Private Tasting: Vineyard-Designated Washington Red Blends

By Kori ~ December 8th, 2009.

2005 Grand Rêve Collaboration Series I Red Wine and 2005 Côte Bonneville Carriage House Red WineOftentimes, wineries in the United States produce blends from their leftovers. They put their best grapes into their varietal wines and then produce a blend from the grapes that don’t quite make the cut. There are some wineries, however, who strive to produce Bordeaux-style blends using the very best grapes that they can get. Two such Washington wineries are Grand Rêve and Côte Bonneville.

Recently, we had what turned out to be a showdown between two vineyard-designated Washington Red Blends in one of our double blind private tasting dinners featuring two wines from the 2005 vintage, the 2005 Grand Rêve Collaboration Series I Red Wine from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard and the 2005 Côte Bonneville Carriage House Red Wine from DuBrul Vineyard. For a more complete description of how we set up these private tastings, please refer to How We Taste.

Grand Rêve Vintners produces vineyard-designed wines from Red Mountain grown fruit by an all-star cast of Washington winemakers including Ben Smith of Cadence Winery, Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery, Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery, Carolyn Lakewold of Donedei, and Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery. Founded in 2004 by Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson, Grand Rêve (French for Great Dream) has planted their own estate vineyard on the upper slopes of Red Mountain above Col Solare. Their first harvest from the estate vineyard is planned for 2010. In the meantime, they are focusing on fruit from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard.

Côte Bonneville, located near Sunnyside, Washington, is the estate winery for DuBrul Vineyard. Both the winery and the vineyard are owned by Hugh and Kathy Shiels. The Shiels planted their first wine grapes in 1992 and started their own winery in 2001 after their last child left home. They are running a first class operation: amazing fruit, amazing wines, and amazing people.

Both of these wines are excellent and paired perfectly with Mom’s dinner of prime rib, baked yams, and sautéed green beans. We had tasted both of these wines previously. It is always fun and quite interesting to revisit wines over time to see if and how they change. Both wines have consistently received high marks from us.

2005 Grand Rêve Collaboration Series I Red Wine (Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain, Washington): 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 13% Petit Verdot, 12% Merlot. Winemaker Ben Smith of Cadence Winery. Very dark purple with dark black fruit aromas, especially black cherry, and hints of licorice, spice, cinnamon, cloves, and mothballs. More black fruits, spice, vanilla, and coffee come through on the palate. Full-bodied with high, drying tannins. Big, bold, well-balanced, and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $55; Available elsewhere, $46 to $70

2005 Côte Bonneville Carriage House Red Wine (DuBrul Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc. Dark purple and very aromatic. Black fruits, oak, and bacon come through on the nose; more black fruits, bacon, as well as licorice on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with high, drying tannins. Lively acidity and a long finish. Improves with food and the longer it is open.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $50; Available elsewhere, $41 to $65

Filed under: American Wine, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

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