Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Vertical Tasting



By Kori ~ December 2nd, 2009.

Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting, 2000 through 2007 vintagesFor those of you who are not familiar with a vertical tasting, it is a tasting in which you taste different vintages of the same wine from the same winery. We were first “wow”-ed by Fielding Hills in the summer of 2008. Since then, we have visited the winery, tasted all of their new releases, and even helped them with bottling. Last year, we were fortunate to be able to enjoy a vertical tasting of all six of the Syrah vintages they had produced up until that point. Of their 2007 releases that we tasted in October, we were particularly impressed with their Cabernet Sauvignon. So we were thrilled when we were able to get our hands on all eight vintages of Cab that they have produced, from their very first 2000 vintage to their recently released 2007 vintage, for another vertical tasting.

Fielding Hills Winery, located in Wenatchee, Washington, is a small, family-owned winery run by owner/winemaker Mike Wade and his wife Karen. The grapes for all eight of these wines were sourced from the Wade’s Riverbend Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA. However, the 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 vintages are labeled as Columbia Valley because Wahluke Slope was not established as an official AVA until 2006.

Last Friday, the four Wine Peeps and our good friends, Ross and Alison, sat down to dinner to enjoy this vertical tasting. While most of our tastings are blind, we decided not to taste these blind. We simply wanted to enjoy the wines and taste them in a logical order. We started with the oldest and worked our way to the youngest before we ate any food to try to get a good baseline for evaluation. We thoroughly enjoyed this tasting but all agreed that the Fielding Hills Syrah vertical tasting we had last year was better overall.

As you’ll see from the tasting notes below, we think that winemaker Mike Wade is really hitting his stride with the last four vintages, and 2007 is his best Cab yet.

In order of our preference in this tasting:

2007 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon2007 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope): Dark purple and very aromatic. Aromas of blackberry, black currant, spice, and leather led to flavors of black fruit, spice, leather, and coffee. Full-bodied with lively acidity and high, drying tannins. Extremely smooth and well-balanced with a very long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $38

2005 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope): Dark ruby red and very aromatic. Black fruits, oak, and vanilla on the nose; black fruits, vanilla, spice, and white pepper on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and high, drying tannins. Smooth and well-balanced with a very long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $38

2004 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope): Dark red and aromatic. Black fruit, earth, and green pepper aromas lead to vegetal and earthy flavors. Full-bodied with high tannins and a long finish. Improves with food and the longer it is open.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $32

2006 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope): Dark ruby red and aromatic. Aromas and flavors of black fruits, spice, vanilla, and a hint of pepper. Full-bodied and smooth with medium to high tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $38

2003 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope): Dark red in color. Nose is a bit tight. Black cherry, black currant, and spice come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $30

2002 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley): Dark garnet and aromatic. Black fruits, cinnamon, and chocolate come through on the nose; black fruits and baker’s chocolate on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with medium to high tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $28

2000 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley): Dark, dense brick color. Aromas of raisins and spice. Port-like flavors of raisins and spice come through on the palate as well. Medium to full-bodied with soft tannins and a very long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $20

2001 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley): During the dinner, we thought that this bottle was corked, and unfortunately did not have a second bottle on hand. However, we opened a second bottle last night to see if we could determine whether or not the first bottle was flawed. At first sniff, the second bottle seemed much better so we thought the first bottle was an isolated incident. However, we decided to leave it open for an hour and revisit it to replicate the conditions in which we tasted it during dinner. After it had had time to breathe, the same medicinal flavors and aromas of paint thinner and spoiled fruit that we observed in the first bottle were present. It seems that this wine is just past its prime and does not hold up well to air; therefore, we would not recommend it.
Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Where to buy: Winery, $26


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25

Reader's Comments

  1. @nectarwine | December 2nd, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Very cool! Never done a vertical tasting. Too bad about the 2001. Hopefully as my experience and collection grows, I’ll have this opportunity. In the meantime, I’ll live vicariously through ya’ll ;)

    Josh

  2. Mike Veseth | December 2nd, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    You guys are having way too much fun! I agree that the Fielding Hills wines are stunningly good.

  3. Kori | December 2nd, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Josh,
    If you get the chance, you should definitely do a vertical tasting sometime. It’s fascinating to limit factors like winery, winemaker, vineyard, and varietal, and just compare vintages. Very educational!

    Mike,
    We are having fun! :) And we continue to be amazed at the quality of Fielding Hills wines.

    Cheers!