Upchurch Vineyard 2010 cabernet sauvignon

Christopher (and promoter-extraordinaire wife, Theodora) Upchurch, long associated with the winemaking duties at DeLille Cellars, purchased some 20 acres of prime Red Mountain AVA land adjacent to Corvus Cellars’ plot just south of Hwy. 224. Vineyard manager: Dick Boushey. If you don’t know anything about Chris Upchurch and what he has accomplished at DeLille Cellars, then go read my earlier reviews.

This! This is the wine (and this is the winery) that DESTROYS all “top 100 wines” lists that get published before December. I mean, who would be so damn irresponsible and self-glorifying as to put out such a list… in September? What an insult to the wine industry and all the wineries who work so hard only to be dissed with these silly, non-standardized rankings. This is the wine that all wine bloggers could not acquire that would have EASILY… COMFORTABLY made anyone’s so-called “Top 100” list. It’s just that they lacked patience and morality.

Thankfully, Chris’s reputation (with DeLille’s blessing, unlike other winemakers…) is sterling in this region so he had no problem selling out of his entire 144-case vintage within a few months. The Upchurches have plans to slightly increase production next year so if you haven’t signed on the mailing list by now, forget about it. You had one other opportunity to buy a bottle at a retail establishment but they’re all gone now. The only chance you have left is to know someone who has it or dine at one of the ritziest establishments in the area and pay triple for the privilege.

Notes from a blinder: “Holy Sh*t! High octane black fruits. Dense, appearing unfined with granulated sediment. Spicy butt. Black licorice. Power +. Muscular. Balance +. Depth +. Finesse +. Toasty. Tannins present- sweet. Cab-dominant. Loooong mid-palate to finish. Good evolution. Finishing notes like a Chaleur Estate but not as decadent. Possibly a Galitzine cab. Would be great with a grilled prime steak or 3x lambchops. Wow x2. I feel underdressed. Must buy the remainder.”

Frankly, this is an easy wine to detect as there are not many winemakers that have access to this high quality of wine grapes matched with decades of elite winemaking experience. It’s not that I have a keen palate; more like I have keen deductive reasoning from drinking hundreds of bottles of paid-for Washington wine and blogging about it. There are only, maybe, twenty Washington wineries (out of 800) that can make a cabernet sauvignon of this caliber in a cool year. And, I can guarantee you most of those twenty used Red Mountain AVA fruit.

Tasted at 60-67 degrees on the IR temp gun. I just knew… the swirl, the aromas of sweet black cherry bursting as your schnozzle approaches the Riedel, that this was a wine of Washington royalty. Further aromas of sweet, high-toned notes of  executive cedar, blackberry forest, sandalwood, raspberries and summery blackberries confirm its elusive but full-bodied presence on the palate with a marathon performance and leaving an indentation of searing notes of flamed cedar, black plum, grilled beef tips, 70% cacao, black pepper, black licorice, peppermint and dark spices on a bed of moderate tannins. Food pairing was French onion beef, Italian dry salame, peppered salame, and calabrese salame. Best with something meaty and spicy.

Alcohol: 14.5%. Red Mountain AVA. Estate vineyard (20 acres). Certified Low Input Viticulture and Enology and Salmon-Safe. 144 cases. Sold out. Tastes like there’s some merlot and/or cabernet franc (<10%). Front label is a repro of a painting by Seville’s Salustiano’s “Instante de Eternidad” featuring a woman on a swing looking over her left shoulder to the painter against a freaky 100-layered, eerily red background. Power: 3/5. Balance: 3/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated 92. Value: $45. Paid: $60. Music pairing: “Barber of Seville” by Bugs Bunny. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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