Hello friends. I recently had a chance to taste through the current lineup from Tempus Cellars and came away more than a little impressed. Three different varieties, from three different vintages, from three different parts of the state; all expressive, all polished, all delicious. And each of the three represents outstanding quality compared to peers at these price points. In short, Joe Forest is killing it.
Way back when, in their early years, we hosted a few release parties for Tempus at our old warehouse space. Back in those days, there was a real spark of promise, and now it’s clear that the promise has been realized. I heartily encourage you to check out these wines:
I’m going to begin with the only wine of the trio that does not yet have a review attached, and I’m starting here because I found this a completely eye-popping wine. Are we past the point where we’re talking about Grenache’s potential in Washington? Can we just agree that there is a real way forward with this grape in our state? Especially when you see bottles like this, and like Kevin White’s La Fraternite, coming in with such high quality at prices in the $20s. I find the whole thing very exciting, in case you couldn’t tell.
While it’s not listed on the front label, this is actually single-vineyard juice, coming entirely from Art den Hoed’s vineyard outside of Sunnyside, in the Yakima Valley. It spent 18 months in barrel, all neutral, and it clocks in at 14.8% listed alc. What this particular Grenache reminded me of was old-school Chateauneuf-du-Pape, before alcohols in that region got completely out of control (some blame warming weather, some blame Robert Parker). It has that wonderful Grenache aromatic trinity of brambly raspberry fruit, cooling crushed rock tones, and herbal garrigue/eucalyptus notes. The nose is super-expressive, soaring, inviting. And the palate delivers. Bright, energetic, this comes with a wonderful sense of fruit extract. It drinks like a session Grenache: one where you could easily see enjoying glass after glass throughout an afternoon and evening, with food or without.
This is really fantastic Grenache. It’s one of the best quality-for-price wines I’ve tasted from Washington in 2015. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Joe consistently makes the driest Riesling I know of from Evergreen Vineyard, and one of the most compelling. In this case, there’s just 1.1% residual sugar, and it is easily balanced by all of Evergreen’s hallmark acid-and-chalky-mineral spine. The sense of dry extract here, the salinity, the mouthwatering nature of this Riesling: all very impressive. The fruit is citric goodness (lime especially) mixed with ripe stone fruits (nectarine especially), and it lingers impressively well after a swallow. Despite its somewhat under-the-radar status, I’d call this one of Washington’s finest Rieslings year in and year out, and we have it for a few dollars below its release.
Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”
Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”
We have a significant price break on this lovely Cab, which Harvey puts smack in the middle of peak drinking. I tasted this and then had to scramble to figure out why it was as good as it was, because Cabernets could be really challenging in the cooler 2010 vintage. This beauty, however, is a full 73% old-vine Sagemoor Vineyard fruit (yes, that’s the same Sagemoor that appears in Woodward Canyon’s gorgeous old-vine Cab). It’s rounded out with Klipsun and Seven Hills fruit, another duo of outstanding vineyard sites. The nose is true to the vintage, high-toned with violets, cassis, espresso, and soil. There is plenty of energy from the cool vintage, and a real minty freshness here. There’s glorious acid structure, then more structure in the form of smoky fine-grained tannins, then a long attractive finish. It’s vigorous, invigorating Cabernet.
First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in the next few weeks, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.