While a relatively young winery, founded only in 1997, Betz quickly joined the upper echelon of producers in Washington State. Propelled by the enthusiasm and experience of Bob Betz, who had spent nearly three decades with Chateau Ste. Michelle prior to founding Betz, the winery emerged as a leader particularly with their Bordeaux styled blends. The wines stand out as Washington styled if for no other reason than their Appellation. Columbia Valley is on the label because Bob draws from the top vineyards throughout the state blending varietals from the finest vineyard to create wines that truly are greater than the sum of their parts.
In 2011 Bob and Cathy Betz sold the Betz Family Winery to Steve and Bridgit Griessel with Bob agreeing to remain on as winemaker for a five year period. Seeing as they are now releasing the first set of wines that were made in the post-Betz ownership period I thought it would be a fine time to pay a visit and see what has changed. It seems very little has in fact changed and these remain among the very finest wines in both Washington State and the world. Hard to find, but worth tracking down if you can these continue to be stunningly fine, powerful, and refined wines.
2011 Betz Besoleil Columbia Valley 14.2% $50
54% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 12% Counoise, 12% Mourvedre, 7% Syrah
Very pretty on the nose with a hint of road tar, some spicy herbs, wild strawberry fruit and then a huge garrigue, black fruit, leather and peppery scent emerges as the wine warms in the glass. Big and firm in the mouth, this manages to retain fine transparency on the palate with fine hard black berry and wild strawberry fruit framed with hints of juniper and licorice. Small firm tannins keep this tense and clear across the palate and through the long finish which reveals intense inner mouth perfumes of black cherry, blueberry, blue flowers and spice. Powerful yet not terribly weight in the mouth. 93pts
2011 Betz La Cote Rousse Syrah Red Mountain 13.8% $60
Inky on the nose and rich with aromas of dried herbs, roasted coffee, and almost gamy meat topped with spicy black pepper notes. Another big wine that’s underpinned with good acids and fine ripe, polished tannins that lend this a voluptuous texture. There’s lots of tobacco, meat juices, and a bit of brown spice on the powerful palate which reveals deep lightly roasted coffee bean, crushed stone, and herb crusted lamb notes on the palate along with wonderfully pure blackberry and black plum flavors. A bit reminiscent of some of the more modern wines of Corans, this is pretty awesome. 94pts
2011 Betz Clos de Betz Columbia Valley 14% $65
67% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot
Black fruit, herbs, mint, and spice all add nuance to the black plummy fruit of the nose that picks up hints of graphite with air. Deep and intense on the nose. Round, opulent and intense in the mouth, his shows of bright and juicy acids and soft tannins before turning voluptuously soft and supple in the mouth. the midpalate is totally refined and elegant dotted with blue floral notes, blue plums and blueberry fruit before gaining firmness and minerality on the back end, and absolutely powering through the long finish with uncommon elegance and finesse. 95pts
2011 Betz Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia valley 14% $75
88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot
Woodsy tree bark, mineral, and beef aroms top the big black currant fruit on the nose here which is a bit unevolved and almost jammy yet retains lots of fresh wild berry fruit. This is a bit angular but slender on entry with nicely judged, polished tannins. It’s a big wine with nice power and depth, rich with ,dusty fruit, briary and blue plummy on the palate. Built more on richness and power, this turns a little chewy on the firm finish which is long but shows more oak sweetness than the Clos de betz and is a touch hot as well. It’s still a remarkable wine, that might just need more time but for me it lacks some of the purity and seamlessness the Clos de betz displays. 93pts