Friday, June 10, 2022

Force Majeure Parabellum Coulée Rhone Blend 2018

Force Majeure Parabellum Coulée Columbia Valley Rhone Blend 2018 

For pairing with BBQ rib dinner we opened this big Syrah based Rhone blend from our wine club allocation shipments from producer Force Majeure.

We discovered, tasted and acquired this wine during our Force Majeure Vineyards Site Visit and Tasting as part of our Walla Walla Wine Experience 2018. We first met Force Majeure winemaker Todd Alexander and marketing, distribution and branding exec Carrie Alexander during the Chicago stop of their promotion tour in 2016 when we hosted them at Italian Village in Chicago. Since then we've acquired a respectable collection of Force Majeure wines, hence, they were one of our shortlist priority visits when we planned our Washington State, Columbia Valley wine trip.

Our visit to the Force Majeure estate vineyard in the Walla Walla Rocks AVA, was a highlight of our visit to the region, hosed by Todd's wife, Carrie Alexander who manages marketing and operations. Since then, they have purchased property at and planted vineyards at the North Fork of the Walla Walla river and have released their own Paxsa Brand and labels. Both Force Majeure and Paxsa brands focus on Rhone as well as Bordeaux varietals. 

Linda loved the sister label to this bottle, Force Majeure Parvata Red Blend 2015, that we took to Duck Inn Chicago unique dining experience BYOB which was a standout that evening. That bottle was another label that discovered and acquired during our Walla Walla appellation and estate visit. 

We tasted the next most recent vintage of this label, the Force Majeure Parabellum Coulée Red Blend 2019 for a special dinner last fall with son Alec. 

Tonight we opened the Force Majeure Parabellum Coulée Rhone Blend 2018.

This is from the Parabellum brand, the second-tier of Force Majeure wines, yet still produced with care to reflect the varieties and terroir and be approachable for early consumption and gratification, without constraints on blending. Parabellum and the rest of the brand are intended to "provide an opportunity to savor an authentic wine of distinction at a great value." To that end, Parabellum wines are unrestrained imaginative blends of both Bordeaux and Rhone varietals and offer good QPR.

While many of these blends are called GSM, a reference to common blend of Rhone varietals Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, the blend of this release, contains northern and southern Rhone varietals, but is 90% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre, a blend much to our liking since we're lovers of Syrah, one of our favored varietals. 

Force Majeure Parabellum Coulée Columbia Valley Rhone Blend 2018

This is sourced from Force Majeure Estate Vineyards from both the Rocks region of Walla Walla and the estate vineyard on Red Mountain, from the Red Mountain AVA, in the Columbia River valley in central Washington State.

As its name suggests, it is actually neither a mountain nor is it composed of red earth. The area’s springtime proliferation of cheatgrass, which has a reddish color, actually gives the area the name, "Red" Mountain. 

The appellation is an anticline of the Yakima fold belt, a series of geologic folds that define a number of viticultural regions in the surrounding area on the eastern edge of Yakima Valley with slopes facing southwest towards the Yakima River. The terroir of soils, sunlit slopes exposure, and climate are ideal for the ripening of grapes. 

The steep upper slopes of Red Mountain, sit at 960 to 1,230 feet elevation and produce some of the most mineral-driven, tannic and age-worthy red wines of Washington. It is just about the hottest appellation with normal growing season temperatures commonly reaching above 90F. The soil is particularly poor in nutrients and has a high pH, which results in significantly smaller berry sizes compared to varietal norms. The low juice to skin ratio in smaller berries combined with the strong, dry summer winds, leads to higher tannin levels in Red Mountain grapes.

Red Mountain is relatively new to the fine wine scene. Force Majeure were pioneers in planting some of the very first vineyards on the steep, upper slopes of Red Mountain. The first wine pioneers to the region initially walked the land in the summer of 1972. They found a gently sloping sagebrush covered hillside that had been largely overlooked by both early settlers and local indigenous peoples. There were no roads, wells, power- lines or any other signs of civilization. 

Planted in those early days focused on carefully matching the optimal varietal and clonal selections, trellising and irrigation to the nine distinct soil types formed by the ancient Missoula floods, winds and volcanic activity. The result was a vineyard articulated into many small "micro-blocks," to meet the management demands of this unique and dynamic site. Due to the rough, rocky nature of the acreage and elevations ranging from 960 to 1,230 feet, mechanization is virtually impossible in the upper portion of Force Majeure, requiring true "farming by hand," while the lower blocks of the vineyard are comprised of deep, well-drained Warden soils. 

The Red Mountain AVA is the smallest appellation in the state. AVA status was achieved in 2001. Red Mountain now hosts approximately fifty-four vineyards covering more than 2300 acres, making Red Mountain one of the most densely planted AVA's with 57% of the 4,040 acres of the AVA currently planted. 

The climate and terroir boasts approximately 3,200 degree days but with significantly higher total acids than are typically found in this warm a region. It has 2 hours more sunlight per day during the growing season than Napa Valley and receives only five to six inches of annual rainfall a year.

The terroir coupled with the diversity of the vineyards results in versatility to grow a variety of fruit characterized by intensity, depth and concentration, complex flavors and fine tannins. The reds of the area tend to express dark black and blue fruit, deep concentration, complex textures, high levels of tannins and as previously noted, have good aging capabilities.

The producer website says this is a blend of 86% Syrah 14% Mourvèdre, wine reviewer Jeb Dunnuck writes its is a blend of 93% Syrah and 7% Mourvèdre. As shown above, the rear label of our bottle says 90% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre.

Dark inky purple plum colored, full bodied, round, textured, black berry, black raspberry and hints of blueberry fruits with cassis, spice, hints of pepper and black tea with notes of floral violets, Red Mountain minerality, and a firm full tangy tannin laced lingering finish. 

RM 93 points.  
This label release was awarded 93-95 points by Jeb Dunnuck.