Betz Family Winery 2006 Syrah La Côte Rousse
June 19, 2009 by Erin Thomas
Only a few labels in the state of Washington hold the power of exclusivity. These high-toned, high-brow, high-priced, better-be-damn-good wines are available with only an offer of your arm or leg. Either you trusted critics when they first reviewed our state’s fruit back in the early 80s or you lucked out to get on these wineries’ mailing lists before they recently cut them off. These wineries are so privileged, so elite and so aristocratic that you could never get any unless you know someone who already has some, are of noble blood or are willing to swap your first born for a case.
Hey, it’s supposed to be really good wine…
One such winery, with a crosswise approach to the above mentality, is Betz Family Winery. Yes, they have cut off their mailing list a year or so ago and yes, it is near impossible to ever taste at their estate winery that sits on the Woodinville/Redmond border.
But Bob Betz, who is not only known for his saccharine manner and high wine regards, is weighed out on a different scale of businessmen. Accommodating to the state of the country, Bob’s 93+ pointer wines have dropped to a mere $50 across the board and pop up every now and then in retail stores in the area. Bob, wife Cathy and daughter Carmen (all employees of the family winery) also pop up throughout the Woodinville wine scene at openings and releases, to extend their support in the growing community.
As a Master of Wine, Bob is one of the 260-some people on the planet that have passed the copious tests and acquired the grape-saturated knowledge necessary to have such a title bestowed upon them. Over the past five decades, the exams have a pass rate of about 12%. Bob is special. He’s also one of the many winemakers to spring out from under the Chateau Ste. Michelle umbrella and find their own cover. Many budding winemakers have studied under Bob, aka Sunset Magazine’s Winemaker of the Year ’07, including Woodinville’s Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery and his current assistant winemaker, Kat, who is clad in a horticulture degree from WSU and experience at the prestigious Pepperbridge Winery.
So maybe he knows what he’s talking about when he makes only 2500-3000 cases a year, only allocates to a few and charges up the who-hah.
The 2006 Syrah La Côte Rousse received a bright and shiny 95 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and is all Syrah, baby. Bob bought his fruit from two different vineyards, Ciel du Cheval and Scott Williams, both in Red Mountain. Promising for killer depth and complexity in the wine by mixing soils and sites, this Syrah also has the potential to be a truly Rhone-inspired varietal because of its Red Mountain origin. I’ve really found (and I know I don’t stand alone) that RM fruit tends to be less fruit forward (a serious fall-back to a lot of Washington Syrahs being their outwardly too fruity palates) and more spice, earth-tone and dark fruit driven. RM is also one of the hotter regions of Washington wine and produces more meaty and condensed fruit contents. These are both major characteristics of Rhone Valley fruit.
Proud, dark and beautiful, the La Côte Rousse is seductive and enticing in its confident looks alone. Though young and given some airspace, the spice of anise and black pepper, dark pitted fruits and blackberry spill out of the glass and onto the palate.
Complimentary to a steak meal, the thick dark fruit, bacon and pepper tones of the wine also surprisingly went really well with a cornbread/vanilla bean ice cream dessert. The palate itself was smooth, full and spicy, finishing dry with humble tannins and supple fruit.
So I obviously hated it… Please put me on your list?