Fielding Hills Cabernet Franc Vertical Tasting [Wow! Alert]



By Kori ~ January 23rd, 2013.

For 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. Previously, we have had the pleasure to enjoy vertical tastings of their Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot that have demonstrated the remarkable consistency that Fielding Hills has been able to produce since their very first vintage. We were thrilled when we were able to get our hands on all eight vintages of Cabernet Franc that they have produced, from the 2003 vintage to the current 2010 vintage, for another vertical tasting.

Fielding Hills Winery, a small, family-owned winery in Wenatchee, is one of the top wineries in Washington State. Owner/winemaker Mike Wade and his wife Karen are longtime apple and cherry growers who have turned a middle portion of their orchard near Mattawa into a vineyard. The grapes for all nine of these wines were sourced from the Wade’s Riverbend Vineyard, planted in 1998, 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. Strictly red wine producers, Fielding Hills’ current production is about 1400 cases.

Recently, the four Wine Peeps and our good friends, Mark and Jill and Doug and Amee, 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. [Unfortunately, the bottle of the 2007 vintage that we had during the dinner was corked, and we did not have a second bottle on hand. A few days later, we were able to get our hands on another bottle, which, thankfully, was good. So my tasting notes below for the 2007 vintage are for that bottle and not the one we had during the dinner.]

This tasting was fabulous! Once again, we were amazed at the consistency of quality in these wines. They paired extremely well with Mom’s dinner of tomato basil soup, mixed green salad with apples, caramelized leeks and maple Dijon dressing, roasted pork tenderloin with southwestern and peppercorn seasonings, baked mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and non-fried ice cream garnished with fresh raspberries and drizzled with chocolate raspberry balsamic vinegar for dessert.

You can’t go wrong with any of these wines. In fact, all eight wines were very good and received a Quality Rating of at least 3.5 stars (out of 5). We thought that six out of the eight were excellent and rated them as 4 stars (out of 5) or higher. Once again, we were “wow”-ed by the 2008 vintage and gave it a rare 5 stars (out of 5). It remains the best Cab Franc I’ve ever had. The oldest vintages are still holding up well, but Mike really seems to be hitting his stride with the last three vintages.

If you are ever in the Wenatchee area, Fielding Hills is a stop you do not want to miss. I encourage you to give Mike and Karen a call to make an appointment to visit the winery. And regardless of whether you are able to visit or not, try to get your hands on a bottle or two of Fielding Hills wine and enjoy.

From oldest to youngest:

2003 Fielding Hills Cabernet Franc (Riverbend Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep garnet in color. Aromatic with red fruit, prune, herbs, and licorice on the nose. Red cherry and vegetal notes come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long, slightly bitter, finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $28

2004 Fielding Hills Cabernet Franc (Riverbend Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep, dark garnet. Nice nose with red fruit and cinnamon aromas. More cinnamon as well as red and black cherry comes through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $28

2005 Fielding Hills Cabernet Franc (Riverbend Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep, dark red. Nice nose with red fruit, caramel, and floral aromas. Red and black fruit, spice, and floral notes come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $30

2006 Fielding Hills Cabernet Franc (Riverbend Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep red in color. Aromatic with red fruit and floral aromas on the nose. Fruit-forward with bright red fruit, floral notes, and a touch of spice on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $30

2007 Fielding Hills Cabernet Franc (Riverbend Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): 88% Cabernet Franc, 6% Syrah, 4% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, dark garnet red. Aromatic with black cherry and cinnamon on the nose. Fruit-forward with black cherry and spice on the palate as well. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long, slightly bitter, finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $30

2008 Fielding Hills Cabernet Franc (Riverbend Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): 88% Cabernet Franc, 6% Syrah, 4% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, dark red in color. Gorgeous nose with red and black fruit, spice, floral, and a touch of bell pepper aromas. Luscious black cherry, spice box, and herbal notes come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and high, dry tannins. Extremely well-balanced and smooth with good complexity and a very long, lingering finish. Still the best Cabernet Franc I’ve ever had. Wow!
Quality: 5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $30

2009 Fielding Hills Cabernet Franc (Riverbend Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): 90% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah, 3% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, dark red. Nice nose with black cherry, raspberry, and spice aromas. Black cherry, spice, and a touch of black pepper come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a very long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $30

2010 Fielding Hills Cabernet Franc (Riverbend Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): 85% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah, 5% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, dark red in color. Beautiful nose with red and black fruit, cinnamon, and clove aromas. Black cherry, cinnamon, and clove come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity, and high, dry tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Winery Release: $30


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Franc, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Five-Star Quality Wines, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wine Tasting Dinners, Wines Over $25

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