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Betz Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Pere de Famille 2011
Wine Advocate 95+ Points
...the Cabernet Sauvignon- dominated 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Pere de Famille is a classic Washington State Bordeaux blend and has notions of black currant, pencil shavings, tobacco and mineral all showing on both the nose and palate. Full-bodied, concentrated and rich, it too leans towards the elegant end of the spectrum with superb purity of fruit, clean acidity and ripe, polished tannin. Give it 2-3 years in the cellar and follow over the subsequent 15 years or more. Drink 2016-2025. - Wine Advocate Jeb Dunnuck
Diversely-sourced, and blended with 8% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot, the Betz 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Pere de Famille leads with classic aromatic expressions of its star player: cedar box, juniper berry, arbor vitae, cassis, blackberry, and dark tobacco, all of which reprise on a luscious, savory palate underlain by ultra-fine tannin and possessed of vibratory energy. The sheer abundance of primary juiciness here – like the energetic ping to its enervating, reverberative finish – strikes me as especially typical of the best marriages of cepage and terroir, which happens to be precisely what Betz is wistfully referring to as “something that happens with Cabernet in Washington.” Something indeed! I would go easy on this for a few years and look forward to at least a decade of high performance. - Wine Advocate David Schildknecht
Always one of my favorite visits, Betz Family Winery is owned and run by Steve and Bridgit Griessel (since 2011), with Washington State veteran Bob Betz and assistant winemaker Tyson Schiffner making the wines. While I’ve been drinking this estate’s Rhone blends for years, this was my first experience with the Bordeaux blends, and certainly, I came away impressed. Across the board, everything showed the classic Betz characteristics of inky colors, solid concentration and clean, overall age-worthy and beautifully made profiles.
2009 Wine Advocate - 93 points - The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Pere de Famille is made up of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, and 8% Merlot aged for 16 months in 65% new French oak. Doing a fine impersonation of a classified growth Pauillac, it offers up a nose of sandalwood, Asian spices, incense, herbal notes, violets, black currants, and blackberry. This sets the stage for an already complex, elegant, smooth-textured, structured wine that will evolve for another 5-7 years. This lengthy, impressive effort will offer prime time drinking from 2016 to 2029. - Jay Miller
2008 Wine Advocate - 96 points - The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Pere de Famille is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, and 5% Merlot sourced from 3 regions and 4 vineyards. A glass-coating opaque purple color, it gives up an expressive perfume of sandalwood, mineral, truffle, espresso, incense, violets, and blackberry. Suave on the palate with well-integrated fine-grained tannins, this sweetly-fruited, dense, layered offering will benefit from 6-8 years of cellaring and will have a drinking window extending from 2016 to 2038.
Bob Betz, MW, and his family continue to make some of Washington's finest wine. Betz's attention to detail is legendary; everything is done for a reason. He sources great fruit, oversees the farming, and his fine-tuned palate ensures the correct call on all the blends. - Jay Miller
2008 Bordeaux-Inspired Blends - We love this vintage for its rich aromatic complexity, approachability, and the breadth of the fruit on the palate. Like all vintages, 2008 had its challenges, but after 5-6 months in barrel the wines opened gloriously, becoming supple and very expressive. Quantity of these two wines was short by about 15% in 2008: cool spring temperatures in the vineyards set less fruit, with fewer grapes on each cluster. Density and richness were the results.
There's little doubt about this wine's varietal heritage; Cabernet Sauvignon's typical black currant, mulberry and black cherry dominate the nose. Petit Verdot plays a strong supporting role, at a full 10% of the blend, bringing a classic, Bordeaux-esque complexity, with anise, Asian spice, mineral and cigar box aromas. A toasty vanilla sweetness hints at the 16 months in 100% French oak barrels aging.
The 2008 shines on the palate, with a silken entry and mid-palate, a texture that's more like the 2006 vintage with its approachability and suppleness. Don't get the wrong impression as there's an immense amount of Red Mountain tannin that will carry this a decade or two in the cellar. It finishes complete, lively and compelling.
2008 Tanzer - 94+? points - Deep, silky and compellingly sweet, … extremely long aftertaste… superb cabernet … a stunning core of sappy fruit, with a licorice note from a bit of petit verdot that gives it a Pauillac-like character … The finishing breadth and spreading tannins are spectacular…"
From the winery - Washington Merlot shines in a vintage like 2008; the cooler, more moderate temperatures favor the development of sweet black cherry, plum and its signature chocolate/coffee note. I'm struck by the dimension and suppleness of the mouthfeel.
This is what St. Emilion and Pomerol aspire to: rich black fruit, a knockout entry, plump mid-palate and long elegant finish. Along the way, mineral, spice, wet stones, licorice and dried herbs mingle to create a complex, and satisfying, flavor range. Fleshy, ripe fruits linger but the wine still dances with vitality; the higher percentage of Merlot, mostly from our Red Mountain vineyards, had plenty to do with the stunning impression the 2008 vintage.
2007 Wine Advocate - 95 points - The 2007 Pere de Famille is made up of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot sourced predominantly from the Red Mountain AVA with small contributions from Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima Valley. Purple/black in color it reveals a brooding aromatic array of wood smoke, scorched earth, pencil lead, violets, black currant and blackberry. Full-bodied on the palate, it is a bit more dense, opulent, and succulent than the Clos de Betz, admirably combining elegance and power. The pure finish lasts for over 60-seconds. It will offer a drinking window extending from 2013 to 2027. - Jay Miller
Betz Family Winery remains one of Washington's benchmarks for top quality wines from Rhone and Bordeaux grape varieties. Bob Betz's 2007 collection shows him continuing at the top of his game (with plenty of help from his family).
2007 Tanzer - 94 points - These 2007 reds combine the structure of the 2005s with the added juiciness of the 2006s, says Betz, who appears to have made his finest set of wines to date... Pungent Cabernet aromas and flavors of red, black and blue fruits complicated by dried thyme and a floral topnote. The extremely intense yet silky palate offers a stunning wave of sweetness… Most impressive today on the rising but wonderfully subtle finish, which is supported by serious tannic spine and goes on and on… 95 points"
2006 Wine Advocate - 95 points -Opaque purple, the wine has a brooding nose of wood smoke, earth notes, mineral, spice box, black cherry, and blackberry. This is followed by a layered, opulent wine with superb depth and concentration." The wine was scored shortly after bottling, so imagine what the score might be if tasted now.
84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec. The grapes are 79% Red Mountain, 10.5% Horse Heaven Hills, and 10.5% Yakima Valley.
The previous vintage, 2005 Pere de Famille Cab was selected as the Seattle Times #1 Washington Wine of the Year.
2006 Tanzer - 93+ points - Bright, deep ruby-red. Musky, minerally, spicy aromas of blackberry, blueberry, leather and tree bark. Quite penetrating on the palate, with terrific intensity and cut to the black cherry and currant flavors. Denser and larger-scaled than the Clos de Betz. This, too, finishes with excellent cut, growing sweeter and longer as it opens in the glass. There's firm tannic spine here but no impression of dryness."
Steve Tanzer, of the International Wine Cellar newsletter, tasted this wine in summer 2006, three months after bottling, and ranked it the third highest Cabernet in Washington, a point or two behind Quilceda Creek and Leonetti Reserve (the "+?" in his score indicates a possible higher ranking once the wine is released).
2004 Vintage Tasting Notes
93+ points, Tanzer: "Bright, deep ruby-red. Musky, minerally, spicy aromas of blackberry, blueberry, leather and tree bark. Quite penetrating on the palate, with terrific intensity and cut to the black cherry and currant flavors. Denser and larger-scaled than the Clos de Betz. This, too, finishes with excellent cut, growing sweeter and longer as it opens in the glass. There's firm tannic spine here but no impression of dryness."
Winery tasting notes: "Deep ruby with a vibrant, youthful edge. Bright currant, blueberry, sweet berry fruit with exotic spice, smoke, camphor notes. Rich berry fruit with a sense of elegance."
More from the Winery Those long familiar with our Cabernet will see the continuing evolution of its style with this wine. A few years ago we began adjusting our cellar techniques to achieve the full dimension our vineyards had been able to deliver, but with more polish and length. More defined fermentation temperatures, less handling during barrel maturation and more precise barrel blending have delivered the results we've been looking for, greater harmony without sacrificing depth or density.
The vineyard source for the 2004 is also more focused, with barrels only from Red Mountain and the Horse Heaven Hills in the final blend. We're used to the terrific concentration and intensity of our Red Mountain fruit (Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun Vineyards) but this vintage the Horse Heaven fruit (Alder Ridge Vineyard) was equally concentrated yet without the tannic dominance of Red Mountain. The two appellations blended seamlessly (64% to 36%) and provided a structure that is both accessible now but will cellar beyond the previous two vintages.
The varietal blend is in line with previous years, 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec, 8% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Wine Advocate 92 points - "...the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Pere de Famille is an impressively powerful, chunky wine. Containing 13% Merlot, 8% Malbec, and 3% Petit Verdot in the blend, this medium to full-bodied wine is dense, concentrated, and deep. Its blackberry liqueur and tar flavors linger throughout its long, tannin-studded finish. Projected maturity: 2010-2022."
Wine Enthusiast: Editor's Choice and 95 points - "Firm, chewy, young, and tight and yet quite supple and fulfilling, this stunning Cabernet is packed with a rainbow of fruit flavors- blueberry, black currant and black cherry- that open into a seamless, beautifully proportioned wine. The scents and flavors run the gamut from citrus peel to clove to soy to chocolate, espresso and beyond. The best yet from this extraordinary producer."
93 points - Tanzer - "Classy cabernet aromas of cassis, blueberry, iodine, minerals, tar, tobacco leaf, mocha and sexy oak spices. Sweet, lush and thick; conveys a high-pH feel without coming across as heavy. The chewy, layered currant and spice flavors are perked up by a captivating minerality. Finishes with firm, broad tannins, palate-saturating fruit and terrific length. 93 points" -Steven Tanzer
From the winery - Cabernet Sauvignon dominates this vintage in more than percentages would indicate: color, aroma, flavor and mouthfeel all identify this wine as Cabernet Sauvignon (77%). While it blends four of the classic Bordeaux varieties (Merlot 13%, Malbec 8% and Petit Verdot 3%) it still shouts Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Cabernet fraction is predominantly from Red Mountain, from the Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun Vineyards' rows that we have used for most all the past vintages. Their power and depth contributions are unmistakable. They also provide the tannic spine essential for our goals for this wine. Their muscular ways are tamed by a fraction of the Cabernet that comes from the Alder Ridge Vineyard, located in the Horse Heaven Hills: it provides length and complexity.
While the other two varieties are minor players, their contribution is distinctive: Malbec adding juiciness, and the Petit Verdot, with its black skin, adds color and a spicy/peppery fragrance.
Red Mountain depth dominates the blend of all varieties at 68%, followed by 24% from the Horse Heaven Hills and 8% from the Yakima Valley. And it shows. In the glass, the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon has an opaque black/red core. A huge currant, black cherry aroma emerges, carrying along spice, minerals and leather. It's thick and rich, with plenty of youthful tannin, yet finishes with a ripe lushness and sweet black cherry, tobacco flavor. It evolves as it opens in the glass, a sign for this taster that it has years of evolution ahead of it in the cellar.
2002 Vintage Tasting Notes
Wine Advocate rating 92 points for 2002 vintage - "Produced from 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, and 6% Malbec, the black-colored 2002 Pere de Famille explodes from the glass with sweet black cherries, cassis, and jammy blackberries. This big, lush, rich wine is intense, deep, and concentrated. Palate staining layers of super-ripe black fruits, tar, and spices dominate its medium to full-bodied personality's flavor profile as well as its exceptionally long finish. Projected maturity: 2006-2017."
Steve Tanzer of International Wine Cellar gave the 2002 wine 93+ points and says: "Bright medium ruby. Complex, sophisticated aromas of black raspberry, cassis, blueberry, game, leather and smoke. Large-scaled and creamy-sweet, but also sappy, suave and spicy, with a lovely light touch. Winemaker Bob Betz thinks this is very closed today in the middle, but I find it explosively perfumed, even if it's a bit tightly wound at present. Finishes very long and spicy, with fine tannins coating the teeth and palate. 93+"
From the winery - "We added Malbec to this blend in 2002. One of the lesser known Bordeaux varieties, Malbec has emerged this past decade as a serious performer in Washington's Columbia Valley, its black-skin adding plenty of complexity to our wines. While it's only 6% of this blend, Malbec added juiciness and notes of sweet blackberry and camphor; without it the 2002 P?re de Famille would simply be less complete. We source Malbec from the Alder Ridge Vineyard, thinning the clusters to a maximum 3 tons/acre yield.
Yet the core of the 2002 Pere de Famille is still Cabernet Sauvignon (77%). Fruit from the Red Mountain vineyards, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun, dominate the blend with their power and depth. Other Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the blend came from the Alder Ridge Vineyard bringing length and elegance, and the Boushey Vineyard contributing a bright, gentle fruitiness. Rounding out the wine were a few barrels of Merlot (17%) from both Alder Ridge and Ciel du Cheval.
The 2002 is one of the deepest colored Cabernets we've made. Its dense red black core has a hint of purple to the edge. The aroma is expansive black fruits: currants, cherries, and blackberries, with a sprinkling of Asian spice. But this vintage is all about mouthfeel: it enters broad and powerful, with plenty of supple, silky fruit. Flavors are also black fruit dominant, with black cherry playing the major role, while notes of plum and dried orange peel play around the edge.
It's already enjoyable, yet three to ten years in the cellar should further expand its complex aroma and flavor."
2001 Vintage Tasting Notes
Wine Spectator rating 94 points for 2001 vintage and "Highly Recommended" 6/22/04:
"Rich, densely packed and powerful, a lively mouthful of plum, blueberry and exotic spice flavors that last and last on the aristocratic finish. Has power to burn and plenty of grace to balance the scales. Best from 2006 through 2015." H.S.
Cellar 10-15 years.
Stephen Tanzer says of the 2001 vintage: "Medium red-ruby. Very cabernet on the nose, with currant, graphite, fresh herbs and pepper showing, along with a suggestion of white chocolate. Dense and powerful, with flavors of dark berries, minerals, licorice and herbs. Serious, firmly tannic wine that's not at all overly sweet. Like the Clos de Betz, this was bottled in May and will almost certainly merit a higher score as it harmonizes in bottle. (The fruit component here is even stronger than that of the very suave 2000 bottling.)