Bottle Notes, Buying Wine

Force Majeure Fall 2012 Release Party

Force Majeure Winery

Previously known as Grand Rêve, Force Majeure was founded in 2004 by Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson. Force Majeure pairs some of Washington’s highly acclaimed winemakers with fruit from one of Washington’s highly acclaimed vineyards, Ciel du Cheval. The winemakers contributing to the Collaboration Series is a Who’s Who of Washington winemakers including Ben Smith, Carolyn Lakewold, Chris Gorman, James Mantone, Mark McNeilly, Mike McMorran and Ross Mickel.

Located in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Force Majeure is open twice a year for mailing list member release parties. The Fall release party this past Saturday featured the Collaboration Series I, III, V and Viognier.

Tasting and evaluating wine at a release party is always challenging – you typically only get a small pour and have just a few minutes to formulate an opinion. It’s also hard to take notes while chatting with friends and visiting with winemakers. But as always, we were up to the challenge!

  • 2009 Collaboration Series I – A Bordeaux style blend made by Ben Smith of Cadence Winery, this year’s version is comprised of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 12% Petit Verdot and 10% Merlot. Super aromatics. Graphite, currants, cassis, pencil and spice. This wine will age beautifully. 94 points. $55.
  • 2009 Collaboration Series III – 100% Syrah made by Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery. Purple in color. Bacon, game, cherries, meat, stone, mineral and pepper. Past versions of this wine show even better a few years after release. For me this wine stole the show at the release party. 96 points. $55.
  • 2009 Collaboration Series V – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon made by Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery. Super lush and hedonistic with blue fruits, spice and cocoa. The wine seemed to tail off just a touch on the finish and may already be shutting down. This is clearly a big wine that needs some time in the cellar or an extended decant prior to serving. 92 points. $75.
  • 2011 Viognier – Made by Mike McMorran of Mark Ryan Winery and smartly served at almost room temperature. Flowers and stone fruits on the nose. Mineral, honeysuckle and tropical fruits on the palate. Steely acidity. I would be hard pressed to think of a better domestic viognier. 92 points. $35.

These wines deserve more attention than the few minutes I had to enjoy them. I can’t wait to sit down with each of these bottles and watch them evolve over the course of an evening. A truly brilliant set of wines!

Force Majeure warrants your attention and (as I write this) the winery is still accepting names for their mailing list.

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