I generally enjoy the red wines from Washington State. I like their distinctive style, rich although well balanced, and often less jammy and less alcoholic than their Californian counterparts.
So tonight, I am tasting the 2003 Seven Hills Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain. The Ciel du Cheval Vineyard is one of the most renowned vineyards of the Northwest. It is located east of the Cascade mountain range, in the Red Mountain AVA, Washington's smallest appellation. The place has an arid and hot desert climate with significant diurnal temperature variation. The soil is high in calcium, thus very alkaline, which makes it hard for the plants to extract nutrients and therefore keeps vigor down. Red Bordeaux and Rhone varieties are particularly well adapted to these growing conditions. The name Ciel du Cheval means Horse Heaven, a tribute to the nearby Horse Heaven Hills.
The wine is a blend of Merlot for softness, Cabernet Sauvignon for power and structure, and Cabernet Franc with a dash of Petit Verdot for aromatics. The color is dark red-purple. The nose is spicy and a touch heady. The palate is dense, mouthfilling with some good acidity. It is a promising young wine but this horse in heaven may need a few more years to be tamed! If you cannot wait, try it with a juicy ribeye steak.
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