Hello friends. Ben Smith makes four single-vineyard wines from Red Mountain for Cadence. We covered his two estate wines back in December, and today, we’re rounding out the rest of the lineup.
Cadence, although still a winery that may fly a bit under the mainstream radar, has huge cachet among the insider/somm/message-board crowd. There’s a lot to love about Ben Smith’s wines. First, he has a profound sense of focus, and that focus is on Red Mountain. Every single one of his wines comes from this killer AVA, and he has developed a deft hand managing what can be difficult-to-tame fruit.
Perhaps more importantly, he developed a house style in the early days of Cadence that emphasized textural elegance, carefully-tended structure, and finely-tuned balance. Because of those components, Ben’s wines are marvels when it comes to medium- to long-term aging. Those of you who went in on one or more of our library offerings will know what I mean.
After drinking a lot of cooler-year 2010s and 2011s, it is a delight to return to the 2009 vintage, a warm year that brought simpler pleasures. But even in a fleshy vintage like 2009, Ben can’t help making elegant, compelling, vineyard-expressive wines that confound expectations. Still, there’s no denying it: these are some of the best early-drinking wines I can remember from the Cadence portfolio. Hold onto the 2008s and 2010s and 2011s; crack these 2009s, enjoy them as a pair of youthful indulgences.
2009 Cadence Ciel du Cheval Vineyard (BDX Blend)
A gorgeous bottling from the queen of Red Mountain (located here), it’s 41% Cabernet Franc, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petit Verdot, and 6% Merlot. The Franc plays a very influential role, adding a strong sense of earthiness to the mix. This contains a lovely mix of sanguine Red Mountain minerals and spicy red cherry/red raspberry fruit, with nuances of citrus peel and marzipan completing a complex array of flavors. The prominent structure (both leafy tannins and citrusy acids) and the elegant mouthfeel belie the vintage in a beautiful way.
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
2009 Cadence Tapteil Vineyard (BDX Blend)
A bit lesser known than Ciel and Klipsun, Tapteil (located here) is a beautiful vineyard with a dark, sultry heart. The spine of this (57%) is 1985-planted Cabernet Sauvignon (the remainder is Merlot and Cabernet Franc). Even by Red Mountain standards, Tapteil is a windy site, and those Cabernet berries develop extra-thick skins to compensate, leading to wines with powerful tannic structure. In other hands, those tannins can get a little out of control. In Ben’s hands, they are managed capably, adding a lovely toothsome quality, a rusticity, to the wine. Everything about this bottle is darker than Ciel. It contains blacker fruit (cassis, blackberry), blacker mineral (graphite), and streaks of tar and asphalt. It’s a dark, exotic, alluring wine; a lovely expression of an under-explored piece of Red Mountain terroir.
Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ****/***** (Excellent/Exceptional).”
First come first served up to 24 bottles (mix and match as you like), and the wine should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.