Two 2010s from Soos Creek

Hello friends. One of the quiet joys of Full Pull surviving into its fifth spring is that there are offerings we can wind our watches to, markers of the season at hand. In mid-springtime, that means two single-vineyard marvels from Soos Creek.

A brief history:

  • On November 11, 2009, barely a month after launching, we offer the 2006 vintage of Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval.
  • On June 4, 2010, we offer the 2007 vintage of Soos Creek Ciel, but I (stupidly) wait too long and miss out on a chance at the 2007 Champoux.
  • On April 4, 2011, I learn my lesson, and we offer both the 2008 Ciel and the 2008 Champoux from Soos.
  • On May 9, 2012, we offer the 2009 vintages of Ciel and Champoux from Soos Creek.

These are among the strongest values that come out of Washington. As word of their quality has spread, from insiders to message-board geeks to the general public, they have sold out faster and faster each year. The trick is to get in post-release and pre-review, because once the reviews for these wines come out (usually late summer/early autumn), they tend to disappear immediately (last year, by the time Paul Gregutt’s matching pair of 94pt reviews for the 2009s came out in the November Wine Enthusiast, the wines were long gone).

Dave Larsen is one of the great success stories of the Boeing Winemaking Club. He began making wine in 1987, moved from amateur to commercial winemaking in 1989, and kept both gigs (Boeing and Soos Creek) until 2004, when he retired from Boeing to pursue winemaking full time. Despite all those years in the business, Soos Creek is very much a boutique winery, with total production still under 2000 cases.

Because Dave has grown Soos Creek conservatively, the winery was well-positioned for difficult economic times. As other wineries dropped out of older blocks at Ciel du Cheval and Champoux Vineyards, Dave moved in. So the fruit quality, and the resulting wine, have continued to get better and better with each passing vintage. And the prices remain the same.

2010 Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Vineyard (BDX Blend)

Ciel du Cheval Vineyard is the queen of Red Mountain. Located here, it was planted in 1975 by Jim Holmes and is farmed today by Ryan Johnson. Fruit from Ciel has played an integral role in famous bottlings from Betz Family Winery and Quilceda Creek, among other luminaries. It is a remarkable site to visit, with gnarled old vines growing (impossibly) right out of the sandy soil.

A blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Merlot, Dave’s 2010 comes soaring out of the glass, redolent of red raspberry, walnut oil, citrus peel, and Red Mountain’s famous (iron-tinged) minerals. This tastes like Red Mountain, a blend of cherry and apricot fruit, exotic spice, insistent minerality, and a dusting of cocoa powder. This positively hums across the palate, lit up by the energy of the cooler 2010 vintage. But still, Red Mountain is a hot place, and even in a cool year, this brings intensity and generosity. Such an easy wine to love, and I can’t think of a better expression of this particular patch of Red Mountain that matches this tariff.

2010 Soos Creek Champoux Vineyard (BDX Blend)

Dave’s first commercial wine in 1989 was made from Mercer Ranch fruit. Mercer Ranch was eventually sold and renamed Champoux Vineyard (located here), so 2010 marks Dave’s 22nd vintage working with this site, roundly considered the finest in the state for Cabernet. Sadly, Champoux got blasted by the Thanksgiving freeze of 2010, and the 2011 vintage was severely compromised. There will be no 2011 Champoux, and Dave only received 40% of a normal Champoux yield in 2012, so the 2012 is going to be a miniscule release. All that to say: it is going to be a few years before we see this one again. Fortunately, the 2010 is an absolute beauty, so we can double (triple?) down on this while we wait out the interregnum.

A full 84% Cabernet Sauvignon (rounded out with Merlot and Cab Franc), this is transparently expressive of Champoux, a ringing-bell-clarity mix of cassis and graphite (for me, that’s Champoux in a nutshell: blackcurrant fruit and pencil-lead minerality; an unabashedly attractive combination). The palate is a live-wire of intensity, and the sheer class of Dave Larsen’s command of this vineyard is most apparent in the wine’s balance: balance of black fruit and mineral; balance of acid and tannin; balance of richness and vibrancy. Again, if you look around at other Champoux Cabernet bottlings, it’s hard not to be completely wowed by the quality Dave presents at the tariff he’s asking. And that’s compared to other Washington bottlings. If you start to compare this to California Cab (and yes, this begs to be slipped into a Cali tasting as a ringer), you begin to think you’re the only sane person in a world gone mad.

First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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