from Julia Esser
For Marie Eve of Forgeron Cellars, it begins in the soil. When she was a young girl, she was always playing in the dirt. It’s no wonder then, as she grew older, she developed an interest in chemistry, studying it in college and her initial interest in soil, combined with her new knowledge of chemistry translated to a love of wine-making. Marie Eve chooses her grapes from the finest vines across Washington State, visiting each grower and hand selecting the clusters that will be used to create her wines. It is no accident when a particular vineyard or AVA is chosen for a Forgeron wine. Marie Eve utilizes each region’s individual terroir to influence each wine’s unique characteristics. While soil is only a part of what contributes to the terroir of a specific vineyard, its influence may be the most essential.
This summer, Forgeron Cellars offered an “Experience Cabernet” event to the public, focused on offering wine enthusiasts and members of their wine club Societe a chance to compare three wines across a single variety all made from Washington grapes in different parts of the state. The goal was to allow participants to experience first-hand what the terroir of a region contributes to a vintage, as well as learn more about characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon world-wide and the history of Cabernet in Washington State.
Summer is an important time in any growing season. Having grown up on a farm, I’m most reminded of my upbringing when the heat bears down on the Pacific Northwest, bringing sun to Seattle and gold to the fields East of the Cascades. My own farmer father is constantly reminding me about the impact soil can have on crops and, aversely, the impact a grower can have on the soil, which immediately drew me to Marie Eve’s story. The bottom line is – soil matters.
These are three fantastic Cabernets, created by an inspiring woman, each chosen because of the unique terroir of the region or vintage and an excellent chance to see what this grape can do across the state of Washington.
Sourced from three different AVA’s (Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley and Red Mountain), each area was selected to contribute specific characteristics; Walla Walla’s warm growing region and loess soil likely adding earthy spices and Red Mountain contributing a tannic structure and robust desert red hue. The aromatics on this wine are spice forward with roasted herbs on the upper lip and dark fruit deeper in the glass. It tastes young and full-bodied on the palate with hints of pepper, plum, chocolate and coarse tannins. It has a lasting finish with just a ghost of tart which leaves you eagerly awaiting the next sip. With just over one year in the barrel and priced at $35 this is a great wine to keep on hand for social events.
Grapes from the Lacoye and Hightower vineyards in the Red Mountain AVA contribute power and spice, with quite a bit of austerity. While normally the warmest AVA in the state of Washington, this particular vintage in Red Mountain was much cooler, and Marie Eve picked it specifically to highlight what a site could do in difficult growing conditions. On the nose, this wine is intensely sweet with bright aromas of strawberries and vanilla, making its dark cherry palate with chalky tannin and silky moderate finish a true delight. This is a full-bodied, smoky wine and priced at $45 is an excellent treat for guests or personal use in pairing with bold cheeses.For Marie Eve and Forgeron, ANVIL wines are the top tier label and much more rare than similar wine varieties. This particular ANVIL is sourced from the Walla Walla Valley (Pepper Bridge and Minnick Hills vineyards) which both provide a slow, full-ripening allowing for good aging. Aged for almost two and a half years in 100% new oak barrels, there is an immediate earth aroma on the nose as well as deep plum. The palate is full of smooth, rich plum, oak and warm cigar smoke that lingers long on the finish like a haze in the air.