Washington Wine Club – September 2011

2008 Abeja, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
If you need a reminder of just how highly we regard John Abbott’s wines, just look back through past club notes: we’ve featured their Cabernet in one of our clubs every spring or summer for the past six years (since their third vintage). While each vintage of Abeja Cabernet has its proponents proclaiming it as the best ever, the 2008 vintage is distinguished by its elegance and balance. That’s not surprising, given that 2008 was a cooler year and so John gave all the grapes much longer hang-times to pick up the desired levels of ripeness. And, unlike 2007, he chose not to make a reserve wine, allowing all his top barrels to go into this Cab. As always, the fruit sources are impeccable, including Abeja’s estate Heather Hill Vineyard, Hedges Estate, and old-vine Sagemoor fruit from some of Washington’s oldest vineyards, Bacchus, Dionysus, and Weinbau. In addition to 90% Cab, John blended in 7% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. It’s a powerful and well-structured wine, and amazingly delicious right out of the bottle. Try it with beef tenderloin. It is $44, and in good supply.

2009 Darby Winery, Mourvedre, Stonetree Vineyard
Recently, Paul Gregutt wrote a perceptive article in the Seattle Times suggesting that Mourvedre might be “the next big thing” in the world of Washington wine. That makes a lot of sense to us, since Mourvedre can deliver the kind of big and juicy flavors that consumers love, while still retaining a food-friendly savoriness and earthiness. He also pointed out how few Washington Mourvedres there are and how limited they are. True, but we are glad that we have over half the wines on his list on our shelves, including stand-outs from Syncline, Mark Ryan, McCrea, Robert Ramsay and Maison Bleue.

Now we are happy to welcome West Seattle resident Darby English to that list, as we feature his outstanding Mourvedre from the famed Stonetree Vineyard, an extremely hot area in the Wahluke Slope, best known for producing Charles Smith’s top wines. We think this is Darby’s best red wine yet, classic and luscious. It balances nicely meaty and earthy flavors with the sweet herbs and dark fruit characteristic of the grape. Try it with a classic southern French meal, particularly anything flavored with pepper, olives, or garlic. It could be drunk now with decanting or laid down in your cellar for another five years. It’s just been released, so still in decent supply at $42.