Bottle Notes

Force Majeure Winter 2014 Release Party

2013 Force Majeure Spring Release

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 Winter Release Party featured the ’11 Collaboration Series (CS) II Syrah, ’11 CS VI Southern Rhone Blend, ’10 CS IV Merlot, ’09 CS Reserve Syrah and ’11 Force Majeure Cabernet Sauvignon.

Below are some initial thoughts and scores on the new releases. I look forward to trying all these wines again in the years to come.

  • 2011 CS Syrah – 96% Syrah co-fermented with Viognier and Roussanne. Dark, brooding and tightly wound. Black fruits, meat and pepper flavors. The co-fermented wines really stand out in this blend. Don’t even consider opening a bottle for several years. My rating: 92 points.
  • 2011 CS VI Southern Rhone Blend – Predominantly Mourvèdre with Syrah and Grenache. Raspberry, strawberry, kirsch and pepper on the palate. Super approachable right now. As close as it gets to Chateauneuf-du-Pape in Washington! My rating: 94 points.
  • 2010 CS IV Merlot – Predominantly Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Wow. Rich and hedonistic. Layers upon layers of blueberries, chocolate ganache and anise. Reminiscent of a Merlot from Robert Foley. My rating: 96 points.
  • 2009 CS Reserve Syrah – Sweet, rich and plush. Raspberry liqueur, stones, minerals and grilled meat on the palate. Absolutely stunning. Think Lillian and Saxum and you are on the right track. My rating: 96 points.
  • 2011 Force Majeure Cabernet Sauvignon – Lush and silky. Black currant, cassis, leather and pencil flavors. Super pure Cabernet Sauvignon fruit. One to watch as the vines develop. My rating: 92 points.

Every wine at the release party was a show stopper in its own right. The CS IV Merlot is arguably the best Merlot being made in Washington. Bravo!

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

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2 thoughts on “Force Majeure Winter 2014 Release Party

  1. Excellent notes, and they were excellent wines. I was surprised how much the viognier stood out in the II, and it will be interesting to see how that changes in a few years. To me, the IV and the Cab were the standouts, with VI close behind. I can’t say that I was completely loving the reserve, but I couldn’t get rid of the taste of the cab at that point!

    1. Kevin, I was thinking about that. I wonder if they will go to a release schedule like Betz where they do the Rhone style wines all together and a seperate release for the Bordeaux style wines.

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