Hello friends. I had our next Buty offering lined up for a mid-summer release, but the vagaries of Wine Enthusiast’s publishing schedule have moved Caleb Foster’s wines up in the calendar. Both of the wines are set to receive strong reviews from Paul Gregutt in the July issue of Enthusiast. Those reviews will take awhile to trickle down through traditional retail and restaurant channels. In the meantime, let’s grab our share.
First, a quick primer on Buty: Caleb Foster founded Buty in the Walla Walla Valley in 2000 after many years working with Rick Small at Woodward Canyon. In the dozen years since, the winery has developed a reputation for consistent excellence, for focus (the Buty lineup has been at six wines for many years now; Caleb does allow himself a little latitude with Beast, his sister brand to Buty), and for a house style that marries aching purity of fruit with nervy, tensile structure.
2010 Buty Chardonnay Connor Lee Vineyard
Caleb’s Chardonnay is one of the most consistently-excellent produced in Washington. It always comes entirely from Conner Lee Vineyard, a cool site (located here) in the Frenchman Hills (not part of any sub-AVA, so this gets the generic Columbia Valley label).
In order to get the textural roundness of oak without any overt oak flavors, Caleb has used a high proportion of neutral oak barrels over the years. More recently, he has been moving a greater and greater portion of his Chardonnay into concrete Nomblot cubes; no overt oak there! The result is a Chardonnay with wonderful palate weight and intensity, a mixed salad of stone fruits, with autolytic notes adding leesy complexity. This is fine, cooler-climate Washington Chardonnay.
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19/20pts.”
2008 Buty “Columbia Rediviva” Phinny Hill Vineyard (Cab-Syrah)
Winemakers get really excited talking about Phinny Hill Vineyard. As you can see on the map, it’s a neighbor to Champoux in the Horse Heaven Hills, and shares many of that venerable site’s qualities. But Phinny is a bit higher up the slope, and that makes all the difference in the world during freeze events. The Thanksgiving 2010 frost that knocked out most of Champoux’s 2011 crop was much less damaging to Phinny.
This part of Horse Heaven is warm and windy, so you get grapes that have ample physiological ripeness and thick skins, which lead to wines with delicious generosity of fruit and a wall of ripe grapeskin tannins. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah, this has loads of leafy subtleties (tobacco leaf, mint leaf) to go with a core of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. The firm, grippy tannins suggest a wine poised for a compelling evolution in bottle.
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19+/20pts.”
First come first served up to 12 bottles of each, and both wines should be delivered in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.