As the sun is slowly setting on Washington Wine Month, we bring you another exciting feature. Set atop of Red Mountain, the Force Majeure Vineyard is one of the most scenic properties in Washington State as it has absolutely gorgeous, sweeping views of the valley. The vineyard is farmed by Dick Boushey’s vineyard management team. Superstar winemaker, Todd Alexander, the former winemaker at Bryant Family Vineyards in Napa, heads this project and regularly travels to the vineyard. In Napa Todd learned from some of the brightest names in wine, including eminent vineyard manager David Abreu and famous winemaking consultant Michel Rolland. The future releases by Todd are clear of one thing – his talent is in the glass, as these are some incredible new release wines.
I recently had the chance to sit down with Todd and run through their impressive future releases. Todd talked about his experiences in Napa and how he continues to learn about farming and winemaking in Washington. Having had many previous release wines from this estate, there is a clear difference between the former wines and the level of depth and complexity in Todd’s wines. I was completely overwhelmed by two of their future Bordeaux varietal wines. Their 2014 Force Majeure ‘Epinette’ Red Wine (WWB, 95), which was just bottled, is a captivating, intense Merlot dominant wine. The wine was brooding and Napaesque, needing more than two hours in the decanter to show. The mouthfeel and viscosity of the wine was tremendous. Similarly, their 2014 Force Majeure Cabernet Sauvignon (WWB, 95) needed a ton of time in the decanter but once the dust settled the wine came alive with bright and vibrant flavors and incredible intensity. These wines are sure to impress any lover of great Washington Cabernet and Merlot. They also show the wonder potential of this vineyard. While their tasting room in Woodinville is by appointment, they plan on someday expanding to the Walla Walla area which will be very exciting. Here are the great future releases by Force Majeure Vineyards.
2015 Holocene 'Memorialis' Pinot Noir- (Release November 2016). This is a 200 case production wine that was sourced from the Monk's Gate vineyard which is west facing and marine sedimentary soils. The wine begins with aromas of red raspberry, forest floor, anise and spicebox with red cherry. The wine has flavors of red cherry, red raspberry, cremini mushroom and bright acidity. This has a saline aspect with nice minerality. Drink 2016-2026- 92
2014 Force Majeure 'Parvata' Red Wine- (Release Jan 2017). This is from a Sandscit name for Mountain. The wine has a massive dark core. This is all estate fruit and a blend of 40% Mourvedre, 35% Syrah and 25% Grenache. The wine has a bouquet of smoked brisket, provencale herbs, sagebrush, blackberry pie and hints of mocha. There are flavors of black cherry, mocha, black olive, creosote and hints of black pepper with an extremely long finish. The fruit weight and minerality of this wine is exceptional. This massive wine needs another year of bottle age to settle and for more fruit to integrate. Drink 2017-2028- 94
2014 Force Majeure Syrah- (Release Jan 2017). This has one percent Viognier blended into the Syrah. The Viognier was fermented in concrete and the Syrah was mostly fermented in concrete prior to blending. The wine begins with aromatics reminiscent of white pepper, anise, blackberry jam, sagebrush and crushed wildflowers. There are deep flavors of black cherry, anise, creme cassis, black olive, and spicebox. The texture is gorgeous and the brisk minerality is impressive considering the heat of the vintage. Drink 2017- 2026- 94
2014 Force Majeure 'Epinette' Red Wine- (Release August 2017). This is their take on a right bank Bordeaux. The wine is a blend of 58% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet and 5% Petit Verdot that was aged 22 months in 80% new French oak. The wine begins with aromatics of creme de cassis, anise, sagebrush, sandalwood and mocha. There are flavors of anise, creme de cassis, green olive, mocha that sit alongside moderate tannins. This has a gorgeous texture and marvelous fruit weight. After two plus hours of decanting this becomes even more massive, displaying a deeper, muscular concentration with incredible viscosity. The range of flavors and aromatics are there, with the dense fruit weight that gives this a beautiful comparison to a top right bank Bordeaux. Kudos to head winemaker Todd Alexander on this excellent Merlot dominant wine. Drink 2017-2030- 95
2014 Force Majeure Cabernet Sauvignon- (Release Aug 2017). It has been highly impressive to see what this estate has performed following the hire of head winemaker Todd Alexander from Napa's Bryant Family Vineyards. Having reviewed more than a thousand Washington wines in the past 15 years, the difference for this estate, Todd's hand, is in the glass. This hedonistic Cabernet wine is 93% Cabernet with 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. Todd Alexander saw the blending as adding to the aromatics of this wine. This Cabernet wine opens with aromas of creme de cassis, creosote, mocha, eucalyptus and black cherry. This leads to hedonistic flavors of mocha, black cherry, anise, creme de cassis, eucalyptus and coffee grounds with a hint of white pepper that sit alongside some moderate tannins. This Cabernet has tremendous weight and viscosity as this massive wine considerably improves following a two hour decant. The tension of this wine is impressive considering the vintage. This decadent wine really needs at least another year of bottle age for these deep tannins to settle and for further dark fruits to fully integrate. These two amazing Bordeaux varietal release by Alexander have now made their full-throttle red carpet entrance to the high end Washington wine scene. Drink 2017-2030- 95