Charlie Hoppes has a long fascination with Washington’s signature grape — also the dominant variety on Red Mountain.
CHARLIE HOPPES clearly recalls the first time he was on Red Mountain. It was June 1989; he was working as a winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle and visiting Kiona Vineyards and Winery to try its lemberger. Later that day, his wife went into labor and gave birth to their first daughter.
He liked what he knew about Red Mountain, and vowed to return. Eleven years ago, he bought 5 acres, built a tasting room and planted grapes. Today, the graduate of Wapato High School and the University of California-Davis’ vaunted winemaking school gets all the grapes for his 7,000-case Fidelitas Wines from Red Mountain. He has a long fascination with cabernet sauvignon, which is not only Washington’s signature grape but also the dominant variety on Red Mountain. These days, Hoppes bottles no fewer than six distinctive cabs, making him “The Cab King of Red Mountain.”
We typically don’t see diversity like this from one winery with a single variety, outside of Oregon pinot noir country, so this is fascinating for Washington wine lovers to explore.
Six Red Mountain cabs to try
Here are six unique cabs from Fidelitas Wines, available in the tasting rooms on Red Mountain or in Woodinville. Supporters of the Auction of Washington Wines will be able to experience some of these Aug. 16-18, when Charlie Hoppes will be celebrated as the honorary vintner.
Fidelitas Wines 2015 estate vineyard cabernet sauvignon, Red Mountain, $75: Using vines planted in 2015, Hoppes has crafted a cab with beautiful fruit and tension, opening with aromas of black currants, cocoa powder and black licorice, followed by bold flavors of ripe plum, backed with bright acids and dusty tannins.
Fidelitas Wines 2015 Red Heaven cabernet sauvignon, Red Mountain, $55: This cab reveals fruit on the red side of the spectrum, giving way to more accessible flavors, including notes of cherry and strawberry, along with hints of milk chocolate, mint and dusty sage. Expect firm, yet pliable tannins.
Fidelitas Wines 2015 Ciel du Cheval cabernet sauvignon, Red Mountain, $70: Using grapes from one of the region’s most venerable plantings results in a sturdy, classic cab. Opening notes of vanilla and molasses are followed by flavors of black currants, plum, spice and sage. A bit of oak shows behind the sturdy tannins. A solid cellar selection.
Fidelitas Wines 2015 Quintessence cabernet sauvignon, Red Mountain, $65: From a new, large planting, this cab offers aromas of dark chocolate and sandalwood that give way to bold flavors of ripe plum, blackberry, a kiss of oak, and black currants and taut tannins.
Fidelitas Wines 2015 Blackwood Canyon cabernet sauvignon, Red Mountain, $65: Using some of the oldest cab vines on Red Mountain, this wine unveils fascinating complexity of smoky sage, blackberry and Baker’s chocolate. Mild tannins provide a gentle structure through an opulent finish.
Fidelitas Wines 2015 Red Mountain cabernet sauvignon, Red Mountain, $50: A blend from four vineyards, this wine showcases complex aromas of smoke, sage, dried leaves and black currants, followed by firm flavors of black pepper and molasses, backed by bright tannins and a long finish.
One might think there is no need for six expressions of cab from the same 4,040 acres of dirt on the eastern edge of the Yakima Valley. But these six wines speak another truth: There is much variation, thanks to soil type, aspect, clonal selection and heat. These are, in fact, six unique and fascinating wines.
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