Cayuse was founded in 1997 by Christophe Baron, a native of France who grew up in family of winemakers in Champagne. Baron studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne, and had ambitions to make Pinot Noir in Oregon. However, on a visit to Walla Walla he found property that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes and decided to purchase the land.
Armada Vineyard was planted in 2001. At 1815 vines per acre, the 7-acre site, was the highest density planting in the Walla Walla Valley until 2008. Other wines from the vineyard include the God Only Knows Grenache and Edith Grenache Rosé.
Crimson in color. 14.6% ABV. Savory nose of dark fruits, smoke, game and olive brine. Medium to full bodied with perfect acidity. Dark and brooding. Black cherries, olives, charred meats and minerals on the palate. Exceptional length on the finish. More of the trademark “Cayuse funk” and less of the great purity of fruit than I would have hoped for but still incredibly appealing. Best over the next year or so.
My rating: 93 points.
The waiting list for the Cayuse mailing list is huge and you need to be well-connected to get a bottle via retail. Either way, current vintages are worth the hunt!
The Christophe Baron portfolio includes Cayuse, Horsepower , No Girls and Hors Categorie and Champagne Christophe Baron. I am not sure what is next on the horizon for Christophe but I look forward to being a part of it.
I blogged about Cayuse previously in The 2020 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings, Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and Cayuse Vineyards – Better than Ever.