As part of our exciting Washington Wine Month focus, we showcase one of the great wineries of the world, Cayuse Vineyards, of Walla Walla. A standout winery, Cayuse Vineyards showcase the talents of Walla Walla wine pioneer, Christophe Baron and his assistant vigneronne, Elizabeth Bourcier. Christophe Baron was youngest heir of the famed Champagne house, Baron Albert and his ancestors had worked the land at Baron Albert since 1677. As he grew older, Christophe studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne and was drawn to the Willamette Valley, with its closeness to the terroir driven Pinots of Burgundy. Christophe spent some time traveling the world before purchasing some land outside of Walla Walla in Milton-Freewater, and first planted his vines in 1997 as the land reminded him of the terroir of Chateauneuf du Pape. His wine has gained international acclaim since first bursting onto the Washington wine scene.
During this incredible tasting I reviewed my first 100 point wine from Washington, the 2014 Cayuse Vineyards ‘God Only Knows’ Red Wine. This wine is hard to describe but the tension, range, viscosity and novelty made it a perfect wine. 2014 marks the second vintage in which the ‘God Only Knows’ was marked a Red Wine, rather than a Grenache. It is a true heavyhitter crafted by the superstars of Cayuse. Congratulations to them on their stunning lineup of wines. Here is the new lineup of wines by Cayuse Vineyards.
2015 Cayuse Vineyards ‘Cailloux Vineyard’ Viognier- This absolutely stunning Viognier wine was aged in a combination concrete eggs and stainless steel. The combination has led to a marvelous texture from the aging in eggs. This wine begins with a highly perfumed nose showing off white peach, sea salt, lychee and red delicious apple. This has an exotic edge, showing wonderful texture and viscosity on the mid-palate. Green apple, lychee, green papaya, and nectarine flavors persist, leading to a near minute long finish. You have to admire the weight, salinity and the minerality of this wine. Only 152 cases made. Drink 2017- 2024- 94
2015 Cayuse Vineyards ‘Edith’ Grenache Rose- This ‘Edith’ Rose comes from the Armada Vineyard utilizing Grenache rows near the Syrah planted there. Weighing in at 12.7% alcohol, his hot vintage wine is picked at a very low brix. Fruit is then crushed and then set into maceration for 24 hours and then was gently pressed. The wine was partly stored in concrete eggs and stainless steel. This has wonderful fresh strawberry, guava, white peach and wild mushroom aromatics. The freshness, texture and minerality is there. Ripe strawberry, teaberry, orange rind and suggestions of baking spices persist, showing a nice saline streak. The citrus element impresses. The weight wonderful, leading to an exceedingly long finish. Only 119 cases made. Drink 2017-2022- 93
2014 Cayuse Vineyards ‘God Only Knows’ Red Wine- The 2014 God Only Knows was aged in neutral oak puncheons. Yields this vintage were a mere ton and a half per acre. This stunning wine was sourced from the Armada Vineyard and follows up the absolutely scintillating 2013 ‘God Only Knows.’ The Grenache begins with downright intoxicating aromatics of bulls blood, Tangerine rind, black forest cake, black truffle oil, and Earl Grey tea. This walks a tight rope between feminine and masculine, showcasing dark fruits like blackberry cobbler, and black plum with red raspberry preserves, red cherry, pomegranate seed. There are also blood orange, Umami, black olive tapenade and marvelous tension to the wine. The ‘God Only Knows’ has nearly a minute long finish with light tannins. The range here is ethereal. This is a perfect wine made by the amazing team of Christophe Baron and Elizabeth Borcier of Cayuse Vineyards. Drink 2017-2029- 100
2014 Cayuse Vineyards ‘Flying Pig’ Red Wine- This wine is a blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Christophe Baron has mentioned that the Cabernet Sauvignon has been added to create the backbone of the wine. The wine was aged for 8 months in 30% new French oak prior to bottling. The wine has a dark core. Aromatics remind me of horse manure, Umami, black tea and boysenberry preserves. The weight of this wine is marvelous as this showcases blackberry cobbler, milk chocolate, roasted figs and black cherry preserves. The tension and minerality of the wine is gorgeous. Drink 2017-2027- 94
2014 Cayuse Vineyards ‘The Lovers’ Red Wine- This red blend has 15% Syrah matched with the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged in 20% new French oak for 8 months prior to bottling. This is a tribute to the former tradition in France to bring Syrah from Hermitage and blend into the Cabernet Sauvignon in the left bank of Bordeauux. This inky colored wine begins with aromatics of Chinese black tea, wild blackberry pie, smoked brisket, milk chocolate shavings and tar. The aromatic range is gorgeous. Showing some firm tannins at this juncture, this wine has a wonderful freshness. Black olive tapenade, black tea, creosote and hints of blood orange and Umami. The citrus element entices. Drink 2017-2028- 95
2014 Cayuse Vineyards ‘Camaspelo’ Red Wine- The 2014 ‘Camaspelo’ Red Wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that Christophe Baron also adds a touch of some unknown other varietals. The wine was aged for 30% new French oak for 8 months prior to bottling. Red fruits and smoky elements show beautifully aromatically alongside black truffle oil and horse manure. The palate is plush, as this wine showcases black olive, black tea, wild blackberry pie and creosote with suggestions of black truffle and blood orange rind. The tension, salinity and freshness of this wine is novel. This is another stunner by the superstar team of Christophe Baron and Elizabeth Borcier. Only 335 cases produced of this outstanding wine. Drink 2017-2027- 95
2014 Cayuse Vineyards ‘Widowmaker En Chamberlin Vineyard’ Cabernet Suavignon- The wine was aged in 40% new French 600L puncheons prior to bottling. This deep hued wine begins with aromatics of Asian spices, black tea, blackberry cobbler and milk chocolate with suggestions of thyme, Tangerine rind and black truffle oil. The aromatic range here is downright intoxicating. The weight and tension is gorgeous here, as this wine showcases a wonderful freshness. Blackberry pie, black tea, blueberry liquor and cassis flavors also connect with mild tannins and citrus fruit. You have to love the intensity and weight of this impressive Cabernet bottling. This is another stunner by Cayuse that is best enjoyed over the next decade. Drink 2017-2028- 94
2014 Cayuse Vineyard ‘En Cerise Vineyard’ Syrah- This insanely delicious wine begins with aromatics of horse manure, bulls blood, blood orange, Umami, black truffle oil, white pepper, and blackberry pie. The aromatic range is simply gorgeous and brings you back to the glass for more. The tension is marvelous, as the wine showcases black tea, blackberry cobbler, sea salt, bulls blood and Mandarin orange rind flavors. The acidity of this wine is simply gorgeous, asthe plush texture that glides across the mid-palate. This gorgeous Syrah will cellar well for a decade or more. Drink 2017-2027- 96
2014 Cayuse Vineyard ‘En Chamberlin Vineyard’ Syrah- This enticing 2014 ‘En Chamberlin Vineyard; Syrah was sourced from a vineyard planted in 2000. This wine opens with a bright bouquet of smoked brisket, green olive tapenade, Chinese black tea, blackberry cobbler and black truffle. The minerality and tension here is stunning, as are the deep and penetrating aromas. This wine showcases milk chocolate, Asian spices, horse manure and black olive tapenade flavors that sit alongside some light tannins. This is another stunner here. Drink 2017-2027- 96
2014 Cayuse Vineyards 'Cailloux Vineyard' Syrah- The 2014 Cailloux Vineyard Syrah from Cayuse was co-fermented with 7% Viognier, which adds a lovely sense of vibrancy of this outstanding wine. As this begins to open it releases a gorgeous, complex aromatic expression of raw meats, damp earth, wet stone, Mandarin orange rind and pomegranate seed with smoky accents as the intoxicating aromatic range continues to build with time. Silky and feminine, with lovely minerality, this wine builds into layered flavors of red cherries, pomegranate purée, lemon rind and crushed wet gravel with fresh mushroom. The exceedingly long finish lingers on. This is another thoroughly compelling wine made by the talented hands of Christophe Baron and Elizabeth Bourcier. Drink 2017-2027- 96
2014 Cayuse Vineyard ‘Bionic Frog’ Syrah- This inky colored wine is downright intoxicating and is a memorable effort by Cayuse Vineyards. Sourced from the four acre Cocinelle Vineyard, planted to Syrah. The wine was aged in 15% new oak puncheons for 8 months prior to bottling. The wine begins with aromatics reminiscent of tarragon, blackberry cobbler, Umami, smoked pork shoulder and black truffle oil. The aromatics are literally mouth watering. The flavors are even more mouth watering as the acidity, saline streak and fruit weight is highly compelling. Umami, blackberry cobbler, crushed mint, smoked short rib and green olive flavors impress. The range is really insane here. Hats off to the superstar winemaking team of Christophe Baron and Elizabeth Bourcier. Only 115 cases made of this outstanding wine. Drink 2017-2028- 99
2014 Cayuse Vineyard ‘Armada Vineyard’ Syrah- This wine was sourced from a high density vineyard, named after the Spanish Armada. Christophe Baron has found that the more vines per acre leads to more tension in the wines. This wine was aged for 8 months in 15% new French oak prior to bottling. This gorgeous, inky Syrah opens with aromatics of green peppercorn, Umami, soy sauce, black tea, blackberry pie and horse manure. The gorgeous aromatics continually bring you back to the glass. The salinity and tension of this wine is intense. Sea salt, Umami, soy sauce, peat moss, red cherry and red raspberry liquor. The feminine quality of this wine is downright sexy. Drink 2017-2027- 97
2014 Cayuse Vineyards ‘Wallah Wallah No. 6’ Red Wine- This is a magnum only bottling that is a special blend of Syrah from a host of vineyards. The result is another heavyhitter by Cayuse Vineyards. This translucent colored wine begins with aromatics of bulls blood, blood orange, blackberry cobbler, Umami and white truffle. The aromatics are intoxicating and the tension is stunning. Black olive tapenade, black tea, hoisin sauce, black cherry and Parma ham flavors entice. The salinity of this wine is lovely as this wine is impossible to resist. This will cellar well for a decade or more. Drink 2017-2028- 97
2014 Cayuse Vineyards ‘Impulsivo’ Tempranillo- The wine was aged in 50% new French puncheons for 8 months prior to bottling. This stunning Tempranillo weighs in at only 13.6% alcohol and is named after a famous bull which was saved following his bull fighting years. Smoky aromatics impress you with iodine, spicebox, anise, sagebrush and black olive tapenade. The palate is plush and mineral driven. Moderately tannic, this shows Umami, black cherry, black tea and boysenberry cobbler. Chewy tannins show off this awesome Tempranillo, all leading to an exceedingly long finish. This effort seductive and intense. Drink 2017-2027- 95