Cayuse Impulsivo Tempranillo 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
While I don’t think the 2017 Impulsivo matches the 2016, it’s certainly not far off. Showing the more elegant style of the vintage, it offers a gorgeous perfume of smoked black cherries, redcurrants, green tobacco, bloody meat, sandalwood, and Asian spices that opens up with time in the glass. Ethereal, medium to full-bodied, and seamless on the palate, it has flawless balance, polished tannins, no hard edges, and a great, great finish. It’s just beautifully put together and one of the more approachable vintages of this cuvée. It can be drunk with incredible pleasure today (give it an hour decant) or cellared for 15+ years or more.
The softness and caressing nature to this red is most enjoyable, delivering cherry, chocolate and walnut flavors. It’s full-bodied, yet juicy and satisfying. No reason to wait on this one. Drink or hold.
The 2017 Impulsivo begins with an expressive and aromatic nose with roasted blackberries, oak spice tones and charred cherry skin with elements of dusty purple flowers and baked earth. Full-bodied, the wine is expressive and deliciously balanced across the mid-palate before showing exotic spice elements, dried tobacco and cedar plank across the long-lingering finish. For Tempranillo lovers out there, this is a simply delicious wine that represents a New World-style expression of Tempranillo and a clear winner. Rating: 94+
The aromas are locked up out of the gate, opening to reveal notes of fresh tobacco, moist earth, orange rind and cherry. The palate has a pleasing sumptuousness to the mouthwatering earth, savory, olive and citrus flavors. The texture is lovely.
An adventure in the new world
Christophe Baron grew up among the vineyards and cellars of his family's centuries-old Champagne house, Baron Albert. His sense of adventure, however, led him to become the first Frenchman to establish a winery in Washington State.
While visiting the Walla Walla Valley in 1996, Christophe spotted a plot of land that had been plowed up to reveal acres of softball-sized stones. This stony soil, this terroir, was just like that of some of the most prestigious French appellations. The difficult ground would stress the grapevines, making them produce more mature, concentrated fruit.
He named his vineyard after the Cayuse, a Native American tribe whose name was taken from the French cailloux--which means, rocks. Hours of back-breaking work later, Cayuse Vineyards has become five vineyards encompassing 41 acres.
The majority is planted with Syrah, and the rest dedicated to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Roussanne, Tempranillo and Viognier. All of the vineyards are planted in rocky earth within the Walla Walla Valley appellation. Cayuse was the first winery in Washington State to use biodynamic farming methods.
Responsible for some of Washington’s most highly acclaimed wines, the Walla Walla Valley has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years and is home to both historic wineries and younger, up-and-coming producers.
The Walla Walla Valley, a Native American name meaning “many waters,” is located in southeastern Washington; part of the appellation actually extends into Oregon. Soils here are well-drained, sandy loess over Missoula Flood deposits and fractured basalt.
It is a region perfectly suited to Rhône-inspired Syrahs, distinguished by savory notes of red berry, black olive, smoke and fresh earth. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot create a range of styles from smooth and supple to robust and well-structured. White varieties are rare but some producers blend Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon, resulting in a rich and round style, and plantings of Viognier, while minimal, are often quite successful.
Of note within Walla Walla, is one new and very peculiar appellation, called the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. This is the only AVA in the U.S. whose boundaries are totally defined by the soil type. Soils here look a bit like those in the acclaimed Rhône region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but are large, ancient, basalt cobblestones. These stones work in the same way as they do in Chateauneuf, absorbing and then radiating the sun's heat up to enhance the ripening of grape clusters. The Rocks District is within the part of Walla Walla that spills over into Oregon and naturally excels in the production of Rhône varieties like Syrah, as well as the Bordeaux varieties.
Notoriously food-friendly, long-lasting and Spain’s most widely planted grape, Tempranillo is the star variety of red wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero. The Rioja terms Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva indicate both barrel and bottle time before release. Traditionally blended in Rioja with Garnacha, plus a bit of Mazuelo (Carignan) and Graciano, the Tempranillo in Ribera del Duero typically stands alone. Somm Secret—Tempranillo claims many different names depending on location. In Penedès, it is called Ull de Llebre and in Valdepeñas, goes by Cencibel. Known as Tinta Roriz in Portugal, Tempranillo plays an important role in Port wine.