WTN: New releases from Soos Creek Wine Cellars

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WTN: New releases from Soos Creek Wine Cellars

Postby ClarkDGigHbr » Sun Nov 05, 2006 7:44 pm

My wife and I carved out a few hours on our busiest Saturday this fall to visit Soos Creek Wine Cellars in Kent, WA. This small winery (~1200 cases) produces handcrafted Bordeaux blends made with grapes from various great vineyards in central and eastern Washington. The winery is a family-run operation that fulfilled the ultimate dream of winemaker Dave Larsen, who retired from Boeing a couple of years ago to focus on great wine.

I first tasted a bottle of Soos Creek wine just over two years ago and I immediately loved it. I got on their mailing list, but was disappointed to learn they are only open one day each year (and I had just missed the 2004 Open House). I now reserve time on the first Saturday in November to make the 1-hour drive to Kent to visit Soos Creek Wine Cellars.

Winemaker Dave Larsen decided to reduce his new bottlings from five to four this year. In my opinion (I’m biased here), he made the right decision to eliminate their Merlot, which was very good but not distinctive. In addition, he eliminated one of their two Cabernet Sauvignon offerings, choosing instead to create a superb new blend.

All but one of the wines listed below are labeled Columbia Valley Red Wine.

2004 Soos Creek Sundance ($20): This wine changed radically from last year and is much more appealing as a result. The new blend of Cabernet Franc (50%), Merlot (30%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) reflects Larsen’s growing fondness for the aromatic Cabernet Franc. The result is a wonderful dinner wine with good complexity in both aroma and taste. It is also relatively soft and easy drinking for today, with enough structure to age for a few years.

2004 Soos Creek Artist Series #4 ($27): This is the blend that first lured me to this winery, and those bottles from the 2001 vintage are still beautiful. This new vintage is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc and 8% Merlot. It has more body than the Sundance, and is softer and more approachable than their Cab. It has very complex dark fruit flavors with interesting minerals on an extremely long finish. This wine is drinkable today (if you decant it for a while), and will definitely benefit with aging.

2004 Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($30): This varietal wine has 16% Cabernet Franc to achieve additional complexity, but it is still very tight and needs aging to make it truly enjoyable. The balance is all there between acid, fruit and tannin, and the taste is an interesting combination of dark fruit and minerals. This is not a lush feeling wine, so it likely will not appeal to the Merlot crowd.

2004 Soos Creek Soleil ($33): This is a new blend for winemaker Larsen, who decided to blend his Champoux and Ciel du Cheval juices in equal portions to produce this awesome wine. The result is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc, and it is dark and lush with excellent complex flavors. It’s the kind of wine that drives you crazy … it is so enticing, you really want to drink it now, but in your heart you know it will be thrilling to wait a few years.

To learn more about Soos Creek wines, visit their web site: http://www.sooscreekwine.com/.

-- Clark
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Re: WTN: New releases from Soos Creek Wine Cellars

Postby Christy M. » Mon Nov 06, 2006 3:36 pm

Thanks for sharing. We have a bottle of the Sundance -- looking forward to trying it even more now.

Warm regards,
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Re: WTN: New releases from Soos Creek Wine Cellars

Postby Jenise » Mon Nov 06, 2006 4:13 pm

Clark, great notes. I didn't realize Soos was in Kent or that the Sundance was their wine (the label makes the mistake, IMO, of not identifying the winery up front). But I've had the Cheval in past years, and it is indeed worthy of praise.

You remind me, I went to a charity related wine event up here last night and tasted a number of interesting wines. Most notably, Dunham's 2004 Lewis Vineyard syrah and Lewis Vineyard merlot. The syrah was, for my tastes, the single best Washington syrah I've ever tasted--it sets the standard for what syrah can and should be here. The merlot didn't suck, either. I don't have words to describe the extent to which it left the Long Shadows Michel Rolland-produced "Pedestal" in the dust. It's not a mainline production item so don't even try to get a bottle, but there will be enough for commercial sale, at least at the winery, in 2006.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: New releases from Soos Creek Wine Cellars

Postby ClarkDGigHbr » Tue Nov 07, 2006 12:10 am

Thanks, Jenise. Yep ... I just looked at that wine bottle, and the name Soos Creek Wine Cellars comes across as the fine print on the bottom of the front label. That understated approach is the personal style of the winemaker, Dave Larsen. A very unassuming and most pleasant person.

So, the 2004 Dunham Lewis Vineyard Syrah is great, huh? Don't know if you remember this from my Walla Walla tasting notes, but I went totally nuts about the 2004 Basel Cellars Lewis Vineyard Reserve Syrah. I also told friends it was the best Syrah I'd ever tasted. Coincidence? I think not. It looks like 2004 Lewis Vineyard juice is exceptional, and, as you stated, is setting a new standard for Syrah in this state.

-- Clark
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Re: WTN: New releases from Soos Creek Wine Cellars

Postby Jenise » Tue Nov 07, 2006 12:10 pm

Yup, it's beautiful. Concentrated, elegant, silky, and yet great acidity. I might also mention that I was THAT impressed and yet in a very traditionalist mood that night. The forward and extracted styles (Colvin, Chandler Reach, Bergevin Lane) did not appeal. What did were the more minimalist styles of Claar, Lost River and Piety Flats (love that name). In fact, we were able to purchase wine at this event and Claar and Piety are what I brought home a case of. Oh, and guess what, it turned into a Bakers Dozen in the parking lot when I ran into the silent partner who was pouring the Dunhams that night--he GAVE me a bottle of that 04 Lewis. Am I lucky or what?

I should write up some notes.
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Re: WTN: New releases from Soos Creek Wine Cellars

Postby Jenise » Thu Nov 09, 2006 12:52 pm

Clark, a little background information for you gleaned from the owners of Dunham Winery last night: they have an exclusive long-term contract on Lewis Vineyard fruit. The winemaker at Basel used to work for Eric Dunham, and Eric gave him some of the Lewis fruit. So Basel won't always get Lewis fruit but Dunham will ALWAYS have it: (they have first right of refusal if the farmer ever decides to sell AND they own the copyright on the name Lewis Vineyard).
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Re: WTN: New releases from Soos Creek Wine Cellars

Postby ClarkDGigHbr » Fri Nov 10, 2006 12:53 am

I was not aware of that arrangement, Jenise. Thanks for sharing that information.

Oh, by the way ... congratulations on your good fortune with that complimentary bottle of Dunham wine.
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