Kickin' it with the Frog...

Spent an unbelievable day with friends a week or so ago touring and tasting with Christophe and Trevor at Cayuse. Suffice it to say, this was the single best wine experience of my life. Of course there are several reasons I’m obsessed with the wines produced by Christophe…the 3x3 vineyard spacing, the extraction of every morsel of flavor from the grapes, the maniacal fanaticism of his wine making process, the firm belief in estate grapes…but the most important reason I’m obsessed is that the wines just do it for me and do it for me in a big way. The 09’s from barrel and the 08’s that were recently bottled just reinforced my obsession.

Before we besieged the wine studio for a tasting, Christophe and Trevor took us on an extremely educational tour of the Armada Vineyard, the Horsepower Vineyard, and his new vineyard, Tribe. He explained to us how he started with 10x4 spacing and then moved to 6x4 spacing and how the Horsepower and Tribe vineyards are 3x3. The first wines produced commercially by the Horsepower Vineyard with be this year, 2010. When asked how he thought the wines will turn out (grenache and syrah), he replied, “I don’t know, we’ll see!” He talked about how important it was to him to always push the envelope. That becoming complacent as a winemaker is something that he wouldn’t be able to live with, so he is constantly experimenting. He then went on to tell us about a few acres of land he purchased on a hillside where he is going to plant his next vineyard. At this time, we had worked up quite a thirst so on to the wines…

I forgot to mention that we started with the 08 Edith Grenache Rose. This wine has started to come around for me. I thought the first vintage to be a bit light and creamy but this wine was darker with some nice strawberries and bright acidity. I enjoyed it.

09 Barrel Samples
Impulsivo – Deep and dark. Already exhibiting bright fruit, smoke, pork, minerals. So primary and is going to be a bruiser.

Widowmaker – Nice cab flavors of cassis and concentrated black fruit. Definite herbal and mineral nuances in the background. Another winner.

God Only Knows Grenache Barrel #4 – Christophe’s face just lit up when he talked about this wine. He told us this was his favorite barrel and that he was going to bottle it in magnums and keep them for himself! Beautiful red color. Herbs, wild strawberries, huge dose of minerality. Killer wine.

I’m fairly certain we tried another wine but for the life of me, I can’t recall it! At this point, Christophe started pulling some 08’s that they had just bottled. The concern about bottle shock was immediately laughed out of the building as we made an impressive run through the bottles.

08 En Cerise – The one syrah that I don’t have a ton of experience with (probably only drank 4 or 5 bottles). This exhibited the trademark dark cherry fruit with grilled meat. Balanced and pretty polished. These wines are just getting better.

08 Bionic Frog – Holy shit. This puppy is surprisingly open for business and it’s 24/7. First whiff was of blood and iron. Concentrated dark fruit and wild game meat laced with minerals and stone. Has the potential to rival the 03 and 05 as the best Frog ever.

07 GOK Grenache – The third vintage of this wine and it keeps getting better. Christophe seems to be most proud of this wine. So delicate but possessing so much intensity. Think of a pot of wild strawberries, cherries, and raspberries with a bouquet garni. Can’t wait to receive my 6 of these!

05 Cailloux Neutral Barrel – My third experience with this wine. You’ve got to be kidding me. The 2nd time I had this wine I bestowed upon it my first ever 100 points. Maybe I need to adopt Parker’s new scoring system and give it 102 points this time as it was that good. Funkdified on the nose with herbs, sour fruit, bacon wrapped pork (double pig, baby!), and that dried pineapple thing that is so intriguing. Layers and layers of syrah goodness on the palate. This is essentially, for me, syrah as its best.

I know I’m missing a couple other wines but my notes can’t seem to find them! After this, we had an incredible dinner at the Fat Duck Inn with some tasty vino. I’ll try and get some notes up for that as well.

Thanks for turning 40, Darren!!!

Great post, as always. Glad to hear that some of the wines I will have coming are shaping up nicely - not that I expected anything different.

Jared, nice notes! Thanks for being a part of the big surprise weekend. The wines were of course wonderful and the food amazing. But it was the generosity and hospitality of Trevor and Christophe, and the wonderful sippin partners who truly made the weekend unforgettable and unbelievable!

ps…I think it was Coccinelle we also had a barrel sample of.

exciting stuff to look forward too - thanks for the notes

Soooo glad to be on this mailing list!! [dance-clap.gif]

Bravo… Now that’s the way to celebrate your 40th. Darren, you are obviously living right!! [welldone.gif]

Thanks for the great notes (as usual), Jared!

The Tribe vineyard: Is that “in the rocks” along with Horsepower, or is it the canyon site that Alice was discussing on her blog post back in March (see comments also):

Did Christophe say what he is going to be planting at Tribe?

The Barrel sample you forgot was one of the components for the '09 Bionic Frog, I think Darren is correct it might have been from Coccinelle vineyard, I just remember it being beautiful juice. I thought the GOK and the BF Barrel Samples were gorgeous, the Impulsivo and Widowmaker were very nice as you said, but clearly meant to lay down for a while.

Here were my notes on the weekend -

So a killer spread of appetizers and oodles of 2009 Edith Rose got things started. Lots of laughing and re-connecting with old friends and family. I can’t even describe how good all the food was, what a great plan for the catering.

Christophe Baron (Cayuse winemaker) then tells us all to head outside and we do a 1 hour+ tour of the vineyards where he explains so many aspects to what we all knew made Cayuse so special. From watering to frost protection to letting us visit with his draft horses and Hungarian pigs. [snort.gif] It is clear that he has a passion and a feel for the vineyards, that he truly does believe that the winemaking is done before the grapes ever get brought into the winery. He is doing some crazy and remarkable things and it was really a treat to hear it from him personally.

After the vineyard tour, we went back to the Box and Christophe said “Grab a glass, let’s taste some wine” We spent the next hour barrel sampling the 2009 vintage - Tempranillo, Cab Sauv, Syrah, Grenache…all the components for the various wines; barrel tasting can be soo fun and interesting, such fruit forward goodness we won’t taste again for a year or two.

Next the bottles start appearing and the wines start flowing…

2008 En Chamberlin
2008 En Cerise
2008 Bionic Frog
2008 God Only Knows Grenache

And then, as Monty Python can only say it, the Graaaiiilll… [worship.gif]

2005 Wallah Wallah Cailloux Syrah (Neutral Barrel, from Mag) - Several of us met this wine last November, it was never released to the public and is a very special stash of Christophe’s…something we were very lucky to share again. It is easily in the top 5 wines I’ve ever had, maybe the top 3.

After all this was done, we had about an hour break, in which I took the time to decant the 1970 Taylor Fladgate I brought (Thank god it wasn’t corked, it actually opened up very nicely. My only sadness was the pair of Port tongs I ordered from Portugal was delayed getting here in time, so no grand ceremony to it all)

Dinner was at the Fat Duck Inn, a 6 course extravaganza. I won’t try to list all the food courses, but the wines of the evening were:

2006 Argyle Nuthouse Pinot Noir
2006 Gerard Boulay Monts Damne’s Sancerre Magnum
2003 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape
2005 Cayuse Wallah Wallah Cailloux Syrah (Neutral Barrel) Magnum
2007 Saxum Bone Rock James Berry Vineyard
1995 Paul Jaboulet La Chapelle Hermitage
2008 Reynvaan Queen’s Road White
2005 Alban Vineyards Reva Magnum
2007 Cameron Abbey Ridge Chardonnay
2005 Cameron Clos Electrique Chardonnay
2004 Domaine Drouhin Laurene Pinot Noir Magnum
2005 K Vintners Ovide
2004 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Costasera
1986 Huet Moelleux Clos du Bourg Vouvray
1970 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port

A hugely enjoyable evening of great stories, some roasting of Darren, and some killer wines. Stars for me of the night were the Hermitage, the Huet and the Port but I thought the Reva and Saxum were dynamite as well. It goes without saying that a second chance in one day to have the Cayuse Neutral Barrel was just icing on the cake.

Unfortunately, didn’t take any real notes, was having too much fun talking and enjoying. But I’ve put a slew of pics into an Album Photobucket | Make your memories fun!

That is about it. Thankfully there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of what happened afterwards. I only remember we went to the Green Lantern bar…and apparently I still had phone battery at the time… [wow.gif]

Thanks Mike. All kudos go to the wife for throwing one hell of a shindig! Tribe is going to be Syrah and I think its the one on the hillside?

Congrats Darren,what a day!!

Hmm…at least now we know where that “bacon wrapped pork” note comes from! [wink.gif]

Sounds like a fabulous day and I hope to be worthy enough to make the Cayuse list some day.



Thanks. You will not be disappointed. my friend!

That was some serious shit we drank! Your wife rocks! You are right, it was the Coccinelle…aka, the Frog.

No problemo. Keep drinking the good stuff!

You and all of us!!

The Tribe Vineyard is “in the rocks”. If you are facing the Horsepower Vineyard, it’s right behind you. The Horsepower being to the left of Armada.

Thanks for the additions. Especially the list of wines we drank at dinner. Damn fun weekend. Thanks again for letting me crash at your pad. I owe you! I need to get down your way this summer for some serious vino drinking.

You will make it someday. Until then, find some friends that are on the list and drink their Cayuse, baby!