DeLille Cellars Blog
One of DeLille Cellars' long-term goals since the winery's founding in 1992 was to plant and develop our own vineyard so that our winemakers had complete control of the fruit in order to make a highly specialized wine.
The team at our Woodinville winery believes that the quantum leap in quality for artisan Washington State wine lies within the vineyard. In 1999, DeLille Cellars purchased a plot of land in the Red Mountain AVA to achieve this goal of creating a fine-tuned, extraordinary wine. With a focus on concentration of fruit, even ripening and authenticity, we considered everything from clones to trellis systems with the paramount commitment of enhancing our Grand Ciel Vineyard.
Grand Ciel, meaning big sky, has been carefully designed to produce the highest quality fruit from the unique climate and soil of Red Mountain. Our rigorous selection process only permits a small portion of grapes to become part of the Grand Ciel wines. The results are wines of deep concentration with beautiful proportion and extended complexity.
Grand Ciel Vineyard
Grand Ciel Vineyard, located in the Red Mountain AVA, is a "state-of-the-art", no expense spared vineyard. It was meticulously designed to produce great vintages with a focus on both concentration and hang time complexity. Using GPS coordinates to track the Red Mountain sun, the vineyard was carefully planted at a specific Southwest to Northeast diagonal to achieve even ripening.
Planting Grand Ciel Vineyard. Left to right: Founding Winemaker Chris Upchurch, Richard Holmes of Ciel du Cheval, Charles Lill, Greg Lill, Jay A. Soloff
High-density planting of French grape clones combined with traditional Guyot trellising slows down the growth of these vines. DeLille Cellars Founding Winemaker Chris Upchurch noted, “after achieving perfection in the vineyard, we then hand pick, hand sort, and barrel select for each vintage to bring you the best wine we can possibly make - true to our methods and to the terroir of Red Mountain”.
Located between Aquilini Vineyard, Ciel Du Cheval Vineyard, Corliss Vineyard and Quilceda Creek's Galitzine Vineyard, our Grand Ciel Vineyard is home to several types of Syrah and Cabernet clones.
The riper, more forward of the two French Syrah clones we’ve planted. 174 gives us big, rich generous flavors.
This French Syrah clone is more structured, with better acidity and a more complex style.
This clone has been a standard in Washington State Cabernet for 60 years.
One of the great clones of Bordeaux, Cabernet 169 gives us smaller berries and therefore great concentration.
Another great clone of Bordeaux, Cabernet 191 gives us beautiful purity of fruit and rich, classic Cabernet characters.
Grand Ciel Cabernet Sauvignon
Grand Ciel Cabernet is a single vineyard, single varietal & single clone Cabernet from our estate vineyard on Red Mountain. Every detail of our vineyard has been designed to produce the highest quality fruit from the unique climate and soil of this prestigious AVA known for its ripe and structured Cabernet. Our rigorous selection process only permits a small portion of grapes to become part of Grand Ciel. The first vintage was produced in 2004.
Jason Gorski, Director of Viticulture and Winemaking at DeLille Cellars, explained Grand Ciel Cabernet Sauvignon is a "unique wine in that it’s 100% from our estate vineyard and 100% from one block. The flavors are always in balance and always in front of sugar.”
Grand Ciel Cabernet Sauvignon Profile
- Grapes produced exclusively from our Grand Ciel Estate Vineyard
- Made from single vineyard, single varietal, and single clone grapes
- Grapes originate from Clone 191 - the original French clone
- Aroma: blueberry, cassis, sweet chocolate and oak toast
- Oak: Aged 20 months in 100% new French oak
- Palate: concentrated yet restrained on the palate, balanced throughout
- Aging: 10-15+ years
Grand Ciel Syrah
At Grand Ciel, Syrah has taken on a whole new dimension. Time-honored traditional methods and modern French clones are combined with the unique climate and the unique terroir of Red Mountain: sandy loam and volcanic-ash soils. The resulting wine is one of great concentration in both fruit and terroir, yet our efforts have still managed to find the meaty, floral and focused characteristics of “old-world” Syrah.
Grand Ciel Syrah is 100% Clone 383. “Clone 383 for me is a little bit more of the meatier, cracked black pepper and savory style of Syrah,” said Jason Gorski. “One of the things I love about this clone is that there is a little bit of something citrus. The way we farm at Grand Ciel slows everything down with moderating crop loads, allowing for great complexity and flavor development, but also low potential alcohol. Lower potential alcohol means that you’re going to have lower perceived sweetness [that] allows those savory characters of the grape to shine through. I think that’s one of the things that really sets this block apart: lower potential alcohol and better-developed flavor.”
Grand Ciel Syrah Profile
- Grapes originate from Clone 383
- Aroma: Charcuterie, marionberry and blackberry with a subtle whiff of blood orange
- Oak: Aged 20 months in 30% New French Oak
- Palate: Blackberry, tapenade, beautifully integrated tannins, acidity and fruit
- Aging: 10+ years
Shop our Grand Ciel wines in our wine shop.
DeLille Cellars is honored to be named the 2021 MVP (Most Valuable Producer) by Seattle Wine Awards. D2, Minuit, and Four Flags earned Double Gold medals in this year's competition.
The Red Mountain pedigree of the 2018 Four Flags is immediately evident on the nose, with savory herb notes of thyme and marjoram intermixing with fruit aromas of cassis and blueberry. Concentrated and serious on the palate, this wine nevertheless offers beautiful symmetry, with ample energy and a lingering delicate floral impression. Oak influence is well integrated despite its youth, with mocha and espresso contributing to a plush, long finish.
Mocha and milk chocolate notes from French oak integrate with beautiful cassis, dried cranberry, and cedar aromas on this 2018 D2. This wine is instantly delicious on the palate with an inviting warm, soft entry. It rapidly builds in intensity of fruit mid-palate, offering remarkable length on the finish, with Red Mountain Cabernet (16% of the blend) apparent in the texture.
In the lead on this 2018 Minuit, Malbec delivers an extraordinarily dark color and aromas of blackberry, black peppercorn and cocoa, with Cabernet Sauvignon providing intriguing cedar and graphite notes. Slightly more tightly wound then the prior vintage, substantial fruit begins to emerge as the wine opens. Classic Malbec fruit purity dominates on the palate, with enticing cracked pepper carried on a long finish supported by Cabernet tannin. Well-balanced throughout, with welcome freshness and energy on a moderate to full-bodied structure, this wine should continue to deliver and improve for a decade or more.
The October 2021 Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide highlighted Washington’s finest wines and increasing Syrah production. Critics praised DeLille Cellars’ Bordeaux and Rhône-style blends sourced from Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, and the Columbia Valley AVA.
The pillars of this wine are top sites Ciel du Cheval (39%), Grand Ciel (30%), Upchurch (21%) and Klipsun (10%). Aromas of black currant, licorice, cocoa and spice are followed by action-packed dark-fruit flavors. This appellation's intensity, structure and freshness are there in abundance. Yum. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 14.4% Price: $75
The vineyard-designated wine is always a unique expression of the appellation. Aromas of red raspberry rise from the glass, along with notes of cocoa, dried herb and whiffs of tangerine peel. There’s a lot of restraint to the red fruit flavors, which ramp up in intensity over time. The acidity of the vintage enlivens it, with the appellation’s structure in abundance. Best after 2030. Cellar Selection. —S.S. abv: 14.2% Price: $160
This is the first vintage of this wine, which saw 18 months in cigar-shaped barrels. With fruit coming from Sagemoor Block 5, it was aged sur lie. Appealing aromas of beeswax, tropical fruit, herbs and pink grapefruit are followed by a rounded palate, full of kiwi and pine-apple flavors. It’s ripe, but with well-balanced acidity, with the texture only adding to the appeal. The finish is endless. —S.S. abv: 14% Price: $75
Blue fruit aromas erupt from the glass, followed by notes of huckleberry, spice, coffee and herb. It saturates the palate, covering it from end to end with blue and purple fruit flavors that sail on the finish. It has a big-time yum factor, nearly irresistible, with fruit and barrel both playing big parts in the show. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 14.9% Price: $56
An homage to Merlot, which makes up 88% of the blend. Cabernet Sauvignon follows with the rest equal parts Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. With DuBrul (24%) and Ciel du Cheval (24%) comprising nearly half the wine, the aromas are brooding, with notes of red fruit, spice and dried herbs. The flavors are soft and sumptuous, showing the brightness of the vintage, with plentiful structure around it all. Editors’ Choice - S.S abv: 14.6% Price: $60
A blend of 67% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, this wine is full of polish and class. The aromas are charming, with notes of black cherry, dark raspberry, flowers and bittersweet chocolate. There’s impressive structure and balance to the red and black fruit flavors. Editors’ Choice. —S.S. abv: 14.5% Price: $45
Grenache makes up 42% of this wine, with the rest Mourvèdre (36%), Syrah (20%) and a pinch of Cinsault. The aromas rise up from the glass, with notes of blueberry, huckleberry, fresh herbs, raspberry, black pepper and moist earth. The palate is light on its feet, showing elegance and dexterity. —S.S. abv: 14.6% Price: $45
Cabernet Sauvignon comprises 61% of this wine, with the balance Merlot (27%), Cabernet Franc (10%) and Petit Verdot (2%). Locked up aromas of black cherry, scorched earth, coffee and spice are followed by sophisticated coffee and chocolate flavors. It shows surprising restraint given the warmth of the vintage and appellation. Best after 2026. Cellar Selection. —S.S. abv: 14.8% Price: $90
Syrah makes up 61% of this wine, with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of coffee, cherry, berry and spice are followed by creamy feeling coffee flavors. Fruit and barrel play equal parts. —S.S. abv: 14.7% Price: $45
Aromas of coffee bean, spice and dark chocolate are followed by light fruit flavors. On the one hand, the fruit seems quite ripe. On the other, the concentration light. Grainy tannins back it up. —S.S. abv: 14.6% Price: $75
Hailing from one of the state’s oldest and most highly regarded sites, this wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc (57%), Merlot (26%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (17%). Aromas of tea leaves, herbs, tar, sweet spice and raspberry are followed by elegant fruit flavors. It doesn’t seem to have emerged from its shell, though the sophistication intrigues. —S.S. abv: 14.4% Price: $75
Starting from humble roots in the 1800s, Washington is now the second-largest wine-producing state in the country. Its wines, from robust Cabernet Sauvignon to dry Riesling, are acclaimed worldwide. The state now boasts more than 50,000 acres of grapes and over 1,000 wineries. As the third-oldest operating winery in Woodinville, DeLille Cellars is considered a strong influence in establishing Washington as a premier viticultural region. However, this booming growth didn’t happen overnight and it’s important to understand the rich history that has shaped Washington wine today.
Sketch of Fort Vancouver 1853. Photo Credit: HBC Heritage
The Beginnings of Washington Wine
In 1825, Washington’s first grapes were planted at Fort Vancouver on the north bank of the Columbia River. These grapes were planted by the Hudson’s Bay Company and although it is unknown if wine was ever produced from these plantings, the opening of the Oregon Trail brought the next wave of grapes and a newfound interest in winemaking. French, German, and Italian immigrants pioneered Washington’s earliest plantings. By 1854, hybrid varieties were seen in nurseries in the Puget Sound region and just 10 years later, the first wine grapes were planted in the Walla Walla Valley (washingtonwine.org).
A Growing Industry
The 1900s brought large-scale irrigation projects harnessing mountain run-off from the Cascades and enabled vineyards in the Yakima and Columbia Valleys to thrive. By 1914, several important vineyards had appeared in the Yakima Valley, most notably the vineyards of William Bridgman, deemed the “Grandfather of Washington Wine”. Bridgman planted some of Washington’s oldest vines on Harrison Hill and nearby in the Snipes Mountain AVA.
The 1962 Cabernet Sauvignon vines at Harrison Hill.. Credit: DeLille Cellars
In 1962, Harrison Hill was nearly forgotten and sold to Associated Vintners (now known as Columbia Winery), who planted Cabernet Sauvignon throughout the area. In the early years at DeLille Cellars, Chris Upchurch was mentored by David Lake, a Master of Wine and head winemaker for Columbia Winery. Lake and Upchurch visited the old vineyard and discovered the mature Cabernet Sauvignon vines between other varieties such as Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Riesling.
While the vineyard was selling primarily to Chateau Ste. Michelle at the time, the winemakers had no plans to feature Harrison Hill grapes in their wines and agreed to let DeLille take it over. The team removed everything except the acre of 1962 Cabernet Sauvignon and replanted Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and additional Cabernet vines.
Harrison Hill Vineyard is home to the second oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Washington State, used primarily in DeLille’s single-vineyard red blend, aptly named Harrison Hill. The blend shows distinctiveness and elegance and is complex, expressive, and exhibits “somewhereness”. "At DeLille, we believe terroir is a special thing. To have terroir, you have to stand out. We often call it 'somewhereness' which many of our wines tend to have," remarked Chris Upchurch, Founding Winemaker of DeLille.
Today, owner Steve Newhouse makes certain the yields on the vineyard are some of the lowest in the state. In an interview, Upchurch told Great Northwest Wine, “One thing all good winemakers have in common is we all seek old vines. As far as old vines are concerned, the yields are lower, and it also means they mature and ripen slower, which means the flavors catch up before the sugars get too high.”
David Lake speaks at a gathering in DeLille’s early days. Credit: DeLille Cellars
The surge in Washington wineries can largely be credited to the research of Walter J. Clore, commonly referred to as the “Father of Washington Wine”. Clore’s research around grape growing in Washington state was essential in defining the area as a premier growing region and proving the ability to compete with California wines. In 1969, Washington legislature prohibiting the widespread growing of fine vinifera grapes was repealed, providing access to quality grapes at lower prices.
With a solid foundation, the Washington wine industry exploded in the late 1970s and 1980s. Washington families were planting more vineyards while demand skyrocketed for local Chardonnay and Merlot. A shift in consumer trends brought about the “Merlot Craze” of the 1990s. In 2000, there were approximately 74 wineries in Washington State and by 2010, that number had tripled.
Founded in 1992 by Chris Upchurch, Jay A. Soloff, and father and son Greg and Charles Lill, DeLille Cellars pioneered some of the first Bordeaux-style blends in Washington state. Upchurch and Soloff had met in 1974 and dreamed of entering the wine business together. In May of 1992, Greg and Charles Lill were trying to decide on a use for their 10-acre farm in Woodinville. Soloff met Lill through the Rotary Club and suggested a winery. Although Chateau Lill is no longer used for DeLille Cellars production and the winery is now located at The Old Redhook Brewery just down the road in Woodinville, it remains a fundamental and significant piece in the winery’s history.
Noted in The Wine Project, Upchurch insisted “All I want is to make a top-quality wine. I have experience in tasting expensive, great wines. When we tasted our first wines against some of the best wines in Bordeaux, we blew them out of the water. We had, then, a model of wine that we were trying to make. It is a Medoc style of wine, I think reminiscent of St. Julien.”
Director of Winemaking and Viticulture Jason Gorski now leads DeLille’s winemaking team in blending grapes sourced from Washington’s leading Grand Cru vineyards, including Ciel du Cheval, Grand Ciel, Upchurch, Red Willow, Sagemoor, Klipsun, Boushey, and Harrison Hill.
In an interview with Owen Bargreen, Jason Gorski reflects on his first winemaking opportunities in Washington. “It is not only the quality of the wine [as] it is making the connection with the people that drink it. A lot of the people that came there year after year made it like a family experience. I try to translate that at DeLille. The interaction that I have with people is significant and I want them to feel like there is a family experience here.”
Today, DeLille has crafted over 200 wines with successive vintage ratings of 90+, totaling over 700 individual 90+ scores from leading critics. DeLille Cellars holds the coveted position in the 'Top 100' Guides of Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast for both red and white wine (D2, Signature Syrah, Chaleur Blanc), as well as being honored as a Wine & Spirits Top 100 Winery (2017-2020) and Wine Enthusiast Wine Star - Top Five American Wineries.
DeLille was recently named the 2021 Washington Wine MVP (Most Valuable Producer) by Seattle Wine Awards.
How is Washington, a state typically known for moody skies and steady drizzle, a leading producer of wine? While this isn’t a surprise for locals, those residing outside Washington are surprised to hear the majority of the state (east of the Cascades) receives a mere eight inches of rainfall each year. Irrigation from the Columbia, Yakima, Snake, and Walla Walla rivers combat the lack of moisture, creating an ideal environment for premier wine grapes.
The diurnal shift (fluctuation between day and night temperatures) ensures wine grapes are balanced between ripe sugars and crisp acidity. Washington State is known to have some of the most dramatic fluctuations of any wine region in the world, with up to 40-degree difference between day and night temperatures.
Today, Washington produces 64% red grapes and 34% white. Top varietals include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. The state also produces fine white varietals such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc.
A Tribute to the Past and Future of Washington Wine
In an interview with Paul Zitarelli for Seattle Magazine, DeLille was asked to choose two wines to represent the past and two to represent the future. Although the older wines are not for sale, they reveal a glimpse into Washington’s rich history.
The Past: 2001 Chaleur Blanc
“DeLille helped to pioneer not only Bordeaux-style reds in Washington, but also dry Bordeaux-style whites, which are blends of Semillon (in this case, 43 percent) and Sauvignon Blanc (57 percent). This pours into the glass deep gold, befitting its age, and offers a lovely nose of fig, date, and golden plum fruit, complemented by savory maturing notes of hay and straw. Still very much alive, with a bright vein of acidity balancing rich, creamy fruit. Truly an outrageous, eye-opening showing for a white wine 16 years past vintage.”
The Past: 1998 Chaleur Estate Estate
“A fine example of DeLille’s longtime focus on Red Mountain fruit, which comprises 72 percent of this wine, this Chaleur Estate is a blend of 66 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 24 percent Merlot and 10 percent Cabernet Franc. It offers a beautiful mature nose: a mix of fresh and dried red fruits, earthy brewed coffee and a savory kick of soy sauce. The texture is rich and supple, any rough edges long ago sanded down by the power of bottle age.”
The Future: 2014 D2
“D2 is DeLille’s highest production wine and one of its finest. For the 2014, the blend is 58 percent Merlot, 36 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 percent Cabernet Franc and 1 percent Petit Verdot. It comes from more than a dozen vineyards scattered across Washington, including luminaries such as Red Willow, Klipsun, Boushey, Harrison Hill and DeLille’s own estate site, Grand Ciel. Deep, intense black fruits (blackberries, black cherries) are complemented by threads of smoke, earth and cedar, all in an openly delicious, pleasurable package. Pairs with: Seared duck breast, medium rare, with a cherry gastrique.”
The Future: 2014 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon
“Four Flags is a newer wine for DeLille that began its life as a wine-club-only wine. It is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and comes from four vineyards on Red Mountain: Grand Ciel (42 %), Upchurch (31%), Ciel du Cheval (19%) and Klipsun (8%). Aged for 20 months in French oak (75 percent new), this wine shows the open power and toothsome chew of good Red Mountain Cabernet, with robust tannins framing a core of black plum, cassis, and star anise. Pairs with: A garlic-studded standing prime rib roast.”
The Future of Washington Wine
Washington’s wine industry has grown exponentially in the last several decades and has no plans to stop. Washington wine is naturally sustainable - cold winters and hot, dry summers deter pests and offer ideal growing conditions. A strong commitment to research from the Washington State Wine Commission and partner programs at Washington State University ensures a bright and sustainable future for the industry.
DeLille Cellars is honored to be a founding contributor, alongside Chateau Ste. Michelle and Woodinville Wine Country, to create an endowment (The Woodinville Wine Country Diversity Scholarship) through the Washington State University Viticulture & Enology Program. “This is a small but important step to creating more inclusivity and diversity within our wine community,” said Tom Dugan, CEO of DeLille Cellars. “WSU has a world-class viticulture and enology program, and we’re honored to partner with Chateau Ste. Michelle and Woodinville Wine Country in creating this scholarship. It reflects the great collaboration and community of Washington wine.”
DeLille established its new headquarters at the Old Redhook Brewery in 2019, moving production in January of 2019, and building a three-story tasting room at the site which opened in December of 2019. In June, DeLille opened a wine-centric restaurant, The Lounge at DeLille Cellars, in the old brewery pub location. DeLille will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2022 and is looking forward to a bright future for Washington wine
DeLille Cellars’ passion lies in showcasing the powerful, concentrated, and structured fruit of Washington state through the European art of blending. Director of Winemaking and Viticulture Jason Gorski stated, “there’s a lot of people that touch the vine and touch the grape long before it gets here in the winery and I want to honor that legacy, passion, and hard work”.
Director of Winemaking and Viticulture Jason Gorski and CEO Tom Dugan in front of the iconic roofline at the Old Redhook Brewery, the new home of DeLille Cellars.
From Two Grand Crus to Washington State – Crafting the Most Acclaimed White Bordeaux-Style Blend in America
For many years, Chaleur Blanc has been a favorite among wine enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and collectors. The white Bordeaux-style blend is a world-class Washington wine that showcases traditional French blending techniques with the unique terroir of Washington state. Wine critic Stephen Tanzer exclaimed, “it is no exaggeration to compare this Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon blend to the finest white Bordeaux bottlings made in oak”. He described the blend as an “utterly distinctive wine for Washington in terms of its texture, purity, complexity, savory character and ageability”.
Since its first vintage in 1995, Chaleur Blanc was served at the White House over three administrations and has become one of DeLille’s most beloved and influential blends.
Pioneering Washington State’s First White Bordeaux-style Blend
DeLille Cellars was founded in 1992 and pioneered two red Bordeaux-style blends, Chaleur Estate and D2. These wines were produced with a focus on Red Mountain and showcasing the premier fruit of acclaimed vineyards in the Columbia Valley. In 1994, DeLille crafted another Bordeaux blend, Harrison Hill, from a historic vineyard located in the Snipes Mountain AVA, a sub-appellation of Yakima Valley, which itself is a sub-appellation of the larger Columbia Valley.
With three red blends gaining international notoriety from key critics, including Robert Parker Jr., the winery sought its next feat of French inspiration via white wine. California Chardonnay was already saturating the market, and Chris Upchurch, Founding Winemaker at DeLille, knew the winery had a calling to produce the first white Bordeaux-style blend in Washington State.
Seeking Inspiration from the Source: A Journey to Bordeaux
Chris Upchurch had previously interned with David Lake, Master of Wine at Columbia Winery in Woodinville, Washington. Lake served as DeLille’s consultant in the winery’s formative years and made remarkable connections at some of Washington’s most renowned vineyards, including Ciel du Cheval, Red Willow, and Harrison Hill.
In 1995, Lake contacted prominent old-world wineries Château Haut-Brion and Château Margaux for Chris Upchurch and Founding Partner Jay A. Soloff to visit, creating a foundation for one of DeLille’s most esteemed wines to come to fruition. Jay also had many relationships in Bordeaux from his prior years as a wine broker.
With a notepad and a list of contacts in France, Chris and Jay set off on a pilgrimage to find DeLille Cellar’s next wine: the first white Bordeaux-style blend to be produced in Washington State.
First, Chris and Jay visited Château Bellegrave in Pauillac. They sought the expertise of a small Entre-deux-Mers wine producer who revealed the basics of crafting white Bordeauxs. The founders of DeLille were told, “cold soak, don’t ferment on the solids.” Here they learned a secret to the Bordeaux-Blanc recipe which this small winemaker called interfacing. The only way to perfectly interface is to cold soak the grapes and then ferment them in a barrel. After racking off solids into barrels, the wine barrel ferments, allowing for a creamy, refined wine.
Chris Upchurch with a Bordeaux Barrel Maker
The following days were filled with adventures that most winemakers can only dream of. Chris and Jay spent the day with Jean Philippe Delmas at Château Haut-Brion, one of the most famous wineries in the world. It is the only Bordeaux winery with Grand Cru classification for a white blend, crafted before 1855 when the classification was established.
Delmas confirmed everything Chris and Jay had learned so far on their journey. The renowned Bordeaux winemaker walked the DeLille founders through winemaking techniques of Bordeaux whites and explained how the conditions of climates such as Bordeaux, France, and the Columbia Valley in Washington State favor Sauvignon and Sémillon grapes. Cooler, dry vintages tend to pick up characteristics from gravelly clay soils, while still maintaining crisp “nectarine-like” qualities of the Sauvignon and honeysuckle and creme brulée of Sémillon.
Chris and Jay then traveled to Château Margaux where they met with Paul Pontellier, a prominent winemaker in the region. Here, they also learned of Bordeaux white techniques and tasted reds that were in the process of barrel aging.
Chris Upchurch with Paul Pontallier at Château Margaux
While visiting the chateau, the winemakers tasted Château Margaux Pavillon Blanc, a blend that received the winery’s “deuxieme,” or second wine classification, because production began after the 1855 classification. They also visited Domaine de Chevalier and Chateau Oliver.
Creating DeLille’s Fourth Wine: Chaleur Blanc
Upon returning to Washington State, Jay and Chris immediately ordered a proper winemaking tank. Lake helped them source an old milk tank, and then the winemakers began the process of “interfacing”, with cold soaking followed by barrel fermentation. Jay told Chris, “If it’s good enough for Château Haut-Brion, it’s good enough for DeLille.” Jay A. Soloff recalls, “We were that innocent to believe that we could make a world-class white Bordeaux-style blend in Washington”.
Chaleur Estate Blanc, now renamed Chaleur Blanc, is a product of the time Delmas and Pontellier spent with two young winemakers from Washington State. The esteemed wine lends its name from the shortened version of “chaleureux,” meaning warm and hearty, which is how co-founder Greg Lill described the grounds that would soon become DeLille Cellars’ winery and offices. In 2019, DeLille Cellars moved to the Old Redhook Brewery in the Hollywood District of Woodinville.
Crafting a white Bordeaux-style blend was unheard of in Washington State until 1995 when the first vintage of Chaleur Blanc was released. The wine is fermented sur-lie on the spent lees and also battonage, imparting a memorable “crème brulee” finish”. The lees are also stirred in the barrel each week. Chaleur Blanc is both a remarkable accomplishment to new world Bordeaux-style blends and Washington State wine, the second-largest wine-producing state in the US.
DeLille Cellars, Woodinville’s third oldest winery, has opened a new wine-centric dining experience at the Old Redhook Brewery in Woodinville. Located adjacent to DeLille’s winery and tasting room, The Lounge at DeLille Cellars is a full-service restaurant and offers glass pours, comparative tastings, and a unique food menu crafted by Executive Chef Michael C. Toni.
In addition to DeLille wines, guests at The Lounge can experience wines that have inspired or are an alternative take on the winery’s own craft, as well as a host of local beers and other beverages curated by the DeLille Cellars winemaking team. The house-crafted menu ranges from light bites for sharing to salads, sandwiches and entrées such as steak frites and fresh pasta made daily. The Deck at DeLille Cellars is a seasonal outdoor experience on the back patio, perfect for al fresco dining.
The Restaurant Menu
The menu is directed by Executive Chef Michael C. Toni, who has worked with DeLille for nearly two decades catering private events and wine release dinners through his catering company A Platinum Event, as well as curating food and wine pairings at DeLille’s tasting room. Most recently, Chef Toni has led the Woodinville winery's “Date Night” meals, a weekly takeout dinner and wine experience that was a huge success since the first COVID-related closures in March of 2020.
"Over 25 years ago, I started my career in California restaurants at a time that ‘New American Cuisine’ was thriving,” said Executive Chef Toni. “I am excited to come full circle after building relationships and friendships in this amazing community through A Platinum Event Catering. I look forward to continuing the legacy of this space with DeLille Cellars, who has been by my side from day one, by providing the same style of food that I began my career with, but also incorporating all that working in Woodinville Wine Country has taught me."
"Great wine belongs with great food, and we’re excited to partner with our long-time friend and chef, Michael Toni. After nearly 20 years working together perfecting pairings for wine dinners and release events, we’re thrilled to open a restaurant to offer our customers some magical food and wine experiences and create a hub at the Old Redhook Brewery,” said CEO Tom Dugan.
With the move of its winery and remodel of the former brewery, DeLille established its headquarters at the Woodinville Old Redhook Brewery in 2019. The expansion into the restaurant comes a year and a half after DeLille opened its new three-story tasting room at the site, and marks nearly three decades since the winery’s founding in 1992 (DeLille will celebrate its 30th harvest this fall). Beyond indoor dining and a seasonal patio experience, The Lounge at DeLille Cellars also offers two rooms for smaller private dining experiences. DeLille is also currently renovating the upstairs event space that can hold up to 200 guests for receptions.
The former Forecaster’s Public House has a long history in Woodinville as a gathering spot since 1994 when the Redhook facility first opened. DeLille Cellars looks forward to continuing the legacy of the Old Redhook Brewery as a hub of great food, libations, and memories for the community.
The Lounge is currently open Wednesdays through Sundays, starting at 3 PM weekdays and 2 PM weekends. DeLille will be looking to extend the hours through the summer. Reservations are available and walk-ins are also accepted with availability.
About DeLille Cellars
DeLille Cellars is the third oldest operating winery in Woodinville, WA, founded in 1992. Known for pioneering Bordeaux-style blends from Washington State, the winery has maintained a tradition of quality and excellence with over 700 individual 90+ ratings from leading publications. DeLille Cellars focuses on the Red Mountain AVA and sources grapes from Washington's most acclaimed vineyards. The winery is recognized by notable wine critics and influencers, including Robert Parker, as one of the top producers in the state.
In his recent report on Washington State wines, wine critic Jeb Dunnick praises DeLille Cellars’ Bordeaux-style and Rhone-style blends sourced from the Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Snipes Mountain and Columbia Valley AVAs.
“DeLille can always be counted on to deliver classic, impeccably made wines, and they have done exceptionally well in 2018. They also pull from multiple regions, so it’s such a great education tasting through these wines when trying to understand a vintage. Their Red Mountain releases seem to be the stars of the show in 2018, but there are no dogs in this lineup. The icing on the cake is that they’re generally made in decent quantities, especially their D2 release, which is a year-in, year-out terrific Bordeaux blend.” - Jeb Dunnuck
2019 Chaluer Blanc: 94 points
Columbia Valley AVA
"One of the best Bordeaux Blanc blends coming out of Washington, the 2019 Chaleur Blanc checks in as 69% Sauvignon Blanc and 31% Semillon that was barrel fermented and aged in 60% new oak. Honeyed grapefruit, white flowers, sappy, green herbs, and a kiss of minerality all define the bouquet, and this beauty is medium-bodied, with a beautifully balanced, concentrated mouthfeel and a great finish. It ranks with the top examples of this cuvée I've tasted."
2019 Roussanne: 91 points
Red Mountain AVA
"This estate made a handful of terrific whites. Their 2019 Roussanne (100% Roussanne) reveals a light gold hue to go with pretty stone fruits, melon, and lemon curd-like aromas and flavors. It's medium-bodied on the palate, with a bright, nicely textured mouthfeel and a classic, dry finish that has some toasty, nutty nuances. This bottle had some trapped CO2, so don't be afraid to give bottles a decant if drinking any time soon. It's going to have a decade of longevity."
2018 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon: 96+ points
Red Mountain AVA
"All Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (78% new French oak), the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Four Flags showed brilliantly, offering a Pauillac-like nose of smoky red and blue fruits, lead pencil, and tobacco. Medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, and concentrated, it has lots of velvety tannins, a stacked mid-palate, and a great finish. It ranks with the top Cabernets from the appellation and is a stunning wine. Drink bottles over the coming 20-25 years."
2018 Lot 3 Cabernet Sauvignon: 93+ Points
Red Mountain AVA
"Coming all from the Klipsun Vineyard on Red Mountain and brought up in 100% new French oak, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 3 boasts a dense purple hue as well as red and black plum fruits intermixed with singed cedar, toast, chocolate, and lead pencil-like aromas and flavors. With medium to full body, a round, nicely textured mouthfeel, and classic Red Mountain savoriness and minerality, it will benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and keep for 15 years or more."
2018 Shaw Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon: 96 points
Red Mountain AVA
"Another 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Shaw Vineyard reveals a deep purple hue to go with a smoky, meaty, herbal style carrying beautiful black and blue fruits, medium to full body, ripe, building tannins, and a great finish. More chocolate and earthy notes emerge with time in the glass. This deep, layered, impressive Cabernet Sauvignon has some up-front appeal today yet will benefit from just short-term cellaring and keep for 20 years or more."
2018 Chaleur Estate: 94+ points
Red Mountain AVA
"One of the flagships from this reference point estate, the 2018 Chaleur Estate checks in as 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot. Solid notes of red and black currants, tobacco, dried flowers, and lead pencil define the bouquet, and it's medium to full-bodied, with a concentrated, balanced texture, building yet ripe tannins, and a great finish. As with all of these 2018s, it's not a blockbuster, but it has a wonderful complexity as well as elegance."
2018 D2: 91 points
Columbia Valley AVA
"Named after the famed D2 road that runs from Bordeaux up through the Médoc, the 2018 D2 checks in as 67% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It has a classy, medium-bodied style offering fine, elegant tannins, a balanced, charming texture, and classic notes of currants, violets, lead pencil, and tobacco. Reminding me of a top Cru Bourgeois, it should keep for a decade."
2018 Doyenne: 93 points
Columbia Valley AVA
"A blend of 61% Syrah and 39% Cabernet Sauvignon (this is the estate’s take on a Provence Red), the 2018 Doyenne has beautiful blackberry and blueberry fruits as well as medium to full-bodied richness, a plush, layered, expansive texture, ripe tannins, and classy spicy, peppery aromas and flavors. It's another beauty from this team to enjoy over the coming 7-8 years."
2018 Harrison Hill: 95 points
Snipes Mountain AVA
"The 2018 Harrison Hill is a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Franc all from Snipes Mountain, located west of Red Mountain. Brought up in 100% new French oak, it's never the deepest colored Cabernet out there, but it has an almost opaque hue as well as beautiful red and black currant fruits intermixed with lots of floral, cedar, and leafy herb nuances. I always love the elegance and complexity of this cuvée, and the 2018 has those qualities in spades. More medium-bodied, beautifully balanced, and lengthy, it will benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and keep for 20 years or more."
2018 Le Colosse: 94 points
Yakima Valley AVA
"The Merlot-heavy 2018 Le Colosse is 88% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, aged 20 months in 78% new French oak. Saint-Emilion-like notes of black cherries, currants, lead pencil, leafy herbs, and damp earth give way to a medium to full-bodied, beautifully polished, elegant wine with loads to love. It should keep for 10-12 years, easily."
2018 Minuit: 94 points
Yakima Valley AVA
"The 2018 Minuit comes from the Yakima Valley and is 70% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon brought up in 50% new French oak. This inky-hued effort has a great nose of ripe black and blue fruits as well as liquid violets, charred earth, and graphite. Beautifully textured and full-bodied, with an expansive yet still elegant, seamless texture, this stunning Malbec is up with the finest expressions of the grape from Washington.
2018 Red Willow Blend: 95 points
Yakima Valley AVA
"A Cabernet Franc-dominated wine, the 2018 Red Willow Blend checks in as 57% Cabernet Franc, 26% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc, all brought up in 36% new French oak. It's another gorgeous 2018 from this team revealing incredible purity and elegance as well as richness. Blue fruits, forest floor, flowers, and graphite are just some of the nuances and it's medium to full-bodied, with a seamless, elegant texture and a slightly bloody, salty character on the finish that keeps you coming back to the glass. It's an awesome Cabernet Franc."
2018 Signature Syrah: 93 points
Yakima Valley AVA
"Including 2% Viognier, the 2018 Syrah Signature offers a vivid purple hue to go with rock star notes of cassis and blackberry fruits intermixed with smoked earth, graphite, peppered game, and background oak. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and beautifully balanced, it has enough background oak (and a kiss of char) to warrant 2-3 years of bottle age, and it should easily keep for a decade. I love its purity of this classic Syrah."
2017 Grand Ciel Cabernet Sauvignon: 96+ points
Red Mountain AVA
"The top Cabernet from Red Mountain, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Ciel comes from the Grand Ciel Vineyard and spent 20 months in new French oak. Blue fruits, graphite, leafy tobacco, lead pencil, and a kiss of meaty, iron-like notes give way to a medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced Cabernet with ultra-fine yet building tannins, a round, layered mouthfeel, plenty of mid-palate depth, and a great finish. This classic, flawlessly balanced Red Mountain Cabernet will benefit from 2-4 years (or more) of bottle age and keep for three decades. It's one of those wines that builds with time in the glass."
2017 Grand Ciel Syrah: 96+ points
Red Mountain AVA
"All Syrah from Red Mountain, brought up in 15% new French oak, the 2017 Syrah Grand Ciel Vineyard sports an inky purple hue to go with ripe, powerful notes of black and blue fruits, ground pepper, violets, and smoked game. Gorgeous on the palate, with a Hermitage-like class in its tannins, it's flawlessly balanced, has a pure, precise texture, and a great finish. It's a head-turning good Syrah to enjoy over the coming 10-15 years."
Shop Bordeaux-Style Washington Wine
DeLille Cellars is a boutique artisan winery that has been producing Red Mountain wines since 2000. The winery is known for pioneering Bordeaux-style blends from Washington State and has maintained a tradition of quality and excellence with over 200 wines rated 90+ from leading publications. Visit our Woodinville winery or shop Washington wine online.
On the 22nd of March, 2021, the DeLille winemaking team assembled to taste and evaluate a considerable number of wines from past vintages, with the primary goal of updating the aging chart. The obviously wonderful side effect, of course, is that we had the opportunity to taste some absolutely delicious older wines! The challenge for us as winemakers is to constantly improve, and that evolution is impossible without understanding the foundation of our style, and how that style has subtlety changed over time to keep pace with consistent improvement in the vineyard, with fine tuning in the cellar.
The actual tasting process involved several vertical tasting flights of several vintages of individual wines. The purpose of a vertical tasting is to isolate vintage variation as the most significant variable, and to better understand the evolution of the wines as they age in bottle. Although vertical flights can be tasted youngest to oldest, we elected to taste the older wines first, and started with Rhone varietals; the daunting number of wines on the table made it apparent that palate fatigue from accumulating tannin would come into play.
All the selected wines were turned upright several days prior to the tasting to let them settle and stored in one of our barrel rooms to ensure the temperature of each wine was consistent. Despite the volume of bottles and significant age, we only had a single bottle that suffered from a cork fault (an older vintage, the cork had lost its seal at some point). We pulled two bottles of each wine in preparation, so we were still able to evaluate the wine.
Each bottle was opened and immediately poured to eliminate the variable of exposure to oxygen. We had a Durand wine opener on hand in case we ran into a particularly delicate closure, but an Ah So proved to be capable enough for each bottle.
In terms of the evaluation of the individual wines, we all took copious notes on each wine within the vertical, and then openly debated the status of each wine on its individual aging trajectory. When a wine tastes best on this trajectory is subject to the opinion of every taster. For the sake of our aging chart, we use the following definitions:
HOLD wines exhibited only primary aromas and flavors - delicious to drink now, but certain to improve for some time.
DRINK/HOLD wines exhibited some secondary aromas and flavors associated with aging - time in the bottle has developed and improved the wines beyond their infancy, and further aging will continue to benefit the wine.
DRINK wines exhibited some tertiary aromas and flavors - drinking beautifully, and likely to continue to do so for several years, but likely at their very peak of enjoyment.
MATURE wines showed their age - individual bottles may be drinking well, but certainly should be consumed, as further aging will not improve their quality.
DeLILLE CELLARS TO OPEN WINE LOUNGE AT
FORMER REDHOOK RESTAURANT SITE
Caption: Tom Dugan, CEO of DeLille Cellars, stands in the former Wheelhouse restaurant (previously Redhook’s Forecaster’s Public House) currently being remodeled for a new wine and food experience at DeLille Cellars in Woodinville (credit: DeLille Cellars)
WOODINVILLE, WA (March 3, 2021) – DeLille Cellars, Woodinville’s third oldest winery, has announced that it is expanding at the Old Redhook Brewery in Woodinville. DeLille will be launching a new wine and food experience at the former Wheelhouse restaurant (originally Redhook's Forecaster's Public House). Located adjacent to DeLille’s winery and tasting room, The Lounge at DeLille Cellars will offer unique glass pours, flights, food and wine pairings, and spaces for private dining and small events. Come summer, the former patio will open as The Deck with an expanded menu. A remodel is underway, with DeLille aiming to have the space open in late spring or early summer.
The menu and food will be directed by Executive Chef Michael C. Toni, who has worked with DeLille for nearly two decades catering private events and wine release dinners, as well as curating food and wine pairings at DeLille’s tasting room. Most recently, Chef Toni has been in charge of DeLille’s “Date Night” meals, a weekly takeout dinner and wine experience that has been a huge success since the first COVID-related closures in March of 2020.
Chef Michael C. Toni, Executive Chef for The Lounge at DeLille Cellars (credit: A Platinum Event)
The new DeLille Cellars Tasting Room at Old Redhook Brewery, located next door to the new wine lounge. (credit: DeLille Cellars)
“We’re excited to offer our customers some different and unique wine and food experiences,” said DeLille Cellars CEO Tom Dugan. “As someone who took the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River Trails out to Redhook years ago, we’re especially excited to launch an outdoor space when the weather cooperates, even more so with the slated Eastrail project that will bring more people by foot and bike to Woodinville,” added Dugan.
“The focus of our tasting room has always been about education and showcasing the world-class quality of Washington wine. The Lounge allows us to offer more casual experiences, both by-the-glass and into the evening, that our wonderful customers have been looking for,” added Deb Stadelman, DeLille’s Director of Retail Operations.
With the move of its winery and remodel of the former brewery, DeLille established its headquarters at the Old Redhook Brewery in 2019. The expansion into the restaurant comes just over a year after DeLille opened its brand new three-story tasting room at the site, and marks nearly three decades since the winery’s founding in 1992 (DeLille will celebrate its 30th harvest this fall).
The former Forecaster’s Public House has a long history in Woodinville as a gathering spot since 1994 when the Redhook facility first opened. Sparkman Cellars also relocated to the Old Redhook Brewery, with winemaking activities and a new tasting room in Redhook’s former bottling facility.
About DeLille Cellars
Bordeaux Inspired – Distinctly Washington – Uniquely DeLille
DeLille Cellars is the third oldest operating winery in Woodinville, WA, founded in 1992. Known for pioneering Bordeaux-style blends from Washington State, the winery has maintained a tradition of quality and excellence with over 700 individual 90+ ratings from leading publications. DeLille Cellars focuses on the Red Mountain AVA and sources grapes from Washington's most acclaimed vineyards. The winery is recognized by notable wine critics and influencers, including Robert Parker, as one of the top producers in the state. To learn more about DeLille Cellars, visit www.delillecellars.com.
Director of Marketing & Events
DeLille Cellars is honored to be a founding donor of the Woodinville Wine Country Diversity Scholarship, supporting the Washington State University
School of Viticulture and Enology
With the goal of elevating minority voices and talent in the winemaking industry, Woodinville Wine Country has partnered with Chateau Ste. Michelle and DeLille Cellars to create an endowment through the Washington State University Viticulture & Enology Program. The Woodinville Wine Country Diversity scholarship will support minority and under-represented students within the program who demonstrate a passion for and dedication to the winegrowing and winemaking craft, as well as a love of higher learning and continued wine education.
“We are very excited about our new Viticulture & Enology major, and this scholarship will allow us to bring in students from all backgrounds to study with us and to join the wine industry,” said Dr. Thomas Henick-Kling, Director, Viticulture & Enology program.
“This endowment marks a small step in an ongoing effort to further the mission for greater inclusivity and diversity throughout our wine industry and community,” said Amber Schmitt, Marketing Director, Woodinville Wine Country. “We are excited that two of Woodinville’s leading wineries have joined in our commitment to support diversity in Washington state.”
Community members who would like to make a donation to grow the endowment fund for the Woodinville Wine Country Diversity Scholarship Fund can DONATE here.
“We are proud to be a founding contributor to the Woodinville Wine Country Diversity Scholarship” David Dearie, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates commented. “Fostering a diverse pool of workforce talent is vital to the long-term success of the Washington wine sector.
“This is a small but important step to creating more inclusivity and diversity within our wine community,” said Tom Dugan, CEO of DeLille Cellars. “WSU has a world class viticulture and enology program, and we’re honored to partner with Chateau Ste. Michelle and Woodinville Wine Country in creating this scholarship. It reflects the great collaboration and community of Washington wine.”
“WSU’s wine science program is an innovative part of our land grant university, and this scholarship gives us the opportunity to continue building diversity within our college, and the Washington wine community,” said André-Denis Wright, Dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.
About Woodinville Wine Country Association
Woodinville Wine Country Association is a group of vintners and affiliates who represents the growing presence of the Washington state wine industry in the Greater Woodinville area. The association’s mission is to create a world-class wine destination, and a supportive and profitable environment for Washington vintners and affiliates.
About Chateau Ste. Michelle
Founded in 1934, Chateau Ste. Michelle pioneered vinifera grape growing in Washington State and has been producing classic European varietal wines under the Ste. Michelle label since 1967. The winery combines an ongoing dedication to research with a commitment to classic winemaking traditions. The winery owns 3,900 acres of vineyards in the Columbia Valley of Eastern Washington, including Canoe Ridge Estate and Cold Creek, which are LIVE and Salmon Safe certified. Chateau Ste. Michelle enjoys winemaking partnerships with some of the world’s most distinguished vintners. Col Solare is an alliance with Tuscany’s Piero Antinori, Eroica Riesling is a partnership with the Mosel’s Ernst Loosen and Tenet is a collaboration with Michel Gassier and Philippe Cambie of France.
About DeLille Cellars
Bordeaux Inspired – Distinctly Washington – Uniquely DeLille
DeLille Cellars is the third oldest operating winery in Woodinville, WA, founded in 1992. Known for pioneering Bordeaux-style blends from Washington State, the winery has maintained a tradition of quality and excellence with over 700 individual 90+ ratings from leading international critics. DeLille Cellars focuses on the Red Mountain AVA and sources grapes from Washington’s most acclaimed vineyards. The winery is recognized by notable wine critics and influencers, including Robert Parker, as one of the top producers in the state. In 2019, DeLille Cellars moved all operations to the old Redhook Brewery in Woodinville. To learn more about DeLille Cellars, visit www.delillecellars.com.
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