Bottleology – Quilceda Creek with Paul Golitzin
January 5, 2010 by Dave Bender
A reckoning in Washington wine has occurred and you may have missed it—but it’s not too late. A number of variables have contributed to great wine production here in Washington, most specifically Quilceda Creek Winery and its uncompromising efforts in their mastering of Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines have the ability to change your life—they changed mine. Here are a few words from the maker, Paul Golitzin, and my tasting notes from his new release.
Think Locally, Act Globally: A short forty minute drive from Seattle gets you to the front door of Quilceda Creek Winery. Paul says he’s “trying to make a wine, consistently, that can compete on a global scale and be second to none.” He credits much of Washington State’s wine success to the growing conditions and lack of maritime influence. I’d just like to credit the thirsty Washington wine consumer who day-in and day-out continues to support Washington wines success by drinking them!
S.O.L.: For those of you aspiring to make wine at the level of Paul Golitzen, I have some sad news for you: If you didn’t start your career path at the age of seven like him (he helped his father in the cellar), it may be too late. Paul credits many past life experiences to his wine advancements, and here are three main contributers: a trip to France at age fifteen began his passion for wine; support and guidance from great mentors–his Great Uncle, Andre Tchelistcheff, his son Dimitri, (who makes wine for Jarvis in CA) and his father; and a “holy grail” moment in the company of a 1989 Haut Brion.
All Ears: These days in business, it’s easy to become just another drip in the bucket. There are a few general business models that a winery can follow to stand out and meet their goals, depending on whether they choose to be the best, be unique or play it safe and do “what works.” Paul has some advice for the up-and-coming wannabe winemakers: “If you are going to enter the wine business, develop your palate with really great wine, bring something new to the table and stay focused on a few varietals.” I’d personally suggest picking varietals other than Cabernet Sauvignon if you want to avoid the Quicida Creek’s competitive advantage.
Who’s Your Daddy?: Wine making has many rewards; for Paul the best is “when you finally nail a vintage blend and come up with a wine that you can drink throughout the evening and never loose intellectual interest.” One of Paul’s greatest joys is the art of blending.
Guinness Gracious: I don’t know that this is a case for the book of records, but the 2002 and 2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet were both scored 100 points by Peirre Rovani of the Wine Advocate in 2006—“the only red wine that he [Rovani] ever gave such an honor to,” Paul said. It was this achievement that Paul is most proud of.
5 Finger Discount: If you were to ever steal (hypothetically) a glass of wine from Paul Golitzin, odds would have it that you’d have the ability to sip on something nice. Paul most frequently drinks and respects Leonetti, Woodward Canyon, Betz and Delille. Cheers to that!
Seriously: At Quilceda Creek there is a philosophy: No Compromises.
A Mouth Full: Quiceda Creek, Palengat Vineyard 2006 $85 1025 cs.
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot
This is the first release of this wine and just the fourth occasion I’ve had a Quilceda Creek wine. Paul said this wine makes him think of his mother, the vineyard is named after her, and reflects on her beauty as a person.
After an hour decant, I bellied up to the rim of my glass for an official whiff. I smelled marbled, rich, malted dark fruit, restrained. There were reminders of California cult wine aromatics like dark current brooding under a rich ripeness that was laced with cedar—a mild distraction was wafts of alcohol, however more or less, minimal.
A sip and I found the upfront fruit pure and polished. A swallow, revealed an evident grip from the sweet tannins, but a run-in once again with the alcohol. Working through the wine a little longer revealed massive amounts of plum and violet. Some vanilla accented the encounter and my teeth were certainly marked by its color–bringing new meaning to “blue tooth.”
Although I enjoyed this beauty, in the end the alcohol tarnished my experience. It was, however, obvious to me through the purity of the fruit and elegance, that this wine was made by an expert. I’ll also add that this so-so encounter won’t keep me from trying to get on the Quilceda Creek mailing list, in my attempt to buy as much Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from them as I can afford!
In comparison to music: I feel as though this bottle’s like a good track, amongst a great album—and next year it will tour once again with a new sound, and I with my lighter in hand.
Quilceda Creek Vintners, Inc.
P.O. Box 1562
Snohomish, WA 98291-1562
For an interview or to offer feedback, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org