Starting in January I have been counting down to my 40th birthday in May by opening a special bottle of wine on the 23rd of each month. January was the Leonetti Cellars 2002 Cabernet (notes deliquent); February was the Betz 2002 Pere de Famille; March was Leonetti Cellars 2007 Merlot. With Quilceda Creek recently consumed in the 2006 Cabernet release and the after party, the obvious choice for April was Cayuse Vineyards.
Cayuse Vineyards is the work of Christophe Baron. Baron is a native of France and grew up studying enology in Champagne and Burgundy. The winery gets its name from French-Canadian fur traders who called the Native Americans in the Walla Walla area the ‘Cailloux’ (pronounced ‘ki-yoo’, plural for ‘stone’ in French). Baron planted his first vineyards in Walla Walla in 1996 in a dried up cobblestone riverbed. The rest as they say is history.
Cayuse makes a series of vineyard designated Syrah including En Cerise (French for cherry), Coccinelle (French for ladybug), En Chamberlin, and Armada. Bionic Frog is the name of the winery’s top of the line Syrah. Cayuse also makes a Cab Franc dominant Bordeaux blend (Flying Pig), a Cabernet dominant Bordeaux blend (Camaspelo); a Cabernet (The Widowmaker); a Tempranillo (Impulsivo); a Grenache; a Rose; and a Viognier.
Cayuse distributes its wine exclusively via mailing list. Since the initial releases, all of the wines have been highly rated and sought after. Here we try to the 2002 Flying Pig – the Cab Franc dominant Bordeaux blend – and the 2004 Callioux Vineyard Syrah.
|Cayuse Flying Pig 2002||Almost completely opaque. Initially the nose is very light with lilacs and herbs. Cranberry dominates on the taste and also comes to the fore on the nose. As the wine opens, licorice takes over. Open on the palate then ramps down and hangs. A big acid kick three quarters of the way through like a whale kicking up its tail. 75% Cab Franc; 15% Cabernet; 10% Merlot. 14.5% alcohol.||$45|
|Cayuse Callioux Vineyard 2004||Light and garnet colored. An outrageous nose that jumps out of the glass, slaps you in the face and grabs you by the nose. Reminiscent of a Pinot on the aromas with barnyard, a vegetable medley, and iron. Later, bacon fat and tomato emerge. Round and generous and very well balanced. The wine doesn’t have a finish. It just continues endlessly. Syrah co-fermented with 4% Viognier.||$55|
Sean – Glad to hear you liked the ’04 Cailloux. To date, it’s my favorite wine I have tasted. That aroma/flavor profile is right in my wheelhouse. After I tried it at Canlis, I bought three bottles at auction and am still sitting on them. Almost can’t bear to open them; I love them too much.
Paul, that wine is definitely a thriller. I can’t think of another wine where the mid-palate has hung so long. Hard to tell where the finish started or ended. Simply endless.
Nice to see the older Cayuse developing over time. As a self-proclaimed Cayuse fanatic, it’s always good to hear positive reviews of my favorite winery. There was once a time when I considered the Cailloux Vineyard Syrah to be the ugly stepchild of Christophe’s lineup (I’ve always liked it just not quite as much as the other single vinyards) but no longer. The last three vintages (04,05,06) have most definitely brought it into the discussion for top Cayuse Syrah. Keep up the good work!
Thx for the notes on Cayuse. Have an 02 Pig that I’m just waiting for an excuse to open, sounds like its in a good place. Agree with Jared about the ugly stepchild thing, but the 06 we popped recently was amazing, and the 07 barrel sample was the best yet for the Cailloux vineyard.