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/
In just a few weeks, I’ll be attending my 9th Taste Washington. Wow. Of the eight I’ve been to (worked at) so far, I have been on the restaurant side twice, and the winery side eight times. I have met amazing people who are genuinely interested in learning more about the restaurant, the winery, or just wine in general. I’ve chatted with Club members from as far as Tennessee who came to Washington just for this event. We’ve met new people who have become dedicated Fidelitas fans as a result of finding us at Taste. It is truly an amazing weekend.
This year, I get to bring a few newbies with me who have yet to attend Taste. I’ve been thinking about how to prepare them and decided to share my thoughts…
There is so much wine at this event. Spend some time perusing the event program in advance and highlight some wineries that you might want to visit. Don’t worry about tasting every wine that a winery might be offering…just go for the one that really interests you. Think about what you want to gain. I’ll encourage my team to seek out wineries they have not tasted from before and to come up with two brand that are really comparable to Fidelitas and two that are really different so they can speak to the great variety that Washington wine country has to offer.
Water. And lots of it. There are water stations everywhere. Grab a bottle and stick it in your purse or swag bag. Chug a bottle between every couple winery visits. If nothing else, it helps to clear the red off of your teeth. Also remember…unless your glass is getting really funky, there is no need to rinse your glass between tastes. Residual water in your glass will dilute the next wine you taste. I always offer to rinse with wine prior to a taste to clear out a white or red or sweet that you had before.
You’ll also note that there is a bunch of beer at the event. I’ll tread lightly here because I know there are some mixed feelings on this. However, remember that beer (like wine) has alcohol in it and that polishing off a pint glass is only going to get you to your finishing point that much earlier in the day.
Similar words here as with the wine plan. Our wonderful Kathleen prints off the map of the venue in advance and circles the restaurant booths that she wants to visit. She has always been better than me on this and ends up eating some wonderful food, where I often just grab things as I see them. Plan on having a big breakfast before you show up and maybe stick a protein bar in your bag if you don’t think you can fill up on little bites.
This is new for me! I’ve always heard great things about the seminars and I get to attend my first one this year when Charlie sits on the panel of the Red Mountain AVA spotlight. There is a great line up of subjects this year where you can really enhance your knowledge of Washington wine.
Watch for it. There will be someone in an all white suit that gets red wine down the front of them, and there will be someone limping over crumpled carpeting in heels. I don’t want to be critical of anyone, but do want to advise that people remember this is a standing event where almost everyone is bumping around with red wine in their glass. I’ll be in black and flats.
Please! Get an uber, call a cab, hop on the bus. Even better, take advantage of one of the hotel packages the Wine Commission has set up and make a weekend out of it. You bought the ticket to taste wine, so taste and have fun! But, with this much wine, it’s really hard to say “oh, I’ll just have a little and then be okay to drive home”. I have to get out on the road with everyone at the end of the day and want to make it home safely to my baby.
I look forward to seeing my friends at Taste this year!
Release weekend is something every club member looks forward to. We have just recently decided that a full day of fun is much better than a few hours in the evening…and what better day than Sundays! February was the first release of the year over here at Fidelitas and what a great release it was. We closed our tasting room doors in Woodinville on Sunday March 1st and welcomed only our club members from noon-6pm. We had a very delicious line up of wines to match the food we offered for this event…
2013 Klipsun Vineyard Optu White
2012 Northridge Vineyard Malbec
2012 Optu Red Mountain
2012 Red Mountain Merlot
2010 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet
Both our Woodinville and Red Mountain locations will be doing this (Red Mountain is a tad different) every release, four times a year. So be sure to keep an eye out and save the date for our pick up parties. They are such fun!