A fantastic boutique winery that is based out of Bellingham, La Chanterelle was originally a home project that turned into a winery in 2012. Head winemaker Donatas Pocus is an excellent winemaker that has impressed with his past three releases. He only produces two wines and the new releases were superb as I have been very impressed with the past three releases of his wine. Donas gave me some nice details on his outstanding wine releases. Regarding the 2014 vintage releases he mentioned:
“2014 was one of the best vintages that I have worked with. We produced only two barrels of our Cabernet so this was a limited release. We have three barrels of Syrah as well for the 2014 and the fruit from the Riverbed has been a nice and consistent source for us, as we been using that vineyard since 2012. Right now I am more making the decisions when to make the picking and I am talking with the grower a lot. I don't want to pick too early or too late. 2014 I think we picked just right. I always want to reduce alcohol because our wines are all unfiltered and unfined. We don't make any adjustments with the wine. The 2014 vintage was one where we experimented with hand destemming and we didn't use any machines because I noticed that our hand crusher tends to break stems. The hand destemming really helped the flavor of the wine. This was fully destemming the grapes. We go in and do three hour segments of destemming and punchdowns at the same time. The grapes are in the barrels and roughly 10-14 days of fermentation with the grapes. During the process we decided to do the destemming during the fermentation. We had a three day cold soak as well. Wahluke Slope is a bit of a drive for us, so we have to bring the fruit back and every step has to be calculated. The grapes are cooled for the first few days and then in the third day I crank up the temperature and I want to be sure that the fermentation starts. The next trend days of fermentation works well for us. The barrels for the wine are a few years old but we have plenty of oak for us. This vintage is always processed the same which is highly labor intensive. 2014 was extra labor intensive.” I definitely noticed the extra details in the new releases. These wines were really outstanding.
The 2014 La Chanterelle Cabernet (WWB, 92) was a dense, chewy and masculine effort that will cellar beautifully for a decade or more. His 2014 La Chanterelle Syrah (WWB, 91) also shows some cellar worthy potential and has wonderful dark fruits and jammy accents. These wines are rather difficult to track down but can be found online at lachanterellewine.com. Here are the 2014 releases from La Chanterelle.
2014 La Chanterelle Cabernet- Sourced from the Riverbend Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope, this was 100% whole cluster fermented. The wine was aged 20 months in near neutral oak prior to bottling in May 2016. The wine begins with aromatics of black cherry, cassis, anise, black raspberry and hints of leather. The palate is viscous, showing off the heat of the vintage. There are rich flavors of anise, creme de cassis, coffee grounds and suggestions of leather. You have to adore the plush texture and rich mouthfeel that head winemaker Donatas Pocus employs. This is an impressive follow up to their excellent 2013 Cabernet. Only two barrels made of this excellent Cabernet. Drink 2017-2026- 92
2014 La Chanterelle Syrah- Sourced from the Wahluke Slope, this wine opens with dense aromatics of black plum, hoisin sauce, Chinese black tea and black cherry compote. There are dense flavors of dark chocolate shavings, sage, blackberry jam and suggestions of Earl Grey tea. The plush mouthfeel is lovely. Be sure to give this at least one hour decant if enjoying now. I can see this polished wine cellaring well into the next decade. Drink 2017-2026- 91