In the November issue of the Review of Washington Wines there are several red wines from the 2015 vintage, and others have been reviewed in recent issues. This marks the beginning of the next vintage release cycle (see the 26 September Blog posting, "The Classic 2014 Reds now in Full Cycle," for the previous one). So, how is the 2015 vintage shaping up?
The 2015 vintage is on the record books as one of the warmest in recent years. The growing season started early and saw 3900 growing degree days, well above average. This put harvest two to three weeks earlier than usual. The heat levels pushed the yields slightly below normal. Qualitatively, the vintage is exceptional (The Wine Spectator rated it 92-95 points for Washington reds), especially for Cabernet Sauvignon which benefited from a moderate cooling trend in October which allowed flavors and aromatics to develop. A few areas were affected by smoke taint by wildfires, but this did not have a major impact overall. It was a harvest that made many grape growers and winemakers very happy.
At this stage, the 2015 reds are showing very well. In general, the wines are well fruited and structured, with fine aromatics (phenols) and depth. Acid levels are, for the most part, sturdy, more so than the 2013's from another warm year, and with well balanced tannins. Most of the 2015's released so far have been from other varieties than Cabernet Sauvignon, many of which will be released next Spring. So far, I have tasted many impressive 2015 Syrahs and Malbecs, as well as some alluring Grenaches and Petit Verdots (an ideal vintage for that variety).
So, as we go down the line on this cycle, we can look forward to a lot more impressive red wines. More later!