Hello friends. We have an extremely limited set of Bob Betz’s 2010 Rhone releases today. The less said the better, given our quantities, so I’ll repeat what I have said before: Bob Betz’s face would doubtless be chiseled on a Mt. Rushmore of Washington winemakers. He is the only Master of Wine making wine in Washington, having achieved that honor back in 1998. After a 28-year career at Chateau Ste Michelle he launched his eponymous winery in 1997, crushing 150 cases worth of wine in the Woodinville warehouse district.
Since then, production has grown to 3500 cases total, but acclaim has grown more quickly than that, forcing the family to close their mailing list in 2008 and establishing them as one of Washington’s cult wineries. The winery is open to its list members on just two weekends each year: once in the spring, for the release of its Bordeaux portfolio, and once in the fall, for the release of these Rhone-styled wines. That fall weekend just took place, and I had a chance to taste the lineup just a few hours ago.
The 2010s are lovely, and the cooler vintage means lower yields and more competitive allocations. Fortunately, not a single professional review has been released for the 2010s. When those reviews come out, and they inevitably include big scores and bigger praise, we’ll be happy we have these safely tucked away.
2010 Betz Family Winery “Besoleil” (Grenache Blend)
Bob’s ode to Chateauneuf, a blend of 65% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre, 11% Cinsault, and 6% Syrah, all from the Yakima Valley (20% Snipes Mtn, 11% Red Mtn, 69% Greater Yak). The aromatics display a lovely Grenache character: juicy red strawberries, red raspberries, and hints of white pepper and garrigue. That garrigue brushiness continues on the palate, which is bright, lively, juicy. It’s a gorgeous example of the best of the 2010 vintage – indelible intensity at moderate alcohol – and its aging curve should be beautiful to behold.
2010 Betz Family Winery Syrah “La Serenne” Boushey Vineyard
Bob mentioned to me today that he favors cooler vintages like 2010 because they allow his Syrahs to diverge; to show more of the specific character of their vineyard sources. La Serenne is 100% Syrah from Boushey Vineyard. Bob Betz and Dick Boushey working together, in a vintage that allows Bob to best express Boushey terroir; need I say more?
That Boushey character is immediately apparent on the nose, which is terrifically expressive. Look for charcoal, bacon fat, black and blue berry fruit, and resinous topnotes of sage and pine. The texture of La Serenne this year is pillowy: silky, seamless, and strong across the entire palate. Beware vegetarians: this has an overtly meaty character. It is clearly the more savory of the two Syrahs, and also the one that is most accessible in its youth.
2010 Betz Family Winery Syrah “La Cote Rousse” (Red Mtn)
Here Bob blends four different Syrah clones (Phelps, 99, 174, 383), all from two vineyards on Red Mountain: Ciel du Cheval and Ranch at the End of the Road. The character of this could not be more different from La Serenne. While Boushey is all about meaty savories, Cote Rousse is more mineral-driven, the nose a riot of graphite, iron, and tar. On the palate, we find black fruit locked up behind a wall of minerality and structure. The sweet-tea tannins are lovely, and this positively calls out for food or time (in bottle or decanter). While it’s not as approachable as La Serenne in its youth, Cote Rousse has massive upside for those of us with patience. At 5-7 years past vintage, Cote Rousse tends to transform into something special.
Please limit order requests to 3 bottles of each wine, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.