Arbor Crest Wine Cellars is located in the Eastern Washington town of Spokane, close to the Idaho border. The winery produces a wide variety of wines at differing styles and price points. At the high end, it produces Dionysus, a red Meritage wine. Meritage is a term used by United States producers to name wines made in the style of Bordeaux, which a mixture of grapes, usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and rarely Malbec or Carmenere. Meritage wines are some of the most food-friendly red wines made today, and by using small amounts of different grapes, the winemaker can take advantage of each grape’s strengths to create a wine that is lush, complex, and full-bodied.
Currently, Arbor Crest is offering the 2009 Dionysus, but with some searching and a good wine store, older vintages can be acquired. As with many red wines, Arbor Crest Dionysus improves with some age in bottle. A bottle of the 2005 Dionysus was a stunning example of just how good the wines of Eastern Washington can be. Dionysus’ Cabernet grapes are sourced from one of the oldest vineyards in Washington, the Dionysus 16 vineyard, which, due to the age of the vines results in highly concentrated fruit flavors.
The Merlot comes from the acclaimed Klipsun and Connor-Lee vineyards, which produce different yet complementary profiles, while the smaller blending grapes in Dionysus (Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec) come from equally impressive vineyards. The wine is then aged for 36 months in French oak barrels before being bottled.
With a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot, Arbor Crest Dionysus is an elegant, full-bodied wine that has the potential to age for 20 years. However, tasting the 2005 vintage after seven years revealed a wine that was ready to be the centerpiece for an amazing meal.
On the nose, the 2005 Dionysus displays a bouquet of black raspberries, oak, freshly split cedar shingles, and cinnamon. As it caresses the palate, notes of cassis, plum, blackberry, and black raspberry contrast with oak, cinnamon, and nutmeg for a complex and yet approachable wine.
The 2005 Dionysus I sampled was paired with grilled, grass-fed Oregon T-Bone steaks, roasted new potatoes, grilled green beans, and sautéed spinach. The wine paired exceptionally well with the beef, with the pairing clearly being more than the sum of its parts.
At around $40 a bottle for the current vintage of Arbor Crest Dionysus, this isn’t an everyday table wine. However, if you are looking for a nice bottle of red wine to lay down for a few years before opening on a special occasion, you’d be hard pressed to find better quality and value than Arbor Crest Dionysus. It is simply a fantastic wine that will be a great addition to your wine collection.