This last month I had the pleasure of touring the Seguin Moreau Cooperage in Napa. First, to be able to do this is beyond amazing, so thank you to Fidelitas and Seguin Moreau for your generosity and allowing me to take a million photos.
Barrels are an essential tool to the winemaking process. The largest take away was that the entire barrel is used during the build, that everything from the left behind scraps are used to start the fires for toasting, this is to help maintain consistency.
At Fidelitas we are purchasing mostly French Oak and American Oak and using a medium-medium plus toasting. This is always dependent on Charlie’s preference and the expression of the wine.
The winemaker will order barrels to their specification and these guys handle the rest. If you notice the gentleman in the above photo he is hammering down the toasting hoops and rotating each barrel around the fire to ensure the proper toasting is achieved. We had the pleasure of smelling inside the barrels right after they had been removed from the fires. The most intoxicating aromas of fresh baked bread!
Then, after the barrels have slightly cooled they are then laid and start making their way to have the toasting hoops removed and replaced with galvanized steel hoops.
Then, the tops are laser cut to fit each barrel. Doesn’t it look like a giant stack of toasty, cookies?
Since French Oak is so delicate reeds are then woven in between the slats to prevent leaking. Then, the barrels move into the final stages, everything is then tightened, sanded, stamped and sealed.
As we begin to release our first club wines of the year we can’t help but cherish the tools that go into crafting each glass of wine.
As many of us have experienced the warm summer heat that comes from summer in Eastern Washington it’s hard to picture what Red Mountain can look like in the winter. Well folks, if you can believe it we have snow on the mountain and we have photos to prove it! Personally, I have been enjoying the blanket of snow that is surrounding the region we call home however, with the start of January it’s hard not to dream about what’s to come this year and that means warmer weather for some of us and amazing newly released wines of course!
Every year I try and prepare for the holidays and every year I am left in the dust and scrambling around last minute. The true reason I am always last minute scrambling for gifts is because I spend my free time dreaming and planning of my next meal or glass of wine to share amongst family and friends. Below are some of my “must shares” for this seasons next gathering.
Recently, served this at the last Fidelitas gathering and it was such a crowd pleaser. I might also add that it took little to no time at all to make, it’s a sure way to impress!
I always have this little number on hand for gifts! Amazing how easy it is to mix up, place in jars and pass them out. It’s also a perfect snack for football Sundays or snuggling up on the couch watching Christmas movies and enjoying a glass of wine.
This one takes a smidge more work because it has a few additional steps but totally doable. To me this has Christmas Eve written all over it, melted Brie, crunchy pastry, and the sweetness of the reduction sauce (don’t let that scare you, it’s simple).
I am always searching for a pretty appetizer for the picky eater and this is it! This is sure to be a preferred treat in my household for years to come.
Here’s hoping these recommendations help with your next party or night in! I am still no closer to finishing my holiday shopping, but at least my next meal and glass of wine are covered, Cheers!
Driving down Sunset and around Red Mountain it is so clear why this truly is my favorite time of the year. The leaves have been changing and if you’ve recently paid a visit to Red Mountain you can see the beauty that is hiding down every row. As we begin to release the last wines of the year we are set to showcase our Ciel du Cheval Release, which is always my favorite release of the year.
The Ciel du Cheval Vineyard is the second oldest vineyard on Red Mountain and was planted in 1975. Many people often ask the translation of Ciel du Cheval and for those of you who speak French or remember learning French in school know it as, “sky horse.” Now flashback to the 1970’s when Red Mountain was nothing more than a hill with sagebrush and you have a newly planted vineyard that looks in the direction of the Horse Heaven Hills. And there you have it! The long unanswered question of the meaning behind Ciel du Cheval. These wines are the perfect pairing for every holiday table and gathering. Recommended to drink now or share with friends and family.
2013 Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Sauvignon
Ciel du Cheval Vineyard provides the fruit for this big, bold, Cabernet Sauvignon, giving us everything we’d hope for from a Red Mountain Cab. We find red and black fruits on the nose, along with chocolate, tobacco, and a touch of baking spice. These are confirmed on the palate, adding blueberry and cassis, currants, mulled berries, and vanilla, all amongst chewy tannins, and a lengthy finish. Drink now through 2025.
2013 Ciel du Cheval Merlot
Merlot is one of Charlie’s favorite grapes to work with, so the opportunity to create a varietal Merlot from one of the most established vineyards on Red Mountain was irresistible. The aromatics on this 2013 vintage are dense and plentiful, with raspberries, strawberries, violets, and white pepper. The palate is rich, adding notes of bourbon soaked cherries, sweet tobacco, and a slight minerality, all with a soft intake, and elegant, rounded tannins. This wine has plenty of time to develop in the cellar. Drink now through 2023.
2013 Ciel du Cheval Red Wine
Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Wine is our ‘right bank’ blend, comprised mostly of Merlot. This wine is soft and elegant, showcasing raspberry, blackberry, dried thyme, and just a touch of cocoa. The palate is plush and velvety, full of red and blue fruit tones, cedar, and baking spice, surrounded by fine grained tannins and a lasting finish. Drink now through 2021.
2013 Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Franc
This varietal Cabernet Franc from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard is a perennial fan favorite, and is always hard to come by. The nose is delicate, with blueberry and plum notes, fresh figs, and a soft mocha characteristic. The palate is lush, showing velvety tannins, and an elegant, lengthy finish. Drink now through 2021.
2013 Ciel du Cheval Petit Verdot
Petit Verdot, rarely a standalone varietal, is the sole grape in this unique wine from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. We love the unique, bold style, and deep purple hue of this limited production wine. Aromas of dense, dark cherry, cola, plums, and sage rise from the glass, backed by a palate of blackberries, dried herbs, and minerality, all set with balanced acidity and structured tannins. Drink now through 2021.
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!
As I pulled into the parking lot the other day, the vineyard rows were catching my eye a little more than usual. Every day I am fortunate enough to work directly from our Red Mountain tasting room, with that I get the joy of watching the vineyard change and grow with each passing day.
On this particular day I noticed Veraison was taking place in the vineyard. Veraison is the change in color of the grape berries or the ripening of grapes. Depending on the varietal, Veraison takes place at different rates, especially with the warmer temperatures that we experience on Red Mountain it seems to happen earlier. During Veraison white wine grapes are a yellow hue and red wine grapes are shades of red and purple.
As Red Mountain is one of the hotter regions in Washington and home to Cabernet Sauvignon, we know that Cabernet Sauvignon is typically one of the last varietals to ripen in the vineyard. It’s an exciting time when Veraison takes place in the vineyard it means that harvest and new wines are fast approaching.
For many of us we are self-proclaimed wine aficionados, I know I have my moments. If you are asking my family and friends, they will tell you I am their go-to for wine knowledge. Although, I think I speak for many of us when I say, "I don’t know nearly as much as I sound like I do." Quickly after starting at Fidelitas a few years back I soon realized the most I knew about wine was how to drink it and that I only drink wines from Washington. I have since come along way and picked up great knowledge from fellow staff members, our customers, and a little lite reading along the way.
This morning I had a lovely couple who was new to wine tasting, Red Mountain, and Fidelitas Wines. I was delighted to share a few educational tips that helped them not only during their visit but hopefully on their future tasting adventures. My favorite way to taste is to smell, sip, and savor.
SMELL! First things, first…swirl and smell the wine. Swirling the wine helps to open up the aromatics within a wine. Then, don’t be shy get in there and smell your wine. Don’t think large scale while smelling a wine, start small. Try and pick out categories, red fruits, spices, smokiness, etc. These are some great characteristics to help build range and memory association. For me the hardest part is placing what I am smelling to something I am familiar with.
SIP! My favorite part, now after you have smelled the wine go ahead and give it a try. Allow the wine to hit your taste buds and think about whether you are tasting bitterness, sweetness, sour, acidity, etc. For each wine this is different based on where it is grown, oak treatments, winemaker and all of that other fun stuff that plays apart in wine tasting.
SAVOR! Now spend some time thinking about the wine, did you like the finish? Was it to fruit forward? Was it bold or soft? The number one thing when wine tasting is to decide if it was enjoyable or not. In my opinion, this is the hardest part. It is so easy to fall into old patterns and buy what we are comfortable with, but remember that you are wine tasting and exploring new things while building your palate.
This time of year is perfect for wine tasting, there are new releases and fun things happening at almost every winery, get out there and explore! Also, in case you haven’t picked up or explored a copy of Wine Folly, it’s the perfect tool for every taster.
“Red Mountain is our Home,” if you have heard this once you’ll hear it again. From Team Fidelitas spreading the word in the tasting room, to the stunning views overlooking The Fidelitas Estate Vineyard, Red Mountain can be seen and heard in every conversation, every sip of wine, and every memory our members make.
As many of you know, our tasting room first opened on Red Mountain in 2007. Over the years we have shared the story of Fidelitas and how we got started and now we are entering the next chapter of our story. Fidelitas is now sourcing all of their fruit off of Red Mountain. Charlie hand selects the fruit from each vineyard and crafts each wine with our club members in mind. This truly is a one of a kind winery that showcases the finest quality of fruit with our members who are able to gain first access to everything that is released.
Our members are now able to reserve a space in the tasting room or on the patio while enjoying a customized tasting and taking in the view of our vineyard and the place we get to call home.
For many of our members who have been with us since the beginning, they remember the past vintages that graced our glass and look forward to the vintages that are growing along Red Mountain. From the top of Red Mountain where we first met The Quintessence Vineyard, down Antinori Road, past Red Heaven and the Red Mountain Vineyard, over to the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, our tried and true favorite, to just up the road and around the corner to the Canyons Vineyard which will make its debut later this June, and everyone else who make up our favorite AVA. There are so many great memories and moments to be shared on Red Mountain.
So grab a glass, have a seat on the patio and welcome to the place we call home.
As many of us know, Team Fidelitas was counting down the days to the recently released 2013 Red Mountain Malbec. This is our first vintage of Malbec that is sourced entirely off of Red Mountain, the place we call home. How did we celebrate this joyous occasion? We celebrated with our 2nd Annual Malbec Madness Event, complete with sliders and an “All Black” theme to replicate our black on black bottle.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit either Red Mountain or our Woodinville tasting room come see us and we will give you a taste of the 2013 Red Mountain Malbec before it’s gone!
I think it is safe to say that fall is one of the most enjoyable times of the year at Fidelitas. Harvest is over, the leaves are changing colors in the vineyard and we have our upcoming fall club release. Personally, I have been counting the months until November when we have our annual Ciel du Cheval Vineyard release. However, this year is extra special because Fidelitas is adding 3 new vintages to the release. And so now, a brief description of the upcoming Ciel du Cheval wines to be released in November.
The first vintage we ever released from Ciel du Cheval was the Cabernet Sauvignon in 2006 and it continues to be a crowd favorite with the 2012 vintage. Fidelitas has sourced from some of the oldest vines in the Red Mountain AVA, planted by Jim Holmes in 1982, for this varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. The aromas are elegant, showcasing, black cherry, blackberry, and cassis, complimented by fig and sweet tobacco tones. Black fruit notes are found on the palate as well with hints of dark chocolate and toasted oak, all set into very soft and well-rounded tannins that provide a lingering finish. Drink now through 2025.
A Fidelitas fan favorite, our Cabernet Franc is sourced from the expertly cared for vines of Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. Varietal classic aromas of blueberry and dried tobacco appear on the nose, supported by Bing cherry, raspberry, and tea leaves on the palate. There is an herbaceous quality, with hints of sage, found within the soft tannins and supple finish. Drink now through 2023.
A new vintage to the Fidelitas line up is the 2012 Ciel du Cheval Merlot. Ciel du Cheval Vineyard provides all of the fruit for this special, limited, vineyard designated merlot. Aromas of raspberry and plum jump from the glass, along with hints of nutmeg and spice. These are found on the palate as well, supported by black cherry, dark chocolate, clove and coffee tones. The tannins are round and plush for a juicy finish. Drink now through 2022.
Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Wine appears as another new addition to the Fidelitas line up in the 2012 vintage. A right bank style blend, this vineyard designated red wine is predominately Merlot. The aromas are plentiful, showcasing strawberry, raspberry jam, and a hint of cedar. The palate gives us the addition of darker fruit tones, dark cherry and red currant tones, with a dried herbs and allspice. This wine is bright and expressive with fine tannins for a lingering finish. Drink now through 2024.
Varietal Petit Verdot makes its debut in the 2012 vintage of Fidelitas wines. A grape common to Bordeaux blends, it seldom stands alone, but Ciel du Cheval Vineyard gives us just the right balance for this wine. The nose offers classic notes of very dense, dark fruit, cola and vanilla bean. The aromatic palate gives us black cherry tones, mixed with dried tobacco, kirsch, raspberry, and strawberry, set amongst chewy tannins. Drink now through 2022.
What better time to visit the tasting room and share Fidelitas with your family and friends, just in time for the holidays…we all know wine makes the best gift!