Bottle Notes, Syrah

Betz Family Winery Fall 2013 Release Party

Betz Family Winery

Betz Family Winery was founded in 1997 by Bob & Cathy Betz. Critical acclaim from local and national wine publications has put Betz Family Winery at the forefront of Washington wines alongside Cayuse, Leonetti and Quilceda Creek. The winery was sold to Steve and Bridget Griessel (with Bob Betz remaining on as the winemaker), and I fully expect quality will remain high for years to come.

Betz is open twice a year for the release of their wines: Spring welcomes Bordeaux Blends, and Fall the Syrah-based wines. Located south of the Schoolhouse District in Woodinville, Betz release parties draw such large crowds that Woodinville Fire and King County Sheriff employees are hired to direct traffic.

We attended the Fall release party this past Sunday, a stunning late Summer afternoon. Despite this day being the opening of the NFL season the winery was simply packed. Per usual, Bob and Steve made themselves available all afternoon to mingle with visitors.

Tasting and evaluating wine at release parties can be a challenge, as pours are usually small so you have just a few minutes to formulate an opinion. That said, the Betz lineup is better than ever.

Here are my initial impressions on the new releases:

  • 2011 Betz Family Bésoleil – 54% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 12% Counoise, 12% Mouvedre and 7% Syrah. Strawberries, pepper, smoke, earth and olives. The Mouvedre, even at just 12%, is so very prominent. The most open of the new releases. My rating: 93 points.
  • 2011 Betz Family Syrah La Serenne – 100% Syrah from Boushey Vineyard. Dark fruits, meat, game and mineral. This wine is tight and needs at least 5 years in the cellar. My rating: 91points.
  • 2011 Betz Family Syrah La Côte Rousse – 100% Syrah from Ciel du Cheval and Ranch at the End of the Road Vineyards. Cherry, cassis, meat and violets. Dark and dense. Check back in on this one around 2020. My rating: 92 points.
  • 2011 Betz Family Syrah La Côte Patriarche – 100% Syrah from Red Willow Vineyard. Plush, dark fruits. Cherry and blackberry. Rose, stones and mineral. The best La Côte Patriarche ever and easily the best of the new releases. My rating: 95 points.

I’ve been buying the Betz wines for a decade now. I can’t emphasize enough that the entire lineup needs extended time in the cellar.

I understand the mailing list is full, although I suspect the wait isn’t too long. Fortunately, the wine is readily available all over Seattle almost year-round. Both of these new releases are worth searching for.

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