“I think it’s our best vintage yet.” I can’t count how many times I’ve heard Charlie utter this statement about our newest release. Usually I just laugh and mutter an ‘okay Chuck’. I've thought hard about this statement: Best Vintage Yet. What does that mean exactly? Does it mean that previous vintages weren't good? No. It means that the newest vintage is the optimum example of the great wines we produce.
Each vintage we learn more about the region we call home and about the vineyards we’re sourcing from and what characteristics come from the grapes planted there. Now we’re even getting down to the root and specifically choosing which clones are going to give us the perfect balance for our blends. We know the optimal time to pick the grapes because we’ve experienced heat waves (such as 2012-2013) and we’ve experienced cold spells (such as 2010-2011). Over the years we’ve experimented with barrels and aging and know what grapes hold up well with French Oak or American Oak treatment. But beyond that, we’ve got Charlie. Not just a winemaker, but a man who has spent over a quarter century making wine in Washington, that’s a long time in this relatively young industry. His experience gives him the knowledge and skills needed to create wines that are going to knock your socks off, every time. Each vintage he puts under his belt he’s producing wines that are better than ever before.
Our Optu Red Mountain is one of the most fun wines to track each year. Each vintage Charlie blends his favorite grapes to create this optimum blend. Each vintage has a make-up that’s a little bit different from the last. Some years, the blend is nearly the same as the last because those grapes are just that good, but often you’ll find an emerging vineyard making its way into the blend or a new varietal from an old favorite vineyard. We hear stories from members (and even our own staff) who have hosted 10+ year vertical tasting parties featuring this Bordeaux style blend. This wine never ceases to amaze you upon release and it’s a treat to open up after a few years in the cellar. We couldn’t be more excited for the release of the 13th vintage because we know without doubt that ‘it’s our best vintage yet.’
to purchase the 2013 Optu Red Mountain click here.
In celebration of Taste Washington Wine Month and our signature Optu wine, I thought it might be fun to ask Team Fidelitas a very important question. What is your favorite vintage of the Optu? Let’s just say…this wine will forever be number #1 in our hearts.
Michelle: “2010 Optu Red Mountain. This wine was released just before I started working for Fidelitas so it has a special place in my heart, plus it’s one of the most unique! This vintage was Merlot based which I’m a sucker for and it was the first vintage sourced entirely from Red Mountain supporting the new name, Optu Red Mountain.”
Jess: “2002! First vintage where we called it Optu instead of Meritage. I secured some from the library when I first started and the quality and age ability blew me away! I also have a fond memory of drinking this wine while watching the sun set over Fremont in my old condo.”
Charlie: “I generally like the Optu from vintages that I have liked our other wines. The 2009 stands out as a great one and is tasting fantastic right now. Another would be our new release of the 2013, this one is probably my favorite out of the vintages that were sourced from Red Mountain.”
Amy: “Hmm…2013 is my favorite vintage because it features my favorites: raspberry on the nose and blackberries on the palate. My favorite Red Mountain vineyards are also featured in the vintage: Quintessence, Fidelitas Estate, Red Heaven, and Ciel du Cheval.”
Chelsea: “2012, this vintage has 77% Cabernet and small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. It was the first vintage that was sourced from Quintessence (my new favorite vineyard) and had the first tasting of Fidelitas Estate vineyard, it truly shows the beauty and quality of Red Mountain fruit as well as the future of Fidelitas.”
As for myself, I have loved every vintage of the Optu that I have tried. When I first started with Fidelitas this was the one wine that stood out to me. From the way it tasted to the story behind it. It didn’t take me long to realize why this wine was so important to the winery. In my (almost) two year of being here, the Optu has been at every party, gathering, and meeting (yes wine is involved in our meetings, who would have thought!?). And because of that, every memory I have of my awesome team and our great club parties involves the Optu.
It’s #WaWineMonth and Spring is nearly upon us! The birds are chirping and the trees are starting to bloom! Spring has also sprung at Fidelitas, as we have just released our 2013 Optu Red Mountain, our big Bordeaux blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. It begins with aromas of Bing Cherry and Raspberry and continues with a palate of concentrated blackberry, plum, and violets along with slight minerality. It has a lengthy finish with full, chewy tannins.
You may think that warm beef stew is winter fare however, Optu Beef Stew with Polenta paired with 2013 Optu Red Mountain is anything but. The wine is big, bold, and bright and the stew is rich and delicious. Rounding everything out is the creamy polenta. It truly is a match made in heaven and would be a fantastic addition to your menu this week.
Optu Beef Stew with Polenta
For the stew:
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, cut into large dice
4 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
4 stalks celery, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 ½ pounds beef stew meat, excess fat removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 ½ cups Optu Red Mountain red wine
6 springs fresh Thyme
4 medium tomatoes, halved
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
For the polenta:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup polenta
To make the stew:
Heat olive oil in large, heavy saucepan until hot but not smoking. Add vegetables and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides. Add wine and thyme and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until beef is tender. Once beef is tender, remove tomato skins and thyme sprigs. Transfer to serving bowl.
To make the polenta:
In a large, heavy pot, bring stock to a boil. Add polenta and stir constantly until thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and keep warm.
Serve the beef stew alongside the polenta with glass of 2013 Optu Red Mountain.
From Jess: this is a repost from last February. However, as we are entering Taste Washington Wine Month and releasing our 14th vintage of Optu Red, I felt like it was worth sharing again.
Last fall I heard Kathleen in the tasting room introduce the Optu Red Mountain as "the wine that started it all." I love that phrase because it really does stand for everything that is Optu and Fidelitas. A product that has grown with Charlie as a winemaker and Fidelitas as a Red Mountain focused winery, while always representing the best fruit and vineyards in a given vintage.
Each year at Taste Washington, we feature the Optu Red Mountain, and it never fails to delight all that visit our table on that busy weekend. We hope to see you there to taste the newest addition to the legacy of the wine that started it all.
I came to work with Fidelitas in 2008, just as we were releasing the 2005 vintage reds. The tasting room on Red Mountain had been open for a year, but everyone had their stories of where they had experienced Fidelitas before then. For me, I first met Charlie at Canon de Sol (years before starting with Fidelitas), and then again in the Sandhill building. At one point in time, I was lucky enough to get a tour of Red Mountain with Charlie before so many of the great vineyards of today were even planted.
I’ve noticed that most stories have Optu woven in somewhere. My aunt recalls when she ordered some wine as a gift and Charlie delivered the case of 2002 Optu Red Wine to her door, case perched on his shoulder. The 2005 and 2006 vintages were very popular in distribution and so we picked up several new Fidelitas fans who had the wine at their favorite wine bar. This is the wine that has been with us from the beginning, representing our optimum blend of vineyards and varietals from each vintage.
And so now, a brief history of our signature blend, which started as Meritage, became Optu Red Wine, and now represents the region we call home as Optu Red Mountain. Optu first debuted in the 2000 vintage, and is now being released in its 13th variation as the Fidelitas 2012 Optu Red Mountain.
The 2000 Fidelitas Meritage debuted as a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Merlot. Our first vintage was limited to just 375 cases of this one wine. We kept the Meritage name and this bottle through the 2001 vintage (a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Malbec) and gave the wine a friend with the addition of Columbia Valley Syrah.
2002 is perhaps our most exciting vintage by packaging standards, and the origin of the name OPTU. I also happen to LOVE this vintage and was lucky enough to hoard some for several years. A blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, and 9% Malbec. I believe that this is the first wine we included some Red Mountain fruit in, with 10% of the make up coming from Red Mountain Vineyard. We bumped the line up to a total of 6 products in this vintage, most notably with the introduction of Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
By 2003, we came up with a design for the bottle that has stuck with us through the 2013 white wines. This is a great time for a shout out to our tireless designer, Joe Farmer of Whizbang Studio. He does awesome work and is a truly nice guy. Back to the wine…2003 Optu Red Wine is comprised of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. We basically exploded to 9 products in this vintage with the addition of 2 white wines: the Columbia Valley Semillon and Elerding Chardonnay!
2004 sticks out in my mind as one of my favorites during the 10 Vintages of Optu dinner (also known as the flying salad dinner). 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 10% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec…our first blend using all 5 Bordeaux varietals.
In 2005 we introduced the linebacker bottles. Big shoulders, heavier than anything, and could only fit in 6-packs. It seemed like a fun idea until people complained about the bottles not fitting in their cellars. This only lasted us through 2 vintages… 2005 Optu is still showing fabulously now (as evidenced by my 05 Party), as a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Merlot. In this vintage, we also debuted our first Red Mountain dedicated wine, the 2005 Red Mountain Merlot, and created the Boushey Red Wine as a tribute to Dick Boushey’s 25Th anniversary.
In 2006, Optu was made up of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 9% Cabernet Franc. My fondest memory from this vintage was Charlie saying…"sure, you can lay them down, but why? They’re great now!” We also introduced Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon in this vintage.
2007 brought another packaging change for some of our wines, thinner bottles, and one of Charlie’s favorite vintages. 07 Optu showcased 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 9% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot. We were at 15 products by this point in time with the addition of Red Mountain Red Wine, Red Mountain Merlot, and Red Mountain Cabernet Franc. We also gave Charlie the challenge of focusing just on Bordeaux varietals, and so Syrah fell away from the line up after 2006. 2008 stayed in the same bottled with 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Malbec. 2009 also got to stick in the same bottle (that’s a record!) and is made up of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec. This still stands out as one of my favorite vintages and I am squirrling away as many bottles as possible.
2010 was a turning point for Fidelitas, and for Optu. In this vintage, we released the Optu Red Mountain…a blend dedicated just to the region we call home. Still a blend, this vintage also favored Merlot with 53%, then 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. Love this wine. We got to keep the Merlot dominance in the 2011 vintage of Optu Red Mountain with a blend of 50% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, and16% Cabernet Franc. This vintage sold out in about 2 months. Lucky for those in the Wine Club!
And so now, we end with the current release, our 13th vintage of what is now known as Optu Red Mountain. A big, bold wine at this point in time, that is worthy of time in the cellar for sure as a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. By this point in time, we have 18 red wines and 2 white wines: all Bordeaux-varietals, and 90% Red Mountain grown with the exception of some lasting vineyard relationships that are too good to pass up.
This blog post took me way longer to compose than I intended, but I think it’s because I truly do feel a connection to Optu. It was fun to go back through the vintages and remember different times that I’ve had the wines myself. If anyone has an Optu memory to add, I’d love to hear it.