Force Majeure was founded in 2004 by Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson and made its name pairing 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 and Mike MacMorran.
Todd Alexander, formerly of Bryant Family Vineyards, is the winemaker for the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Helen Keplinger of Keplinger Wines is working with Force Majeure as a consulting winemaker.
In years past Force Majeure has done two release parties. 2015 marked the first year where there was just a single release party in the Spring. In the absence of a Fall release party I was fortunate to be welcomed to the winery to taste through the new wines with both Paul McBride and Todd Alexander.
Before we get to Bottle Notes though I want to make sure all of you are up to speed on the ever changing wine lineup at Force Majeure. The winery is in the process of transitioning from Collaboration wines to Estate Wines. The 2013 vintage will mark the end of the current lineup of Collaboration Series wines. Going forward there will be one off Collaboration wines. As we were tasting through the new releases Chris Peterson of Avennia wandered into the winery. He happens to be making a Collaboration Series VII for Force Majeure.
Force Majeure is also launching a second label. Parabellum will be made with grapes not used in the Estate Wines and will likely retail in the $45 range. Last but not least, as Force Majeure moves to all Estate wines, the plan will be two releases per year. Rhone style wines in the Spring and Bordeaux style wines in the Fall.
Below are brief impressions on the new releases:
2012 Ptera – 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Syrah all from Force Majeure Vineyard. This wine was made by Mike MacMorran. Great nose of anise, flowers and smoke. Round and plush. Cherries, game, blueberries and pepper on the palate. My rating: 92 points.
2012 CS I – A Bordeaux style blend made by Ben Smith. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Classic nose of graphite, sage and creme de cassis. Currants, raspberries and licorice on the palate. Super sweet and delicious with supple tannins. My rating: 94 points.
2011 CS IV – 72% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon and small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Made by Carolyn Lakewold. Molten licorice, chocolate and lavender on the nose. Rich and ripe. Cassis liqueur, plums and blueberries on the palate. World class Merlot. My rating: 96 points.
2012 CS V – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon made by Chris Gorman. Huge nose of red fruits, smoke and cocoa. Blackberry, currants and cassis on the palate. Silky tannins. Think iron fist in a velvet glove and you are on the right track. My rating: 95 points.
All of these wine should age effortlessly for at least a decade. I think this is the strongest release yet from Force Majeure.
The mailing list at Force Majeure is still open. The winery recently moved to a first come first served structure when filling orders. Future allocations are based on past purchases.
If you are not on the mailing list you should be able to find the wines in the Greater Seattle area at McCarthy & Schiering, Full Pull Wines and Compass Wines.
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