Energetic Washington Red - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Energetic Washington Red

Cadence’s Cara Mia Vineyard at sunset. (Photo: Benjamin Smith)

There’s a strange dichotomy to the way Ben Smith of Cadence Winery identifies with Red Mountain. Red Mountain identifies itself as the most powerful, the most massive, the most Napa of Washington appellations, capable of dramatically high degree day accumulations, the summer’s heat delivered to a mesa-top mountain that tilts southwest like a tabletop with one short leg, achieving the perfect angle to maximize a season’s sunlight. The heft of these wines often registers as a textural wallop: I cannot count how many times I’ve been knocked back by the power—in my notes I should have some shorthand emoji for the impact—an anvil, a pair of empty shoes, an exclamation point.

But Cadence wines are different. This cabernet franc-dominant blend, from their home vineyard in the heart of the mountain, is among the most densely planted in the appellation, which seems to impact the flavors, resulting in a wine more about light than heat, its aromatics delivered with lift and clarity, whiffs of five spice and black cherry, sassafras and tobacco, flavors deep but precise. Whatever weight the wine possesses is tethered to its acidity, the flavors weighted toward the middle palate, a finish full of energy: anvil, empty shoes, three lightning bolts.


Cadence 2019 Red Mountain Bel Canto Cara Mia Vineyard

Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.

Patrick J. Comiskey covers US wines for Wine & Spirits magazine, focusing on the Pacific Northwest, California’s Central Coast and New York’s Finger Lakes.

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