Cadence, Leonetti, and Northstar Wines

Over the course of the year we’ve opened up some Washington wines that have been doing time. Not hard time, but around a decade of aging give or take. So far we’ve been very fortunate and discovered that these reds have shown that they are indeed age worthy. I find that impressive, particularly considering that today’s wines are often produced to meet consumer demand for wines that are ready to drink now. If you can bring yourself to wait, there are rewards to be had.

1994 Mount Baker Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – Roger was haunted by this wine after bringing it to one of my dinner parties back in the days of the wooing (that’s when we were dating). We drove up to the winery this spring on a mission to pick up a magnum from the winery’s library. On the nose, we got library books – you know that kind of aged leather, dusty aroma. My best descriptor for this wine on the palate is umami. We matched this wine with smoked tomatoes and it was the star pairing at Roger’s birthday dinner.

1998 Cadence Spring Valley – Roger and I ended up with this powerful red wine during an open house at Cadence years ago when we purchased a “mystery six pack.” The wine had been stored in our Vinotemp. Ben Smith’s wines only get better with age.

2000 Northstar Merlot – We received this in our club shipment just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Part of the reason we are members of Northstar Wine Club is that we receive library wines such as this one on occasion, and they hold up beautifully. We’ve also tasted the 2002 and 2003 vintages from Northstar this year, and they all demonstrate that Washington Merlot is age worthy.

2000 Russell Creek Merlot – Roger and I purchased this wine on our first trip to Walla Walla in 2003. We stored this bottle  in our Vinotemp and recently, and impulsively, opened this wine while enjoying dinner with friends. It was the highlight of the evening. Unfortunately, that makes me a little sad. Larry Krivoshein, who crafted this beautiful wine, has since sold the winery. I haven’t tasted the wines produced following that transition, so am not sure how they will compare. One thing I’ve noticed is that the price points have moved up quite a bit. This Washington Merlot was priced around $30 at the time we purchased it.

2001 Columbia Winery Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley David Lake Signature Series – I was concerned that we hadn’t done a good job of storing this wine, as I had always intended to drink it sooner rather than later. Not to worry, it was still in good shape when we opened it earlier this month while enjoying dinner at one of Bean’s barbecues. In fact, the consensus was that it probably hasn’t peaked yet. Much to my surprise, I recently saw some of this juice for sale at the Metropolitan Market.

2001 Leonetti Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine had been stored in our Vinotemp. We opened it in March to celebrate the launch of Bean’s Food and Wine Pairing Network. The wine was smooth and rich offering tobacco and chocolate on the palate. I enjoyed it paired with the herb sables specially prepared by our guest, Jenny.

2001 Nota Bene Cellars Kestrel View Estates Vineyard:  Yakima Valley – My friend Cathy had been wanting to taste some wine from Nota Bene Cellars, so we opened this bottle at one of my birthday parties. The blend consisted of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. This was the winery’s freshman release, so all the more reason to be impressed that it held up over time. Cathy enjoyed every drop she drank.

2003 JM Cellars Columbia Valley Cuvee – This was another wine we opened at the Food and Wine Pairing Network launch party. It was one of the favorites of the night.

Do you buy more wine than you can consume is a short time period? Then it is advisable to purchase age worthy wines. How do you determine a wine’s age-ability? Paul Gregutt offers some helpful tips on the age ability of Washington wines at his blog Unfined and Unfiltered.