Betz “Clos de Betz” 2009

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Washington Cabernet and Bordeaux blends have always sat in a difficult place for me. Attempting to emulate California Opulent, they often come across as bland, uninteresting and overpriced compared to the best of the old world. On the flip side, they mostly fail to emulate the best of that creamy Napa style that still seems to drive the baby boomer palate.

Of course, it is at the edges and with the exceptions that we find the most interesting wines. I’ve written about some of my favourite quirky Washington State wines before. Betz, however, has long been a representative of the best of Washington done in a modern style. These wines are powerful, but keep an eye on restraint. They are also ageworthy and develop as well as the best Napa has to offer.

Of Tasting Broadly

Betz is a master of wine, one of those storied few who pass the absurdly challenging tests that gatekeep one of the wine world’s most elite qualifications. One of the requirements for this qualification is to have an extremely broad experience and ability to understand and detect styles of wine from around the world along with Europe’s myriad terroirs.

I’ve always believed that the best wines are made by those who taste deeply and broadly of the world’s best. How else can you create a masterpiece without understanding what has come before and what the world’s best are doing elsewhere. Much like any discipline, you can only reach the apex on the shoulders of others. Bob Betz is just such a winemaker.

While Betz sold the winery a couple years ago to a large corporate entity, he remains on as winemaker and so the wines should remain of equivalent quality until he retires.

Ripe But Structured

2009 was a warm vintage that produced big, ripe fruit filled with extract. Wines from this vintage will appease those who like their wines fruity and bold. Many lesser producers have tapped into the extract to provide ripeness above finesse. However, there are a few who have managed to tame the vintage and wrap up their fruit with structure and elegance. Betz is amongst those who have succeeded.

This merlot dominant 2009 Clos de Betz is a fantastic wine. Fruity and rich it also possesses intense tannic structure even though they are quite ripe (meaning this drinks great right now). The acid is on par with the fruit so this does not feel flabby and the aromatics do not suffer from overripeness. Betz has calmed his fruit to perfection while presenting its breadth and intensity as the perfect backbone for a serious steak. Perhaps the best thing I can say about this richly endowed wine is that it does far better with food, showing that structure and acid remain a driving force for Betz even in the ripest vintages.

Add to this a price that is half of what an equivalent Napa wine would cost, and you have a definite ‘buy’.

Excellent to Excellent+
$75 at Kits Wine

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