Another (expensive) WAwineman classic, 1st posted on December 3, 2009:
See my Twitter notes for my leaky imitation of Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report Virtual Tastings. Sad to report…no one else joined me. Hmm, wonder why?
Cote Bonneville started up in 2001 by Hugh and Kathy Shiels, and in my estimation, wanted to make expressive wines from their DuBrul Vineyard that no one else could. Mind you, the Vineyard’s customer list includes: Owen Roe, Woodward Canyon, Seven Hills, Stevens, Pomum, Sparkman, Tamarack and Rasa. Not exactly bottom-shelf wineries. Hugh and Kathy planted DuBrul in 1992 with cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, syrah, chardonnay and riesling. As a side note, my first exposure (and first bottle of DuBrul Vineyard juice) of DuBrul Vineyard came from those creepy Vincent Price-movie-like wine labels of Owen Roe. I still have the 2005 merlot, bottle #442, cellaring.
Of course, there’s a whole team behind the Shiels that deserves recognition. Larry Dolan has been the only Vineyard manager for DuBrul. Dr. Wade Wolfe (yes, he of Thurston Wolfe) platted the Vineyard, and brought on Rick Hamman, the viticultural consultant. And, Stan Clarke directed the development of the Vineyard for 11 years, until his passing in 2007. This team’s nurturing of DuBrul Vineyard has led to Seattle Magazine’s Vineyard of The Year proclamation in 2007 and 2009.
As for the winery, Cote Bonneville appears to have developed a “cult” following amongst the wine aficionados. The lowest-priced of their five bottlings goes for $50 (chardonnay and ‘Carriage House’ red wine). The ‘Carriage House’ tops production at 1050 cases, which is more than half of the winery’s total output. The director of winemaking is none other than newly-minted-Masters of Viticulture and Enology from U.C.-Davis, daughter Kerry Shiels. Coman Dinn, now with Hogue Cellars, served as founding technical consultant.
Let’s get over this…this bottle retails for $200 and is easily the priciest bottle of Washington State wine. Wine wonks cry foul for whatever reasons: “no track record” (this isn’t a sport, folks), “costs more than Quilceda Creek” (so does Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Screaming Eagle, and Evening Lands…next excuse), “overpriced” (I bought two bottles. I’m not crying and asking for a refund. Besides, how can it be “overpriced” when you haven’t tasted it yet?), and a quote from “Anonymous”: “it will probably sell to someone that has no quality reference point in Washington and tons of cash to burn.” (and, Mr. Winesnoot, your point being…?). And, as you continue to read, you’ll find that I would pay $100, read: “Value $100”, for this after partaking in two glasses of this beautifully expressive wine. I’d rather drink this cabernet than scream, “I paid $3 and felt it’s worth $6.” Totally retarded thinking there. Sorry, let’s be p.c. here…”It’s not my form of deductive reasoning.” Or, abstract…”It’s not my cup of tea.” Gads!
100% cabernet. Yakima Valley AVA (east end DuBrul Vineyard). Estate bottled. 40 cases (2 barrels). Rated 96 from Wine Spectator. Nose: black cherry dominant, dark chocolate. Mouthfeel: heavy. Tail trail: 10+ seconds. Flavors: higher black fruit notes, leather whip, Indian spices. Alcohol: 13.9%. Rated: 98. Value: $100. Paid: $200. This is WAwineman…totally schlotzed, uneducated but not uncouth.
24-hr p.s.: did I remark on what a beautiful wine label this bottle has? Whoa, bouquet still very strong! I sense the Texas saddle leather coming on with a back end of purple flowers, ooh and violet candy. Mouthfeel is full, loaded. Front palate still high on black cherry, moving to red fruits. Still very intense as it evolves. Scorched earth (oak barrel) showing on the back. Here comes the spices and a black licorice vine to complete the complexity. Actually, this wine at 24 hours tastes a wine foil-length more pleasing than the Betz and, possibly Quilceda Creek. That’s like comparing an Aston-Martin with a Tesla. Value now goes up to $200 and rating to 100, same as my value estimate/rating for the QC. Cellar this wine and prove me wrong in a few years. At 40 cases and a cult following, I have a sneaking suspicion this will become “cult investment grade” wine.