Taste the Romance of Red Mountain at Hedges Family Estate @hedgeswine

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An end of the world wine destination.

Some may consider SE Washington the ends of the earth. Miles of desert, few trees, rolling hills called mountains, wheat fields, apple orchards, hops and vineyards. I missed last weeks #winechat discussion on twitter because I was busy writing about the three hour lunch I enjoyed that day on Red Mountain with the marketing team of Hedges Family Estate winery. The #winechat topic was "End of the world wines." How appropriate a caption for the lunch I enjoyed and this post.

FYI: The Red Mountain AVA is the smallest in the state at only 4,040 acres. The AVA has 1,199 acres under cultivation. Primary grape varieties planted include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. The vineyards have produced grapes for some of the most sought after wines in Washington State. Only 15 minutes from my front door.

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Christophe Hedges, General Manager.
Arriving at the Hedges winery for lunch, I found Christophe Hedges around back working on building a door for the new tool shop. Christophe warmly greeted me as he left his door project. One of the other new additions he showed me, was the construction of the new wood-fired bakery. The new bakery is attached to the southern end of the winery, next to the family kitchen.

This was my second lunch with Christophe Hedges and my first lunch with Boo Walker. Christophe and Boo are the marketing team for Hedges Estate wines. They frequently travel across the country and overseas representing Hedges Red Mountain wines. As they travel around the world, they also represent Red Mountain and Washington wine. They take these roles seriously and consider themselves the “Guardians of Red Mountain.” I found their company and passion for wine stirring.

The Hedges Family Estate winery is located on Red Mountain, near the top of Sunset road. It is elegantly styled as a French Chateau and functions as production winery, tasting room, wine cellar and has an intimate kitchen and soon to be completed wood-fired bakery. The captivating view from their stone patio and fountain will inform you that you are somewhere special. A testament to the vision and conviction of this winemaking family.

Winemaker Sarah Goedhart

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Sarah Goedhart, Head winemaker.
Christophes' sister, Sarah Goedhart, is now Hedges winemaker. She has taken over winemaking since her Uncle Pete Hedges retired last year. Quality is strong. At lunch we enjoyed four red wines plus a special, not for sale, white wine. Think bio-dynamic, native yeast and wild fermentation. Concepts being embraced at Hedges reflect the terroir of their Red Mountain AVA estate. Sarah was unable to attend lunch, though I do have a photo of her I took at the winery. Tasting notes are below.

It was obvious to me, the pride Christophe has for his sister. I have been a fan of her Goedhart Syrah for several years. I recommend you begin collecting wines made by Ms. Goedhart now, as they will increase in popularity and demand as the awareness of her talent increases.

Context is Important

Lunch included a lively discussion about some of our favorite wine anecdotes as we compared Washington wines to those from diverse regions of the world. The thread constantly returned to Red Mountain and the quality fruit grown within the AVA. Christophe and Boo understand and embrace wine culture and wine lifestyle. The appreciation was reinforced by drinking the wine at the winery where it was made, next to the ripening fruit of the new harvest. Context is important to appreciation.

“We must take time for time, and wine.” 
- Jean-Charles Boisset


Lunch Menu

We enjoyed a conversation filled three hour lunch. We dined alfresco on the patio in front of the kitchen. Four Hedges red wines and one special white wine were paired with a multi-course lunch.

We were graciously attended by Hedges Estate Managers, Heather and Ryan Brown. This wife and husband team live on the Estate and work to enhance the Red Mountain experience. They used fresh, tasty ingredients to showcase the lovely wines on the table.

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The pleasant afternoon breeze, redolent of ripening fruit from the estate vineyard, calmed the spirit and encouraged gustatory enjoyment, from the bowl of vegetable bean soup, to the plated steak salad, the plum torte and the savory cheese plate, this was truly a wonderful and stimulating repast.

We Are Romantics

As we ate and savored the juice of Red Mountain, we discussed terroir, winemaking, wine culture and the art of wine. We agreed at almost the same moment that we are romantics. Each of us fixated, fascinated and seduced by wine. Romantics in love with the concept of and culture of wine country life. Hedges makes and sells wine while deriving pleasure from sharing the beauty of the terroir.

"Our goal is to treat our wines with reverence and let the Red Mountain terroir speak for itself." 
- Hedges Family Estate

Christophe has planted his own vineyard which he farms biodynamicly at his home. His lovely wife Maggie is now making wine from those grapes. A living testament to the tradition and passion of winemaking reflecting terroir. I look forward to tasting and sharing that tradition with friends.

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Boo Walker, Director Strategic Relations and Communications.

Boo Walker is also a published author. He shared that he is working on a new book. This time a weighty read of some 500 pages, aptly named "Red Mountain." I have read two of his previous books, "Low Country Punch" and "Turn or Burn." Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Boo uses that as the setting for the first book. The second book starts on Red Mountain then moves to Seattle. These are gritty stories about tough men who also have an appreciation for Washington wine. They are fun, action filled reads. I could tell just from these two books how his style is developing. I look forward to reading “Red Mountain” when it is finished.

Palpable Change

A new winemaker, a new bakery, a new white wine, Hedges is growing and changing. Red Mountain is also changing with new wineries, just planted vineyards and a soon to be realized 40 room lodge and restaurant. Red Mountain is waking up and people are noticing. While the present acknowledges the wonder that is the Red Mountain AVA, the future is full of potential. A potential that is in motion and soon to be under construction. Change is coming. It is palpable. Come visit and embrace Red Mountain wine culture. Wonderful things are happening. Be a part of this transformation and enjoy some fantastic wine.

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Hedges Family Estate, Red Mountain Winery & Vineyards
Phone: (509) 588-3155
53511 N Sunset Road
Benton City, WA 99320
www.hedgesfamilyestate.com
twitter: @hedgeswine


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Hedges Family Estate Wines Lunch Tasting Notes

1. White Wine Hedges Single Barrel Red Mountain Estate - Not for sale.
The first vintage of Marsanne/Viognier blend from Red Mountain.  It’s a DLD (Descendants Liegeois Dupont) Syrah’s sister: DLD Le Blanc. Only one barrel made. It’s third leaf fruit. Spicy, funky/earthy, toast, focused fruit on the nose. Round, focused to back and middle, nutty, dry pear, mineral, touch oily with light spice and salinity. Pair with firm, flavorful cheese. Notes from 7 hours after lunch. At lunch there was lemon on the finish. Interesting.

2. Hedges Family Estate 2012 Red Mountain (formerly 3 Vineyard) - Unreleased.
Hedges flagship wine with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 8% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec. This wine represents all vineyard blocks farmed within the Hedges Family Estate vineyard portfolio. Redolent of Red Mountain terroir. Scrumptious. Spoke volumes. Hunt down this vintage. Cellar as much as you can. Showing off on day two.

3. Goedhart Family 2011 Red Mountain Syrah Bel Villa Vineyard - $26.99
Grown on a 15 acre vineyard, named Les Gosses, this wine displays the qualities of low yield farming. Food worthy Syrah, wonderful structure, will not dominate your palate. Dark fruit, violets and concentrated lavender at front, tar and dark chocolate at middle, with medium-long finish. Yum.

4. Descendants Liegeois Dupont 2012 Red Mountain Syrah Les Gosses Vineyard - $26.99
Gorgeous color, broad enticing nose, tease, gingerbread, palate pleaser spread front to back, dark inky quality, violets, blackberry, tar, felty tannin, dry baby, not over the top, but sexy long finish. Titilating. Are you Red Mountain experienced?

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Perfect dinner, porterhouse with La Haute Cuvee.

5. La Haute Cuvee 2012 Hedges Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5L - $130
100% Cabernet Sauvignon farmed to Demeter Biodynamic discipline, from the original blocks dating back to 1990, it is a blend of Hedges Estate and Magdalena parcels, both under family control. Just a baby. Good weight, dry and responsive, with dried cherries, fragrant smell of the wine barrel, in a good way, whiff of Madagascar vanilla, touch of black olive, dark chocolate, dry, dry, dry, long finish. Cool back palate action. Just a hint of what is to come. I would cellar for at least 5 years. Unfined, unfiltered. Yeah baby! La Haute Cuvée is the first Demeter-certified Biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon ever made in Washington State. Fantastic on day five.

FYI: Many of Washington's cult wines are produced from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in the Red Mountain AVA including the 2002, 2003 and 2005 Quilceda Creek Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon, which scored the rare 100 point wine rating from Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate. Only 15 other wines in the US have received this designation, all made from California grapes. 

Related Post: Lunch with Christophe Hedges, August 2011. 

I can think of no finer destination than Red Mountain and Hedges Family Estate. Do not wait until the end of the world to begin your sojourn to Red Mountain. Consider yourself invited.

* Suggested musical Pairing, Angus and Julia Stone.



Cheers!

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