Part 4, Washington State: visiting one of North America's leading wine
De Lille we met with Chris Upchurch, the co-founder and winemaker.
Chris showed up in a soccer shirt – Seattle Sounders – and was an
engaging, confident host. 'We fancy ourselves as a Grand Cru kind of
winery,' he shared. 'Parker gives us five stars in his book: we are
one of the few five star wineries here in Washington State. Every
wine I have made in the last 6 years has got a 90 or above from
Parker. It's like I am getting straight As.'
continued, 'I'm old enough to remember when the Wine Spectator was
in newspaper form. The industry has gone crazy and the Spec and
Parker should take some credit for this. They've just gotten the
Lille was founded in 1992 and has remained focused on Bordeaux
blends since that time. 'Washington State is a great wine growing
region,' says Chris. 'It's second to none. We are in the same
sentence as any great wine-growing region in the world. We just
don't have 600 years of history.'
started off as a Bordeaux house,' says Upchurch. 'For Washington
State in general, that's our speciality.' But he's also keen on
Syrah. 'In 1997 my favourite vineyard started producing Syrah. I
love Syrah and Rhône
wines. After you make good Syrah you get caught up in the Rhône
chatted at length, and during the conversation there was a moment of
hilarity, where Upchurch made a confession: 'I have a brevity
Upchurch was born and raised in New Jersey, and went to University
of Colorado in Boulder, where he took environmental studies. Since
then he's been in the wine industry. 'My dad drank wine at home,
which was a rarity; I was raised on more than just vodka and beer,'
recalls Upchurch. 'I started working at restaurants in Boulder in
the early 1970s, and no one knew anything about wine. So I was asked
to do the wine lists. I helped out David Lake at Columbia Winery –
he was an icon here. He took Columbia to a whole new level. He kind
of mentored me.'
discuss terroir. 'What happened here 10 000 years ago made this a
great wine region,' says Upchurch, referring to the Missoula Floods.
'We just need to discover what to do with it.' He continues, 'We
imported all our soils from Utah, Idaho and Montana. There was a
2000 foot deep lake, all above ground, bounded by glaciers. It broke
and created a huge wave. In Missoula you can still see on the hills
the layers where the lake was. This was discovered by a park ranger
in the 1920s.'
took me 20 years of walking the vineyards to get here,' says
Upchurch. 'It's a high plains desert with soil; it's unique in he
world. The fact that it's a desert means low rainfall and huge
diurnal shifts. You can freeze in a desert at night.'
goal is to do cool things. Maybe that's the old hippy in me, but
that's what I want to do.'
Lille Doyenne Rosé
2014 Yakima Valley, Washington State
A blend of 60% Grenache, 22% Cinsault and 18% Mourvedre. Full
salmon/pink in colour. Textured and quite pure with subtle pear and
peach fruit, as well as some cherry and spice notes. A rich,
textured style. 90/100
De Lille Chaleur Estate Blanc 2013 Washington
65% Sauvignon, 35% Semillon. 65% new oak. Lively and rich with
nice spicy texture under the bold flavours of pear and citrus.
Generous and weighty, but still has definition. 91/100
De Lille Cellars Four Flags Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Red Mountain,
From four different vineyards. Smooth and aromatic with a fine
blackcurrant fruit nose. Dense, cedary, spicy blackcurrant fruit
palate with nice spicy framing. Supple and elegant, although fully
ripe, with lovely focus. 93/100
De Lille Cellars D2 2012 Red Mountain, Washington State
50% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit
Verdot. 100% New French oak. Sweet, ripe and smoothly textured with
nice plummy cherry fruit. Quite silky and creamy with pretty
texture. Broad and delicious, sweetly fruited and with a fine, silky
texture. It's a really prety, ripe wine. 92/100
WASHINGTON STATE WINES
du Cheval Vineyard
with Kevin Pogue
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