Hello friends. Last year at around this time, I experienced a real thrill when we were able to offer a wine from Quilceda Creek Vintners for this first time. But today might be even more exciting. The fact that we’ve been offered access to CVR for the second year in a row is an indication that we’re off and running with a successful relationship. That last year wasn’t a one-off. That this might be turning into a fantastic holiday-season tradition:
The story of Quilceda Creek begins with the story of Andre Tchelistcheff. By the time Tchelistcheff arrived in the Napa Valley in 1938 (to take the winemaking job at George de Latour’s Beaulieu Vineyards), he had already seen an eventful 37 years. Born in 1901 to a father who was the Chief Justice of the Russian Imperial Court, Tchelistcheff’s life changed dramatically with the Russian Revolution of 1917, after which he fought for three years in Russia’s Civil War. He was wounded on the battlefield, eventually recovered and rejoined his family, and then fled with them to Yugoslavia, and then onto Czechoslovakia and finally France, where he took up the study of oenology at the Institut National Agronomique.
That’s where George de Latour found Tchelistcheff, and their meeting led to a 35-year partnership. It’s difficult to overstate Tchelistcheff’s impact on American winemaking. A smattering of the techniques he helped to introduce: Cold fermentation. Malolactic conversion. Frost protection in vineyards. Ageing wine in small oak barrels. Basically, if there’s a winemaking technique that modern vintners take for granted, chances are Tchelistcheff helped to introduce it in the United States.
His fingerprints are all over California wine, and by the 1960s, he was doing consulting work in the Pacific Northwest as well. When Ste Michelle launched in 1967, it was under Tchelistcheff’s guidance (here is a label from the early days). He also had a nephew, living north of Seattle, and he encouraged his relative to try his hand at Cabernet Sauvignon. That nephew was Alex Golitzin, who proceeded to produce about one barrel per year of Cabernet from 1974 through 1978. The results were encouraging enough that, in 1979, Golitzin launched Quilceda Creek Vintners as a commercial winery, producing 150 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Since then, the production has increased, but the winery’s focus on Cabernet Sauvignon has never wavered, even as the next generation (Alex’s son Paul Golitzin) has taken over as Director of Winemaking. The Golitzins’ intense focus on quality has yielded considerable rewards. Perfect 100pt reviews from Wine Advocate for the 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007 vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon. A recent honor from Wine Spectator, as the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon landed at the #2 spot in that publication’s 2015 Top 100 list.
In addition to the flagship Cabernet, Quilceda Creek also produces a single-vineyard wine from their 2001-planted estate Galitzine Vineyard on Red Mountain and a Merlot-based Bordeaux Blend called Palengat that includes a large dose of fruit from their estate Palengat Vineyard (2006-planted) in the Horse Heaven Hills.
And then there’s CVR. CVR has become hugely popular among Washington wine lovers generally (and lovers of Quilceda Creek specifically), because it is a wine that brings plenty of youthful pleasure while we wait for the flagship Quilceda wines to come into their own in the cellar. Here’s how Paul Golitzin describes the wine: [TEXT WITHHELD]
Of course, because this is Quilceda Creek, the barrels that wind up in CVR are outrageously good. For one thing, those barrels are 100% classy new French oak. Furthermore, the vineyards are as you’d expect them to be: Champoux, Palengat, Tapteil, Wallula. For those of us stuck on Quilceda’s waiting list (their main mailing list has been closed for years now), or those just curious about the Golitzin’s house style, CVR represents an unparalleled opportunity.
First come first served up to 24 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.