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/