We always enjoy wines from Red Mountain, but consistently love the wines from Ciel du Cheval. Ciel du Cheval translates to Horse Heaven which is a tribute to the Horse Heaven Hills south of the vineyard. There's a neat article on Avalon Wine detailing more about this vineyard. Andrew Will's website says, "Ciel Du Cheval is about 2 miles off I 82 near the Benton City exit. The first acres were planted in 1975 and 1976. The vineyard now is composed of about 120 acres. The Merlot we get was planted in 1976 and the Cabernet Sauvignon in 1982. We also use their terrific Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
The soil is composed of loam on gravel beds (scootneay). The loam goes down 2 feet and scootneay beds to 12 feet or more. The soil is very calcareous making it good for vines since they have a hard time in this soil picking up nutrients, which would make for great bulk but poor quality.
On average, this vineyard gets 2950 heat units per year making it, along with Klipsun, the warmest site we work with. When the great Spokane Flood formed the Red Mountain region, it caused a back up leaving deposits of gravel and huge stones. This occurrence created many of the unique features which go into the identity of this vineyard.
The vineyard is owned and farmed by Jim Holmes."
For our anniversary this year we went to Sorensen Cellars on the Olympic Peninsula. We tasted the 2004 Cabernet Franc with grapes from the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. I'm not a huge fan of Cab Franc's but this particular wine persuaded me to keep trying more.
Photo courtesy of Tamarack Cellars
When we were in Walla Walla in June, we tasted the 2006 Ciel du Cheval Syrah at Tamarack Cellars. I adore its blackberry aroma. This wonderful wine was luscious and full-bodied. I may be biased though, since my favorite wines are always Syrahs. We didn't buy it at the time, because I thought it was too expensive. In retrospect, it's been so memorable that I'm still comparing wines to it. Unfortunately, when we went back two weeks ago it was sold out. The tasting notes were even beautiful as they describe the 2006 vintage, "A wonderful year of timely rains during the growing season and dry ripening conditions allowing for the complete command of the vineyard by the viticulturist and winemaker. 2006 wines show great fruit character, balance and length.' 'This wine blends Syrah Clone 174 and Syrah Clone Tablas from Ciel du Cheval."
We also really enjoy Wahluke Slope Vineyards, perhaps I'll blog about that next!