(entirely from Ciel du Cheval): Bright, light yellow. Sexy scents of red berries, stone fruits and musky herbs show a faintly saline character (winemaker Jason Gorski told me he looks for tide pool and seaweed salad notes). In a subtle French style, conveying a captivating sweet/saline quality to its strawberry and pomegranate fruit flavors. This very sophisticated wine is tighter than the '16 was at the same stage.
Coming all from the Ceil du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain, the 2017 Roussanne offers classy notes of white peach, honeysuckle, and white flowers in a medium-bodied, nicely balanced package. It has solid richness, yet stays fresh, vibrant, and clean, with a great finish.
(all Ciel du Cheval fruit): Full deep yellow. Intense stone fruits, menthol, lemon grass and flowers on the nose, plus a suggestion of candied fruits. Smooth, generous and impressively concentrated, with its intense stone fruit, pear, lemon and lime zest flavors perfectly framed by fresh acidity. Bone-dry, beautifully restrained wine without any impression of warmth to blur its focus. Finishes firm and very long.
The vibrant gold colored 2016 Roussanne (100% Roussanne aged 85% in stainless steel and 15% in neutral barrels) is another beauty, offering notes of crisp apple, white flowers, and salty minerality in a medium-bodied, pure, dry, beautifully balanced package. It’s going to shine on the dinner table.
The 2015 Roussanne from this team is gorgeous, and certainly getting up with some of the best examples of the variety coming out of Washington and California. It offers loads of pineapple, buttered citrus, honeysuckle and white flower characteristics, medium to full-bodied richness, juicy acidity and plenty of sweet fruit. With a rounded, supple texture and a great finish, it's going to shine on the dinner table over the coming 2-3 years.
(entirely from Ciel du Cheval): Pale, bright lemon-yellow. Compelling salty nose offers scents of lemon, honeysuckle, fig and marzipan. Wonderfully fresh and dry, with citrus and quince flavors firmed on the back end with a touch of apricot-pit phenolic firmness. Really lingers with vibrant minerality and a note of Aplets (a candy made in Washington from apples and walnuts).
(100% from Ciel du Cheval; no new wood): Pale, bright yellow. Lemon curd, lime oil, pineapple, spices, honeysuckle and botanical herbs on the highly complex nose, plus a hint of petrol; smells a little like a salty breeze off the ocean. Densely packed and sappy, conveying a sweet/sour umami seaweed quality and a strong impression of dry extract. The concentrated lemon and honeysuckle flavors are lifted by a lovely floral topnote. This high-pitched wine dusts the palate on the brisk, very long finish. A portion of this very impressive wine was what winemaker Chris Upchurch described as "lower-tonnage, more oily Roussanne," fermented separately and left on its lees.
The 2014 Doyenne Roussanne is another solid wine from this estate, which seems to deliver the goods in just about every vintage. Apple blossom, caramelized citrus, white flowers and a hint of brioche all give way to a medium-bodied, elegant, layered and textured white that will pair beautifully with heartier fare over the coming 5-6 years.
One of the top Rhone whites coming out of Washington, Delille's 2013 Doyenne Roussanne (100% Roussanne) is straight up terrific. Giving up tons of minerality in its citrus blossom, crushed rock, white currant and white floral-laced bouquet, this beauty is close to full-bodied, rich and textured, yet always stays balanced, fresh and lively. It has a great finish and keeps you coming back to the glass. It's great now, and while this grape can have an unpredictable evolution, I'm sure it will be an interesting and enjoyable effort in a decade or more. Still, as always, the easy and safe bet with these is to drink them in their first 4-5 years.
(100% roussanne from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard): Bright, gold-tinged yellow. Knockout nose offers scents of lime, kiwi, and white pepper, along with a complicating salinity. Dense and sappy but light on its feet, with terrific acidity giving cut and inner-mouth perfume to the flavors of pear, lime, honeysuckle and minerals. Really wonderful fruit intensity, structure and persistence here, as well as a sexy saline note. Chateau Beaucastel’s Roussanne Vieilles Vignes is the prototype for this wine, notes winemaker Chris Upchurch, adding that roussanne is a grape that ripens unevenly but that fruit in Ciel du Cheval Vineyard tends to show outstanding retention of acidity. By picking all the fruit for this wine in one go, DeLille can get greater complexity and a harmonious blend of disparate elements. This wine was done in stainless steel and neutral oak and went through full malolactic fermentation.
Bright yellow. Savory, spicy, earthy nose reminded me of sake. Tactile and slightly sweet, with complex flavors of beeswax, honeysuckle, pepper and flowers. Offers a sappy sweet/sour character, with limey acidity providing terrific inner-mouth cut and tension. Ripe, intense, subtle and long, finishing with a fascinating umami texture.
Kicking off the estate’s Rhone portfolio, the 2012 Doyenne Roussanne is comprised of 100% Roussanne and was fermented in a combination of French oak and stainless steel before aging in stainless steel. Beautifully fresh and lively, with classic pear, honeycomb, mineral and hints of butter nut, it is a medium-bodied, balanced and fresh white that stays clean and lively on the finish due to ample acidity. There’s a suppleness here that suggests near-term drinking is the safe approach, yet it should still have an interesting evolution over the coming 3-4 years. Drink now-2016.
(fermented in neutral oak barrels): Pale straw. Enticing lift to the aromas of orange flower, nectarine and brown spices. Ripely fruity and quite dry, with plenty of flesh enlivened by bright acidity. Nicely concentrated roussanne with a slightly exotic quality that suggests a bit of botrytis. A light saline quality adds interest on the back end. Another superb vintage for this bottling.
Latest in a nearly decade-long line-up sourced from Tablas Creek clonal material planted at Ciel du Cheval Vineyard and vinified in older barriques, DeLille’s 2011 Doyenne Roussanne offers a delightful and very varietally typical nose of lime zest, honeysuckle, orange blossom, bee’s wax, and white peach whose fuzz seems to coat the palate as an invigorating adjunct to inner-mouth floral perfume, faint waxiness, and luscious juiciness. A telltale nip of white pepper adds to the stimulation of a vibrantly persistent finish, and the too-frequent tendency with very ripe renditions of this grape toward bitterness or finishing flatness is entirely avoided. This tongue-tingler ought to prove delightfully versatile at table for at least 3-4 years, though in the process it’s likely to take on a honeyed and more richly-textured patina.
Ripe and slightly exotic, the 2010 Roussanne, 100% Roussanne all from the Ciel du Cheval vineyard, delivers a brilliant bouquet of ripe peach and muskmelon, orange rind, subtle flowers, and mineral that carries to a medium to full-bodied, concentrated, and perfectly balanced white. This has solid richness and is no lightweight, however, it stays remarkably light on the palate, has juicy acidity, fantastic purity, and a clean, lengthy finish. I’m a fan, and this should drink beautifully for 3-5 years.
(100% Ciel du Cheval fruit): Musky aromas of lemon, lime, honey and flowers. Juicy, pure and concentrated, with lovely intensity of peach and butternut squash flavor. This brisk, nicely aromatic wine finishes strong and long. Very impressive.
The 2010 Roussanne (100%) delivers fragrant minerals, baking spices, jasmine, honey, and melon aromas that entice the nose. On the palate, vibrant acidity frames the wine’s savory, waxy, peach and honeydew flavors. This lovely effort is likely to provide enjoyment for another 3-4 years.
Very steely and crisp, with gorgeous pear, lemon, and brioche notes buffering all of the wet stone and mineral undertones, the 2009 DeLille Cellars Roussanne Doyenne Ciel du Cheval Vineyard is a serious white that shows fantastic focus and class on the palate. Possessing racy acidity and solid structure, this beauty should age gracefully for up to a decade.
The one white wine is the 2008 Roussanne, a light gold-colored wine with lovely aromas of bee’s wax, honeysuckle, hazelnuts, and melon. Mouth-filling and concentrated, this ripe, lengthy effort will provide much pleasure for another 3-4 years.