In every industry there is someone who just simply hits it out of the ballpark every time. You know that person. They are the one with the Midas touch. No matter what they do, no matter what they produce, it is always just simply better than the others. People try to imitate their style or their products, but can never create at the same level that they do. These people are simply artisans of their craft.
One such person is Charlie Hoppes, the owner and winemaker for Fidelitas Winery. I’ve known and followed Charlie for years. I’ve even sat behind him in church on Sundays. Not that I’m a stalker. We just happen to live somewhat parallel lives.
What impresses me consistently about Charlie and his winemaking is his clean and no nonsense approach to the business. Every bottle, whether highly acclaimed or his quiet work as an advisor to other wineries, is absolutely beautiful. There is no “just bottle it” mentality that you see with other vintners. If it isn’t Charlie’s best, you aren’t going to taste it.
The other thing you’ll soon note about Charlie, once you get to meet and know him, is that he is a genuinely nice and sincere person. His word is as good as his wine.
Last week I attended a tasting at the AVA Wine Room in Kennewick that featured several Fidelitas wines. For a small fee of $20 we enjoyed four different Fidelitas wines and hors d’ vores. A fifth wine, his newest vintage of Merlot, was poured as a thank you gift from Charlie and appreciated by all.
We started the tasting with the 2007 Semillon. This clean, dry Semillon is simply beautiful. Multiple layers of citrus and floral scents and flavors lead to a wonderfully crisp finish. Perfect with soft cheeses, salads, or spicy foods.
The first red we sampled was the 2005 “Eight” Syrah. Eight is Charlie’s selection of his best eight barrels of Syrah from each vintage. Highly limited in production, and truly divine, the 2005 Eight features flavors of bright cherry, raspberry, and licorice. If you like really good Syrah, you better get this one while it lasts. The 2005 is Charlie’s finale to Syrah, never to be made again.
The 2006 Columbia Valley Cabernet is a perfect example of what Columbia Valley fruit is supposed to offer. Flavors of Black Cherry and Licorice fill the mouth. A gentle mouthfeel and long tannins on the finish.
Next, we enjoyed the 2006 Ciel Du Cheval Cabernet. Just awarded a Wine Spectator “94”, the Ciel has a wonderful palate of blueberries, cola, and dark chocolate. This bottle was absolutely fantastic!
Last, we enjoyed a special treat of Fidelitas 2005 Columbia Valley Merlot. Dark stone fruit flavors, black cherry, mocha, and cassis fill the palate. A delicate and long lasting finish with just enough tannin to balance the fruit make this wine a favorite of mine. Yum!!
If you want to try any of these wines, I know that they are fully distributed in both Pendleton and Hermiston. You can pick them up at any of the local wine shops, and at several of the finer dining establishments.