Two from Cote Bonnville

Hello friends. The end of the year is a natural time for reflection. For me, it’s a time to think through which wineries and vineyards emerged out of the ether in 2011 to capture our list’s imagination. These things are never planned; they just happen. On the winery side, Maison Bleue in Washington and Crowley in Oregon are the two that leap immediately to mind.

And on the vineyard side, it would have to be DuBrul.

What really vaulted the vineyard into public consciousness was the news that Quilceda Creek had contracted with DuBrul to purchase Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in 2011 to replace their freeze-damaged Champoux fruit.

And then our list members had opportunities throughout the year to sample DuBrul fruit. There was Stevens 2008 Merlot (half from DuBrul) and JB Neufeld’s 2008 DuBrul Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (both in March); then the bombshell of Rasa’s Creative Impulse (all from DuBrul) in August. And then more recently, Ron Coleman’s single-vineyard DuBrul bottling for Tamarack Cellars.

To put a capstone on a fine year for this vineyard, today we head to the source: Cote Bonneville, the estate winery attached to DuBrul Vineyard:

2009 Cote Bonneville Chardonnay DuBrul Vineyard

Hugh and Kathy Shiels are meticulous farmers. They planted DuBrul in 1992, in a cool section of the Yakima Valley, and they have been nurturing the vineyard ever since. They had help from the legendary Stan Clarke, who helped develop the vineyard site and then became the founding winemaker for Cote Bonneville when the winery was launched in 2001.

Beginning in 2009, Hugh and Kathy’s daughter, Kerry, took over winemaking duties, after receiving her masters from UC-Davis. Before coming back home, Kerry made wine at Tahbilk (Australia), Tapiz (Argentina), and a trio of Napa wineries (Joseph Phelps, Mondavi, and Folio).

The Napa influence is on display in this Chardonnay, from Kerry’s first full-time vintage, and it’s actually kind of refreshing, because it’s rare. There is a tendency here in Washington to want to carve out a very separate space from California, and that means luxury Chardonnays like this one are out. That’s all well and good, but then you taste a wine like this, and it’s a good reminder that there is room at both ends of the spectrum. There’s room for the steely, lean, unoaked Chardonnays. But there’s also room for this style: luscious, luxurious, alluring.

This gets a year and a half in 50% new French oak, with regular lees stirring, and it goes through full malolactic conversion. The impact on mouthfeel is as expected: it’s supple and smooth; positively creamy. It manages to be extremely full-bodied without an overabundance of alcohol (14.1%). There is plenty of hazelnutty oak and honey framing some truly generous fruit: mostly in the stone-fruit family (peach and nectarine), but edging out towards the tropical realm of pineapple.

I have a plan for this wine. Mid-afternoon, on Christmas Day, when I’m sitting by a crackling fire and grandpa brings out his clam dip (which I suppose contains a clam or two but is 93% cream cheese and milk), I’m going to grab this from the fridge and bask in the luxury (maybe I’ll share; remains to be seen). This is not a crisp white for summer. It’s a winter white; a fireplace white; a white to slip into your next Napa Chard tasting to see if your friends can peg it for 700 miles further north and half the price.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Jay Miller): “($50); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

2007 Cote Bonneville “Carriage House” DuBrul Vnyd (BDX Blend)

Sad to say it, but we’re getting down to the end of the releases from the fine 2007 vintage in Washington. For those of you who dug Rasa’s Creative Impulse, the blend here is not so very different; about two-thirds Cabernet; the remainder Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Harvested in the morning and wheeled a few hundred yards to the winery, this is a fine expression of this little piece of the Yakima Valley. Ripe, rich, and succulent, this has plenty of exotic spice to layer onto the raspberry mocha flavors. There is structure here for aging (juicy acidity and fine-grained tannins), but why wait when the fruit is so delicious right now?

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Jay Miller): “($50); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].  93pts.”

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles total (mix and match as you see fit), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines will arrive on Wednesday, at which point they will be available for pickup during our remaining December dates and thereafter, or for shipping during the spring shipping window.

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