Hello friends. Another limited release today from another Walla Walla winery getting cultier by the year. Much like with our Reynvaan offering from last month, I have to mention that guaranteed access to these wines in the future comes only with a spot on the winery mailing list. While I’m pleased to have the chance to offer these wines today, the future holds no certainties.
By now, the Corliss story is well known (if you don’t know it, see Paul Gregutt’s fine blog or our May offering of Corliss’ 05 Syrah, which includes pictures taken at the remarkable Corliss winery). The guiding philosophy is patience. Extended barrel-aging (nearly three years for these wines) and bottle-aging (another two years) lead to wines that are well along the path to integration upon release.
Stephen Tanzer caused a stir in July when he wrote the following on his blog: “Finally, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley from Corliss Estates, which I tasted in barrel, holds out the potential to become one of the greatest cabernet-based wines yet produced in Washington State, although I should note that this wine is not slated for release until the fall of 2012. Ten years from now it will be fascinating to taste this superb wine next to the outstanding ’07 flagship cabernet from Quilceda Creek.”
Tanzer is a critic known for holding the line on scores. His highest score for a Washington wine has been 96pts (that was a single barrel of 2005 Syrah from Cayuse), and he has only given a handful of 95pt-scores over the years. As reference points for the 2005 vintage, Tanzer scored the 2005 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon 93pts and the 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 94pts. So the favorable reviews for the Corliss wines below put them into lofty company indeed.
Furthermore, it’s exceedingly rare to see Tanzer and Jay Miller duplicate scores. Tanzer is widely-believed to favor elegance and class, while Miller is thought to favor concentration and volume. That these wines appeal to both men makes sense upon tasting them. Winemaker Kendall Mix has crafted wines that convey density while maintaining vibrancy: no easy feat.
The varietal compositions for these two wines are not really so different. The “Corliss Red” is two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon, while the “Cabernet Sauvignon” is three-quarters Cab; and both wines are rounded out with the remaining four Bordeaux varietals. The vineyard sources are where they differ. The Red contains a large portion of fruit from Corliss’ estate vineyards on Red Mountain, and it shows that AVA’s distinctive dusting of cocoa powder. The Cabernet, on the other hand, has no Red Mountain fruit but is instead dominated by old-vine Dionysus Vineyard fruit, along with several of the other Sagemoor properties (Weinbau, Bacchus).
My palate, in past Corliss vintages, has given a slight edge to the Red, which has been more approachable upon release. In this vintage, they’re about even. The Red is soft, rich, and generous, with the oak well-integrated and the nose well along the path to complexity. Aromatic notes of chocolate Riesen, black cherry, and ruby red grapefruit give way to palate-staining flavors of chocolate, cassis, espresso, and roasted nuts.
For those with patience (or a big decanter), the Cabernet Sauvignon promises untold glories ahead. Right now, it presents a brooding profile of cassis, cedar, mint, and a faint whiff of barnyard. There is more minerality, more turned soil, and more prominent tannins here.
2005 Corliss Estates Red (BDX Blend)
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Jay Miller): “($65); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($65); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ** (Exceptional).”
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “($65); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
2005 Corliss Estates Cabernet Sauvignon
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “($75); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Jay Miller): “($75); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($75); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ** (Exceptional).”
Our parcels are quite limited in size, so I will need to limit order requests to 4 bottles of Red and 3 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon. We will do our best to fulfill all requests, and both wines should arrive within the next 1-2 weeks, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping.