Uncorked: John Ware, Quilceda Creek

Quilceda Creek has set a benchmark for Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon. Launched in 1978 by Alex Golitzin, the nephew of André Tchelistcheff, the godfather of American wine industry, Quilceda Creek’s flagship Cabernet, made from the best grapes harvested from its 142-hectare vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills and Red Mountain, has been lauded by wine critic Robert Parker with a consistent streak of top scores including three 100-point vintages. The estate also makes a second label Bordeaux blend. John Ware, general manager of the winery, came to Hong Kong earlier this year to promote its latest Quilceda Creek vintages, including the now sold-out 2014 Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Here, the vintner tells dbHK about the 100-point 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley that was served by former US President Barack Obama to former Chinese president Hu Jintao, and why he would compare himself to Cabernet Sauvignon.

What vintage are you? 


What bottle sparked your love of wine? 

I can’t think of any one wine per se. I have tasted many great wines from all over the world. Some of the more memorable wines were the 1997 Harlan Estate, 2005 Château Haut-Brion, 2009 and 2010 Château Pavie, and a 1997 Screaming Eagle.

What would you be as a wine? 

The king of grapes–Cabernet Sauvignon of course!  Complex, bold, yet refined and age-worthy

Where are you happiest? 

In the desert area of La Quinta, California, surrounded by the San Jacinto Mountains, playing a round of golf with my best friends at PGA West.

What’s your greatest vice? 

It has three parts; sitting outside in the Pacific Northwest by my fire pit in the summer, enjoying a Manhattan (2 oz Angel’s Envy Rye, a capful of blood orange bitters, a dash of Angostura Aromatic bitters prior to shaking over ice and two Luxardo Marashcino cherries) and an aged Opus X cigar.

Best advice you ever got? 

Dream big and never quit.

Your cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save? 

A 1.5 litre signed magnum by my brother-in-law Paul Golitzin of our 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley – the third 100-point rated wine from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. This was the wine served at the Obama White House on January 19, 2011 for President Hu Jintao of China.

What’s the best and worst thing about the wine business? 

The best is meeting interesting people, sharing our family story and enjoying great wines. The worst is agricultural risk. Every year we experience some form of risk in the vineyards—potential fires caused by lightening, extreme heat (2015, 2016), extreme cold (loss of 57 acres of the Champoux Vineyards Circle Block in the fall of 2010), pests (cutworm in 2001 forced our family to cut down our young vines on second leaf at the Galitzine Vineyard on Red Mountain), and always the potential threat of frost during bloom in early springtime.

What’s on your wine bucket list? 

I have never tasted Petrus. I would like to try a 1967 – my birth year, but any 100-pointer would do.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? 

Jordan Spieth, President Bill and Hillary Clinton, President Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Lady Diana, Bill and Melinda Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Sting, U2’s Bono, CS Lewis and Pope Francis.

Personal satisfaction (Parker points – out of 100)?

97 points. I think there is always more in life to give and to experience, people to meet and enjoy, stories to hear and be told, and the opportunity to learn more.

Which wine would you like to be served at your funeral?

Just like the conclusion of a fine meal, I would hope to have lived my life in such a way that my family and friends would toast the end of my life with a 1992 Taylor Fladgate Port (100 points).

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