Full Pull 4040

Hello friends. Last year’s 2012 vintage of Cadence Coda was among our most popular wines of the year. I know there is huge interest in well-priced Red Mountain wines, especially from the 2012 vintage. I also know that it isn’t easy to find examples in the $20s. But after a few months of back-and-forth e-mails and price negotiations, we have one today:

2012 Fidelitas 4040

This is a fascinating counterpoint to Coda, because Charlie Hoppes is a winemaker that knows Red Mountain as well as Ben Smith does, but who has a completely different house style. It’s also a fine value, negotiated down from its normal $32 price in hopes of getting more folks to dip their toes in the Fidelitas waters.

A quick primer on Charlie Hoppes and his winery: Hired by Mike Januik after finishing the UC-Davis program in 1988, Charlie spent a decade at Ste Michelle, eventually ascending to the Head Red Winemaker position, where he had great influence over Ste Michelle’s successful high-end projects, including Col Solare on Red Mountain.

That project must have influenced him, because Charlie eventually set up shop on Red Mountain himself. I had a chance to visit Charlie at his Fidelitas tasting room during my research trip for the “Destination Wineries” piece I wrote for Seattle Magazine last year. It is a terrific spot to visit: one of the few tasting rooms on Red Mountain with regular open hours, one of the few tasting rooms anywhere in the state to aim for modern architecture, and maybe the only tasting room with a certified baby whisperer available (Charlie made it a point to call me after that article was published and let me know that multiple visitors to their tasting room had asked about his skills in baby whispering; it definitely worked for our daughter).

This 2012 vintage marked Charlie’s 25th vintage in Washington, so this is a winemaker with deep experience, broad expertise, and an impeccable lineup of vineyard partners. Here he is blending six separate sites on the mountain (which, by the way, contains 4040 acres; hence the name) in this Cab-dominant (54%) cuvee, rounded out with 33% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. It sees 20 months in a mix of French and American oak, about half new barrels. The nose is smoky and seductive, offering earthy peat, crème de cassis, spicy nutty pecans, and bourbon barrel. Charlie really knows how to swaddle rich Red Mountain fruit in smoky/nutty barrel notes; the combination is alluring indeed. In the mouth, the cocoa powder-dusted black fruits continue, complicated here by a red ferrous mineral/sanguine note. For most of this seamless mouthful’s trip across your palate, it is a luscious little truffle of a wine, but my oh my does this pick up power and structure as it rolls into a finish with sneaky back-end chew. Sneaky because these tannins are so polished and fine-grained, you barely notice them. The overall package drinks like some Red Mountain blends (that shall remain nameless) that cost twice this much.

The pricing we’ve negotiated may be one-time only, so I’m inclined to open this one up a little: first come first served up to 36 bottles, and the wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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