EFESTE Winemaker Peter Devison checking on Angela’s Vineyard, Red Mountain
Dear EFESTĒ Family, Friends, and Wine Club Members:
For those of you who are new to our family – welcome! For those who’ve been with us a while, thank you for your continued support of our Washington winery. I’m thrilled that we have such a great Wine Club and enjoy the many chances I get to meet with our local members throughout the year. For our members living out of town, my only opportunity to communicate with you is by means of the wines. Pressure on!
Another harvest behind us, the 2016 vintage marks number twelve for EFESTE. Whereas 2015 was the hottest on record, 2016 brought a warm and early spring followed by a moderate growing season which cooled things down. This resulted in a beautiful ripening period that was temperate and long. We brought in all of our fruit healthy and ripe, picking more fruit off of our Red Mountain estate vineyards than ever. The initial evaluation of the vintage hints at wines with bright fruit and classic structure. The Cabernets are fantastic, reminding me of the 2008s, whereas the Rhône varieties are a combination of a primary mix of sweet red/black fruits, savory herbs, and briny olive just the way I like them.
Springtime means the release of Syrahs and our newly bottled white wines. 2014 was considered a great vintage and the Syrahs are no exception. All three – Eléni, Jolie Bouche, and Ceidleigh – have distinctly different profiles as a result of vineyard location, yet all possess concentration and finesse. The Evergreen Riesling is always long to come around. This makes sense given the soil composition of the vineyard and the hallmark traits of the variety. 2015 was no exception and only now is beginning to crack its shell to reveal itself. My advice is to tuck it away for a while and enjoy the 2014, which is drinking beautifully, throughout the summer. For the first time since we introduced ‘Sauvage’ I decided with the 2015 vintage to add Semillon (31%) to the Sauvignon Blanc and make it a true Bordeaux style white blend. It also went through partial malolactic fermentation and has a higher than normal percentage of new French oak (50%). This wine will age! The 2016 Feral and Estate Rosé are also included in this release. For the first time since 2011, the Sauvignon Blanc developed flavors ahead of sugars allowing for an intensely flavored wine with a modest 12.50% alcohol. Continuing the success we’ve had with the 2015 Rosé, the ‘16 was crafted in the same fashion and looks to be as good or better – just in time for nicer weather!
I am excited for you to try these wines, which are a culmination of my ever-maturing palate and what I’ve come to learn and love throughout my tenure here at EFESTĒ.
As always, to be well is to eat and drink well. Cheers!
2013 Tough Guy Red Blend (Klipsun Vineyards, Red Mountain)
Dark and concentrated ruby-red in color, the Tough Guy comes out swinging with primary aromas of cassis, dark cherry and plum, blueberry compote, licorice, and baking spices. There are also nuanced scents of cured meat, toasted grains, and scorched earth. Full and concentrated with present, but polished tannins, flavors of blackberry, cherry, and toasted oak emerge with time in the glass. The finish is elegant and lengthy.
2014 Jolie Bouche Syrah (Boushey Vineyards, Yakima Valley)
Vibrant, youthful purple in color, the ‘14 opens aromatically with cured meat, roasted olives, smoked orange zest, dark black fruits, licorice, and purple flowers (violets). These are balanced by mineral notes of fresh rain off the pavement (petrichor) and iron shavings. Polished and defined, the palate is like silk, possessing finely integrated tannins and backed by a brilliant minerality highlighting the trademarks of this excellent vineyard site. Flavors of juicy blackberry, ripe plum, crushed herbs (amaro), and grilled meat persist throughout the well-defined palate.
2014 Ceidleigh Syrah (Red Mountain AVA)
Saturated, vibrant purple in color with lifted aromas of eucalyptus, rose petal, blackberry extract, and pomegranate. This is met with subtle shades of tar, olive tapenade, black pepper, cardamom, smoked vanilla and pain grille. Light on its feet and well-shaped it exhibits an intense purity of fruit and focused minerality, then with time fleshing out beautifully and revealing flavors of dried black currants, black cherry, salted chocolate and olive. The saline-type acidity keeps this wine honest and provides lift to the backbone of dusty tannins. Young indeed, this will need to be decanted before enjoying.
2014 Eléni Syrah (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley AVA)
Saturated ruby/purple color, the 2014 vintage of this wine is a knockout! The nose explodes with aromas of purple/black fruits including dried dates, black cherry, and blueberry, in addition to fresh herbs, licorice, campfire, and grilled olive. There is also an intense freshly ground espresso bean note that adds massive appeal. The palate is full and complete, possessing soft, yet present tannins backed by trademark minerality and grapefruit pith-type finish. This wine is young and concentrated! A decant before enjoying helps tremendously.
2015 Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon (Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley AVA)
A straw yellow color hints at the warmth of the growing season, partial malolactic fermentation, and the higher percent of new oak in this bottling. Round, bright, and balanced this is not a wine to serve cold, as it can definitely hide its charm! As it warms to cellar temperature (55-58 degrees) it opens up with aromas of ripe peaches, lemon cream, almond shortbread, and flint. These are backed by nuances of honey flower, citrus oil, and toasty oak. The palate is texturally round and full, yet it possesses a precise vein of acidity that stretches from attack to finish driving fruit and highlighting freshness as the finish trails off gently. Flavors of mandarin orange, ripe lime, and yellow apple are evident throughout.
2015 Evergreen Riesling (Evergreen Vineyard, Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley AVA)
The somewhat riper shape for this vineyard gives the 2015 immediate appeal, displaying a fruit-driven nose of lychee nut, white peach, and spiced apple. The classical citrus-type components are definitely there showcasing distinctive orange blossom, lemon curd, bergamot, and vitamin-C tablet (grapefruit pith finish). The palate is classically framed for a drier style. Ripe phenolics and just a hint of residual sugar give it weight, polished richness, and just a hint of grip on the finish. This wine will develop nicely in the next few years by gaining that classic petrol/mineral note we Riesling fans crave and be perfectly balanced with the still-to-develop fruit profile.
2016 Feral Sauvignon Blanc (Evergreen Vineyard, Ancient Lakes of the Columbia Valley AVA)
Pale straw yellow/silver in color, the wine opens up with clean cut aromas of white peach and nectarine, yellow grapefruit, passionfruit seed, oyster shell, flint, citrus blossom and pea shoots. One can almost smell and taste the calcium/chalky soils it is grown on! Although delicate and restrained it retains varietal aroma and complexity without being overly grassy. The palate is light-to-medium bodied and refreshing with sustained citrus flavors of lime and grapefruit supported by an almost salty structure allowing it to echo/pair well with briny shellfish like oysters. This is a definite summer dinner wine and will open up even more with 2-3 months in the bottle.
2016 Oldfield Estate Rosé (EFESTĒ Estate, Yakima Valley)
Pale salmon/rose gold in color, this vintage has piercing aromas of garden fresh strawberries, pink grapefruit, and spring flowers, backed by nuances of dried herbs, lees, and crushed rock. The palate is textured and rich with a persistent vein of acidity adding brightness and bringing life to the flavors of ripe peach, grapefruit, orange oil, and herbs. The talc-like finish adds structure and complexity, bringing everything together as it lingers impressively.