Two 2010s from Cadence

Hello friends. The cool 2010 and 2011 vintages were put on this earth, I believe, specifically for Ben Smith to make wines at Cadence. Those vintages are just so well suited to the house style (textural elegance, carefully-tended structure, finely-tuned balance) of the man who, according to Stephen Tanzer, makes “some of Washington’s most Bordeaux-like wines.”

Today we have the two wines from Ben’s estate Cara Mia vineyard on Red Mountain (location here). This site, well up Red Mountain, contains a mix of sandy loam (normal for Red Mountain) and a mishmash of cobblestones and clay (much less common on Red Mountain). It was planted in 2004, so we’re starting to see the results of the vines digging deeper into the fascinating soils of the site.

For lovers of terroir expression in general, and Red Mountain terroir in particular, these are wines from a man dedicated to delivering sense of place in the glass, and from a vintage that gave him the raw materials to do just that. No surprise, then, that lovers of this style have been swooning over these wines (including both wines receiving Sean Sullivan’s highest rating):

2010 Cadence “Bel Canto” Cara Mia Vineyard

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($60); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ***** (Exceptional).”

International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

So beautifully Washington Cab Franc, with its evocative mix of dried flowers and earth and poblano pepper to go with Merlot’s red cherry fruit. Savory in the mouth, and earthy, with perfectly integrated oak that just melts into the wine. The whole thing is just a textural marvel. It’s there in Sullivan’s notes (“seamless… beautifully integrated tannins”); it’s there in Tanzer’s notes (“manages to be wonderfully silky and taut at the same time, thick yet weightless”). It’s certainly there in my notes, where I’m trying to make sense of how a wine that conveys such ethereal lightness can also bring such intensity. Just beautiful, pinpoint-precise juice, with all the stuffing to age for years and years. All of us who have paid attention to Bel Canto over the years (arguably the queen of the Cadence lineup in terms of elegance) had high expectations after seeing what the 2010 harvest looked like. Even with those high expectations, Ben over-delivers here.

2010 Cadence “Camerata” Cara Mia Vineyard

And what a year for Camerata as well. Cabernet-dominated (more than three quarters of the blend), it is in many ways a mirror image of Bel Canto, its beauty coming from its alluring darkness. Everything about this is black, with notes of blackcurrant, asphalt, and minerals graphitic and ferrous. It’s real four-corner Cabernet, hitting fruit and earth and herb and barrel in turn. Easily confused with left-bank Bordeaux from a good year, this is a classic in the making and a total brooder right now. Give it a lengthy decant if opening anytime soon.

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($60); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ***** (Exceptional).”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

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

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