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2016 Counoise Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain

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2016 Counoise Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain
2016 Counoise Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain

Every time I taste a 100% pure Counoise I am stunned. It simple is one of the most interesting wines around. Counoise is a dark skinned grape that grows primarily in the south end of the Rhone valley where it is known for its peppery/spicy nature and its high acidity. There, Counoise labors in relative anonymity. Yet, it is one of the thirteen grape varieties allowed in Châteauneuf du Pape and is a key component in many of the more notable Chateau's blends.

Tablas Creek in California, first brought Counoise plants to North America in 1990. Using plants sourced from Tablas Creek, Ciel du Cheval planted its current block of Counoise in 2000. It was thought that Counoise would be used as a blending component and combined with Ciel’s other Rhone varietals (Syrah, Mourvédre and Grenache). However, once in the winery,  Washington winemakers take notice of it. Fresh, delicious with great mouthfeel and bright acidity, most now see it as worthy variteal on its own. .


Counoise is one of the great secrets in winemaking. It is a key variety in the production of many great Rhone wine blends. And, by itself, bottled as a single varietal wine it is truly remarkable. Ruby Red/Crimson in color, deep and dark it has a remarkably intense nose of black pepper, raspberries, cassis, tobacco and earth mixing in an ever-changing dance. The palate is generous, initially draping the mouth with an intense mix of berries, cocoa powder. and earth. It then builds adding warm spices and coffee beans. Underneath this all lies an intense spine of acid and supple tannins which drive a long finish. 123 Cases.  

Varietal100% Counoise
AppellationRed Mountain
VineyardCiel du Ceval
FermentationOpen Top Fermenter
Wine StyleRed Wine
Volume750 ml

92 Points, Decantur
Clive Pursehouse, 12/2/2022.

A Counoise is not commonplace in Washington state, and it was planted at Ciel du Cheval in 2000, having been pioneered in the US by Tablas Creek. The wine is wonderful and youthful at six years on. Its bright red hue seems indicative of its overall personality. Aromas of fresh raspberry, anise, and stony minerals introduce a palate of tangy red and blueberry fruits, great lift and acidity take the wine into a mineral-driven finish with notes of stone and white pepper. Fresh.


91 Points, Great Northwest Wine

Aromas of fig, dried black cherry and white pepper are joined by cherry tomato. On the palate, it’s bright with Montmorency cherry, cola and dried strawberry, offering a nice bit of grip to pair with lean meats such as flank steak or a New York strip.




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Price $42.00 / Per Bottle
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