With the release of our first ever Red Mountain single vineyard Malbec, 2014 Canyons Malbec, coming August 1st, and yesterday’s bottling of our 2015 Quintessence Malbec, I decided to call up the Wine Boss and talk all things Malbec.
As far as vineyard designate wines go, Cabernet Sauvignon, has been the staple for Fidelitas and Washington state as a whole. However, after creating a Red Mountain Malbec for the first time in 2013, Charlie started to notice that Malbec from our AVA was complex and distinct enough to stand out on its own, and like many other varietals stood out in a lineup as being from Red Mountain with its more bold and tannic nature. Fidelitas had traditionally done a Columbia Valley Malbec beginning in 2004, with a single vineyard Northridge Malbec in 2012.
When asked to compare the two Malbecs against each other, he noted that 14 and 15 were both warm vintages so there isn’t much variation there. The Canyons vines are quite literally in a canyon – sitting on an extreme slope down into a pot creating its own mesoclimate. The wine created here is more of a traditional Washington and comparable to South American Malbec with the spiciness showing strong notes of white pepper. The Quintessence sits on more of a traditional gradual south-western facing slope, and is more similar to the 14 Red Mountain Malbec showing juicier and black fruit characteristics, however does have the traditional spice notes that you’d expect just subtler. The extremely dark color (mimicking our black-on-black, phantom, murdered out, matte black, etc… label) tends to be deceiving with how fruit-forward and approachable the wines are.
There’s the possibility of single vineyard Malbecs from Scooteney Flats and Kiona which we’ve worked with in the past, however our staple Malbec blend won’t be going away any time soon. We’re also pulling fruit from the estate Malbec vines for the first time this year so we’ll see how those shape up as well. One interesting things to note is how harsh winters can effect Malbec production more so than the other heartier varietals – meaning that production could vary year to year based off the winter freeze.
Pro-tip: bring a bottle of our 2014 Red Mountain Malbec to have with the “country natural beef short ribs w malbec glaze” at Bellevue’s Black Bottle gastrotavern.
Another pro-tip: doing the cooking yourself and stop by either of our tasting room locations to pick up some Red Mountain Malbec as part of our Pairings for the Grill discounted 6-pack.
Guess what? It's finally summer! Get ready for the BBQ’s, pool parties, concerts, and a lot of dinners on the patio.
I’m sure with these exciting plans you are expected to bring something, probably the wine? Below, I am making it easy with some of our best current releases perfect for those summer extravaganzas! In case you are also expected to provide a dish, I’ll provide a recipe.
2016 Red Mountain Semillon - free 2 Day Air Shipping 12+ bottles!
fruit platters + cheese plates + salads + fish
check out a delicious recipe here!
2013 Canyons Vineyard Red Wine
pork chops + chicken + lamb
check out a delicious recipe here!
anything on the grill
check out a delicious recipe here!
2014 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - last vintage!
steak + steak + more steak
check out a delicious recipe here!
Stop by the tasting rooms, go online, or reserve a bottle through your Club Team.
Happy summer everyone!
If you find yourself with some free time, swing by one of our two tasting rooms on Red Mountain or in Woodinville. We’re open daily from 11am to 5pm, featuring a flight of summertime wines, and cheese plates by prior request while they last. Wine tasting is one of my favorite ways to spend a sunny weekend or random day off work. Best of all I like to visit when I have friends and family in town! Stop by anytime or let us know you’re coming for a special tasting.
With hundreds of wineries in Washington it can be overwhelming to know where to visit. The Fidelitas Club Concierge Team has recommendations of wineries to visit, and places to stay and eat in Wine Country. We’re always around to send you some of our favorite places to visit! Contact us by calling or texting 509.554.9191 or email us here.
Schedule tastings with wineries in advance and start early. You can usually plan for tastings to take between 45 minutues to an hour at each winery. Bring snacks like cheese and crackers and drink plenty of water in between tastings to maximize your trip. Make your dining reservations ahead of time so you know where you’ll refuel at the end of the day!
Can’t make it in? Ship orders placed by 9am on Wednesday, June 14th, are guaranteed to be delivered by Friday or give him the gift that keeps on giving with a membership to the Fidelitas Wine Club.
I recently found myself with a stocked fridge of white wines, just in time for the warmer Summers in Eastern Washington. Typically, I have always been a red wine fan and of course a huge supporter of Rosé, until recently. I had the realization that I was shutting myself off to wine, I was developing a “house pallet” and I wasn’t allowing myself to drink wines that would open my mind to new regions, flavors and in the long run improve my tasting skills. I began to sample and purchase several new wines I generally wouldn’t, hence the fridge full of white wine.
Through this, I could explore tons of new varietals and find that I do enjoy white wines more than I thought I did. I love an oaked Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or even a Chardonnay. Preferably one that’s dry and crisp with a full fruit on the pallet. Luckily for me, Fidelitas has just released our 2016 Red Mountain Semillon that has all those characteristics making it my favorite patio wine this summer.
The 2016 Red Mountain Semillon is all sourced from Artz Vineyard which is located on the lower portion of Red Mountain. The lower elevation and proximity to the Yakima River allow for bright acid retention, while the varietal and slope provide ripe fruit flavors of white peach, bosc pear, nectarine and honey.
For most wine lovers, we are all tasting and enjoying wine for different reasons and that’s great. My challenge to all of you is the next time you are strolling through the Fidelitas website, the grocery store, or your best friends wine cellar grab something you typically wouldn’t try. The Semillon is the perfect pairing for Summertime or even the perfect red wine drinkers white.
Before we make predictions about how Red Mountain will look in the next 5, 10, or 15 years we must look at where we’ve been. More specifically the dramatic change that our AVA has undergone in the past 3 years. Since the completion of the 5-year-long Kennewick Irrigation Districts: “Red Mountain Project” which brought Yakima River water to the southwestern facing “scrublands” (as they were endearingly referred to in this 2015 Tri City Herald article, the total acreage planted has doubled to 2300-2400. Over half of the entire area. Taking a look at EveryVine.com, you’ll notice how dense Red Mountain planting (57.5%) is compared to other famous American regions’ % planted; Napa Valley = 2.9%, Oakville (Napa Sub-Appellation) = 24.2%, Saint Helena (Napa Sub-Appellation) = 5.4%, Yountville (Napa Sub-Appellation) = 12.1%, Sonoma Valley = 9%, and Walla Walla Valley = 0.9%, to name a few.
We know that Red Mountain produces extremely high-quality fruit from older vineyards that we’ve worked with like Kiona, Ciel du Cheval, and Blackwood Canyons planted back in the well-water days and think that the best is yet to come. We’re not alone. Charlie estimates that 5 more wineries will be built within the next 3 years. He’s not worried about the mountain losing its farmland charm as the entire area is zoned for agriculture -- It’ll be all vineyards and wineries for now. Plus the high-profile neighbors moving in, planting vineyards, and building wineries will make Red Mountain even more of a Washington Wine lover’s dream destination.
Although Charlie was first introduced to Red Mountain in 1989 and we’ve called it home for 10 years now, there’s still so much to be done. We’ve been highly impressed by the quality of our estate fruit for such a young vineyard (first planted in 2008). Charlie envisions future bottlings of Merlot, Petit Verdot, an Estate Red Blend, and was specifically excited about offering the wine club Individual Clonal Cabernet releases. As it stands now we have 6 different clones of Cabernet planted. The latest release of the Blackwood Cabernet was also a good sign to see that type of old-vine quality coming from a vineyard so close in proximity to ours.
The Estate isn’t the only young vineyard that we’re excited about. With the quality that we’ve gotten from younger places like Quintessence (established in 2010) and Canyons (established in 2009), Charlie believes that in 10 years’ time Red Mountain will be the best place to make Cabernet in the world. I jokingly told him that I’d quote him on that – I quickly realized he wasn’t joking. At a recent birthday dinner paired with some Santa Maria Tri Tip and grilled oysters we had our 2012 Estate Cab and some 2009 Napa Cab from Martha’s Vineyard, both incredible, but we wouldn’t say that one was of superior quality (although at our un-blind, and biased tasting we preferred Estate).
In the winery, Charlie and his team are also staying true to modern craft winemaking techniques by playing around with new and innovative ways to ferment reds in direct contact with wood. He estimates that 50% of the wines this year will be fermented using some sort of wood method while 100% of the Estate wines will receive the oak treatment. Depending on the fermentation method used the wines are barreled separately them to a) get a better sense on how the fermentation methods are affecting the wines, and b) giving them more to play with come blending time. From my understanding, the roller fermenters offer a more intimate cap contact with the juice since it’s fully enclosed and there’s nowhere for the cap to go – wood in general also provides better insulation that stainless steel. Charlie also admits that he doesn’t fully understand the interchange of the phenolics in the wood and grapes during this process (as opposed to traditional stainless-steel fermentation), however says that in general it gives the juice a more viscous mouth-feel, and that the investment in oak fermenters have been well worth the investment thus far across the board.
I for one am proud to be all-in on Red Mountain, and look forward to what the years ahead bring for Fidelitas and our AVA that we call home.