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Fidelitas Wines


 

Jess Zander
 
April 6, 2018 | Jess Zander

New Recognition for Fidelitas' 2015 Cabernet Sauvignons

"Charlie Hoppes continues to knock it out of the park with his Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux blends. These are ripe, sexy, yet balanced wines that are always a joy to drink." - Jeb Dunnuck

 

 

94 Points - 2015 Fidelitas Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate from Fidelitas, one of the flagship releases from the estate, spent 22 months in 71% new French oak. Its deep, inky purple/ruby color is followed by an impressive bouquet of ripe plums, black cherries, tobacco, and leafy herbs. Picking up more chocolate and graphite characteristics with time in the glass, this full-bodied, rich, nicely concentrated effort has fine tannin, good purity of fruit, and nicely integrated acidity.

preorder for September release

94 Points – 2015 Quintessence Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Quintessence (100% Cabernet aged in 83% new French oak) offers more tobacco, spring flower, and violets characteristics, as well as a full-bodied, pure, balanced style on the palate. With lots of blue fruits, ripe tannin, and terrific purity, it's going to keep for 10-15 years. It's another high-quality, balanced wine from this estate.

preorder for September release

94 Points – 2015 Blackwood Canyon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Another 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from this estate, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Blackwood Canyon (22 months in 71% new French oak) offers a plumper, more sweetly fruited, sexy style. Blackcurrants, blueberries, scorched earth and Asian spice notes all give way to a full-bodied, plump, rounded, yet still structured effort that has considerable depth and richness, all while not being heavy. It too will keep for 10-15 years. While I found all these 2015s to be outstanding wines, they're certainly more similar than different.

waitlist only

94 Points – 2015 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

From one of my favorite vineyards on Red Mountain, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Ciel du Cheval spent 22 months in 29% new French oak. Black cherry, blueberries, violets, spring flowers, and lavender notes all emerge from the glass and it has a rich, rounded, voluptuous style on the palate. Nicely balanced, with sweet tannin, it's another rocking wine from Fidelitas to enjoy over the coming 10-15 years.

preorder for November release

93 Points – 2015 Optu Red Mountain

The 2015 Optu Red Mountain is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. It's another inky-colored effort that gives up plenty of graphite, tobacco, and black cherry/currants styled fruits. It has lots of Cabernet Sauvignon character, the savory tannin of the Red Mountain terroir, and a great finish.

now available

92 Points – 2015 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

The classic 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain (100% Cabernet aged 22 months in 80% new French oak) offers pure, elegant notes of crème de cassis, crushed flowers, and violets, with a medium to full-bodied, silky, nuanced style on the palate. Less powerful and tannic than some of the other cuvées here, it still has beautiful purity and well-integrated acidity, and is a beautiful wine that's going to drink well for 10-15 years.

preorder for September release

Time Posted: Apr 6, 2018 at 7:14 AM
Jess Zander
 
March 21, 2018 | Jess Zander

Charlie is Named as the 2018 Honorary Vintner for the Auction of Washington Wines

Fidelitas Owner + Winemaker, Charlie Hoppes, named

2018 Honorary Vintner

by the Auction of Washington Wines

 

As Charlie marks 30 years of making wine in Washington, we are thrilled to announce that he has been named the Honorary Vintner by his industry peers for the 2018 Auction of Washington Wines.

 

This recognition is reserved for people who have exemplified leadership in the industry, and for those who have made significant contributions to the Washington wine community. Charlie shares this honor with the Honorary Grower, Marshall Edwards, who manages Quintessence Vineyard, a favored site for Fidelitas on Red Mountain.

 

“Charlie and Marshall both reflect what makes the Washington wine community so special,” said Shelley Tomberg, Executive Director of AWW. “Their sincerity in building relationships is inspiring, and it results in top-notch, innovative, premium Washington wines that influence the industry on a global scale.”

 


 

We look forward to celebrating Charlie, while supporting the mission of the Auction of Washington Wines, at events coming up this spring and summer on Red Mountain and in Woodinville: LEARN MORE

 

Read more about Charlie's history of Washington winemaking.

Jess Zander
 
February 1, 2018 | Jess Zander

The Importance of the Custom Club

A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to sit on a panel in front of industry peers to discuss the benefits of “Custom Clubs”.  That is, I chatted about the Fidelitas Wine Club and the hows and whys of letting our members select their own Club allocations.  This is a big deal!  It’s breaking away from the traditional Club model of “we choose wines and send whatever we want to you” that has been followed since the dawn of Wine Clubs.  And while all of the boring (inventory) details may not be best suited for this blog, I think that there are a few key points worth sharing:

Selecting what is best for your cellar

Is your vertical of Optu Red Mountain growing nicely?  Wish you had more Merlot and less Cabernet?  Allowing members to create their own combination of wines in each allocation gives people the chance to take home the wines that they really want to shape their cellar.  We are releasing 3 -4 brand new wines at each Club release, and members can select the exact quantities of what they are going to enjoy the most.

It’s important to note here that some members told us they don’t want the additional work of selecting Club allocations.  I get it.  Day to day life offers so many choices that sometimes you want wine to be the easy part.  So – we will always have a pre-selected allocation as well that means great wines with no effort.

Winemakers get to have more fun

This is maybe the best part.  Both for the members, and for us at Fidelitas.  If we asked every Club member to take the exact same Club allocation, Charlie would be stuck making large quantities of the exact same wine in every vintage.  The problem is, Charlie loves to make small lot quantity wines each year based on what comes in to the cellar.  Following a custom club model means that he gets to create wines that are maybe 50 – 140 cases total, and members get to select these wines for their shipments.  It’s a win/win, really.

Convenient ship windows and special pricing

We first started offering custom clubs to our out of state members.  Knowing that they are often dealing with the inconvenience of having wines shipped when the weather may be too hot or too cold, and needing to have an adult signature for delivery, we wanted to design a Club just for them.  Our Electus Club is designed to ship wine only in moderate temperature months, and offers additional discounts and complimentary shipping when 6-bottle shipments are rounded up to a case.

Try before you buy

Just last weekend, we launched our “preview tastings”.  Two times per year, Custom Club members are invited to taste through the line up of upcoming releases and build their allocations at that time.  We love letting people experience the wines before they make their selections, and also found that it was a great time to just connect with members and help them learn the ropes of our new allocation system.

Time Posted: Feb 1, 2018 at 9:50 AM
Jess Zander
 
November 27, 2017 | Jess Zander

Stacking my Cases for the Season

It’s hard working in the wine industry.  Especially during the holidays.

When I arrive at a holiday party, I know the hostess is looking for that special bottle to add to the bar.  My hair stylist, nanny, and neighbors, are all a little too excited to see me as the holidays near.  Everyone tells me “oh…but you have the good wine” and are secretly hoping that I might gift a bottle.  It’s a good problem to have (people like Fidelitas!) but a problem, still.

And so, I’ve gotten good at stacking my case purchases with the right mix of wines for the season.  Here is my shopping list this year:

4040 Red Wine and Optu White on hand…always.  These are the ones that are nice to have wrapped and ready so I can gift a quick bottle to my daughter’s teachers, or whoever I come across that needs a last minute gift from us. (4040 is available by special request!)

Optu Red Mountain for hostess gifts.  This is a crowd pleaser wine.  It’ll drink great the night of a holiday party, or will age beautifully if your host decides to cellar it instead of sharing.

A couple of magnums (ESTATE! And probably some Optu) for those on my list who “have it all”.  Magnums are always impressive, even for someone with a giant wine collection.  They are great at parties, or are amazing additions to anyone’s cellar.

I love to plan ahead and grab a few cases early, so that wine is always on hand and ready to pass out.  Of course, I always make sure to grab a couple extra bottles to keep around the house so I can gave a glass in front of the tree!

Time Posted: Nov 27, 2017 at 12:27 PM
Jess Zander
 
November 10, 2017 | Jess Zander

Harvest 2017...done!

And just like that, the 2017 harvest is done.  The grapes brought in were lovingly turned in to some top notch juice, and are now nestled in to their barrels to rest for a bit.  We saw our first fruit of the season, Sauvignon Blanc and then Semillon, come in from Klipsun Vineyard just after Labor Day.  Reds started to come in just after that.  Mostly from the eastern facing Quintessence Vineyard, but we worked our way west with the sun, and finished up by picking our own Fidelitas Estate Vineyard in mid-October.  It is wonderful and challenging to have all of our fruit from the smallest, and warmest, AVA in the state.  Everything ripens at about the same time, all vying for space in the cellar.  Charlie and his crew worked around the clock to keep things moving along, and just took their first weekend off a few days ago.

A special shout out to Charlie, who just completed his 30th harvest in Washington state.  His first winemaking job, fresh out of UC Davis, was at the start of crush in 1988 at Langguth/Saddle Mountain, and he’s never looked back.  We have just a handful of winemakers in Washington nowadays who can claim three decades, and I’m proud to be working with one of them.  When I asked him about this 2017 harvest, here is what he said:

"This has the potential to be one of my top 5 vintages. Already, the wines are showing great promise, like those in 2009 or 2012. In 2017, we had cooler weather than recent vintages, and longer hang times which really led to the development of flavors. It was a lower crop overall, contributed to the high quality of fruit we brought in. Of course, we still need time to see how they age out, but everyone is blown away by it now." - Charlie Hoppes, Fidelitas Owner + Winemaker

 

 

Time Posted: Nov 10, 2017 at 11:10 AM
Jess Zander
 
October 12, 2017 | Jess Zander

Helping our Neighbors...Still

I woke up a few weeks back, read the headlines, and determined that it would be a better to stay in bed with my kids all day.  The news was just too horrible, with too many lives impacted once again.  I drug on like this for a day or two until my mom sent me a text: “we cannot control what happens in the world, but we can control our response”.  She reminded me, there is nothing we could have done in recent months to prevent these events in the news, but we can send aid and make a conscious decision to help those in need.

Then, this week, the headlines hit much closer to home.  The wildfires in Northern California are impacting members of our greater wine community.  Beyond the stately wineries, there are the people that run our POS system and website, former colleagues working as winemakers and cellar hands, those who tend the vines, and those who have the exact same jobs as me and my team: selling the wines.  A fire in 2017 for a winery can mean years and years of damage.  Inventory lost today means nothing to sell for years to come, and all of those lives, and the lives of their families, are impacted for that span of time.

And so this October, I ask that we all give, because that is all that we can control at this point in time.  We are still focusing on our Product Spotlight in the first part of October, where 10% of our website and tasting room proceeds will go to Hurricane Relief funds via Global Giving.  In addition, Charlie and I feel passionate about generating additional funds that can go to those affected by the fires in Northern California.

October 20 – 22: we are joining forces with other wineries in the Red Mountain AVA to benefit relief efforts in Napa and Sonoma.  Fidelitas will be donating a portion of our proceeds from the entire weekend, including the Harvest Party on Red Mountain.  In addition, we ask that our guests consider making a cash donation, or contributing gift cards to stores such as Target and Home Depot that can distributed to families in Northern California so they can purchase the essentials they need to start rebuilding.

I have been fortunate enough to visit both Napa and Sonoma several times over the years, including a trip when I was very young, and again when I was just 21.  Every visit, whether as a newbie, or as an industry member, I have been warmly welcomed and treated wonderfully.  It truly is a special place.

Jess Zander
 
September 20, 2017 | Jess Zander

5 Cabernets of Fidelitas

“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.

 

VINEYARD

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. 

 

CLONES

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.

 

OAK AGING

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!

Time Posted: Sep 20, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Jess Zander
 
April 20, 2017 | Jess Zander

10 years Ago this Spring

A lot can happen in 10 years.  In 2007, I was just starting to date my now husband, exploring a transition from education to the wine industry, and paying $800 rent for a condo with a water view…in Seattle (I don’t want to even think about what that place goes for now).  Since then, I started with Fidelitas, got engaged, bought a house, got married, had a kid, expanded my role with Fidelitas, and have accomplished a million things I wouldn’t have thought possible 10 years ago.

10 years ago this spring, Fidelitas was also on the brink of something new.  The doors were about to open at our new home on Red Mountain.  Prior to this, Charlie’s family-owned winery had spent its first six years relying on tasting tables in the back of other tasting rooms and home deliveries by Charlie himself.  I’ve heard countless stories of Charlie hauling a case of wine on his shoulder to this house or that, or people finding our wines in the “Sandhill days”.  To have his own tasting room open, fulfilling a decades old dream, must have meant so much.

It took a lot of hard work to get the Red Mountain tasting room to open, and a bunch more to keep us open for the past 10 years.  It’s beyond Charlie, beyond me, and our staff, and our families.  We’ve had support from growers, fellow winemakers, neighbors, Club members, and extended friends and family that we maybe didn’t even know we had.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing our stories on how we came to be on Red Mountain, what we’ve learned in the past 10 years, and our vision for the years that lie ahead. 

Time Posted: Apr 20, 2017 at 8:46 PM
Jess Zander
 
March 22, 2017 | Jess Zander

What makes Red Mountain Unique?

Fidelitas is all in on Red Mountain.  We are dedicated to producing the highest quality, Bordeaux-styled wines from the smallest growing region in Washington state.

Why the specific focus?  While we know that exceptional wines can come from every region in Washington, we also know that there are certain geographical features about Red Mountain that make it truly one of the best growing regions in the world:

A SOUTHWESTERN FACING SLOPE

The southwest slope of the Red Mountain AVA provides the vineyards in the region with a directional aspect to the sun that is ideal for prolonged sunlight exposure and warmth. These highly desirable conditions allow for a ripeness in tannins that is recognized as a primary characteristic of Red Mountain fruit.

 

WARM SUMMERS AND WINTERS

Red Mountain experiences more growing degree days than any other region in the state. The high latitude (N 46*) and topography contribute temperature swings experienced during the growing season, with daytime temperatures averaging 90 °F and night time temperatures dropping below 50 °F. These heat accumulation days create ideal temperatures for highly marketable grapes, exhibiting ripeness and concentration. The cooler evenings help to retain acidity levels which allows for the exceptional balance and structure found in Red Mountain grapes, and the wines crafted from them.

 

LOW RAINFALL

Red Mountain gathers less than 8 inches of rain per year, requiring irrigation in the vineyards. The use of drip irrigation provides ideal grape growing conditions through canopy management. Additionally, Red Mountain vines experience dramatically lower mold and mildew pressure compared to most other vineyard regions.

 

SMALLEST AVA IN WASHINGTON STATE

Red Mountain is the smallest recognized American Viticultural Area in Washington State, with 4040 acres. Of that,  about 2700 acres have been determined plantable, and only 1700 is currently under vine. Red Mountain is defined by natural borders, with the ridge of the mountain to the north and the Yakima River to the west. Red Mountain resembles a growing region more like the Old World, where one can see each block of each vineyard from a single vantage point.

 

AVA SPECIFIC SOILS

The predominate soils of Red Mountain are not found anywhere else in the state.  Wind blown Loess (Warden, Hezel, and Scooteney) were brought in by pre-historic floods. The high alkalinity and calcium carbonate content of the soil, along with its granular consistency, allows for each vine to form a well-established root system. In soils with this composition, root systems are able to reach deep to obtain the necessary nutrients and moisture.

 

CONSISTENT WINDS

The prevailing winds come out of the Southwest and are notable for their frequency and velocity. The regular gusts of warm air flow through the AVA’s vineyards during the growing season, keeping the grape clusters small and concentrating the flavors of the fruit - which contributes to their richness and intensity.

Time Posted: Mar 22, 2017 at 11:29 AM
Jess Zander
 
January 31, 2017 | Jess Zander

Fidelitas is Faithful, Loyal, and True

This is a post from last year (add a year to the marriage ticker).  However, as we come in to the season of love and fidelity, it seems like a wonderful time to share the story of Fidelitas once again.  May your Februarys be full of someone who is faithful, loyal, and true, tasty wines, and a few paper hearts.


FAITHFUL, LOYAL, TRUE. 

Where do these words come from?

Translated from Latin, Fidelitas means faithful, loyal, and true.  Think about the word fidelity and it starts to make sense.  Ponder our logo, realize the circle is not an O, it’s a ring or circle of fidelity, and it makes a bit more sense.  Know Charlie Hoppes and it all comes together.

Charlie and his wife, Terri, have been married for 33 years.  They started their family as Charlie started his winemaking career.  When they launched their own family winery in 2000, Charlie looked to Terri’s family for the name, settling on Fidelis (extended to Fidelitas).  Like his winemaking style, Charlie’s approach to life is simple and pure.  Honor those who are important to you, respect everyone, and don’t sweat the small stuff.  Knowing him is knowing what it is to be faithful, loyal, and true.

Charlie, Terri, and their first daughter, Emily. Photo taken within the year Charlie first discovered Red Mountain fruit.

I don’t say all of these nice thing about my boss because my annual review is coming up, but because these 3 words have truly permeated all aspects of our business.  We are faithful to grape varieties from the Bordeaux region of France (with a particular soft spot for Cabernet Sauvignon), loyal to modern craft winemaking techniques, and true to Red Mountain’s unique terroir.  My team here aims to show everyone how they are faithful, loyal, and true through the relationships we have with visitors, members, and one another.

Each February, we celebrate the region we call home: Red Mountain.  We host special tastings of our Red Mountain wines, and offer our customers the chance to stock up on some truly special releases. We hope that you’ll join us in the tasting rooms, or bring some Red Mountain in to your home so you can celebrate being faithful, loyal, and true along with us.

Time Posted: Jan 31, 2017 at 9:20 AM