Full Pull Tempus

Hello friends. Joe Forest continues to turn out beautiful, well-priced wines for Tempus Cellars. This is one of those wineries that still flies under the radar a bit, and that’s fine by me. Our list members know how lovely and expressive Joe’s wines are, and we snap them up en masse every time we offer the wines.

As usual when I taste the Tempus lineup, I struggled to settle on just one wine. Today we’ll offer a trio, from three different vintages; a fine display of Joe’s skill across different years and different grapes:

2014 Tempus Cellars Riesling Evergreen Vineyard
Of all the Tempus wines we’ve offered over the years, we’ve featured none more than Joe’s Evergreen Vineyard Riesling. This is the sixth consecutive vintage we’ve offered (beginning with the 2009, offered in July 2010), and that’s no mistake. Year in and year out, this is among Washington’s finest, most compelling Rieslings.

No surprise that it comes from Evergreen Vineyard, a singular Ancient Lakes AVA site for aromatic white varieties. Many different Washington wineries work with Evergreen fruit, and they make a broad range of styles. Joe’s is always among the driest, in 2014 clocking in with just 0.97% residual sugar. It begins with a lovely nose of white peach, key lime, and mineral. The palate drinks quite dry, with plenty of Evergreen’s signature rippin’ acid and minerality. At just 11.9% listed alc, this goes down really easy, almost obscuring the impressive complexity and extract. It’s clear at this point: Joe is just dialed in when it comes to Evergreen Riesling.

2013 Tempus Cellars Grenache
I’m racking my brain trying to come up with other outstanding Washington Grenache that we’ve offered at prices in the $20s. I can think of a vintage or two from Syncline; maybe Chip McLaughlin’s dearly-departed Vinyl Grenache… anything else? It’s a rare category, to be sure.

Joe’s version is just 193 cases of single-vineyard juice, coming entirely from Art den Hoed’s vineyard outside of Sunnyside, in the Yakima Valley. It spent 17 months in barrel, all neutral, and it clocks in at 14.9% listed alc. The nose is marvelously expressive and high-toned: rose petals and lavender, salty olives and capers, brambly red raspberry fruit, cherry pastille. Wonderful. The palate is full of charm and pleasure, along with terrific wild mountain fruit character. There’s real transparency here; it’s true to variety, true to vintage. Supple, succulent, spicy Grenache, all at a very reasonable tag.

2012 Tempus Cellars Sagemoor Reserve
Here’s a special wine. It’s Joe’s first reserve of any kind. He only made 166 cases, and outside of the Tempus mailing list, it is only being offered to long-time supporters of the winery. The wine is a blend of all four main Sagemoor sites (50% Bacchus, 28% Dionysus, 14% Weinbau, 8% Sagemoor), and it includes some serious old-vine material (Bacchus 1972, for example). The blend of 58% Cab, 28% Merlot, and 14% Cab Franc spent 22 months in 72% new French oak and was bottled in August 2014. It had nearly another two years in bottle before release. 14.4% listed alc.

The nose combines blackcurrant and black plum fruit, barrel tones of smoke and high-cacao chocolate, and minty topnotes. The palate dazzles with its depth and intensity, offering a supple attack and mid-palate that transitions to a chewier finish. Those tannins (redolent of English breakfast tea) are just beginning to resolve and soften up, and they frame the fruit beautifully. What an evocative expression of Sagemoor; what a fine late-release 2012!

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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