Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Red 2013 | Red Mountain To The Rescue
Every once in a while I come across the type of wine that inspired me to start this blog in the first place. A wine that’s truly distinctive, with the elusive ability to convey sense of place and the depth, structure and finesse to keep your interest for years to come.
And sure, such wines capable of captivating the senses are readily available to those who not only know where to look but have the financial wherewithal to be able to afford them. And therein lies the problem, as the affordability component makes many of these compelling pours easily out of reach for most consumers, often myself included. For example, consider one of the gold standards for classic, elegant, terroir-driven Napa Cabernet’s: Heitzs’ Martha’s Vineyard.
It was the first single-vineyard wine in Napa to boldly wear the name of the vineyard from which its fruit was sourced on the label. Today, it is widely-recognized and celebrated as an immediately identifiable and utterly classic expression of Napa Cabernet, but the current release will run you a cool $225.
Wines with this much interest and character become significantly more elusive when you’re looking to spend less than $50, and exponentially more so when you’re spending less than $20 – as I did in this case. But what if I told you that I’ve heard whispers of comparisons to Washington State’s Ciel du Cheval Vineyard being their own version of Napa’s Martha’s Vineyard?
Appearance: Dark ruby.
Nose: The bouquet reveals a sweet perfume consisting of black cherry, black raspberry and cassis aromas laced with spring flowers, camphor, forest floor, rosemary, white truffle, charcoal and subtle licorice aromas emerging beneath the fruit.
On the palate: The Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain Red Wine is medium to full-bodied and boasts plenty of depth at its core, with layers of black raspberry and cassis flavors unfolding in a lively fashion thanks to just the right amount of zesty acidity. Nuances of graphite, damp soil, burning embers and spices ground the fruit and add serious interest to this wonderfully harmonious, terroir-driven effort. Finishes with good persistence, and just a faint grip from finely grained tannins.
Varietal Composition: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc
Origin: Red Mountain, Washington State
Value Rating: 5 / 5
Price: $40 Retail
Where I Got It: Wines Til Sold Out for $20
Should you buy? Amongst the finest values I’ve ever tasted, the 2013 Soos Creek Red Mountain Red Wine deftly marries purity of fruit with inflections of earth and echoes of terroir. It has just enough power and interest to captivate, yet never even approaches feeling heavy or overwhelming. This is simply an exciting wine at a drama free price (even at full retail!).
Value proposition | Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain Red Wine 2013
Yes, this wine is really this compelling, and no I was in no way compensated for recommending it (as is always the case). I haven’t even met the folks at Soos Creek Winery, but I can tell you that they are a boutique producer that has benefited from an early start in the emerging Washington State wine scene. Since their inception in 1989, they have grown gradually and organically, with production beginning around just 100 cases in ’89 and reaching a still-modest ~2,000 by year 2012.
The founders of Soos Creek believe that the “single most important factor in producing great wine is in the vineyard.” Thankfully, they have been able to developing key relationships with growers, enabling them to acquire fruit from some of Washington State’s most sought after vineyard sites, including Champoux and this case, Ciel du Cheval.
So while some may draw comparisons between Martha’s Vineyard and Ciel du Cheval, I’m happy to highlight one major difference: the level of notoriety, and the corresponding difference in the cost of the fruit and the resulting wine price. There’s no question that like Martha’s Vineyard, Ciel du Cheval is similarly an incredibly special site. It just begs the question: How long it will take for the rest of the wine community to discover its potential?