Greeting friends! We have returned from our travels to Walla Walla, Sonoma and Napa. As part of Washington Wine Month we bring you another exciting focus on one of the standout producers of Washington wine. One of the great wines from Washington, the DeLille Cellars ‘Chaleur Estate’ White Wine is one of the iconic wines originally crafted by superstar winemaker Chris Upchurch. Starting in the mid-1990s, Upchurch originally was inspired by the white wines of Bordeaux and began experimenting with blending Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, as well as learning more about barrel aging those varietals. He has gained a nationwide following for these great wines. Having tried these wines over the past fifteen years I have found them to rival some of the best wines out of North America.
Sitting down with DeLille winemaker Jason Gorski, we chatted about the incredible aging potential of these wines. The deep vertical tasting was compelling evidence that these outstanding wines can age well past ten years. I have found the ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ to cellar well for a decade or more, as I had sampled a 2008 ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ more than a month ago and found it to be drinking exceedingly well.
At its best, the ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ is an exciting, layered and silky textured wine that makes you think. While it has obvious Bordeaux Blanc character, the texture and viscosity is different than the old world rendition. Last years 2014 bottling of ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ was a downright awesome effort that graced my Top 100. I have been hugely impressed with the efforts of superstar winemaker Jason Gorski and how he handles this exceptional bottling.
One of the standout wines from the ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ vertical tasting was the oldest bottling, the 2005 DeLille ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ White Wine (WWB, 95) which was a profound wine that showed incredible viscosity and mouthfeel. That memorable wine will continue to drink well for another five plus years. Another one of my favorites from the tasting comes from the cold 2011 vintage, which showed some very exciting white wines with marvelous tension. While the 2011 ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ White Wine (WWB, 95) didn't posses the weight of the 2005 bottling, this wine had incredible tension and flavor/aromatic range. It is a true expression of Washington Sauvignon Blanc. Even better showing was the 2014 DeLille ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ White Wine (WWB, 96) which developed incredibly complex secondary characteristics as it sat in the decanter. The incredibly viscous mouthfeel and great tension makes this wine a true heavyhitter. Savoring this gem over a few hours, I realized why this was in my last years top 100 as the layers and complexity shine through. Learn more about these special white wines at http://www.delillecellars.com Here are the exciting ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ wines that I sampled during my vertical tasting at DeLille Cellars.
2005 DeLille Cellars ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ White Wine-This outstanding white wine is a blend of Sagemoor Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (35%), Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc (23%), Klipsun Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (21%) and Klipsun Vineyard Semillon (21%). The golden colored wine starts with a dense bouquet of ripe cantaloupe, honey, hay, lemongrass, roasted pineapple and white raisin. The mouthfeel and texture is downright unctuous. White peach, brioche, ripe cantaloupe, pineapple upside down cake and Gala apple flavors complete this exceptional bottling. Layered and showing excellent viscosity and complexity, the marriage of Sav Blanc and Semillon here is a stunning match. The finish is precise and lasts for nearly one minute. This is exotic and layered white wine. Enjoy this great wine over the next five years. Drink 2017-2022- 95
2009 DeLille Cellars ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ White Wine-This wine has sourced Boushey Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (38%), Sagemoor Sauvignon Blanc (20%), Klipsun Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (9%) and Boushey Vineyafd Semillon (33%). This amazing white wine begins with aromatics of roasted pineapple, honey, honeysuckle, nectarine and nutmeg. The aromatics at this juncture are absolutely intoxicating. The texture is stunning, showing a silky quality. Butterscotch, Key lime, cantaloupe and lemongrass with nutmeg flavors entice. The freshness and minerality is lovely. This shows less on the finish but you can enjoy the length and layered approach here. Drink 2017-2021-94
2011 DeLille Cellars ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ White Wine This stunning wine is a blend of Boushey Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (24%), Klipsun Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (21%), Boushey Vineyard Semillon (29%) and Klipsun Vineyard Semillon (9%). This wine has considerably less alcohol than the other wines in the retrospective (13.1%). This excellent, golden hued, white blend opens with a ripe bouquet of apricot, white peach, candied pink grapefruit and gooseberry. The aromatic range is impressive here. The mouthfeel and texture is gorgeous. Beeswax, Marcona almond, ripe pineapple, nectarine and white grapefruit oil flavors impress. Silky, mineral driven, layered and downright sexy, this wine lingers for nearly a minute at the end. I can see this drinking well for a decade or possibly more. Drink 2017-2027- 95
2013 DeLille Cellars ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ White Wine-This warm vintage wine was sourced from largely the Sagemoor Vineyard as well as the Boushey Vineyard and Klipsun Vineyard. This wine starts with aromatics of nutmeg, white peach, pink grapefruit, brioche and starfruit jelly. The mouthfeel is downright gorgeous as the silky texture coats the mid-palate. Cantalope, Pazzaz apple, Meyer lemon rind, vanilla cream and brioche with baking spice flavors impress. The texture is opulent as the lingering, near minute long finish impresses. This is downright delicious at this point as it is impossible to resist right now. Drink 2017-2027- 95
2014 DeLille Cellars ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ White Wine-This excellent wine was sourced from the Sagemoor Vineyard as well as the Boushey Vineyard and the Klipsun Vineyard. They have a higher percentage of Sauvignon Blanc in this hot vintage (75%). This gorgeous wine starts with aromatics reminiscent of gooseberry, white peach, mango and Marcona almond and freshly cut grass. The aromatic range is exquisite as Sav Blanc plays the protagonist. The ripe flavors excite the plate showcasing white peach, candied pink grapefruit, vanilla cream and Meyer lemon rind. Bright and intense, the finish lingers for more than a minute. The weight is gorgeous as is the minerality that impresses despite obvious heat of the vintage. What a stunner by superstar winemaker Jason Gorski. Drink 2017-2027- 96
2015 DeLille Cellars ‘Chaleur Estate Blanc’ White Wine-The excellent wine was sourced from a warm vintage which saw major heat spikes. The resultant wine is a blend of 73% Sauvignon Blanc and the remainder Semillon. Sourced from the Sagemoor, Boushey and Klipsun Vineyards, his wine starts with aromatics of pineapple, nectarine, honeydew melon, smoke and baking spices with brioche toast. The flavors are ripe and rich, showing off white raisin, gooseberry, white peach and candied pink grapefruit. This has a gorgeous mouthfeel and texture as the wine will have a long life. The long finish lingers. Drink 2017-2027- 93