Ross Andrew Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
July 3, 2009 by Erin Thomas
*Bottle #69: Ross Andrew Winery 2005 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
*Price Tag: $32
*Running Tab: $943
As I continue to kneel in the honor of all that is Winemaker Extraordinaire, Bob Betz, I also have to give it to the guy for the talented and young group of grape killers he has produced. From his own cellar workers, yet to be exposed, to assistants that now have their own assistants, Betz really is the bee’s knees in Washington wine.
And what a resume reference to build off of when you are a former assistant of Bob’s. What I’ve gathered about the fruit purchasing process in Washington is that it is a power and privilege to buy good grapes. Good grapes meaning older vines, more concentrated flavors and aromas from the better fruit, optimal soil and sloping, prime birthplace for perfection. To get those good grapes, you have to produce better wine. In some cases, you have to have good grapes to produce better wine… So what comes first?
Relationships. Like any trade, you build relationships so you can establish forward progression and quality in your product, whether that progression and quality is brought on from your training, your personal wine drinking habits, your palate or your fruit. You have to have a founding relationship with someone who is already “in” to even think about starting.
Ross Mickel had Bob Betz, the folks at DeLille Cellars and the love and drive for good wine in the belt before launching Ross Andrew Winery. The man traveled the globe, studying the vine at Rosemount Estate in Australia, DeLille Cellars and then for nine years under Bob’s watchful eye.
Almost prolifically, Ross is hailed for his cool-weathered and temperamental Washington Pinot Gris that is nonetheless critically acclaimed year after year. With that premium vineyard selection, partial courtesy of his former employer, Mickel has been able to make vivacious and fruit-forward wines from a varietal that literally translates to “gray pinecone.” Num.
After all that, I decided to go for his 2005 Cab Sauv. Always err on the unsafe side, I say.
Balanced with some of the best of the “good grapes” in Washington, Mickel sources regularly from Alder Ridge, Boushey, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun Vineyards to produce his red wines.
The 2005 Cab is full of plum, blackberry and spice (nutmeg, I think) with a hint of cedar and minerality to the wine. More so than anything, the cassis/black currant and red currant pop with assertive fruit.
On the palate, that plum is ripe in its fruit, with a velvety midpalate, nice acid and easy secondary tannins. The cassis is definitely present again on the palate, followed by red licorice in the underlying finish. Nice overall structure and balance for a lighter bodied Cab.
At a comforting 13.8% alcohol, the booze isn’t overflowing on the nose or palate as some Washington Cabs can tend to be, most likely in an attempt to rival the big bombs of California. Which is nice.
For all the credit I gave his predecessors of enological success, it seems as though life is actually what trained Ross Mickel well. Keep building those relationships, Ross.