful shades of orange, yellow and fiery red. Our Estate vineyard has even begun its transformation, from vibrant green to earthy browns.
Fall is a time when we begin to move indoors and think of warm fires and hearty, satisfying meals. It’s also a segue into the holiday entertaining season, one that is usually filled with family and friends and lots of get togethers. The appetizer below is a fantastic one to bring to a party – it takes hardly any time to prepare and is warm and ready in under 15 minutes. The topping includes our Product Spotlight for October, the 2013 Red Mountain Malbec, but honestly, any of our red wines would be amazing. Warm brie, red wine and crostini, what could be better?
8 oz wheel of Brie
1 cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup Pecans, chopped
1 T Malbec wine
Crostini for serving
Preheat oven to 425. Mix the brown sugar and pecans and slowly drizzle in the wine. Mix until a thick paste forms. You may need to add or reduce the amount of wine. Topping will keep in an air tight container for 2-3 weeks.
Slice the top off of the Brie as close to the rind as possible. Spray an oven safe serving dish with non-stick spray. Place Brie in pan and bake for 6-7 minutes or until warm. Add ¼ to ½ cup of topping and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes until bubbly. Serve with crostini.
I’d like to give a shout out to our friends who make our harvest go off without a hitch. To the crew who arrives in the early hours of the morning, often before the sun shines, and works hard through the afternoon. They show up 6 days a week all year round. They work together to make sure the processes are run efficiently and the grapes come in on schedule. They prune, they pick, they move fiercely down the vineyard rows and fill crate upon crate, and bin upon bin, full of the mighty grapes we use to make Fidelitas wines. A big thank you from Team Fidelitas to our Vineyard Crew and Vineyard Manager, Dick Boushey, who has brought in such a great group.
Cheers to the 2016 harvest!
“5 Cabernets? Don’t they all taste the same?” No way, man.
I love September. The month we release a whole slew of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from tiny Red Mountain. But don’t let the varietal or AVA trick you into thinking that these will be similar…they are far from it. Here are a few factors that play a role in creating a unique wine.
Seems obvious, but when the vineyards are within a mile of one another, you might not think that they’d be so different. However, if I compare just Quintessence Vineyard (which makes up the northeastern corner of the AVA) and our own Fidelitas Estate Vineyard (close to the center of the AVA, but definitely over the western ridge), the differences are remarkable. These two vineyards were even planted at about the same time but Quintessence lies further east, with intense slope, and rockier soils. The Fidelitas Estate Vineyard does not have as much slope, exhibits more silty loam, and is subject to more late afternoon. In 2015, we picked Cabernet Sauvignon a full two weeks later from our Estate Vineyard, than the Cabernet sourced from Quintessence. Red Heaven sits just between these two vineyards, with just a bit more age, while Ciel du Cheval lies further downhill from the rest, but was planted in the 1980’s…giving us some of the most established vines on the mountain.
Fidelitas Estate Vineyard (left), versus the slope at Quintessence Vineyard.
I won’t go too far in depth on clones here, but feel free to peruse previous posts for more detail on clones. Here are the basics: Charlies sources different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon to give us different attributes in the wines. While still being the same varietal, we may use one clone for more concentration and color, while another gives us bright fruit tones to lift the style of the wine. Charlie is looking for different Cabernet clones from each vineyard to create our varietal Cabernets. Quintessence Vineyard (clones 169 and 191) and Fidelitas Estate Vineyard (clones 2 and 6), contain none of what we call the “Washington Clone”, clone 8, but the Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is entirely clone 8 from four vineyard sites. It’s just another way to fiddle with the blend.
Clone 169 (left) is a special clone from France, which must be registered with the French governement. Charlie tells us it has elegance and finesse. Clone 6 (right) is what Dick Boushey calls the 'winemakers clone' because it is wonderful in the cellar and a pain in the vineyard. Those smaller berries and loose clusters give excellent structure and color.
Perhaps the most obvious way that two Cabernets may be fully different, but still worth exploring. Some wineries have a recipe that they follow, using the same oak regimen year after year or for each wine. However, for Charlie (who I swear calls me weekly to say “we’re going to try something new”), there is no formula that will work for every wine he creates. Every year is different, every clone is different, and he likes to create a perfect pairing for grapes and barrels that may not be determined until the fruit is in fermentation. Comparing the 2013 Cabernets, two received 100% New French Oak, one received an 80/20 blend of New French and New American, there is a 35/26 blend, and the last is 47% New French with the remainder being neutral wood (coincidentally, that wine was 100% New in last year…what a difference a vintage can make!). Then, even if a wine is 100% New French, there are a bunch of different decisions in the brands of barrels, the toast, and the time in barrel. But – that is a different conversation for a different day.
Harvest means I get text messages from Charlie at 6am on Monday morning. Still - so many beautiful barrels and fermenters.
I could go on and on about how wonderfully unique these wines are, but you are going to have to try them yourself to believe me. Join us for a Friday Evening Tasting in Woodinville, schedule an Elevated Tasting at either location, or let us send you some wines with notes on hosting your own specialized tasting. I’d love to hear any notes you come up with as you try these wonderful new releases!
Just this week, I could start to see and smell the first signs that fall is on its way. The leaves have started to turn their magical colors of red, orange, and yellow and there is a distinct aroma of autumn in the air.
Harvest is in full swing at the cellar and soon the 2016 vintage will be going into the barrels.
Harvesting 2016 Red Heaven Merlot
Pictured below is 2016 Quintessence Merlot:
Fall is a time when things move indoors and meals become richer. One of the things I love is being able to combine grilled meat with fresh produce that is in season. Italian plums are one of my favorite fruits and the season this year was an early one. Black plums are a great stand in though and work beautifully in the dish below which combines a thick, top sirloin pork chop with sweet plums. It has sweetness, acidity and is a match with the 2012 Ciel du Cheval Red Wine. The darker fruit tones in the wine pair amazingly well with the sweet black plums. The reduction is composed of CDC Red Wine, Balsamic Vinegar, and honey. The acidity in the redux is balanced, making this sauce the perfect finishing touch to the dish. As our Product Spotlight of the Month for September, the 2012 Ciel du Cheval Red Wine is offered at an amazing price and won’t be around for long. So, go! Run! Get some CDC Red Wine, some plums and a pork chop and have an amazing, early fall meal.
Grilled Pork chops with Pan Roasted Plums and Fidelitas Ciel du Cheval Red Wine Balsamic Reduction
4 Top Loin Pork Chops
1 pound Fresh Plums, either Italian or Black, pitted and quartered
2 T Olive Oil
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Freshly cracked Black Pepper
2 sprigs Fresh Thyme
¼ cup 2012 Fidelitas Ciel du Cheval Red Wine
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 ½ T Honey
Wash, pit and quarter the plums. In a bowl, toss plums with olive oil, salt and pepper. Preheat a cast iron skillet to medium heat. Add plums, thyme, wine, and balsamic vinegar. Slowly whisk in the honey. Let come to a simmer, then lower heat to low and reduce until plums are soft and liquid coats the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes.
Preheat grill or grill pan over medium heat until hot. While plums are roasting, season both sides of chops with salt and pepper. Drizzle chops with olive oil and place on grill. Cook until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F, making sure to turn once. Remove to a plate, tent with foil and let rest.
To serve, place chop on plate and spoon the roasted plums over. Drizzle with red wine/balsamic reduction.
Recipe developed by Amy Graham
Chops in the grill pan
Pan Roasting Plums
Grilled Pork chops with Pan Roasted Plums and Fidelitas Ciel du Cheval Red Wine Balsamic Reduction
Where are our white wine lovers at because we have a surprise for you! The day has finally arrived where we will be releasing our first 100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from Quintessence Vineyard (yay!). We all know that Charlie makes some fantastic whites and he thought it was time to add to his collection. And what better vineyard to source from (seeing as how the Cabernet is so delicious)? Both whites that we currently produce are sourced from Klipsun Vineyard, an amazing more established vineyard on Red Mountain. Quintessence however, was planted back in 2010 with more acres planted in 2012 and 2014. It’s definitely turning into one of my favorite vineyards and we are excited to be introducing a white from a younger vineyard into our lineup! The 2016 Quintessence Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc will be released next year so keep your eye out! The Fidelitas staff will definitely be rushing to snag their share.
Before the busy season of harvest, each year we participate in an all staff vineyard tour of Red Mountain. This has always been one of my most favorite activities we do and this year it was by far the best year yet. Now I am not sure if it was more special because it took place in the morning (not nearly as hot as our usual time of mid-afternoon in July) or if it was the fact that it was just the Red Mountain staff who piled into Charlie’s truck early in the morning.
Our first stop on the tour was the beloved Fidelitas Estate Vineyard, located outside our doors on Red Mountain. Our Estate Vineyard consists of 13 acres, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon of course, along with Merlot, Cabenet Franc, Malbec and an acre of Petit Verdot coming together to create the future of Fidelitas wines.
We then travelled over to the Canyons Vineyard; this vineyard was planted just in 2009 and is about 56.9 acres on a 6.3% slope. The debut of our 2013 Canyons Vineyard Red Wine is sourced from block 11 and the photo below shows you just how steep of a slope we are talking about.
From there we traveled up around Shaw Vineyard, which has about 175 acres of Cabernet along the Northwest corner of the appellation. Then passed through the Red Heaven Vineyard, another one of my favorites. Red Heaven had an interesting aspect to their vineyard; there were several vines that have been grafted. They are grafting over from a different varietal which is very interesting, for example the base and root could have been Zinfandel and then Cabernet Sauvignon was grafted and it will grow as such, this is done for varietal purposes and not from damage to the vines. How cool is that!
Then, we travelled up Antinori Road and went through another one of my favorite vineyards (can you tell I have a lot of favorites?) Quintessence Vineyard. This vineyard was planted in 2010 and is showing exceptional fruit coming from its vines.
We even explored a new area I had never visited before, just by the pond there is a block of clone 412 that Marshal Edwards (Vineyard Manager) planted for Fidelitas. Calcium carbonate can be found in the Quintessence Vineyard however brown loam soil was brought in to create topsoil. The photo below show the many layers of soils found from this vineyard.
Keeping with tradition we had to take our staff photo, after Charlie searched the area for snakes, the coast was clear. Cheers until next years tour!
The sun is finally shining in earnest and fresh peaches are in season! I have a hard time thinking of anything that could be better than that. One of my most favorite summertime recipes is Grilled Peaches with Amaretto Spiked Mascarpone. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to grill stone fruit, stop, drop everything, and head to your local farm stand or grocery store. Grilled peaches are the epitome of summer! They are sweet, juicy, and luscious. I’ve combined them with rich, velvety, Amaretto spiked Mascarpone. It melts into the warm fruit and adds a layer of depth, making each bite explode with sweetness and creaminess. By itself, the grilled peach and mascarpone is heaven in your mouth. Combine it with our 2015 Klipsun Vineyard Semillon and rest assured, it will be the star of your evening. The sweetness of the peaches compliments the ripe pear notes and combined with the roundness of the wine, makes the perfect pair. Grilled Peaches with Amaretto Spiked Mascarpone and 2015 Klipsun Semillon is a light, refreshing, picture-perfect ending to your summer meal!
3 ripe, but firm, Peaches or Nectarines
½ cup Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons Brown Sugar
1 T Amaretto Liqueur or ¼ teaspoon Almond Extract
Fresh Mint Sprigs
Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare the outdoor grill (medium-high heat). Lightly brush the grill pan or rack with oil. Place the peaches on the grill pan and do not move, otherwise you will not have great grill marks. It takes about 2 to 3 minutes per side to achieve this. Grill the peaches until the grill marks are formed, slightly softened and heated through, about 5 to 6 minutes total.
Combine the Mascarpone cheese with the brown sugar and Amaretto or almond extract and mix until smooth. Divide the Mascarpone Cream equally, topping each grilled peach. Garnish with Fresh Mint.
Recipe developed by Amy Graham
You probably already know that Fidelitas has an Estate Vineyard on Red Mountain. That’s where we have our 3-acre 2009 planting of Cabernet Sauvignon (Clones 2, 6, and 8) that are absolutely thriving. The 2013 Fidelitas Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is to be released next month!
You may even know that in Spring of 2015 we planted 9 additional acres in our Estate Vineyard, and the babies are looking good!
But did you know that we also poured a giant concrete circle smack dab in the middle of the vineyard? From space you might think it’s a helicopter pad. From the ground you might think it’s a dance floor. We think it’s the perfect place to host our annual Estate Vineyard Winemaker Dinner.
Join fellow members, friends, Charlie, and Team Fidelitas for dinner between the vines during harvest season on Red Mountain on Saturday, September 10th. Ethos Trattoria will be preparing a multi-course dinner paired perfectly with Fidelitas wines (check out the menu here!).
I think we can easily say that this dinner is an event that is close to our hearts. Owning his own vineyard and winery on Red Mountain has been Charlie’s dream for decades (sorry to date you, Charlie) and now we come together each year to celebrate this reality and toast to the future of Fidelitas.
This is an intimate dinner and seats are limited. Dinner attendees are invited to join us for an Estate Vineyard walk Saturday morning, featuring a vertical of past and future Fidelitas Estate Vineyard wines.
$525 for two dinner tickets + 6-pack of 2013 Fidelitas Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon or $95 each.
For tickets, email me at email@example.com or call me at 509.554.9191
We’ve set up room blocks at our favorite Tri-Cities hotels and I’d be happy to help you plan your trip. If you can’t make it to the dinner but want to reserve the 2013 Fidelitas Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon before its release, let me know and I’ll make sure we have some with your name on it.
We hope to see you in the vineyard!
Earlier this month, the Red Mountain AVA Alliance hosted a group of trade personnel from around the country for a Cabernet Summit. The purpose was to show these wine professionals what makes Red Mountain unique as a wine grape growing region. I was lucky enough to tag along for most of the 3-day adventure, as I had the role of ‘van driver’ for much of the time, toting our guests of honor around the Mountain.
Fidelitas' Bagel Bar
The Summit was a blend of activities: a geology lecture, tastings led by a Master Sommelier (who I knew from my old ISG days!), vineyard tours, winery visits, and amazing meals with paired wines. Through all of this, there were a few key points that stuck out to me. Maybe they are different than what our visitors took home, but they are the ones I am choosing to share today.
I pulled up to dinner #1 – my favorite tacos on the patio of Kiona – after a grueling 6.5 hour drive from Seattle to Red Mountain (more than 2x the normal drive time). Everyone was sitting in the evening sunshine, enjoying the most amazing tacos, drinking awesome Red Mountain Cabernet, catching up on wedding plans (congrats Kasee and Mitch!), kids’ activities, winery parties, and how to get Uber into the Tri-Cities. Being just 4,040 acres, this is a tight knit community where everyone is excited to see one another and truly cares about each other’s lives and well-being. That terrible drive was quickly forgotten.
We hosted two seated tastings during the Summit. The first focused on the ageability of Red Mountain, while the second was a blind tasting where participants compared Red Mountain Cabernets to the same varietal from around the world.
We determined that Red Mountain has the stuff to create a highly ageable wine. Good tannin structure, bright acidity, and balanced fruit all come from the specific weather trends, soil types, and terroir that is specific to Red Mountain. It’s up to the winemaker then to create a wine to last. The Hedges 1993 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was surely hanging on, and tasted great in a line-up of younger and much younger wines.
When compared to the rest of the world, Red Mountain did have some unique characteristics that set our wines apart from those around the globe. Tasting four Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignons blind, and mixed with Cabernet from Italy, Bordeaux, Australia, and Napa, we found that Red Mountain showed brighter and fuller fruit, depth balanced with acidity, and less of the pyrazines (green tones) than its cousins from other growing regions.
“Some of these vines are as big as a maple tree,” Scott Williams told us, as we stood in the Old Block of the Kiona Vineyard. These are some of the most established vines on Red Mountain, and while maybe not quite the size of a maple tree, they are far larger and taller than anything else we toured. Self-regulating and lovely, this block provides the fruit for Kiona’s OLD BLOCK, which Charlie pegged as one of his favorites in the Red Mountain vs. the World tasting.
Far on the other side of AVA, we stood in Quintessence Vineyard, which began planting in 2010, and continues to be developed today. Managed by veteran Washington grower, Marshall Edwards, Quintessence is trying new clones, new planting styles, and producing some quality fruit for a number of Washington labels. We tried 4 different winery’s Cabernet from Quintessence Vineyard and each was truly different from the others.
Charlie, Brian, and Marshall discuss the clones of Quintessence.
These are both vineyards that Fidelitas sources fruit from, in addition to 7 other vineyards around the Mountain. That is a lot from such a small growing region, but Charlie would call it his spice box from which he pulls all the key components to making a strong line up of Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tasting wine and touring vineyards all day can really take it out of you.
Just this morning, I listened to feedback from those who visited us during the Cabernet Summit. We had folks from Kansas, and Chicago, and California, who all said that this trip taught them that Red Mountain really is a great, unique growing region, and that they cannot wait to share it with those around them.