Part 2, Washington State: visiting one of North America's leading wine
Betz is a master of wine, and one of the leading figures in the
Washington State wine scene. For many years, he was the brand
ambassador of Chateau Ste Michelle, and he began the Betz Family
wine brand in 1997. He's now into his 19th vintage, after starting
with just 150 cases, building gradually to the current size of 5500
cases. 65% is sold direct to private customers on the mailing list.
Washington State, most of the famous vineyards are owned by growers
who don't make wine. So Betz own a few key vineyards, but then pay a
premium for special rows and blocks in the vineyards they buy from.
Production here is exclusively red, save for a bit of saignée
years ago Steve Griessel (above)
bought the winery from Bob and Cathy Betz. 'They needed a succession
plan,' says Steve. He had previously looked in Napa, Sonoma and
Oregon, but the appeal of Washington State was the collegiate nature
of the industry here. 'The Washingtonians are so into the wines.' He
also likes the pioneer phase that the industry is in here. 'You are
not going to surprise anyone with a Napa Valley Cabernet.' Bob is
still the winemaker and calls the shots.
highlights one of the advantages of the region. There's a big
diurnal shift in temperature: after very hot days the temperature
plummets and this helps retain acidity in the berries. This means
there's no need to acidify. He favours short macerations.
varieties are well suited to this region.
Betz La Côte
Rousse Syrah 2006 Red Mountain, Washington State
14.5% alcohol. Rich, warm, sweet and spicy with a slight green
edge. Nicely focused with a bit of spiciness and some creamy black
fruits. There's a hint of earth, too. 90/100
Betz La Côte
Rousse Syrah 2012 Red Mountain, Washington State
Fresh, sweet black cherry and plum fruit with some green notes,
and also a bit of blackcurrant. Stylish with pure sweet fruit. Quite
linear with hints of pepper and cinnamon, and some warm spicy notes.
Betz Besoleil 2012 Columbia Valley, Washington State
50% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 15% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah. 14.7%
alcohol. Sweet, open black cherry fruit nose is dense and rich and
direct with some blackberry and cherry fruit on the palate. Good
structure with some hints of green. 91/100
Frangin 2012 Columbia Valley, Washington State
14.7% alcohol, a Bordeaux blend with a bit of Syrah. Supple and
ripe with black cherry and blackberry fruit. Smooth, textured and
with nice finesse. Supple and easy but with a hint of seriousness.
Clos de Betz 2011 Columbia Valley, Washington State
14% alcohol. Merlot-dominant blend. Powerful, fresh and supple
with black fruits and a hint of mint. Bright and structured with a
fresh, focused core of dark fruits. A cooler year. 92/100
Betz Père de Famille 2011 Columbia Valley, Washington State
Labelled Cabernet Sauvignon, but it has some Merlot and Petit
Verdot in there. Very stylish, pure and supple with focused sweet
black cherry fruit. Silky black fruits here with smoothness and
texture. Impressive. 93/100
WASHINGTON STATE WINES
du Cheval Vineyard
with Kevin Pogue
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com