Betz Family Winery 2007 La Cote Rousse syrah

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on October 14, 2009:

What is the price of a finger? In London, a 16 year-old girl lost eight of her digits when she stuck her hands in a bucket of plaster of paris at school and the school was ordered to pay $30 grand. I imagine her graduation walk included a fist full of cash and a two-fingered salute. A 22 year-old German man at a train station mooned the railway staff on a departing train but got his trousers caught in a carriage door and ended up being taken for a ride onto the tracks. He put the “fest” (as in fester) in Oktoberfest. A survey says Mexican adults swear at least 20 times a day, which amounts to 1.3 billion swear words daily. The survey was thought to be done by the Cabron Institute. What a wonderful world we live in…

Bob Betz is not just a true Master of Wine, he is a true Master of Family. The “alla famiglia B” on his front label is a symbol of loyalty to his family, which is also proudly displayed on his winery’s website with his wife, Cathy, and daughters Carmen and Carla deeply involved in the winery’s operations. And, that includes “adopted” family member Kat House, the assistant winemaker. All, and I abide by the strict definition of “all”, his wines are the glistening representation of what Washington wines can be. “Outsiders” have not tasted Washington State’s best reds until they have tried a wine made by Bob Betz. On the flip side, Washington residents don’t know the finesse and quality of what can be grown and nurtured in their own backyard until they fall under the spell of a Betz Family Winery wine. Unfortunately, the mailing list is closed and the winery is only open twice a year for release weekends, so the only real opportunities to taste Betz wines are at a few upscale restaurants and specialty wine shops, which is in disguise, a bonus opportunity to support your local, independent retailer.
(Disclosure: I did get onto the mailing list before they closed it.)

How ironic that a night after I slog down a wine made by Bob’s former longtime assistant winemaker, Ross Andrew Mickel, I end up sipping a wine from the master himself. Tonight’s Korean-spice infused, marinated flat iron steak from QFC called for, nay check that, screamed for a high-end syrah. Royal City was not a choice and neither was Betz’s ‘La Cote Patriarche’, both vanquished earlier by yours truly. I don’t mess around, do I?!

For starters, I opened with, of course, Beecher’s Smoked Flagship cheese and paired it with Wisecrackers roasted garlic & rosemary. I must be “in the zone” as this was another super-duper match made in palate heaven. One thing about this wine is the lack of aberrant peaks and valleys. Most of the wines I have tasted have what I call “little explosions”, whether it be bold fruit upfront, alcohol IEDs in the middle, or tannic astringency in the butt. ‘La Cote Rousse’ lacks any of these. The bouquet is a glassful but not something with the velocity of a sneeze. The mouthfeel is full but not something to choke on. The tail doesn’t mimic swallowing a wad of wasabi. And, the memory leaves a question of “Wow! What was that long tickling of the senses that just went through me?” That’s what the finest of any varietal should and will do, and I’m finally getting a clinic in that.

Color: black down the center, deep purple at the rim. Nose: purple rhodies, dark plum, violet candy, black cherry. Mouthfeel: Brock Lesnar about to give you a massage. (no holds barred). Tail trail: 10+ seconds. Flavors: evaporated black cherry, black currant, evolving to black olives, blackberry tar, scorched earth, dried tobacco leaves.

Red Mountain AVA. Play “A Day in the Life” by the Beatles…”somebody spoke and I went into a dream…” Vineyards: Ciel du Cheval and Ranch at the End of the Road. Alcohol: 14.8%. Rated: 98. Value: $90. Paid: $55. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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