Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #29

Wine Blogging Wednesday #29 has arrived! I haven't participated lately as some of the subjects have not pertained to the Walla Walla Valley wines. This month, Jack and Joanne of Fork & Bottle are hosting WBW and the subject they have chosen is Biodynamic wines. This time I have the perfect wines!

South of Walla Walla, France native Christophe Baron of Cayuse Vineyards discovered an old orchard bed that was completely covered with cobblestones. The stones were the size of a small apple. This land, which reminded Baron of the terroir from the Bordeaux region, had been home to the Cayuse who were local Native Americans. The Cayuse lived on this ancient stone river bed that was known as the Walla Walla River. The early French-Canadian fur traders in the Walla Walla area referred to the tribe as the Cailloux (plural for "stone" in French). Thus the Cayuse were known as "The People of the Stone" and now a very fitting name for Baron's wine.

Baron planted his first vineyard, in the Walla Walla Valley, in 1997 and now owns a total five vineyards (approx. 41 acres). All of the vineyards were planted with a crow bar and are biodynamically raised. He began using biodynamic practices in 2002. The reason behind this practice was not about marketing and trends, but an issue of what Baron thinks is his duty to protect the planet.

In Washington state, Christophe Baron’s Walla Walla vineyards were the first to be farmed and certified as using biodynamic methods. The limited production Syrahs (Cailloux, Bionic Frog, Coccinellee, En Chamberlin, and En Cerise) are typical of old world style with layers and layers of earthy and dense dark fruits. Exotic spices appear with a smooth and lingering finish. While the tannins from the Cayuse Syrahs seem soft on the tongue, the majority of them can be cellared up to 11 years. Could both of these qualities (soft tannins and long cellar time) mean a better grape?

So -- what sets the Cayuse wines apart from others? Is it solely the talent and skill of Baron's wine making (with a Champagne lineage), the cobblestones in the vineyard, the soil fertility before or after the biodynamic methods? I honestly do not have the answer. What I can answer is Christophe Baron's wines are like no other, especially his Rhone-styled wines. They are dramatic, elegant and sexy. I believe it is the combination of all of Baron's gifts.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Think I've only tried a wine of there's once; we just don't see them in Santa Rosa.