Thursday, March 18, 2021

Force Majeure Collaboration Series Ptera Red Mountain 2012

Force Majeure Collaboration Series Ptera Force Majeure Vineyard 2012

For midweek dinner, Linda prepared a beef roast variation of her shepherd's pie and pot pie. I pulled from the cellar this big complex Columbia Valley red wine for an accompaniment. This is from proprietor entrepreneurs Paul and Susan McBride who ventured to the Northwest in pursuit of a dream to develop world-class vineyards and wines from the region. They believed in the promise of the quality wines coming from Red Mountain in the Columbia Valley in central Washington State, They purchased undeveloped land that is now Force Majeure Vineyard in 2004 to pursue their passion to make wines that define the region and showcase the terroir of its vineyards.

Drawing inspiration from the great vineyards of Bordeaux and the Northern and Southern Rhône valleys, they developed the first vineyard on the steep, rocky upper slopes of Red Mountain that were formed by the ancient Missoula floods, winds and volcanic activity. This steep vineyard ranges in elevation from 960 to 1,230 feet. 

They worked to carefully match varietal and clonal selections and viticulture techniques and irrigation to the eight distinct soil types in their vineyard. The outcome is a vineyard articulated into many small “micro-blocks,” maximizing the potential to to capture the distinctive and varying terrior of the unique and dynamic site.

The rocky upper-slope with shallow soil is well suited to the cultivation of Rhone varietals such as Syrah and Grenache, while the lower blocks of the vineyard are comprised of deep, well-drained Warden soils, where the Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc excel. The west/southwest exposure of the site is planted to Syrah on the hill, tightly spaced to provide shade on the fruit. Development of the site began in 2006.

In 2014 they recruited winemaker Todd Alexander from California. Todd had developed a reputation for crafting terroir-driven wines that showcase the unique characteristics of specific sites through uncompromising, meticulous work in both the vineyard and winery. Prior to his arrival at Force Majeure, Todd had been Winemaker for acclaimed “cult” winery Bryant Family Vineyard in the Napa Valley. At Bryant, he worked closely with some of the very best and brightest in the wine industry, including legendary vineyard manager David Abreu and famous winemaking consultant Michel Rolland. 

In 2014, Todd came to Force Majeure with the goal of applying his skills and talents toward pushing the envelope of winemaking in Washington state, to join in our endeavor of crafting truly world-class wines from our own special sites.

We hosted Todd and his wife Carrie during their vintage release tour visit to Chicago in 2016 where we introduced him to our good friend Jared Gelband, wine director at the Italian Village restaurants.

We later visited Force Majeure during our Walla Walla Force Majeure Vineyards Site Visit and Tasting Walla Walla Washington Wine Experience in 2018. We tasted and acquired a broader portfolio of their wines at that time and subsequently through their wine club allocations.  

We have subsequently served Force Majeure Red Mountain wines at dinners we have hosted at Italian Village Chicago.
This vintage release is a unique blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. This label, Ptera, was only made in a few vintages and quickly become a mailing list favorite. This was from the Force Majeure Collaboration Series, begun in 2004 with a partnership between viticulturist Ryan Johnson, owners Paul and Susan McBride and seven specially selected winemakers, each chosen for their proficiency with various grape varietals and styles.

The “Collaboration Series” was produced in small quantities of Bordeaux- and Rhone-inspired wines, sourced from the notable Ciel du Cheval Vineyard from 2004 to 2013, and including in later years the Force Majeure Vineyard.  This and the follow on 2013 release were the final vintage for the “Collaboration Series” wines, as Force Majeure estate production increased to allow them to be a completely estate-focused winery sourcing fruit from their own vineyards.

This label was a unique blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It was awarded 95 points by The Wine Advocate and 91 points by Wine Spectator. 

At nearing a decade old, this was likely at its prime, at the apex of its drinking window and profile. The cork was in perfect condition as shown.

Dark inky purple garnet colored, full bodied, firmly structured but nicely balanced and approachable full black raspberry and black berry fruits are accented by notes of cola, coffee, spices with lead pencil graphite and floral turning to fine grained tannins on the long lingering finish.

RM 92 points.