Bottle Notes, Merlot

A Vertical Tasting of Force Majeure CS IV

Last Saturday I attended a vertical tasting of the Force Majeure CS IV hosted by Paul and Susan McBride. This Merlot based blend was produced from 2006-2013 and all eight of these wines were poured at the tasting. Carolyn Lakewold of Donedei Wines has always been the winemaker for the CS IV.

Force Majeure was founded in 2004 by Paul McBride 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 winery recently transitioned from Collaboration wines to Estate wines. Todd Alexander, formerly of Bryant Family Vineyards, is the winemaker for the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Tempranillo.

The wines were tasted in two flights. The first flight included, in order, the ’13, ’12, ’11 and ’10. After the first flight we took about a 30 minute break before tasting the ’09, ’08, ’07 and ’06. The wines had been opened (but not decanted) about one hour before the event.

The wines all showed many of the characteristics I generally associate with the CS IV. Blue fruits, molten licorice, creosote, scorched earth, creme de cassis, raspberry liqueur, smoke and violets. Some of the older wines had taken on some secondary characteristics like currants and earth and showed some bricking at the edge of the glass. The wines have stood the test of time as both the ’06 and ’07 have years of life ahead of them. Consistent with previous tastings of these vintages the ’10, ’13 and ’07 were my favorite wines scoring 97, 96 and 95 points respectively. Even a wine made in so called lesser year like the ’11 showed well scoring 92 points.

For my money the CS IV is one of the two best Merlots being made in Washington along with the Leonetti version. As I have lamented before I am sorry to see the CS IV be discontinued but after talking with Paul before the tasting it is hard not to be excited about the changes taking place at Force Majuere. Most notably a new winery being built in Milton Freewater, Oregon. I can’t wait to visit when I am out that way next April for Cayuse Release Weekend.

Force Majeure is one of the most exciting wineries in the state. The winery is still accepting names for the mailing list.


2 thoughts on “A Vertical Tasting of Force Majeure CS IV

  1. How did I miss this article! Many thanks for doing this. “Molten licorice” – stealing this…

Leave a Comment