WTN: Mark Ryan, Gorman, Betz, Abeja

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WTN: Mark Ryan, Gorman, Betz, Abeja

Postby Jenise » Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:39 pm

Four Washington wines (one twice):

2006 Gorman "The Bully" Cabernet Sauvignon
Charlie Gorman was featured (or was going to be, perhaps it never came off) at one of ten up and coming American winemakers at the recent Wine Experience, so though I'm very leery of the Wine Spectator's annointings there's no doubting their influence, and I grabbed a few bottles of Charlie's small production cabernet last summer lest the Speck exposure cause a total wipe-out. Hadn't tasted it until Friday night, when it seemed like a splendid idea to pop one for visiting Los Angelenos who came up from Seattle with several 06 Washingtonians in tow. Just popped and poured, and though we obviously woke it up too early, the nose was all about dense, seductive, blackberries and huckleberries with very mild mint. Though it got close to the line for me in terms of extraction and sweetness, it had the acidity and structure needed to carry it off and it was everybody's WOTN, including mine. Saturday morning found our visiting friends on my computer, hunting down six more bottles and re-routing themselves back to Seattle via Anacortes and Whidbey Island on a recovery mission.

2006 Mark Ryan "Dead Horse" red blend
Never got to look at the label and read the ingredient list, but remembering what I tasted I'm guessing this had a lot of merlot going on. Riper, more forward nose than the Gorman but less full in the mouth with a lot of strawberry/red fruit tones and simpler, less challenging textures. I'm not the one who bought this bottle, but if I were I wouldn't buy it again. :)

2006 Betz "La Serenne" Syrah

As stated earlier in the month, I'm starting to warm up to Washington Syrahs even though none have shown the qualities I love about Northern Rhone syrahs. That just changed. Fairly Cornas-like, the 2006 Betz 'La Serenne' has a very rich, iron-like minerality. The fruit was fairly subdued but this was most likely due to it's relative youth and the fact that we didn't decant--in the short time it was open and available (eight tasters liberally helped themselves), it made some progress toward showing a good mix of red and black fruits and none of the tell-tale Washington blueberry sweetness. Some roast pork and fennel rounded out the palate. My only complaint would be a lack of pepper, but that might yet develop, and if it doesn't there's plenty of stuffing and balance here to keep one well entertained.

2006 Gorman "The Bully", redux
Then last night, we joined friends for a steakhouse dinner and show at a local Casino. So enamored of this had we been, that I brought another bottle to this meal to show these friends who follow the Washington wine scene more closely than I do. This time, though, it got decanted for an hour first, which revealed a more complex array of red and black fruit than we'd seen in Friday night's bottle but no less excellence. It really loved being served with that red meat and also benefitted from the contrast with a wine a friend brought:

2006 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon
I have had the 01, 02, 03, 05 and now 06 of this new darling of Washington cabernets, and every bottle has been impressive in its own right but perhaps even more so when looked back on and viewed collectively. There is a definite Abeja style, and while each vintage has it's own personality the house style is consistent from vintage to vintage. While you expect that of long-established houses like Woodward Canyon, Betz and Leonetti, many of the new winemakers here flounder a bit before finding their groove. Abeja's style is fresh without being forward which results in a minimalist kind of opulence that celebrates the grape and not the barrel, and delivers a wine that's satisfying to drink young while having the structure that will reward mid-term aging. It's no small feat for a wine in this state to be held in such esteem by both a lover of the extravagantly plush, sweet well-oaked variety like the gentleman who brought this and a Bordeaux-nut like me.
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: Mark Ryan, Gorman, Betz, Abeja

Postby David M. Bueker » Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:31 pm

Love the sound of the Betz.
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Re: WTN: Mark Ryan, Gorman, Betz, Abeja

Postby Hoke » Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:38 pm

Thanks, Jenise.

Have a bottle of the Betz sitting in my rack. Haven't wanted to sacrifice it yet, so your note is good to read.

Bob is an old acquaintance of mine, going back to his S. Michelle days. And I've been hearing about his wines---from him, but from other folks to---and wanted to try them. Bob's sensitivities would make him an ideal candidate for taking new world fruit and handling it a bit more in an old world way. And that sounds like what we've got here.

I'll look forward to opening it with friends at some upcoming shindig.
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Re: WTN: Mark Ryan, Gorman, Betz, Abeja

Postby Clint Hall » Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:42 pm

I tasted the 2006 Abeja Cab yesterday and agree. It's not only first rate but a relative bargain (at $36.50 after discount). The winemakers says the wine should be at its best in about 3 to 4 years, although I found it drinking pretty well now, and I suspect it would do even better with a few hours of air.
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Re: WTN: Mark Ryan, Gorman, Betz, Abeja

Postby Jenise » Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:13 pm

Hoke wrote: Bob's sensitivities would make him an ideal candidate for taking new world fruit and handling it a bit more in an old world way. And that sounds like what we've got here.



It does; but I hope the wine wasn't just tight--it wouldn't be the first time I liked a wine when it was showing very reservedly and been very surprised later. I'm presuming that's not the case here based on the restrained and savory 99's of his based on the 99's I own, which are all I've had of any other Betz wines. For some odd reason, though his wines are very highly regarded here and Bob is revered as a mentor to young winemakers, I never run into his wines at other people's houses.
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Re: WTN: Mark Ryan, Gorman, Betz, Abeja

Postby Jenise » Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:15 pm

Clint Hall wrote:I tasted the 2006 Abeja Cab yesterday and agree. It's not only first rate but a relative bargain


This seems to be our little secret--I just checked Cellar Tracker to amuse myself reading other people's notes and though I found several reports on the chardonnays, there were about zippo on the cabernets. That doesn't even sound possible, does it?
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Re: WTN: Mark Ryan, Gorman, Betz, Abeja

Postby Clint Hall » Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:21 pm

Yes, zippo Cellar-Tracker reviews on the 2006 Cabs, which I believe were only recently released, but sixteen rave reviews on the 2005s.

Then there are Abeja's Reserve Cabs, of which I believe there are only two vintages. Based on a barrel sampling I ordered a half-case of I think it was the 2002; I'm not sure of the year as the bottles are buried at the bottom of one of my bins. Then when I tasted from a bottle on release it was just about the tightest Cab I've ever encountered. I mentioned that to the winemaker last Saturday and he said wait for ten years, the wine's still a little tight.
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Re: WTN: Mark Ryan, Gorman, Betz, Abeja

Postby Jenise » Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:09 pm

Clint Hall wrote:Yes, zippo Cellar-Tracker reviews on the 2006 Cabs, which I believe were only recently released, but sixteen rave reviews on the 2005s.

Then there are Abeja's Reserve Cabs, of which I believe there are only two vintages. Based on a barrel sampling I ordered a half-case of I think it was the 2002; I'm not sure of the year as the bottles are buried at the bottom of one of my bins. Then when I tasted from a bottle on release it was just about the tightest Cab I've ever encountered. I mentioned that to the winemaker last Saturday and he said wait for ten years, the wine's still a little tight.


I've never tasted the Reserve but would love to. I'm surprised by his short estimate on the life of the 06, btw--perhaps 'best' is relative.
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Re: WTN: Mark Ryan, Gorman, Betz, Abeja

Postby Jenise » Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:27 pm

Clint Hall wrote:Yes, zippo Cellar-Tracker reviews on the 2006 Cabs, which I believe were only recently released, but sixteen rave reviews on the 2005s.

Then there are Abeja's Reserve Cabs, of which I believe there are only two vintages. Based on a barrel sampling I ordered a half-case of I think it was the 2002; I'm not sure of the year as the bottles are buried at the bottom of one of my bins. Then when I tasted from a bottle on release it was just about the tightest Cab I've ever encountered. I mentioned that to the winemaker last Saturday and he said wait for ten years, the wine's still a little tight.


I've never tasted the Reserve but would love to. I'm surprised by his short estimate on the life of the 06, btw--perhaps 'best' is relative.
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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