It’s always an interesting exercise for a winemaker to have to size up a vintage and compare it to what has gone before it. Keep in mind that as a winemaker, I am now focused on what we are going to do in 2015, as far as ordering barrels and securing our fruit source. We are also taking care of the 2014 vintage in barrels that has been racked post malolactic fermentation. We are also in the cellar starting to put blends together of the 2013 wines in anticipation of bottling those wines throughout the spring and summer. It’s an interesting perspective, one that I enjoy but when I have to jump back to a vintage like 2012 to draw some conclusions I really have to think about it a bit. After all, these wines were bottled last summer and to be honest I had not thought much about them until we started tasting for some of the events for our Fidelitas Wine Club.
So, what do I think of these 2012’s that we are starting to release ? First of all, I do need to point out that we did release our new Red Mountain 4040 blend in September, so the wines being released are not the first wines being released. The reaction to the 4040 has been great, so we had some indication what the wines were like. The 2012 vintage comes right after what could be considered two of most challenging vintages in Washington, those being 2010 & 2011. I do not think we have seen back to back vintages with so few heat units. At least not in my twenty seven vintages in Washington. As it turns out, 2012 was somewhat of a normal vintage in terms of Growing Degree Days. The weather in the fall of 2012 was nearly perfect, and we were able to ripen the fruit perfectly without any rain at all. This turns out to be a very important factor.
Before I give you my conclusions, let me talk a little about the wine media and what they think of 2012 in general. Keep in mind, these ratings are an overall score for Washington Red Bordeaux varietals. The large publications do have what they call vintage charts, which compare the wines from vintage to vintage.
Robert Parker’s publication, The Wine Advocate gave the 2012 vintage a score of 94. This is the highest score it has given a vintage since Fidelitas has been in existence starting in 2000. it also gave the same score to the 2005 & 2007 vintages.
The Wine Spectator gave 2012 a score of 95. Only one other vintage rated by the Wine Spectator has been rated higher since 2000, that being the 2007 vintage which they gave a score of 96. They also rated 2008 as 95 as well.
The Wine Enthusiast publication has rated 2012 a score of 97. This is far and away it’s favorite vintage from 2000 forward. Only 2005 is close and they rate it a 95.
I think the 2012 vintage is one of the top three vintages that we have ever made in the thirteen red wine vintages that have been released. I would put it right up there with 2005 & 2007 as far as comparing vintage to vintage. Both the 2005 & 2007 are drinking beautifully right now. I recommend drinking those wines of Fidelitas if you have them in your cellar.
The other thing to keep in mind in comparing vintages, is how much our product line up has changed since we first started. The 2012 vintage will have our usual array of Boushey & Champoux wines, but will have an expanded selection of wines from Ciel Du Cheval Vineyard and more selections of Red Mountain specific wines. If possible come by and taste the latest releases of the 2012 Red Mountain merlot & Optu blend. Optu is the only wine we have made since our first vintage in 2000.
you can also read this blog post on Charlie's NEW winemaking blog: https://charliehoppesredmountainwinemaker.wordpress.com/