The Carter Collection
Brian Carter Cellars is the first Washington State winery to focus exclusively on blends which arose from Brian’s passion for blended wines. He loves the process of blending, starting with walking the vineyard thinking about how a varietal of grape will contribute to pairing these wines with seasonal food. As great as blends are, Brian acknowledges that some of the best wines in the world are 100% varietal. Some of the best examples being Pinot Noirs from Oregon or Chardonnays from Burgundy. Although Brian might be slightly biased, he has been known to stick his neck out and say that blends are among the finest wines made in Washington.
In 2010, Brian Carter Cellars released our first ONE series wine, a 2007 Malbec from Stone Tree Vineyards. Since then we have been making limited releases of single varietal wines that complement our classic European-style blends. The ONE designation is used to denote a line of wines made entirely from ONE varietal and from ONE vineyard. It is important to note that each lot of grapes is brought into the winey as a varietal, and fermented, barreled and racked as a single vineyard, single varietal.
As Brian is evaluating each lot during the spring and summer blending, there is occasionally a lot that separates itself from the rest. Many times, this special lot goes into the blend because it adds that special touch. Sometimes the varietal intensity is so outstanding that Brian doesn’t use it all in the blend. For example, when he needs the Cabernet Franc character in the Le Coursier but doesn’t want the Cabernet Franc to overwhelm the blend. Brian might blend two barrels of a six-barrel Cabernet Franc lot and keep the other four barrels to be released as part of the ONE series. Other times, Brian might have two great Cabernet lots he is evaluating for Solesce and the one works best for blending, and the other is exceptional on its own, then he may set it aside for ONE. So far, we have made between 1-3 ONE wines per year, each being small lots of 50 to 150 cases each. Most recently we have released three ONE wines, all three of which are outstanding examples of their variety:
2012 Sangiovese: These grapes came off the vine in late October, looking like a great wine was going to be made. Indeed, most of this lot went into our 2012 Tuttorosso blend which is a stand-out wine from this stand-out vintage. Brian did manage to pry away three barrels of his favorite Sangiovese from the Boushey Vineyard. It isn’t the easiest grape to grow, it takes a particularly special site to do well, and in only the best years can it make a stand-alone wine worthy of the ONE label.
Dark in color, the wine opens with a very European perfume showing of pie cherries, dried herbs and flowers with a touch of wild game. Classic Chianti flavors and food friendly acidity associated with the great wines of Italy make this wine a standout with red tomato sauces and high fat meats such as short ribs or cinghiale (‘wild boar’ in Italian).
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon: Red Mountain has long been Brian’s favorite source for Cabernet Sauvignon and the E & E Shaw, vineyard, owned and operated by Ed and Eve Shaw has ranked up there near the top. The 2011 vintage was much cooler than usual resulting in Brian making the decision not to make any 2011 Solesce. This spectacular wine, however, stood out above the rest and demanded to be bottled on its own.
Very dark in color, the wine has classic varietal characters of cassis and blackberry with added notes of cedar and coffee in the aroma, running seamlessly onto the palate. A Bordeaux like balance of well-integrated tannins and acids shows off a wine of both dimension and charm.
2013 Merlot: This is our first Merlot under the ONE label. Coming from the Olsen Vineyard in the Yakima Valley, this is one of the most outstanding blocks of Merlot in a state that makes a lot of great Merlot. Having tasted Merlot wines from all over the world, Brian maintains that Washington has the best expression of Merlot fruit from anywhere.
This wine is dark garnet in color, with intense and complex aromas including black cherry, blackberry, raspberry and pomegranate with hints of earth and toasted oak. The palate is round with just the right hints of tannin for aging and a balanced lengthy finish.