As we continue our march into Washington Wine Month we bring you one of the standout wineries out of Woodinville. A few weeks back I had a wonderful visit to Betz Family Winery, hosted by the talented Louis Skinner (interviewed in Feb 2019:) . Like many winemakers, Louis had a previous career prior to catching the wine bug which in his case was highly contagious. Louis literally read everything he could on wine and got a job working at a wine shop which allowed him to taste wines of the world constantly.
Louis has trained under legendary winemakers, Chris Upchurch and Bob Betz, MW, prior to taking over for Betz at his namesake winery. Even now Louis is constantly tasting wines, particularly great wines of Bordeaux with his talented cellar hand, Jonathan Villaseñor. I really enjoyed the 2016 Betz releases which were wines that had great terroir and marvelously showcased the different Washington AVAs. Louis’s wines show good precision and minerality. Each wine is quite different and showcases each vineyard marvelously. I am probably most excited from what he is doing in his new vineyard which is located in the stony terroir of the Walla Walla Rocks AVA, called the ‘Old Stones Vineyard.’ The location is right near the River Rock Vineyard, quite near the highway running through Milton-Freewater. Having visited the vineyard on my own last month I am liking what I see in terms of the health of the vineyard, which was previously quite overgrown.
The wine from this vineyard, the 2017 Betz Family Winery ‘Domaine de Pierres’ Syrah (WWB, 94) has fantastic terroir and is the second release of this wine. The range of the wine is truly fantastic, showing everything from Umami to shades of white truffle and wonderful red fruits. I also adored the 2017 Betz ‘Pere de Familie’ Cabernet Sauvignon (WWB, 94) which is dense, chewy and will have an exceedingly long life in the cellar. Learn more about these beautiful wines at https://www.betzfamilywinery.com Here are the great new wines by Betz Family Winery.
2018 Betz Rose- A blend of near equal parts Grenache and Couinoise with roughly 20% Mourvedre, the 2018 Betz Rose was largely aged in two neutral barrels while the rest was aged in stainless steel. This opens with a ripe bouquet of red berries that combine with lighter smoky undertones in the glass. The palate is quite complex and downright delicious with bright guava and strawberry flavors that combine with lighter damp earth and white flower tones. Very pretty and complex, this has wonderful range. Drink 2019-2023- 92
2017 Quinta Essentia Chenin Blanc- The 2017 Quinta Essentia is a seriously good Chenin Blanc sourced from the Stellenboch region of South Africa. The wine shows wonderful honeyed white flowers with shades of wild mushroom and orchard fruits that all blend together in the glass. Thew palate is wonderfully rich and fresh with ripe banana, toasted brioche, lychee, peach and shades of peat moss that all mingle together. A delight to savor in its youth, this is drinking marvelously right now. Drink 2019-2025- 92
2017 Betz ‘Besoleil’ Red Wine- The 2017 ‘Besoleil’ is a compelling blend of 49% Grenache with 34% Mourvedre, 11% Couinoise and 6% Syrah. The nose is simply outstanding with great range from rose petals to herbs de Provence and smoked meats that combine with the bright red fruits. The palate has good freshness and intensity with a silky mouthfeel. Red cherry compote, guava and shades of smoked pork shoulder with dried herbs all mingle together on the mouth. This is seriously good and will only get better with some bottle age. Drink 2019-2029- 93
2017 Betz ‘La Serenne’ Syrah- The ‘La Serenne’ is entirely sourced from the Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. This saw 30% whole cluster fermentation and was 35% aged in concrete vessels. The nose shows quite complex red and dark fruit aromatics that combine with shades of blood orange and creosote on the nose. The palate has wonderful freshness ajdn texture, showing a soft mouthfeel. Black tea, exotic spices and wild blackberry cobbler with a touch of chocolate covered espresso bean round out these delicious flavors. Drink 2019-2029- 93
2017 Betz ‘Domaine de Pierres’ Syrah- The ‘Domaine de Pierres’ Syrah is the second release of this estate sourced wine from the Ancient Stones Vineyard. This was aged for thirteen months in 100% French oak. The savory and smoky aromatics entice with Umami and bright red fruits with lighter citrus zest tones. The palate shows wonderful viscosity and freshness with a silky mouthfeel. Red cherry preserves, with wet stone and seaweed flavors all combine with lighter white truffle shaving flavors. While wonderful in its youth this will develop well for a decade or more. Drink 2019-2029- 94
2017 Betz ‘La Cote Rousse’ Syrah- The ‘La Cote Rousse’ has a touch of Viognier blended in (3%). This great new wine was entirely sourced from Red Mountain and sent thirteen months in French oak prior to bottling. The nose shows really nice hight toned aromatics with the lemon zest accents that combine with black fruits and tar. The palate has strong energy and verve with black olive tapenade, black tea, Asian spices and copious dark fruits that build on the attack. While a delight in its youth, this will develop well for at least another ten years. Drink 2020-2029- 93
2017 Betz ‘La Cote Patriarche’ Syrah- The ‘La Cote Patriarche’ was sourced form the Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA. Aged for 13 months in French oak, this shows wonderful range on the nose from smoky undertones that mingle with blackberry jam, violets and chocolate accents that build in the glass. The texture imparted is marvelous with voluptuous dark fruits, mocha and tar flavors. Fantastic in its youth this rich yet elegant wine has a long life ahead of it. Drink 2019-2029- 93
2017 Betz ‘Clos de Betz’ Red WIne- The 2017 ‘Clos de Betz’ Red Wine is a complex blend of 50% Merlot that is combined with 21% Petit Verdot and 19% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 19 months in French oak puncheons prior to bottling. The wine shows really good range aromatically with bright red and dark fruits that connect with shades of sagebrush and green bell pepper that build on the nose. The wine is marvelous on the attack with intense chocolate, sagebrush, wild blackberry cobbler and crushed mint flavors that all mingle beautifully. While seriously good now, this will evolve well over the next fifteen years. Drink 2019-2033- 93
2017 Betz ‘Pere de Famille’ Cabernet Sauvignon- The 2017 ‘Pere de Famille’ by Betz is a stunning new wine by the talented Louis Skinner. This wine was aged for 19 months in French oak (100%) prior to bottling as the wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder Merlot and Petit Verdot. On the nose this takes on wonderful dark fruit and tar tones that mingle with shades of blueberry compote and licorice that all meld together in the glass. The palate has tremendous texture and verve with the tension truly shining at the moment. Copious dark fruits mingle with anise, graphite and black tea with exotic spices and sagebrush accents also shining through. This wine is absolutely singing in its youth and is approachable following a long decant — but will only get better with some age. Drink 2020-2035- 94
2017 Betz ‘Heart of the Hill Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon- The 2017 ‘Heart of the Hill’ Cabernet Sauvignon is another stunning new release from this storied Washington winery. This was fermented in 67% concrete tanks and then was aged for 19 months in 100% French oak prior to bottling. The wine opens with aromatics reminiscent of tar, sagebrush, mocha and rich dark fruits that all connect marvelously in the glass, The palate has wonderful freshness and richness, showing an unctuous quality. Moderately tannic now, the wine shows massive dark fruits with dark chocolate and Turkish coffee flavors with lighter herbal and tar undertones. While delightful in its youth, this will continue to evolve well for decades. Drink 2021-2040- 94