Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: Fidelitas 2009 Red Mountain Merlot

Red-Mountain-Merlot. Three words with deep meaning for those of us who know.

Last month I was in Portland, Oregon for the fifth annual Wine Bloggers Conference. There's a lot of wine poured and consumed at these events. A lot. So, why did I bring along a bottle of Fidelitas Red Mountain Merlot? It was my hope to find an opportunity to share this wonderful wine. A few quiet moments, and  a couple of fellow wine compatriots was all I needed to open this lovely bottle of Washington wine.

Photo: Empty bottle of Fidelitas 2009 Red Mountain Merlot.

Winemaker Charlie Hoppes has spent the past 20 + years as a leading winemaker for several noted Washington wineries. He was Assistant Winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, then Head Red Winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle's facility at Paterson, where he helped create the premium label for Col Solare's first two vintages. In 1999 Charlie worked to help start Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla. He created his own label Fidelitas wines in 2000. He my friends, makes wonderful wine.

Missed opportunities.

There were too many distractions in Portland over the ensuing five days of the conference. I have a vivid memory of a wild looking, laughing, Fred Dexheimer, Master Sommelier and mixologist (aka the “Juiceman"), making Pisco Sours in a hotel suite. Fred was entertaining three, long-legged, blondes, while Pisco and egg whites flew everywhere. I never did get my Pisco Sour. Another night I was with a couple of friends, we were outside on a balcony smoking Cohibas and drinking expensive California red wine. Another time, another suite, I was drinking New Zealand wines with people dressed in drag for a night of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Photo: Tango presented by Wines of Argentina.
Photo: Author Rex Pickett speaking at the Wine Bloggers Conference.

And on it went, Oregon wine in one suite, Italian wines in another, a room of Argentina wines and a couple dancing the Tango, and so on. It was a fantastic, five days of wine. But, no opportunity for me to open that bottle of Fidelitas Merlot in Portland. The Washington wine I brought to share went back in my car and came home with me.

Open me, drink me.

It was with mixed feelings when I decided to open the bottle at home. I could not resist, even though I felt a little sadness and a bit of chagrin when I pulled the cork on the Fidelitas Red Mountain Merlot.

Photo: Fidelitas 2009 Red Mountain Merlot.

Gazing into my glass of wine, the brooding color drew me in. It was deep, darkest, inky, blood red. Spill it and you'll look like a crime scene. I had wanted to share this wine with friends I see only once a year. Sniff.  Smelling the wine, my misgivings faded. Lovely Red Mountain juice, with aromas of spicy violets, rich tar, licorice, currant, nutmeg, pepper mill, root beer and sage, such an intoxicating aroma.

On the first taste of that precious Red Mountain Merlot, such a beautiful wine, my apprehension disappeared. I was lost in layers of dark fruit, blackberry, boysenberry, spice and espresso. It was  pleasantly dry, with a concentrated long finish. Who cares? It was luxurious. A shame to have to drink this decadent wine at home, all by myself. It was glorious.

Don't miss any opportunity to sample wines made by Charlie Hoppes. And put his Fidelitas winery on Red Mountain, on your must visit list. You owe it to yourself. This wine is: Recommended.

ABV 14.7%
100% Red Mountain Vineyard Merlot
Closure: Natural cork.
Price: $45 at the winery.
Production: 286 cases.

Red Mountain Vineyard lies in the geographical center of the Red Mountain AVA, the tiny appellation where Fidelitas calls home. Known for it’s south-west facing slopes, proximity to the Yakima River, hot days and cool nights, Red Mountain Vineyard produces fruit with incredible intensity and concentration.

When you stop by the tasting room, tell them Wild 4 Washington Wine sent you.

Tasting Room
Fidelitas on Red Mountain is open 11am to 5pm.
51810 N. Sunset Road, Benton City, WA 99320
www.fidelitaswines.com

There is a $5 tasting fee per person that can be waived with purchase.

Groups of 12 or more must schedule their tasting in advance to ensure the best experience for all guests.  Please contact the winery for more information: 509.588.3469 or wine@fidelitaswines.com

Cheers!