DeLille Cellars Blog
D2 takes its name from the grand route du vin, or great wine road that travels through the historic chateau region of Bordeaux, France. Always leading with Merlot, D2 is a traditional Bordeaux-style blend sourced from over a dozen of Washington's most prestigious vineyards.
Since 1992, D2 has become a beloved blend for wine enthusiasts across the nation. In 2020, D2 captured national attention when named a Wine Spectator Top 100 Wine.
2009 D2 - 92 pts
"This 2009 ’D2’ blends 55% Merlot with 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and the remainder Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Nutty undertones combine with macerated red cherry and tobacco leaf on the nose. The palate is very fresh and lithe with a polished texture and a light dusting of salinity. This reveals plenty of mouth-watering acidity with pretty red fruits. Considering the warmth of the vintage this has aged really well, as this has at least another five years to go."
Drink 2021 - 2027
2010 D2 - 90 pts
"The 2010 ‘D2’ is a beautiful blend that exactly mirrors the 2009 version with 55% Merlot with 34% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Herbal undertones dominate the nose with fresh sage and thyme tones alongside black raspberry compote. The mouthfeel is soft and approachable with medium-bodied red cherry and red raspberry flavors alongside copious herbs and firm tannins on the palate. This is best consumed over the next few years."
Drink 2021 - 2024
2011 D2 - 91 pts
"A blend of 56% Merlot with the remainder 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and small parts Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, this is the first vintage utilizing Upchurch Vineyard fruit in this wine. The sense of balance here is really good with pretty red fruits that combine with salty loam soils, wild mushroom and sagebrush tones on the palate. Firm tannins hold things brilliantly in place. While great to consume now, this easily has another five years to go."
Drink 2021 - 2028
2012 D2 - 93 pts
"The 2012 DeLille Cellars ‘D2’ blends 50% Merlot with 42% Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller parts Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This is the first vintage utilizing Discovery Vineyard fruit. Ripe red cherry notes alongside underbrush and scorched earthy tones all fill the nose. There are many moving pieces aromatically. This is very seamless upon entry, finishing very long. The fruit quality here is considerably more pretty than the 2009-2011 wines, as this is extremely stable wine that has at least another decade to go."
Drink 2021 - 2031
2013 D2 - 93 pts
"The 2013 ‘D2’ Red Wine is a compelling blend of 57% Merlot with 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. This shows considerably more non-fruit aromas with tar and tobacco leaf, as well as mocha tones that combine with rich dark fruit tones. Dense and heady with good viscosity and tension, this dark-fruit driven wine is showing beautifully right now and has another decade of life in front of it. This is the most hedonistic of the tasting from 2009-2013."
Drink 2021 - 2031
2014 D2 - 93 pts
"The 2014 blends 58% Merlot with 36% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This shows a gorgeous bouquet with dried herbs alongside tar, blackberry compote and shades of espresso bean. The palate is fresh and viscous with a good combination of black fruits and herbal undertones with freshly tilled soils and dark chocolate shavings. Finishing long, this is very youthful now and has at least another decade to go in the cellar."
Drink 2021 - 2033
2015 D2 - 91 pts
"A blend of 58% Merlot with 35% Cabernet Sauvignon with 6% Cabernet Franc and a splash of Petit Verdot. This was the last vintage they utilized Stillwater Creek Merlot. This is a touch leaner and more linear than vintages 2012-14. Herbal undertones combine with bright Bing cherry, salty soils and shades of scorched earth on the palate. Enjoy over the next five years."
Drink 2021 - 2026
2016 D2 - 93 pts
"This 2016 vintage utilizes 59% Merlot with 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and small parts Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This shows heady aromatics of espresso bean, tilled soils and black currants that all take shape in the glass. The palate is plush with a soft mouthfeel and great feeling of length. Very black fruit driven, shades of creosote and coffee grounds with sagebrush all come together seamlessly with velvety tannins holding things in place. Gorgeous to consume now, this is really nicely balance stuff that has at least another twelve years in front of it."
Drink 2021 - 2033
2017 D2 - 92 pts
"Really good already, the 2017 ‘D2’ red wine shows the highest percentage of Merlot that they have done to this point (66%). The nose shows very pretty high tones from the Merlot with red florals with cocoa powder and bright red fruits. The palate shows similarly to the nose with similar notes alongside brisk acidity and a soft mouthfeel with lighter refined tannins. The earthy components work well, as this beautiful wine still has a long way to go in the cellar."
Drink 2021 - 2033
2018 D2 - 93 pts
"The highest percentage of Merlot in this tasting (67%), the 2018 ‘D2’ is showing beautifully now at the three year mark. This is gorgeous wine even to consume right now with its gorgeous core of dark fruits with bitter chocolate and espresso grounds notes. Herbal undertones add to the enjoyment, as this shows beautiful length, verve and weight. This will easily cellar for twelve years."
Drink 2021 - 2033
2019 D2 - 91 pts
"The 2019 ‘D2’ is a blend of 60% Merlot with smaller portions Cabernet Sauvignon (34%), Cabernet Franc (4%) and Petit Verdot (2%). Sagebrush with milk chocolate and wild blackberry tones all fill the nose. This is done in the fresher style with medium-bodied red currant and red cherry flavors alongside tobacco leaf, and leather on the palate.The sense of balance here is really good. Enjoy this beautiful wine over the next decade."
Drink 2021 - 2031
Shop DeLille Cellars D2
Looking to sip and savor your own bottle of D2? Visit our Woodinville winery, tasting room, and Lounge restaurant in Woodinville, Washington or shop our wine online. Read the full review of the D2 vertical tasting on Owen Bargreen's blog here.
"DeLille sent two vintages of Grand Ciel for us to taste this year. Both were gorgeous wines, but the 2016 showed us where these wines go…slowly. This five-year-old was wildly dark, a deep violet color with even darker inky shades on the rim. It smells of violets and plums, with plenty of extracted fruit scents, and flavors to match. The texture though, while plainly Red Mountain–big, is suede-like, with a dustiness that hints at a long life in the cellar." —P.J.C. (300 cases)
"De-Lille’s monopole from Snipes Mountain, a north-facing vineyard set on a gravelly slope, produced a blend that’s slightly floral, the violet scents filling out with air along with a core of dark berry fruit. The texture succulent and satisfying, for carne asada." —P.J.C. (375 cases)
2018 D2 - 93 Points
"Scents of licorice and black fig take on a cinnamon tone in this merlot-dominant blend. Cinnamon scents appear with air, bright, ripe and lifted as it develops in the glass. It offers sleek cherry and warm plum flavors in a succulent combination, a satisfying accompaniment to duck breast." —P.J.C.
"One variety, one clone, one vineyard is how DeLille describes this wine. A driving force of dark fruit and evergreen savor, it leads with aromas of pint frond and a whiff of menthol, woodsy and fresh. The flavors are dark, the texture massive but with polish, and with a succulence for steak." —P.J.C. (300 cases)
"This is sourced from mostly old-vine lots at Klipsun Vineyard—one of the warmest sites on Red Mountain. Klipsun typically yields a wine with massive dimensions and this one is inky and dark, with plum and cassis notes, a hint of vanilla from the oak, and a suede-like savor. The flavors are concentrated, the texture dense and broad shouldered, needing years in the cellar to come together." —P.J.C. (200 cases)
"DeLille likes to blend at Red Willow, employing cabernet franc in the main, with merlot and cabernet sauvignon taking up a little over 40 percent of the blend. It’s a good move for a site as cool as this, keeping the wine bright and peppery without being at all green. The tarry purple-plum core deepens to cassis on day two, with depth and tension in equal measure, woodsy and intense, very ageable." —P.J.C. (550 cases)
"This Cabernet leads with a darkly floral scent, burly, rich, full of swagger, with scents of cherry tobacco and cedar. The flavors go deep and black in their fruit expression—black plum, fig laced with violets. It needs taming in the cellar." —P.J.C. (400 cases)
"Smoke and violet scents give this cool syrah a savory feel. It’s briny and concentrated, with a pleasing herbal tinge and fine, youthful tannins." —P.J.C. (705 cases)
"Full of Mourvedre character (which makes up half the blend with grenache, syrah, and a dollop of Cinsault), this wine imparts flavors of dried strawberries and dark red cherries with a mild florality. There’s plenty of dry extract and grippy, meaty savor, with a delightful peppery finish for lamb." —P.J.C. (890 cases)
"Le Colosse is a new wine for DeLille, a blend placing emphasis on merlot (88 percent). The wine is dense and concentrated, powerfully built with scents of cocoa and carob, its blackberry flavors held in suspension by firm but velvety tannins. It’s got the stuffing for a New York strip." —P.J.C. (800 cases)
International Wine Report is an independent media source dedicated to providing in-depth wine reviews and tasting notes. We're honored to share the 2021 scores of our wines.
"A phenomenal example of a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain fruit, coming from 4 of the best vineyards in the area, this wine rests 20 months in 75% new French oak barrels. I could pick Red Mountain cab in a blind with this wine 10 out of 10 times - it just screams characteristics of dried blackberry, blueberry, violet petal, dusty road, graphite, wild mountain sage and old leather. It’s chocolatey and plush on the palate bringing medium plus acidity and sweet chewy tannins to the finish. The energy and structure of this wine will give it another decade or two of ageing potential in your cellar with beautiful results. Highly recommended."
2023-2027; 96 Points
"The wine that put white Bordeaux-style wines of Washington on the map, this is a perennial favorite among novices and collectors alike. Whole cluster pressed and fermented in 90% French oak barrels, with 60% being new, and 10% stainless steel, it rests for 7 months on the lees which gives it that luxurious mouthfeel. It is acombination of 72% Sauvignon Blanc and 28% Sémillon so that gooseberry nose is absolutely prominent, maybe more so with the 2020 than any other vintages I’ve tasted. Aspects of ripe pear, dried pineapple, green apple, fresh mint, green herbs, grapefruit zest and crushed clove. The balance of this wine is quite extraordinary as is the racy acidity and lengthy finish. I don’t necessarily gravitate towards Sauvignon Blanc but I’ll drink a bottle of Chaleur Blanc any day. It’s a bright, exuberant wine and one that should cellar well for the next decade or longer. Highly recommended."
2021-2031; 95 Points
"I truly believe that Syrah is the most delicious grape grown in Washington state. It develops so well in the Washington climate and tends to over-deliver on the wine quality. This Signature wine is a blend of 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier, which gives the wine a bit of white potpourri aromas, is aged for 20 months in 35% new French oak barrels. Notes of blueberry, huckleberry, black plum, crushed black peppercorn, smoked beef brisket and black olives are all present and what you would expect from a Red Mountain Syrah from Washington. You also get a touch of that wild mountain sage that grows within all the vineyards of the area and is the telltale sign when blind tasting Washington wines. Tannins are still a tad sharp but be patient with this wine. In a couple of years, you are going to be blown away with how good this wine develops to become. Highly recommended."
2021-2031; 94 Points
"The D2 is another Delille wine that helped put it on the map. A right-bank Bordeaux style blend of 67% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot and aged for 18 months in 55% new French oak barrels. The nose is rich and meaty - think aromas of blackberry, black currant liqueur, ripe blue plum, tobacco leaf, dried herbs and pencil shavings. There is also this melted dark chocolate component that comes through that gives this wine some lovely character. Acidity is high, tannins are medium to high and the body is full while the fruit flavors stand up to the 14.5% alcohol and balance the wine in a lovely way. Give it another year in the bottle to meld together and then enjoy over the next 8 years or so."
2022-2030; 93 Points
"This fun Rhone-styled blend of 42% Grenache, 36% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah, and 2% Cinsault is aged for 15 months in French oak barrels. The fruit comes from the Ciel du Cheval and Boushey Vineyards and comes in at 14.6% alcohol. Medium ruby in the glass with aromas of red raspberry, thimbleberry, black peppered salami, dusty crushed gravel, and candied purple rose petals. It’s one of my favorite Delille wines in the glass partially because it has simplicity but complexity all at the same time if that makes any sense at all. Acidity, tannins and body all fall in the medium plus range and the balance is wonderful with the delicious fruit and savory flavors. Enjoy now or over the next 7 years."
2021-20219; 92 Points
"A blend of 70% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged for 18 months in 60% new French oak barrels, with grapes coming about 50/50 from the Quintessence and Red Willow vineyards. Wild huckleberry jumps from this dark ruby core, reminding me of being in the mountains of Idaho picking berries as a kid. Secondary notes of mocha, black pepper and crushed black gravel. The palate is a bit spicy, with the fruit taking second fiddle and the secondary characteristics of herbs and spice playing first chair. It has ample acidity, but is just a touch out of balance, however this is still a seriously good wine."
2021-2027; 90 Points
Global Fine Wine Challenge Scores
In addition to the International Wine Report scores, DeLille Cellars also received several medals from the Global Fine Wine Challenge, formerly known as the Six Nations Challenge. This challenge is accessible by invitation only and is restricted to the top 120 wines of each country.
Double Gold Medal: 2018 Chaleur Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Gold Medal: 2018 Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon
Tuesday, October 12th marked the last day of harvest at DeLille Cellars. “I think it’s going to be a really, really fantastic vintage,” said Jason Gorski, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture.
Warm weather, smaller than average berry size, lower than average crop loads, and incredible color and flavor are a few characteristics that differentiated this year’s harvest.
Grenache from Boushey Vineyard, Washington. July 2021. Photo Credit: Jason Gorski
2021 Harvest Brings Record Heat
“We did have one of the warmest vintages on record this year. The vines are able to adapt to that in a way - our growers did a great job of keeping canopies popped up. I actually saw less shrivel in 2021 than we saw in either 2013 or 2015,” Jason Gorski noted.
Climate researcher Greg Jones commented that the 2021 vintage in the Pacific Northwest leaned more toward the historically hot 2015 growing season than last year.
Our 2021 harvest would not have been successful without our amazing winemaking team and our interns this year.
2021 Harvest Team
“This year we had an absolutely incredible harvest crew - probably the best I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. They had a good sense of humor and a smile on their face no matter what happened. It makes it a lot easier when you have people along for the ride that enjoy that chaos,” said Jason Gorski.
Fast & Furious Timeline
One of the challenges of this years’ harvest was the condensed timeline.
Gorski said, “We normally have about three months to do harvest but this year we got everything done in about 10 weeks. It was fast and furious with the lower yields at a faster than average pace.”
Dick Boushey of Boushey Vineyards, an important producer of Syrah used in our Doyenne, also commented “this has been the most chaotic, frantic harvest I have ever been involved with. Everything seems to have gotten ripe at once. We have been working almost around the clock” (Wine Searcher).
Looking to the Future
Partially through harvest, DeLille Cellars expanded production by adding several concrete eggs and new fermentors. “We’ve been wanting to work with concrete for a really long time at DeLille, but it’s not very cost-effective or space-efficient but with that additional space we put in a few concrete eggs,” reported Gorski. These eggs will be used for Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Roussanne.
Assistant Winemaker Mari Rossi checking a concrete egg fermenter
“Global logistics are a bit of a mess right now but we’ll have some more upright [tanks] showing up just as harvest ends. Unfortunately, we were hoping to fill those by now,” Gorski said. These tanks will hold (what will become) 2021 D2.
The team also commented on the stark color intensity of the 2021 vintage. While this doesn’t necessarily translate to anything specific, it was remarkable to see the deep, dark colors.
Jason Gorski summed up harvest by stating, “Every vintage is an opportunity to be great no matter how challenging it is and what the conditions give you. Our goal is to make nothing but world-class wine.”
Watch the full interview with Jason Gorski below.
Located next door to the Tasting Room, The Lounge at DeLille Cellars is Woodinville’s new wine-centric restaurant. The Lounge offers glass pours, comparative tastings, and a unique food menu crafted by Executive Chef Michael C. Toni.
The Lounge Experience
The Lounge restaurant is located in the former Redhook Forecaster’s Public House, which 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 offers an array of seating, including booths, stools by the fireplace, tables, a bartop, and lounge chairs for casual dining and sharing small plates.
The Deck is a seasonal patio experience that is available depending on the weather. The Deck offers a more casual dining experience with a separate menu. In the summer, live music is held on the outdoor patio.
Happy Hour at The Lounge
Visit us for Happy Hour 3-5 pm Wednesday - Friday for $5 pints and $10 select wine by the glass including D2.
Live at The Lounge: Thursday Evening Music
The Lounge will feature live music every Thursday. Please see our events calendar for more information on featured artists. Reservations are strongly encouraged for live music events.
Explore the Menu
The Lounge is a full-service restaurant with a house-crafted menu ranging from light bites for sharing to salads, sandwiches, and entrées. The Menu is directed by Executive Chef Michael C. Toni, who led the Woodinville winery’s “Date Night” meals throughout the COVID-related closures of 2020.
Beginning with the wine menu, discover what makes the wines of DeLille Cellars so unique by exploring wines from the places in France that give us inspiration and wines from around the world that display the same level of regional distinction that DeLille does for Washington State.
Enjoy select wines by the glass or try a comparative, side-by-side tasting of wines to further explore the nuances of place, growing region, and terroir.
Our Woodinville restaurant also offers a wide selection of beer and seltzer on tap, including local favorites such as Black Raven, Sumerian Brewing, and San Juan Seltzer.
A few favorite items at The Lounge include Duck Conift Poutine, Grilled Tuna Nicoise Salad, and Roasted Mushroom Toast. Whether you are looking for a complete entree or shareables to accompany your wine tasting, The Lounge at DeLille Cellars has something for everyone.
“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.
Order Food to Go
Order food and wine to go from The Lounge wine list and the house-crafted restaurant menu.
Visit our Woodinville Restaurant
We accept reservations for indoor dining and also have limited walk-in seating available at The Lounge. The Deck is a seasonal experience with walk-in availability only, weather permitting.
Looking for a traditional seated wine tasting experience? Visit our Tasting Room next door for a 45-minute tasting of our Bordeaux-style wines.
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. To learn more about DeLille Cellars, visit our website.
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
90 DeLille 2020 Roussanne (Red Mountain). This wine is still settling into the bottle, with notes of seashell and wet rock. The palate brings texture, balance and persistence. There are lots of interesting things happening, though they all haven’t come together yet. Give it additional time in the bottle to see it at its best. —S.S. abv: 14% Price: $35
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.
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