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!
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.
Jess was right, the menu was amazing at our Winemaker Dinner last weekend. As always we were more than impressed by the magic that comes out of Castle's kitchen. Their crew was on top of it, keeping our almost 80 guests plates full. Charlie's favorite was the 6 hour braised short ribs paired with Estate Vineyard Cabernet. The Salmon two ways came in as a close second, especially with the smoked bacon Brussel Sprouts and a generous pour of Optu White.
It was our first time hosting a dinner at Castle Catering's new venue. Chef Andy gave Team Fidelitas a behind the scenes tour of their new event space and kitchen in Richland. Did you know this used to be a dormitory for Hanford workers? Of course, they've spruced it up a bit since they've moved in.
For more information about Anthology Check out their website.
It's hard to turn your head right now without realizing that Valentine's Day is right around the corner. I've been trying to come up with some interesting ideas to serve my sweetheart for our big night in (I refuse to wait in line to eat dinner somewhere with 5 million of my best friends). Casual searching on Pinterest leaves me feeling inadequate and in need of a heart shaped cookie cutter. Smitten Kitchen and the other foodie blogs make me wish I had more time to cook, and the big food sites and my endless cookbook selection offer me the same things that I peruse weekly. So what to do? How about use the amazing menu for tomorrow night's winemaker dinner as inspiration! Chef Andy Craig has outdone himself this time with a fabulous menu to showcase the 2012 Fidelitas Reds in their new Richland venue space, Anthology. I can't wait to share details and pictures next week. In the meantime, I'll continue to drool over this:
Salmon 2 Ways - Served on Applewood Smoked Bacon Brussel sprouts
Grilled Northwest Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce
Baked Northwest Salmon with Fire Roasted Red Pepper Coulis
Paired with 2013 Klipsun Vineyard Optu White
Garlic Roasted Beet Medley with Sautéed Kale and Fresh Thyme
Coffee & Cocoa Rubbed Smoked Tri-Tip finished with Jalapeno Remoulade
Paired with 2012 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Merlot
Wild Mushroom Risotto with Oyster, Portabella, and Crimini Blend
Finished with Fresh Shaved Parmesan and White Truffle Oil
Paired with 2012 Champoux Vineyard Magna Red Wine
6 Hour Braised Short Rib s & Crispy Pork Belly
Served on Buttery Boursin Whipped Yukon Golds finished with Caramelized
Walla Walla Sweet Onions
Paired with 2012 Quintessence Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
& 2012 Fidelitas Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Chocolate Cake with Bacon Jam
Return to the tasting bar to choose your favorite debut wine
Now that football is over we are left with cold days and no summer in sight. So grab a glass of Champoux Cabernet, sit back, and picture a fun year with Fidelitas. We just recently got together to plan out our 2015 year and it has me motivated to get through these dreary months! With Taste and Talk series to Summer in the City we have you covered, and you won’t want to miss out on these events. In the mean time, come enjoy our February “I love Red Mountain” Happy Hour in our tasting rooms so we can all drink in excitement together. Fridays 4pm to 6pm in Woodinville and Saturdays 11am to 5pm on Red Mountain. Now just look at theses photos to take you to those months we are anxiously awaiting for...
It’s January, which means that although it’s still freezing out there we’re starting to grow tired of winter stews and heavy holiday food. I've been trying to incorporate some fresh dinners at my house as of the start of this new year, and this Cajun seasoned Tuna (and a glass of the new release of 2012 Northridge Vineyard Malbec) is sure to kick up the spice and keep you warm.
You can buy Cajun Seasoning in the spice isle of any grocery store, however, it’s EASY to make yourself with spices you already have in your cabinet. I mixed mine and stored it in a small mason jar.
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Living in Seattle, it’s generally pretty easy to pick up fresh tuna steaks at a nearby PCC or Whole Foods but after a little research I have found that most stores will carry frozen tuna steaks at the Seafood counter if you cannot find fresh. For our friends in the Tri-Cities, I found out that if you call ahead to Yokes a day or so in advance they can usually order in fresh tuna steaks for you (awesome!) or they will always have a stock of frozen you can pick up.
Here’s the recipe for quick, easy, and healthy Blackened Tuna Steaks which are perfectly paired wild rice, an arugula salad, and a glass of our new release 2012 Northridge Malbec. Cheers!
Now that the holidays have come to an end it is time to cheer on our favorite sports teams. Fidelitas decided what better way to show our support for the Seattle Seahawks than representing our Hawks pride at both of our tasting room locations this past weekend. One of the best parts of being a Seahawk fan is that we are everywhere, and you are part of a community. Like many, we will be cheering on our team this upcoming weekend and are hoping for the best, another trip to the Super Bowl.
Similar to Charlie’s motto, “It’s just wine” remember, “It’s just a game.” Whether you are a 12 or not, just appreciate what makes sports great and enjoy watching some good old fashioned football.
Team Fidelitas will be enjoying the game this Sunday with a glass of one of our favorites. GO HAWKS!!!
Just when you think you have seen all that Mother Nature would send our way, with 2013 being the warmest vintage on record, 2014 topped it. Our home, Red Mountain, had a record 3599 Growing Degree Days. Growing Degree Days are a measure of the amount of heat/sunshine, one gets over the course of a growing season. This warm vintage led to almost perfect growing conditions for ripening fruit throughout the state. Red Mountain was no exception with harvest starting right after Labor Day and continued until the first week in October.
If I remember correctly a year ago in this letter I was talking about 2013 being one of the warmest vintages on record, especially early on in the year. Those 2013 wines are shaping up quite nicely in barrel and we look forward to bottling those wines soon for release in the future. I would not hesitate to say that some of the best wine we have made to date, are still in barrel. Both 2013 and 2014 should be great ones for us in the future.
Our current releases are still focused around the 2010 and 2011 vintage. I’ve had the time to see how these wines have developed, and could not be happier with both for drinkability now and future ability to cellar these red wines. 2013 is our first vintage for white wines from Red Mountain. We made Semillon and Optu White, which is blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. We have been pleasantly surprised at the great quality from Klipsun Vineyard for our Red Mountain white wines.
Starting with our first release of the year in January, we will begin rolling out many of the new vintage 2012 red wines. We have done some initial sneak peeks at these wines and the response has been very positive from both critics and consumers.
A very big milestone to look forward to from us for the coming year is the release of our first Fidelitas Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has been many years in the making, going back to our purchase of the land in 2007, and now finally getting to the point where we have a wine bottled and ready for release. We currently have a little less than three acres of three different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon planted in our Estate Vineyard. The wine we bottled was a selection of the very best barrels and clones. The quantity of this inaugural wine is very limited, so do not hesitate to purchase once it is released.
We are very excited about the release of another new wine from Red Mountain: the 2012 Quintessence Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This vineyard site, just east of Col Solare, shows much promise and we look forward to the wines from this vineyard.
We are also expanding the number of Red Mountain focused wines with addition of Merlot, Petit Verdot, and a Red Wine from Ciel Du Cheval Vineyard. These wines will join our current offerings of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from this famous Red Mountain vineyard.
If you have been to our home on Red Mountain, you may have noticed the great amount of land being developed through the appellation. These new vineyard developments are a result of the new irrigation district formed on Red Mountain in conjunction with the Kennewick Irrigation District and the availability of water. This is a project many years in the making and will literally change the face of viticulture on Red Mountain. We will be part of this new viticultural development as we plan on planting nine acres ourselves in the spring of 2015. Many other acres will also go into production within the appellation. Currently there are about 1500 acres planted in the appellation. Within a couple of years the AVA will see around 3000 acres planted in total. Needless to say, we are in for some major changes on the mountain.
Thank you, to all of our loyal customers who have been supporters of Fidelitas throughout the years of our existence. I can honestly say that I think our best wines are yet to come.
This NYE we invited our neighbors (who happen to double as our best friends) over to our place for a night in avoiding the craziness that is New Years in Seattle.
Most of the evening we were sipping the 2011 Champoux Vineyard Merlot. This could be because we are all so happy Charlie finally released a Merlot again this winter after the long time gone Red Heaven Vineyard Merlot that sold out in the spring. It could also be that I gave everyone a bottle of the Champoux Merlot for Christmas because it's velvety, bold, beautiful...and currently my favorite wine in the line up.
The Champoux Merlot happens to be seen in both of these pictures of our favorite games of the evening. Wahoo (a marble game similar to Parcheesi), which we pull out and play almost monthly. Logan, our neighbor actually gifted a hand carved Wahoo board this year to his family for Christmas... seriously impressive carving skills he has.
We also brought out an old family favorite that some of you may recognize as Space Force or Shoot the Moon. Possibly the most fun was had with this one. Note: the more wine you drink the more hilarious the game.
We tried our hand at making an Angel Food Cake from scratch and it actually turned out to be DELICIOUS! Can you read my surprise here? I am by no means a baker. Tossed some raspberries on the side, drizzled with agave which literally made it sparkle, then piled on the whip cream. We served this with chilled glasses of our Klipsun Vineyard Late Harvest Semillon. I meant to drizzle the Late Harvest Semillon over the top of the cake however, by the time I remembered the cake was long gone.
Needless to say, we had a great night and were all happily tucked into our beds by 12:15. Cheers to our Fidelitas filled New Years!
1. The Gift Pack - You had me at hello, gift packs! I've already made so many decisions trying to perfect my gifts this year I just can't do it anymore. Thank you for already being assembled for me AND gift wrapped. With all of the effort I'm saving, I suppose I can sit back and enjoy a glass of wine instead of battling traffic on the way to the mall for the 3rd time this week.
2. The Gift Membership - This my friends, is the gift that keeps on giving...literally! Show your brother in Michigan that you're thinking of him all year with a membership to the Fidelitas Wine Club. We'll send them club releases four times throughout the year with access to Fidelitas' best releases, club only events, and complimentary tastings at both tasting rooms all year long. I must say, I also highly recommend this gift for your best friend who always ends up opening your favorite bottle of Fidelitas when they come to your house for dinner. Take my word for it, they will love you forever.
3. The Co-worker Gift - I owe this idea to some of our brilliant and ever so busy professionals in the club. We all have those people we work with everyday that listen to our rants about the 100 emails that are blowing up the system or those that get us coffee when we're on a 14 day stretch in the office. Without them, we would all have a case of the Monday's everyday, which is simply unacceptable. Give us their name and office address and you're done! We'll send them a bottle with a special note from you. *Hosting an office party? Think Columbia Valley Cabernet Splits as party favors!
4. The Drink Now/Save For Later - Seriously, you can give this to anyone and everyone and it's thoughtful and simply put... great. Here's how it goes: buy one bottle you don't feel guilty for opening up on a Tuesday night after work such as the 2012 4040 Red Wine (retail $32) or 2013 Klipsun Vineyard Optu White ($32) for the Drink Now portion. Then to Save for Later, give them something with a touch more elegance that can stand some time in the cellar such as the 2010 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (retail $65). You have given them something they can enjoy right away (for us instant gratification people) and something that they can open at a special occasion (say Christmas next year?!).
5. The Experience - Have you been dying to introduce your friends Fidelitas? Do you need more ideas for family time? How about a date with a special someone? Introduce them to Fidelitas with a tasting experience at either one of our tasting rooms. This includes a flight of five Fidelitas wines paired with cheeses for $30 for 2 people. This gift is an experience they will always remember!