This takes work’ Christophe explained. ‘No, really. It takes work to make this wine.’ We tasted our first wine, the 2015 ‘God Only Knows’ Red Wine and were mesmerized with the experience. Quite simply, there is nothing like this in the world of wine as it is only extreme hard work and dedication that it takes to craft something this special. Tasting through these wines was a wonderful educational experience for me to have all of these vintages to revisit at the same time. I am quite sure that cold vintage wines from the stony terroir of Milton-Freewater simply behave differently than wines made from from the rest of the state. While certainly not a hot vintage, wines from this terroir in 2011 show plenty of phenolic ripeness and do not show the same green flavor profiles that many others from Walla Walla, Yakima or Columbia Valley AVAs show. It is also my opinion that the best wines from this vintage were made by Christophe Baron and the best wine I have sampled from this vintage is the 2011 Cayuse ‘God Only Knows’ Red Wine (WWB, 97) which is a phenomenal wine that has insanely good poise, balance and elegance. If you have the chance to seek out this very special wine, you will not be disappointed.
I was also a bit surprised how the 2013 wines were showing. The 2013 Cayuse ‘Bionic Frog’ Syrah (WWB, 98) is also clearly one of the wines of the vintage. The weight, intensity and gorgeous stony terroir of the wine makes this absolutely irresistible. I would drink this wine over the next seven years while the bright acidity stays in its core. The lone 2014 wine that I sampled was the absolutely scintillating 2014 Horsepower ‘Sur Echalas Vineyard’ Grenache (WWB, 98) which is a truly thrilling, one of a kind Grenache that has massive stony character, very pretty red fruits and insanely good range. This wine will have at least another decade ahead of it but I think it will show best over the next seven years to soak in its wonderful verve. Learn more about these very special wines at https://cayusevineyards.com/static/ and https://horsepowervineyards.com/horsepowervineyards/ Here are my tasting notes from my Cayuse and Horsepower Vertical Tasting in August 2019.
2015 Cayuse ‘God Only Knows’ Red Wine- This is the second time that I have tried this wine, with the last time being roughly a year ago with Christophe Baron. The texture is really refined with light tannins. The nose awakens the senses with shades of potpourri, white rose, white truffle and umami with hints of blood orange zest and red raspberry candy that all mingle nicely together in the glass. On the palate this is incredibly silky, with a gorgeous seamless mouthfeel, underlined by vibrant, mouth-watering acidity. The salinity and minerality bring you back to the glass for more enjoyment. This continues to impress as it reveals an exotic appeal of red cherry cordial, Earl Grey tea, blood orange, wet stone with umami which all combine with red and dark fruits that show remarkable purity. The wine is simply marvelous now, finishing strong with its silky texture and minerals. Drink 2019-2026- 97
2011 Cayuse ‘God Only Knows’ Red Wine (Sampled July 2019)- The 2011 Cayuse Vineyards ‘God Only Knows’ Red Wine is quite frankly the best wine made from this vintage in Washington in my opinion. Simply put, this is a complete wine that has remarkable ripeness, texture, elegance and stony character that you can only find by superstar vigneron Christophe Baron. Once on the mouth, this displays a remarkable elegance and sense of place. The purity of fruits is evident with bright guava and red cherry that mingle with the marvelous white truffle, wet stone, Umami and blood orange zest tones on the palate. Still quite bright and showing a wonderful sense of minerality, the 2011 ‘God Only Knows’ is simply dazzling stuff right now and still has seven or more years to go. Drink 2019-2026- 97
2013 Cayuse ‘Bionic Frog’ Syrah- The 2013 ‘Bionic Frog’ is an insanely good effort at now six years of age. The Syrah comes off intensely perfumed on the nose with bulls blood and Umami that mingle with shades of green olive tapenade and Mandarin orange rind. The texture to the wine is downright ethereal. I find the weight embodied to be highly gratifying. Hoisin sauce, Umami, seaweed, sour cherry and shades of Kalmata olive run through with a bright sense of acidity despite the year of the vintage. The salinity is really intense and makes your mouth water. A delight to savor now, the 2013 ‘Bionic Frog’ has more than a decade of life left. Drink 2019-2029- 98
2011 Cayuse ‘Bionic Frog’ Syrah-The 2011 ‘Bionic Frog’ Syrah is one of the wines of the vintage. I am quite convinced that this would stand tall with any other 2011 wine made in Washington. The poise and texture here is seriously good as red cherry preserves, with salted red plum, Charcuterie, and shades of green olive tapenade all connect nicely on the palate. The sense of minerality is gorgeous as a beam of acidity still runs through this wine at the eight year mark. This finishes exceedingly long. Drink 2019-2025- 94
2014 Horsepower Vineyards ‘Sur Echalas Vineyard’ Grenache- The 2014 ‘Sur Echalas Vineyard’ Grenache is a show-stopping wine that is up there with the best of its kind in North America. The seamless quality of the wine is quite evident. Aromatics of blood orange zest with white truffle crudo, bulls blood and cran-cherry cordial all mingle brightly in the glass. The feeling of tension and poise of this wine is outstanding. Red fruits dance with minerals, kumquat zest, Umami and black truffle oil on the palate. While compelling at the five year mark, this outrageously good wine will cellar well for the next seven plus years. Drink 2019-2026- 98
2016 Horsepower Vineyards ‘High Contrast Vineyard’ Syrah- The High Contrast Vineyard Syrah is a new wine in this exciting Horsepower lineup which is sourced from a 3-acre parcel on the edge of the AVA, that was planted in 2013 mostly to Syrah and a touch Viognier. The inaugural debut is nothing short of show stopping, as the nose is quite perfumed with striking aromatics of red currants and wild blackberry joined by shades of wet stones, white pepper, meat, black truffle shavings and charcuterie that all impress in the glass. The palate displays a highly refined and gratifying texture, showing soft tannins that mingle with the silky mouthfeel that frae the flavors of red currants, wild blackberry, wet stone and umami and hins of black peppercorn. This is an absolutely brilliant Syrah from the team at Horsepower which is already simply stunning in its youth, yet also shows incredible promise for a wonderful evolution ahead. Drink 2019-2029- 96
2015 Horsepower Vineyards ‘The Tribe Vineyard’ Syrah- The 2015 Horsepower Vineyards 'The Tribe' Syrah is a head-turning wine that is already drinking marvelously at the four year mark. This Syrah shows an incredible and complex range of aromatics from black fruits to barn floor to peat moss characteristics that all build in the glass and and continue to bring you back for more delight. On the palate this shows marvelous freshness, with a wonderful minerality backbone that sing in harmony with flavors of ripe huckleberry, tar, umami, kalmatta olive tapenade and touch of white pepper flavors which envelope the palate. This gorgeous Syrah is a magical wine that has at least seven more years left. Drink 2019-2026- 95
2011 Horsepower Vineyards ‘The Tribe Vineyard’ Syrah- Truly one of the best wines made in this cold vintage, the wine evokes lovely damp earthy and stony character to the nose is exceedingly good. The wine shows off a silky texture with layers of kirsch, salted meats, green peppercorn and shades of horse manure. This finishes exceedingly long with black fruits and minerals. Texturally gorgeous this stunning wine will cellar well over the next five plus years. Drink 2019-2025- 95