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Betz Family Winery Clos de Betz 2011
2010 vintage tasting notes: Wine Spectator 93 Points - Wine Advocate 93 Points
Fresh and vibrant, focusing the juicy currant and plum flavors into a bright beam that propels the lingering finish. Shades of crème fraîche and white pepper add interest. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Best from 2014 through 2020. - H.S.
Wine Advocate 93 Points
Diversely-sourced – it's Merlot blended with 35% Cabernet Sauvignon – the Betz 2010 Clos de Betz emphasizes black pepper, pungently resinous herbs, and arbor vitae, characteristics I imagine are in part a reflection of its 7% of Petit Verdot, that grape being demonstrably (I’m tempted to say notoriously ) efficacious. Cassis, huckleberry, and walnut offer bitter-edged but sappy fruit satisfaction; a crushed stone undertone adds a sense of intrigue; and mineral salts savory saliva-inducement in a gripping, palate-staining finish. This ought to be worth following for at least the better part of a decade.
Wine Advocate 92 points
It's diversely-sourced Merlot mingled with 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot, the Betz 2009 Clos de Betz is virtually as low-toned as its 2010 counterpart, but displays less sense of energy, primary juiciness, or herbal pungency, instead leading its plum and dark berry concentrate in the direction of confection, with suggestions of milk chocolate, brown spices, caramel and vanilla – marking one of the few instances in the two collections of Betz wines I tasted on this occasion where new oak becomes noticeable as such. Broad and sweetly ripe yet palpably if finely tannic, this clings tenaciously and promises to perform sumptuously over the course of the coming decade.
2006 Vintage Tasting Notes
2006 Wine Advocate - 93 points - Purple/black in color, it reveals a fragrant nose of pain grille, pencil lead, scorched earth, black cherry, blackberry, and plum. This leads to a smooth-textured, intense, layered wine with superb depth and concentration. - Jay Miller
Clos de Betz 06 is a blend of 47% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Malbec from 41% Horse Heaven Hills, 31% Yakima Valley, 28% Red Mountain.
2004 Vintage Tasting Notes
2004 Tanzer - 92+ points - Bright, deep red. Musky, sweet aromas of dark cherry, roasted red berries, graphite, leather, roast coffee, herbs and treebark. Sweet, concentrated, very ripe and floral but showing less early opulence and more structure than recent vintages of this bottling. With aeration, though, this showed compelling sweetness and noteworthy depth. This builds impressively toward the back finishing with strong, juicy fruit; firm, fine-grained tannins; and excellent lift.
From the winery -
With the hot summer months of 2004 it would have been easy to over ripen Merlot, the foundation variety of Clos de Betz. We worked in the vineyard to achieve full flavor development but without the baked, prune notes that the variety can take on when left to hang too long. Our decision to harvest slightly earlier than past years paid off, yielding a wine with pure red/black fruit aromas and brilliant balance.
Certainly this Clos de Betz has all the black cherry, baking spice and leather notes of Merlot (60% of the blend), and they sing in harmony, not dominated by the dried fruit aromas possible in a hot vintage like 2004. Add to this foundation the complex character of the additional varieties that were blended in (23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petite Verdot and 4% Malbec) and the wine turns satisfyingly complex.
The 2004 vintage is a more "serious" wine than previous vintages, with a structure and length that will reward aging. Its weight and density develop in the glass, adding layers of berry fruit and supple, sweet tannin The same vineyard and cellar practices we use with the Cabernet Sauvignon went into making the Clos de Betz. Grapes varieties and the vineyard sources account for the difference in character and flavor between the two wines.
2004 Wine Enthusiast - 92 points -Though it gets the same care as the winery's Cab, the Clos de Betz features considerably more Merlot in the blend (59% compared with 13%). This is intensely fragrant, beautifully integrated, toasty and lush. The mouthfeel is incredible, offering layers of caramel, butterscotch and creamy oak around black cherry and plum. There is even a hint of camphor and five spice for more sensory overload."
2004 Tanzer - 92 points - (58% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon, 6% cabernet franc and 6% petit verdot) Bright ruby-red. Currant, tobacco and musky espresso on the nose, with suggestions of exotic chocolate, graphite and mocha. Lush, suave and sweet, with generous black raspberry and mineral flavors. Wonderfully plump in the middle. Finishes very long and sophisticated, with sweet tannins. A steal at the price. .
2003 Vintage Tasting Notes
From the winery -
Merlot showed the influence of the warm 2003 weather more so than any other variety in our cellar, and at 58% of this blend it boldly states its case. I find that in warm vintages like 2003 Merlot develops an even deeper chocolate richness on top of its black cherry fruit. That's true for the 2003 Clos de Betz where a Merlot "chocolatiness" mingles with black cherry, plum and leather aromas. There's also a hint of camphor and Asian spice in the aroma.
At this point of development, the 2003 is a fuller bodied wine than past vintages. It's inky-crimson, tannic and powerful, with rich layers of black fruit. Yet there is a vibrancy and vigor to its balance. Part of this textural vitality is due to less Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Cabernet Franc (6%) in the blend than last vintage. Petit Verdot at 6% deepens the color and spine.
Earlier bottling also contributes to this liveliness. Over the years we've moved up the bottling date of these wines a few months to mid March, after 16 months in barrel. This length of time in French barriques provides ample opportunity to marry wine elements, soften tannins and add the subtle complexities of vanilla and creamy oak flavors, without robbing the vigor and lushness of the younger fruit notes. We've been pleased with the results: the wines seem truer to their blends, with more vivid fruit definition.
The 2003 is enjoyable right now, but easily capable of 5-8 years of additional evolution in the cellar.
2002 Vintage Tasting Notes
2002 Tanzer - 91+ points - Good medium ruby. Aromas of crunchy black raspberry, smoke, coffee bean and baking spices. Rich and plummy, with a compelling creaminess for this cuvee, along with excellent structure and grip. This very young wine, which was bottled in May 2005, closed up in the glass and showed building tannins with aeration. Finishes very firm and long, with notes of minerals and woodsmoke.
From the winery:
We shifted the Clos de Betz vineyard and variety mix a bit in 2002, and increased its hedonistic personality. There's more Merlot (57%) than the past two vintages, and it shows in the plum, black cherry and bittersweet chocolate notes in both aroma and flavor.
Also, we replaced the Walla Walla Merlot that we used to have with older vine Merlot from the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain. We were able to carve out an entire acre of 1974 planted vines from this classic vineyard. These 30 year old vines are producing Merlot as fine as any in America: complex, rich and silky. Over the past few decades I've come to appreciate the contribution older vines can make to wine quality, especially when grown under the eye of veteran Jim Holmes of Ciel du Cheval.
Cabernet Franc also plays a more notable role in this blend than in the past. At 10% it adds blueberry notes, and an earthy, dried strawberry character. Cabernet Sauvignon (33%) is not so evident in aroma but plays a definite role in mouthfeel. The result is a wine that enters as Merlot and exits like Cabernet. It's soft, supple and fleshy up front, with a silky mid palate. But the finish shows power and length, a full lingering finale, evidence that this has some real cellaring potential. Yet even now it's very satisfying, with layers of complex fruit, saddle leather and earth.
2001 Vintage Tasting Notes
2001 Wine Spectator - 91 points - Ripe and rich, bulging with black cherry, currant, and dusky spice flavors, veiled with fine tannins and a mineral touch as the flavors linger effortlessly. Merlot, Cab, and Cab Franc. Best from 2005-2010. 470 cases made. - H.S.
2001 Tanzer - 90+ points - Good full red. Currant, black cherry, licorice, meat, graphite and smoky oak on the nose. Sappy on entry, then tight and minerally in the middle, with the wine's acids and oak currently keeping the fruit under wraps. Densely packed but a bit youthfully awkward today. The firm, persistent finish offers a suggestion of green tea. (A retaste of the 2000 version turned up a suaver, more harmonious wine that is nonetheless a bit less dense than this impressive young 2001; on my most recent tasting, the 2000 merited 91 points.) The winery says: "In our blending sessions we were surprised at how much Cabernet Sauvignon enriched the Merlot base; it added complexity and weight without detracting from Clos de Betz's traditional suppleness. The final blend ended up 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc, with the 50% majority made from Merlot. Vineyard selection was fundamental to this decision.
From the winery:
In 2001 our lots of both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla developed a rich, ripe, supple mouthfeel. The Cabernet was plumier and less currant-like than normal and combined seamlessly with the Merlot. The final blend of the Clos de Betz depended heavily on this sweet fruit character, with 57% of the fruit coming from Walla Walla. Alder Ridge Vineyard played a strong supporting role, especially in the Merlot fraction, making up 22% of the blend. Eleven percent Yakima Valley fruit added soft tannin and berry-like aromas, and Red Mountain grapes played a minor role at 10% of the final wine.