2005 Soos Creek Artist Series #5 Red Wine
May 8, 2009 by Erin Thomas
*Bottle #61: 2005 Soos Creek Artist Series #5 Columbia Valley Red Wine
*Price Tag: $35
*Running Tab: $807
I truly respect Wine Spectator Magazine scores. Not only are their writers fabulously talented in the art of fluff and flatter but they blind taste the selected wines. That way they are unaware of what they are tasting so the label, producer name, winemaker, etc. has no influence.
Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast Magazines are a bit different… They come to the wineries individually and a spectacle is what they will receive. From primed and proper staff practices to shining cellar floors to perfectly crystal clear Riedel glasses to taste from. Of course that wine tastes good, there is a heck of a sway put into that a decision when the winemaker is staring at you, praying you go easy on his creation that he traded his desk in at Microsoft for.
Needless to say, I take Advocate and Enthusiast scores with a grain of salt. NOT that I’m disregarding them at all, NOT that they don’t know what they’re talking about (like I do…), JUST that there is always some bias when they’re aware of what’s going on.
They’re probably also aware of winemaker and owner Dave Larson’s story, who after vacationing in Europe, touring Napa and being accepted into the Boeing Winemaking Club decided to open up his own winery in 1989 for the love of the vine. After multiple classes and multiple bottles, Dave has now dedicated his efforts into his once side-project, now career of winemaking. And does he ever just look like a nice guy!
So I’ve decided to bring in my nice guy, friend Terry Munson, who is guest blogging with me this week. Ecstatic and a wine enthusiast of his own accord, Terry wrote me a bit of a novel that I’m pulling bits and pieces out to compare against my own notes. Blind and eager too.
That being said… The 2005 Soos Creek Artist Series #5 Red Wine received a 93 points from Wine Enthusiast and 91 points from Advocate. Although I do not necessarily agree with that excellent of a score, I do agree with their eloquent and handsome prose, most likely from Seattle’s own Paul Gregutt (we’re Facebook friends, I’m sure he reads this too…).
One thing the four of us agreed on is that this bottle needs some time to open up. I’m more and more surprised with Washington wines from the 2005 vintage – you really have to sweet talk them before they get comfortable enough to really show you what they’ve got. Decanting, swirling and coaxing of all sorts. But finally…
ME: Dark red fruits came pounding through the glass with cherries and raspberries and an even more dominate vanilla and clove tone. Slightly toasty with the impression of cedar bark, this blend had a lush and velvety nose that I think I can totally credit to the vanilla notes. It’s strange, but I associate it with vanilla rice milk…
TM: A distinct aroma of red berries, hints of cedar and um… straw. I encountered a heaping helping of herbaceous hits in every sip. Soos Creek uses French oak barrels and less than 40% of their output is exposed to new oak. To quote their site: “We prefer that oak not be a primary component of the wine.” That’s quite an understatement.
Tell ‘em how it tastes, Terry!
TM: [The wine] seems softer than Bordeaux blends that offer more Merlot and stronger oak flavors. Those not-so-subtle hints of the herbaceous straw-like flavors subsided after I let it breathe for an hour, but the raspberry from the Cabernet Franc remained. You can’t miss the youthful blast of pepper and anise in the lingering finish.
ME: Smooth and easy on the palate, with a subtle attack of zesty (borderline severe) acids on the tip of the tongue, the bright cherries and warm raspberries come through in the finish as friendly and appealing fruit with delicate tannins. Paired with an accidentally charred pork shoulder, the Artist Series was highlighted by my kitchen faux pas with an abundance of fruit and spice. Only after a long time in the glass did this happen though, at first sip or tenth, the finish was thin and dropped off. I think that initial taste of the wine will preview how this will be with age: a bit of a waif and no tannins to give it a lasting backbone.
Drink today, cellar another year, toss in two – which kind of sucks for a $35 bottle… All that being said, it was actually a tasty wine of Bordeaux-style and has the classic attraction of a Cab-Cab Franc-Merlot blend dry, medium-bodied fruit bomb.
And now Terry’s words that I couldn’t have said better myself: “It’s a bit like encountering your potential soul mate on a nude beach–or even finding compromising photos posted on the Internet by their vengeful ex-lover. In this wine everything is immediately apparent; especially flaws and imperfections, so you have an idea where things will sag with age. This wine isn’t going to be the middle-aged equivalent of a Jane Seymour or a George Clooney, but at least you’re not stuck with a Tonya Harding or David Hasselhoff, either.”
In closing and retrospect of it all, Soos Creek has no scores (listed, at least) from Wine Spectator, the blind taster… Irony at its best.