Three from Tempus Cellars

Hello friends. Joe Forest has raised his game.

The wines he produced during Tempus Cellars’ first three years were always solid, and we offered several of them. But a recent tasting through the new Tempus releases was simply stunning, displaying a confident winemaker who is sourcing the best possible fruit and making magic with it.

Will Tempus be this year’s rising star, this year’s Maison Bleue? I think once folks get a taste of these new wines (none have received professional reviews yet), the buzz that has been building for several years is going to turn into a roar.

Joe recently opened a tasting room in Walla Walla, out by the airport. They’re open Saturdays or by appointment if you’d like to taste through the entire lineup. For today, I have selected three favorites.

2011 Tempus Cellars Riesling Evergreen Vineyard

Joe consistently makes the driest Riesling I know of from Evergreen Vineyard. In this case, there’s just 1.3% residual sugar, and it is easily balanced by all that lovely 2011 acid. Hallmark Evergreen notes of chalk and minerals mix with citrus and alpine fruit. The palate is quite dry, with rippin’ acid and live-wire intensity. Always a thrilling Riesling, and 2011 is no exception. 250 cases produced.

2010 Tempus Cellars Grenache

My goodness is this impressive at a $25 tariff! It’s 100% Grenache and single-vineyard, from Art den Hoed’s site outside of Sunnyside, in the Yakima Valley.

Very reminiscent of some of the more modern wines coming out of Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, this presents a soaring, undeniably-Grenache nose of brambly red fruit, white pepper, and Herbes de Provence (thyme, lavender). The palate could easily be confused with a 2007 from the Southern Rhone. It carries its lovely flavors of red raspberry and thyme on a ripe, juicy frame, and it is an eminently drinkable wine. I’m delighted to see such high-quality single-vineyard Washington Grenache at this tariff, and I hope it’s a sign of things to come as more vineyards come online.

Only 110 cases produced, so this is going to be gone in a blink.

2009 Tempus Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

The core of this comes from the 1972-planted old block at Sagemoor, and it’s another feather in the cap of Kent Waliser and Derek Way, who have completed an incredible rehabilitation project on those old vines. Wise winemakers noticed the evolution taking place in those Sagemoor sites and establishing contracts for the fruit. Joe was one of them, and it has paid off handsomely.

While it’s rounded out with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from Klipsun on Red Mountain and 10% Seven Hills Merlot, it’s the old-vine Cabernet that shines here. There is a core of redcurrant, red cherry, and plum fruit, and then gorgeous grace notes of tarragon and cherry blossom, and hints of spice from the 70% new French oak. Depth, intensity, elegance – all are here in spades, as is Cabernet’s wonderfully-chewy texture. 231 cases produced, and 14.4% finished alcohol.

Again, the QPR is jaw-dropping here. To see Cabernet, from some of Washington’s oldest vines, getting the luxury treatment, and then to see it priced like this? My mind is happily boggled.

First come first served up to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wine should arrive in about 2 weeks, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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