100-Point Score Given To Nephew Of ‘Dean Of American Winemaking’ For Washington Cabernet Sauvignon

Life returned to the charming streets of Paris as men and women danced in the streets with laughter and opening wine bottles, becoming the music to which they moved, and strangers hugged each other fiercely as they kissed each cheek with tears streaming from their eyes. Finally, the Nazi rule was over, as the Allies won World War II, and Paris, which was a ghost of its former self during Nazi rule, showed that the exuberant enjoyment of life, joie de vivre, was not wholly dead; if anything, it had become stronger than it was before the war.

Quilcda Creek Mach One vineyard
Photo Credit: Quilceda Creek Winery

Alex Golitzin’s family, who had escaped from the Russian Revolution to move to the wine region of Loire Valley in France, as that is what many free-thinking and talented people did during that time, as they knew that they could only be safe in the countryside of France, that is until WWII broke out. Alex was born in the Loire Valley but moved to Paris with his parents during the war. As enchanting as Paris was once the war ended, they knew it wasn’t safe for them, as Russia started to gain power relatively quickly and the idea that no one stood in their way of aggressively taking over other Eastern European countries with a repressive iron fist, was outright unnerving to many Russian immigrants in Europe.

The Golitzin family could have never guessed that their son Alex would become a key player in establishing the production of great Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon and even more unbelievable that he would be helped by an uncle who would become arguably the most famous U.S. winemaker of all time.

Napa & Washington Wine Excellence

Luckily, Alex had a maternal uncle in the United States who could help him and his family emigrate but it wasn’t just any Russian uncle – it was the legendary André Tchelistcheff, known as the ‘Dean Of American Winemaking’, who was a crucial part of helping Napa Valley achieve their greatness that is now known worldwide. André survived being left for dead in the Russian Civil War to become a well-known, talented chemistry and agronomy student in Paris. A Frenchman named Georges de Latour convinced André to work for him at his winery, Beaulieu Vineyard, in Napa Valley in the late 1930s, and the rest is history.

André went on to help his nephew, Alex Golitzin, and his wife, Jeannette, to start a winery in Washington State that would become one of the critical pillars of establishing Columbia Valley, Washington State fine wine. André’s main advice was to “make one wine and make it really well.” And so, they made one outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon and named their winery after a nearby creek, Quilceda Creek Winery, releasing their first vintage in 1979.

Alex and Jeannette’s son, Paul Golitzin, was bitten by the winemaking bug at an early age, and it is no wonder, considering his great-uncle was André Tchelistcheff. Paul learned a great deal from André and his son Dimitri, which keeps Paul, to this day, always trying to find improvement in reaching a higher level of excellence. 

It’s In The Blood

Paul Golitzin and vineyard manager Dan Nickolaus  Photo Credit: Quilceda Creek winery
Paul Golitzin & vineyard manager Dan Nickolaus Photo Credit: Quilceda Creek winery

A great winemaking prowess is undoubtedly present in the very talented Paul Golitzin as he refines the balance between power and elegance in his Cabernet wines as the director of winemaking. But interestingly, as he approaches the 50th anniversary of his family winery, his current focus is to express the nuanced differences of terroir and sense of place in his wines. Over the years, the Golitzin family has acquired some premium vineyards, such as owning 79% of one of the oldest vineyards in Washington, Champoux vineyard, and the cooler climate Mach One vineyard.  

Some might think it is a departure for Paul to get so obsessive about the vineyards. Still, even though his great-uncle André Tchelistcheff was known for establishing modern American winemaking practices, he was a man who had an incredible ability to spot an excellent vineyard as well as express its true sense of place.

The famous Napa vineyard owner Andy Beckstoffer, who owns some of the most prestigious vineyards in California, let alone the world, said that André Tchelistcheff was his first viticulturist. And it was André who recognized the uniquely outstanding terroir of the plot in Bolgheri, Tuscany, that would go on to create one of the most excellent Italian cult wines, Masseto. And so, even though his legend was built on his winemaking achievements, he had a knack for finding and expressing greatness from the land.

Cabernet Sauvignon clone 8 in the Galitzine vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon clone 8 Galitzine vineyard Photo Credit: Quilceda Creek winery

So Paul has been working towards not only single vineyard bottlings of his Cabernet Sauvignon but also adding another facet to the expression of place, a single clone Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety that matches the aspect and soil of a particular plot. Those who know red Burgundy, or even great new world Pinot Noir, will be aware that the clone of the Pinot Noir grape variety used is an essential part of the characteristics of that wine, as qualities will significantly differ among various clones of the Pinot Noir grape. Quilceda Creek, which was the winery to make the world take Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon seriously, is now taking another leap forward by bringing attention to the unique “thumbprint” of each clone, especially when it is partnered, through trial and error, to the ideal piece of land. 

One recent bottling of 2020 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Palengat’ was awarded 100 points from the Wine Advocate, which is sourced from a plot of their Mach One vineyard using the Cabernet Sauvignon clone 685.

When it comes to assessing a historically significant person’s legacy, it is always difficult to say whether they achieved more while they were alive or if they achieved more after their death. With some, it is easy to see which side they will land but with André Tchelistcheff, it is not so easy. There wouldn’t be the Napa Valley that one knows today if it wasn’t for what he accomplished while he was alive but numerous wine producers after him have reached extraordinary heights because of the legacy he left. 

It is a debate that has merit on both sides. Still, there is one definite thing: Paul Golitzin benefited from the knowledge passed on from André like so many others. Yet, the blood that pumps through his veins gives him that fiercely pioneering spirit that will not allow him to settle for having one of the great Cabernet Sauvignon wines; no, he’s going to show the world that there is so much more to Cabernet then previously known. 

Quilceda Creek winery Photo Credit: Quilceda Creek winery
Quilceda Creek winery
Photo Credit: Quilceda Creek winery

***Link to original article on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/cathrinetodd/2024/01/06/nephew-of-dean-of-american-winemaking-receives-100-point-wine-score-for-washington-cabernet-sauvignon-wine/

The below Quilceda Creek, Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is the only wine they sell to the market, select retail stores and restaurants. The remaining Cabernet Sauvignon wines are sold 100% to their wine club membership. Currently, it is a year to a year and a half for the waitlist to join the wine club. The below wines are back vintages tasted with the current vintage of 2020 to show how well these wines age. 

2012 Quilceda Creek, Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. A dark and decadent wine with black raspberry compote and blackcurrant preserves with an uplifting hint of sage that has a broad, lush palate with flavors of cocoa nibs and candied violets with round, silky tannins.  

2018 Quilceda Creek, Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh thyme with dried wildflowers on the nose and layers of red and black fruit flavors intertwined with ribbons of silk that caress the palate and has a long, flavorful, and gorgeously textured finish that goes on and on.

2020 Quilceda Creek, Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from six vineyards, including Champoux and Mach One. The aromas slowly unravel teasingly as hints of freshly picked flowers, wet stones and warm red cherries each delight with blueberry and blackberry fruit flavors and a touch of spice that displays an impressive depth and concentration in harmony with an overall delicate beauty. The suggested retail price is $250, with 5,450 cases produced.

Quilceda Creek ‘Palengat’ Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 685 Photo Credit: Quilceda Creek Winery
Quilceda Creek ‘Palengat’ Cabernet S. Clone 685 Photo Credit:
Quilceda Creek Winery

The wines below are only offered to wine club members with these single vineyard, single clone wines, each priced at $250. Also, the wines below were double-decanted the night before, and the suggestion for the future 2021s is to double-decant them a couple of days before and drink them on the third day. 

2020 Quilceda Creek ‘Palengat’ Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 685, Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley, Washington State: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon clone 685 from a plot in the Mach One vineyard. Even though these wines are said to hit their ideal peak in 10-15 years, this exquisite beauty is just breathtaking right now with a lovely structure, as the tannins feel like delicate lace, with exotically pretty aromas of jasmine, cumin seeds and star anise with deliciously black berried juicy fruit yet it is wrapped up in an overall finesse and eloquent delivery that has an extraordinarily long and outstandingly enchanting finish. Palengat is Paul’s mother’s maiden name, as all the single vineyard and single clone bottlings are named after the family. Only 930 cases were made.

2020 Quilceda Creek ‘Tchelistcheff’ Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 412, Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley, Washington State: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon clone 412 from a plot in the Mach One vineyard. Multilayered aromas on the nose, such as tobacco leaf, dried herbs and pressed rosebud, with a firm, distinguished structure that hints at classic Bordeaux qualities, which seems very fitting since their wine is a homage to André Tchelistcheff, yet there is a succulence to this wine that traditional Bordeaux had issues achieving in the past and so this wine is the best of both worlds. A minuscule 250 cases were made.

2020 Quilceda Creek, Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 8, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington State: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon clone 8 from their namesake vineyard called Galitzine in the Red Mountain AVA, one of the warmest appellations in Washington State. Big, brawny tannins with broad shouldered structure yet the quality of the tannins is excellent with no rough edges that has brooding flavors that are irresistible as they beacon to the drinker with a mysterious air that is balanced by a vibrancy in the wine that is electric and brings a great focus to the finish. Only 1,275 cases were made.

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