Obelisco Estate is a part of the new guard of Washington wineries that are pushing the envelope in terms of producing quality wines. Obelisco is the creation of Doug Long and his partners, when Doug decided that he had retired too early.
Doug’s career in wine stretches back to 1971 when he and his two brothers planted grapes on some of his father’s property purchased high above the Napa Valley. As good luck would have it, they soon learned that this site was ideal for growing high quality grapes. A decade later they decided to open their own winery, David Arthur, which went on to considerable fame. Wine Spectator awarded it their 2000 Winery of the Year. Their Elevation 1147 Cabernet Sauvignon has received much praise from the wine critics, frequently cited for its long aging ability and opulent texture.
When Doug decided that retirement was not ready for him, he set his sights on Red Mountain, one of Washington’s premier wine growing AVAs (American Viticultural Areas). Red Mountain has certain similarities to the high elevation vineyard that Doug developed back in Napa. Both areas are known to produce beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon and both are known to produce wines capable of long development in the cellar. While those similarities existed, it was more the differences that he was seeking. He did not want to do another wine in the Napa tradition of powerful, fruit forward wines. This time he wanted to produce a Cabernet that would reveal its more elegant side. He knew that Red Mountain, in its more Northern location with greater diurnal temperature shifts was capable of producing the style he sought. So he planted 30 acres in 2003 with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec and Merlot. Their first vintage was 2007 and their Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded Best Wine over $20 by Seattle Magazine along with a Double Gold at the Seattle Wine Awards. Since then, they haven’t looked back having earned dozens upon dozens of awards.
For winemaking Obelisco now has Sarah Goedhart as head winemaker. She took over from her uncle and mentor Pete Hedges, brother of Tom Hedges of Hedges Family Estate Winery on Red Mountain. Educated at San Diego in business and philosophy, she learned the winemaking business at various wineries in Santa Barbara and Sonoma.
Obelisco has recently opened a new and very comfortable tasting room near the Hollywood traffic circle in Woodinville. There we met with manager Ken Abbott and tasted through their lineup. Ken is a delightful personality and their tasting room is like sitting in someone’s very comfortable living room. The room has a bar at its centre that is flanked by comfortable chairs and couches. It is a great spot to visit whenever you are in Woodinville and an even better spot to enjoy their wine.
Pale green/gold in colour. Green apples and lime are delivered on a medium body with lively acidity. The 1% residual sugar provides a nice counter-balance without creating any sweetness. We detect hints of honeysuckle overlaying the minerally finish.
Very Good (US$22 at their tasting room)
100% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine spends 21 hours on the skins to give it a translucent crimson colour. Spicy strawberry and pomegranate come through on a broad shouldered frame. Ken told us of a story of a rather large football player who came to the tasting room and was not a Rosé fan, as he found them too light. Ken thought he might change his mind if he tried the Obelisco Rosé. The football player did and said he wished more Rosés were made in this bigger style and purchased several bottles to take away. Ken packaged them up and handed them to him saying “here is your rosé”. The footballer said “No. This is brosé”.
Very Good+ (US$35 at their tasting room)
100% Syrah from Les Gosses Vineyard. Dark red/black in colour with a slight fade at the rim. Blackberries and black cherries form the nose with a slightly reductive character. The medium + body is textured and round, and the fruit absorbs well the 100% new American and French oak barrels. The blackfruit flavours are joined by pepper notes on the finish.
Very Good+ (US$45 at their tasting room)
This 100% varietal wine spent 19 months in 43% new French and American oak. Spicy with dark cherry fruit, it is has a very enticing and lush mouthfeel, great balance and a long finish. The silky texture is sure to make this wine a crowd pleaser. Ready to drink now.
Cab is what this winery is known for and this wine recently took a gold medal at the Seattle Wine Awards. A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 10% Malbec. Medium dark red in colour, the wine shows lots of black cherry, currant, baking spice and even hints of mince meat. This is a delicious wine that has a round mouthfeel that shows it is open for drinking today but a reserved strength that will provide at least another decade of development.
Excellent (US$50 at their tasting room)
A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 3% Malbec. With this wine, the oak treatment is a few months longer (20 months) but only 25% is new and it is all American. The medium+ body is wonderfully plush and comes across as the classic “iron fist in a velvet glove”. Baking spices and cedar notes add complexity to this fruit driven and very sophisticated Cabernet. Seductive now, yet can surely see its tenth birthday in fine form… if you can manage to keep your hands off of it that long!
Excellent+ (US$70 at their tasting room)