For the team at Fidelitas, July and August are the calm before the storm. At the winery we have bottling, racking, and barrel-sample tasting, but nothing compared to the long and now looming days of harvest. In the tasting rooms we have a few parties to throw and summer traffic brought upon by the warmer weather, but still relatively mellow compared to Fall club release. In anticipation my dad and I have been gradually going through and popping open some of these upcoming releases and comparing notes with other winemakers to see how things are progressing and have been pleasantly surprised with the balance and age-worthiness of these wines coming off the extremely hot '14 and '15 vintages.
Optu & Magna members make sure to make your Preview Tasting reservations so you get the chance to taste all of these before they're gone -- I'll see you there!
Note, the "Club" flag indicates which wines we expect to be club exclusive releases
Good news! You won't have to wait til the fall to get some killer Malbec. Some not so good news, is that we only made 4 barrels worth so it won't be in the tasting room long. Compared to our "Red Mountain" and "Quintessence" releases, the Canyons reminds me most of the high-elevation Argentenian Malbecs that I've worked with which aren't as fruit forward as Washington and have more pronounced spicy and sweeter-pyrazine roasted pepper characteristics. All 96 cases are sourced from a single block on the edge of the Canyon that runs through the middle of the vineyard - we bottled this micro-climate to share with you. This is the second-edition, we made an initial lot of 96 cases in 2014.
The Canyons Vineyard, Block 11 Malbec - Harvest 2018
September | 88 cases | $50
This is our third edition of Quintessence Sauvignon Blanc. It's no surprise that Sauv Blanc excels in the same growing regions around the world as Cabernet Sauvignon. We decided to add one to the lineup in 2016 and model it after other world-class Cabernet houses which took their palates and winemaking techniques from Cabernet and apply them to making the best single varietal Sauv Blanc possible. Since 2016 we've used the Vicard Ovonum barrels which because of their unique shape gives better lees mixing and adds specific texture to the wine that we love. So much so that we decided to leave the juice in barrel all Summer turning it into a September instead of April release. For our SB lovers out there thanks for your patience! Some good news, we've doubled the production this year (we bought another egg) and we promise the wait will be worth it.
Charlie with his freshly picked bins of 2018 Quintessence Sauv Blanc
September | 232 cases | $80
Winemaking and grapegrowing can be the ultimate test of patience. A wise winemaker that I used to work for who's family had been in the wine business for 100+ years, used to think in matters of decades and generations vs. quarters and vintages. There's something about being at the mercy of mother nature year after year, and having a product that you pour your heart and soul into that people may not end up enjoying for another 10+ years down the line that gives you a whole other level of patience. As a young winemaker I try to keep this same mentality when looking at our Estate. For those of you keeping track at home, we planted in 2008, made our first Estate Cab bottling in 2012. Each vintage since then we to try to keep our heads down and make the best wine possible, and each year when we go through and taste through the barrel samples our patience is rewarded as these young vines mature and create wines with more depth and complexity than the year prior. For the 2016 vintage we've used our same blend of Clones 2 and Clone 6 from the 2008 planting with 100% of the different lots fermented in oak vessels, another signature of the Estate Cab: 50% 2 Ton Open Top Oak Tank, 40% 500L Roller Barrel, and 10% 500L Upright Barrel. The combination of the growing site, the specific clones we've selected, and oak fermentation techniques give the Estate Cab a rich and silky tannin structure that sets it apart from the rest of our lineup.
Charlie overlooking the Estate at the 2019 Red Mountain Cab Summit. Red Mountain sunsets seem to last forever because there's nothing West but the Yakima Valley to block the sun and is an important factor to why we consistently get vintages with the most sunlight and heat compared to other growing areas in WA.
September | 626 cases | $55
We've produced a Clone 8 (dubbed the Washington clone, chances are if you have a "Columbia Valley Cab" you're drinking Clone 8) dominant Red Mountain Cabernet since 2010 with the same vision in mind, take those famous "traditional Red Mountain Cabernet characteristics" and put them in a bottle. It's hard to explain exactly what we mean by this but I think we did a mighty fine job in those original 2010 tasting notes: "Fidelitas releases the 2010 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon as it’s first varietal Red Mountain Cabernet using a blend of top vineyards from Red Mountain. The nose offers rich aromas of dark cherry, black currant, vanilla and a dusty herbal quality, rising from a deep hued ruby tone. The lively palate extends additional notes of black raspberry, clove, black licorice and a very subtle gamey quality, all settled within present yet balanced tannins and a lengthy finish." We now a few site specific cabernets with their own unique characteristics like Ciel du Cheval or Quintessence, but with this wine we're taking different vineyards and qualities of different barrels that we like and in a sense making a blend of cabernets. I think this the perfect bottle to share with friends to introduce them to Red Mountain because it 100% Cab, which the AVA has become most known for, is delicious no matter how long you decide to cellar it, and has a definite sense of place.
"Red Mountain vs. the World" tasting at RM Cab Summit, 2019 comparing Red Mountain to other world-class Cabernet growing regions.
September | 336 cases | $50
Montis, Latin for mountain, is an exciting new product named for the Mountain that we call home and the source of a bunch of different growing partners for this bottling. In 2016 with the warm Spring and heavy fruit set, we had more high-quality fruit come into the winery than expected. We've listened in the tasting room for years now and realized that we have tons of members who like blends best and wanted to share a club-exclusive version with y'all. Plus, our winemaking team saw a creative opportunity to create a blend without varietal or vineyard limitations to go along with all of the different single varietal, single vineyard bottlings that we've become known for. Here's what we came up with:
Vineyard breakdown: 53% Quintessence Vineyard, 18% Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, 14% Red Mountain Vineyard, 8% Red Heaven Vineyard, 3% Kiona Vineyard, 2% Shaw Vineyard, 2% Blackwood Canyon Vineyard.
Varietal breakdown: 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 6% Malbec.
September | 142 cases | $60
Our Old Vines Merlot was first dreamt up in 2015 when we were able to get access to the Kiona Estate 1975 Merlot planting. In 2016 we've ran back the same blend of original Merlot plantings at Kiona and Ciel du Cheval, the founding partners of Red Mountain. To me, this wine is the most Old World in style and is much less fruit driven than our Red Mountain Merlot for example. Instead of bright red strawberry and bing cherry we get dried fig, rose, dark chocolate, and scorched earth balanced with a lovely front-palate acidity. Charlie has known since the early 90's that Washington was a world-class Merlot growing region and we believe this wine would stand up to some of the famous right-bank Bordeaux houses (someone want to arrange this tasting for us? We'll bring the Old Vines). This wine was a fan favorite of the 2018 July Preview Tasting, so make sure to order some ahead of its release to get a bottle of Red Mountain history.
Kiona '75 Merlot, Harvest 2018
The famous Ciel du Cheval Barn, Harvest 2018
Ciel du Cheval is one of the most well-known vineyards in the state of Washington and has been a staple of our lineup since the 2006 Ciel du Cheval Cab which was our first 100% single vineyard Cab from Red Mountain. Since 2006, as our relationship with Jim Holmes developed and we were able to get access to more fruit, and in 2012 Ciel du Cheval became a staple of our lineup with us releasing 5 different vineyard designate bottlings. It's amazing that a single vineyard is able to produce such exceptional fruit quality that these varietlas which are usually blending components are able to be complext enought to stand on their own. When we first introduced the Cab in 2006 we were sourcing from all over the Columbia Valley and the Ciel du Cheval bottling, which was our only Red Mountain wine at the time, stuck out as the most concentrated and tannic one in the bunch. Our love for wines like this lead us into sourcing more Red Mountain fruit each vintage to where now the role of Ciel du Cheval has shifted a little. In a sense it's now the elder statesmen of our lineup showing more subtle old-vine complexity and elegance where you have to go searching for these nuances especially when compared to vineyards like Quintessence, Fidelitas Estate, and Blackwood which are anything but subtle - we've had to adjust our winemaking techniques and barrel selectionsa accordingly to accentuate these "CDC" characteristics. Keep that in mind when tasting through the gamut of Ciel du Cheval wines at the Preview Tastings and see if you can pick out those similarities.
More info on Ciel du Cheval:
November | 384 cases | $75
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Aging: 75% New French Oak
Oak Fermentation: 32% 500L Roller Barrel, 18% 500L Upright Barrel
November | 290 cases | $65
50% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc
Aging: 67% New French Oak, 8% New American Oak
Fermentation: 8% 500L Roller Barrel
November | 143 cases | $60
Aging: 50% New French Oak, 17% New American Oak
Fermentation: 17% 500L Roller Barrel
November | 140 cases | $60
100% Cabernet Franc
Aging: 66% New French Oak
November | 96 cases | $55
100% Petit Verdot
Aging: 50% New French Oak, 25% New American Oak
Fermentation: 50% 500L Roller Barrel, 25% 500L Upright Barrel
Featuring our 2016 CDC Cab vs. some of our neighbors, Red Mountain Cab Summit 2019
November | 350 cases | $35
We've yet to put together the final blend for our 2018 Optu White but we're extremely pleased with how the barrel samples are progressing. If the 2018 Red Mountain Semillon is any indication than it's going to be an excellent vintage for whties. We can tell you that it'll be the classic ~60/40 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Bordeaux Blanc style blend and will be released just in time for Holiday celebrations.
When I started with Fidelitas in 2008, my job was solely to work directly with the members of the Fidelitas Wine Club. Over the years, I’ve had the joy of interacting with so many of you on Red Mountain, in Seattle (remember that?), in Woodinville, and lots of time on the phone with those of you who live a little further away. I know dog’s names, locations of vacation houses, and your mom’s favorite beverage (which isn’t always wine). Members remember when I got married on Red Mountain and my kid’s names, but I still manage to confuse many on where exactly I live in the state.
Over the years, my job has evolved, and I don’t get to work with everyone on the individual level as often (shout out to Skye and Michelle on the Club Team who get the pleasure now). However, one thing remains the same since we as a company committed to the Club back in 2008: everything we do is for you. We make products designed with the Club in mind, many of which were requested by you. We’ve opened tasting rooms, hosted unique and educational events, and created a special Club just for people who live out of state.
Our vision for 2020 and beyond is to continue this trend and be even better at it. We have plans in the works to enhance the guest experience in all arenas of the Club and are so excited to share them with you. In the meantime, we’d love to know how you’re doing. Drop us a note, tag us on Instagram (@FidelitasWines), pick up the phone, or come visit us in the tasting room. We’d love to hear all about it.
Thank you for being a member. We truly appreciate your being faithful, loyal, and true to Fidelitas.
Jess Zander, Fidelitas GM
Magna Dinner, June 2019
Every year we are met with the same signs that summer is here. At Fidelitas it’s a once brown and bare vineyard turned to lush green, the release of our Semillon for patio season, and our dreadfully quiet tasting rooms once again filled with friends and new faces. One less obvious indicator that summer has arrived is bottling week at Wine Boss. There’s nothing like watching the bottling truck pull up knowing that soon the wine that been waiting in barrel for the last 2 years is finally going to make its way into bottle, and eventually out into the world.
Bill Hamlin of Custom Mobile Bottling spent much of his early career bottling and packaging fruit juices and wine at Ocean Spray then Chateau Ste. Michelle which is where he and Charlie met back in the ’90s. At that time, Charlie encouraged Bill to branch out on his own and what do you know, he just as well did it, and he’s arguably the best in the biz.
His mobile bottling truck doesn’t look like more than a semi-truck from the outside, but on the inside is state of the art bottling machinery. Most small to medium-sized wineries, like us, choose to use mobile bottling as it’s more cost effective than investing in a $50,000 bottling line that only gets used a few times per year. Instead, we call in the expert who does this every day. He and his truck are an invaluable part of the final process before wines get introduced into the world.
In addition, Bill uses a cross-flow filtration system for filtering wine before bottling. Yeasts that escape the filtering or fining process, for example, can result in refermentation in the bottle and can alter the flavor. His equipment is the best for filtering out all the leftover junk and leaves nothing but the purest juice. You can actually see and taste the difference between the wine before and after cross-flow filtration, the latter being less murky and much softer on your pallet.
His truck has a bottom-feed volumetric filler, designed to minimize splashing as the wine is transported into bottles. After the bottles are vacuum-sparged, wine pumped from tanks into the filler is measured into the bottles, and then automatically leveled to a consistent volume. Then bottles are sealed with a cork and pushed off the line and placed in boxes. From there the wines are palletized, 56 cases per pallet to be exact, and sent to Vintners Logistics until they are ready to be released.
This week we are bottling the 2017 vintage red wines for Fidelitas, roughly 7500 cases or 90,000 bottles. These wines will be released in 2020.
Honorable mention to our team of bottlers who put loads of manual labor on bottling day. Thank you for waking up with the sun and lasting through the long, hot, hours in the truck.
Ideas and facts for this post came from https://www.goodfruit.com/bottling-on-wheels/. Thank you for the great publication.
Tasting wines completely blind is one of the most humbling things you can put yourself through especially if you consider yourself somewhat of a connoisseur. When we open a bottle of wine, pull a barrel sample, or step up to a familiar tasting bar we bring all sorts of baggage with us that effects our perception of what we're about to taste and makes it impossible to be unbiased. For example, in the winery, if we walk up to a barrel that's holding our favorite varietal from our favorite vineyard site and the specific barrel producer is one that we love we've already decided our opinion of the wine before even taking a sip. We constantly go through and taste blends and barrel samples blindly to make sure that we're critically and fairly judging all of our wines.
Here are some tips for you and your friends to throw your own blind-tasting party!
It’s that time of year again. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are (inconsistently) warming, I can smell BBQs around the neighborhood, and white wines and roses are starting to fill my inbox. It must be time for Semillon!
This upcoming weekend marks the official release of Fidelitas’ 2018 Red Mountain Semillon. Charlie sources this fruit from Klipsun Vineyard, which is the perfect site for white wines on Red Mountain. While it gets the hot days the region is known for, this lower elevation block, also experiences cooler nighttime temps, which lets the grape take a break and retain a nice acidity. In the 2018 vintage, Charlie used a 225L French Oak egg with a small portion of the Semillon, which subtly rounds out the finished product. It’s a perfect summertime sipper, brimming with bright, fresh fruit tones.
We love this wine around my house. Pre-children, my husband and I would share a bottle on the front porch, watching people stroll by and enjoying the summer nights. We don’t have quite as many quiet moments now days, but I still love a glass on a sunny evening, cooking dinner and watching the kids tear the house apart. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy Semillon:
Nothing kicks off a Fidelitas party quite like a long line up of pretty glasses, filled with Semillon.
We always pack a few bottles with us on our summer trip to Lopez Island. Semillon and fresh crab? Yes, please!
It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. While writing the technical notes for this new release, I whipped up a quick dinner of roasted sweet potatoes, purple cabbage and edamame slaw, and coconut rice. This may have been one of my favorite pairings I’ve ever done with this wine.
This is by far the BEST way to enjoy Fidelitas’ Red Mountain Semillon. I hope everyone can make it to Red Mountain at some point to relax in an Adirondack, soak in some sunshine and views, and enjoy a glass of white wine. With friends…or on your own for a bit of quiet time (again: yes, please!).
With only 157 cases produced…this won’t make it til the end of the summer.
What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend?
Every year Fidelitas hosts BBQ + Band on everyone's favorite patio. Did you know it's supposed to be in the 80's at our home on Red Mountain this weekend? What better way to celebrate the sunshine than by enjoying some delicious BBQ by Outlaw Catering, and listening to some soulful jams by Black Dolly? Pair that with some of our 2016 The Canyons Vineyard Red Wine and your weekend really can't be beat. An insider tip...we may be featuring a special wine that isn't being released until June. Any guesses what it is? Hint: we only produced 190 cases and it's our favorite summer sipper!
We hope to see our members and their friends this Sunday, May 26th. We'll have a glass waiting!
We prepped the days before getting everything ready for lots and lots of packing and formatted our email late in to the night Tuesday until it was just right. We fiddled with our UPS strategies making sure the promotion was set up correctly and you’d receive free shipping just like we promised. Team Fidélitas was in place ready to field calls and emails and tell you all about the amazing wines that we could send your way.
When we sat at the computer early Wednesday morning and tried to send the email, unfortunately, we ran into technical difficulties. Of course, this happens on Free Ship Day! The posts were already out on social media so we thought that would be good enough and we worked all day with the amazing support team at WineDirect to get our emails back on track and try the email again Thursday. It turns out that the Facebook and Instagram algorithm didn’t like our posts because it included text on the image. We got only 20 likes (shout out to you 20 people!).
Yesterday, technology was not on our side. The cool thing about it was the amazing people who worked together to resolve the issues and get us back on track today. Did you know that our small team sees every single order that comes in and, quite literally, does a little happy dance every time? Free Ship Day is more than a promotion to us. It’s a day when we get to send a little piece of Red Mountain out to all of our friends. We pack each box in house, by hand, with care obsessing over every detail.
Some days these are the tales of being a small business. We are so excited that today is (finally) Free Ship Day. We hope we get to send a piece of Red Mountain to you.
This past Tuesday the entire Fidelitas management team met for our First Annual Leadership Summit to plan our attack for the rest of the year + set our big long-term goals. As is custom at these type of meetings we pepper my dad with questions about Fidelitas history, vineyard philosophy, his career, etc... Every time I hear him talk I learn new things and I'm reminded of things that I haven't heard in a while. Here's my top 5:
1. The original 400 cases of the Fidelitas Meritage had "Fidelis" printed on the corks which was the original name of the winery before we got a cease and desist letter from Safeway re: a "Fidelis" liquor brand that was in their posession. Does anyone have any of the original Fidelis brandy that they're willing to share?
2. Although his first "official" vintage in Washington was in 1989 at Snoqualmie-Langguth working under Mike Januik the first ever Washington wine that my dad made was a 1983 Riesling from a vineyard just outside Pasco, WA made in my grandfather's, his father-in-law's kitchen. His name, Daniel Fidelis O'Neil.
A young Daniel Fidelis O'Neil picture in the Seattle Times
3. He got hired on at 3 Rivers in 1999 as their first winemaker with the agreement that he'd be able to start his own wine label. He spent the 2001 & 2001 harvests there commuting from Tri-Cities everyday.
4. In 1993 he was hired as the head Red Winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle after focusing on their white wine making from 1990 to 1992. His first task was to manage the Canoe Ridge facility which was the first, modern, large-scale red wine-making facility in Washington state. He said from 1993-1998 so much was getting thrown at him that he was able to learn massive amounts in such a short period of time all while at the forefront of red winemaking in the state.
A bottle of 1993 Ste Michelle Cab that we were able to enjoy recently courtesy of Compass Wines. We were amazed at how well this wine was holding up, Mike Januik wasn't lying!
5. His first job in the wine industry was in 1985-86 as a lab tech at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma while studying at UC Davis.
As we near the end of club season, some might be wondering how they are going to wait until September for a whole new set of releases. Don’t worry, Fidelitas will always have you covered (except for that one time we ran out of wine). To pair perfectly with your summer BBQ’s, family reunions, and parties galore we have two wines that you'll need to add to your collection.
coming in June
coming in July and only 96 cases produced
But before we add those two new additions to the tasting lineup, there are a couple of wines you might want to snag now before they sell out.
only 55 cases remain
only 95 cases remain
members only, contact me to order
All four of these wines together create the perfect bundle. Does someone want a 100% Semillon, or something with a little more acidity like the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend? Do you have a big Malbec lover at the party, or someone who likes a blend but still enjoys what Malbec has to offer? Be sure to get on our mailing list if you’re not already so you can stay up to date on our newest releases.
The Feast of St Fidelis is our longest running annual event dating back to when we first opened our tasting room on Red Mountain in May 2007. While this is only my 6th time attending, I must say the Feast is my favorite way to ring in warm Spring days on the patio while celebrating our wonderful members and the anniversary of making our home on Red Mountain.
Five Reasons You Should Attend the Feast This Year:
Members can purchase tickets here. See you in the taco line!