Washington Wine Club – April 2012

We’ve been featuring wines from Abeja in the club every year for the past seven years (ever since their third vintage). Winemaker John Abbott is unerring in his craft and, vintage after vintage, his wines are simply some of the best in the state. He dropped by the shop recently to pour the new releases of his Cabernet and Chardonnay and, once again, we were awed by their finesse. Not surprised, of course, because we expect nothing less from him. And when we realized that the prices worked perfectly, we decided then and there to make this month’s club a double header: two Abeja’s in one club! Given Abeja’s impeccable fruit sources, and uncompromising commitment to quality, we know you will enjoy these wines as much as we do.

2009 Abeja, Cabernet Sauvignon
John likens the 2009 vintage to that of 1999, one of his favorite past vintages. It began cool, followed by a short, warm growing season, producing what John thinks might be his best Columbia Valley Cab yet. With 4% Merlot, the fruit is sourced from their own Heather Hill Vineyard, as well as from Sagemoor’s Bacchus, Dionysus and Weinbau. It is a wine of polish and finesse, with floral notes and cocoa, cedar and spice characteristics, “weaving a tapestry of complexity with youthful exuberance.” John says it has the perfect structure for aging, for those who have the patience to wait. Whenever you chose to enjoy it, he suggests pairing it with lamb, or with duck or goose breasts on a bed of grains with wild mushrooms. It is $46.50 and we have a bit more.

2010 Abeja, Chardonnay
One thing we haven’t featured in this club in the past is the absolutely stunning Abeja Chardonnay. Year after year, it is one of the finest Chardonnays out of Washington. Because of the unusually cool summer in 2010, John wasn’t able to harvest fruit from Celilo, one of his key fruit sources. But the grapes from Mill Creek and Conner Lee Vineyards reached optimum flavor maturity with no ill effects from the cool growing season and fall rains, and once again, he was able to achieve the higher acid style that his Chards are known for, even in a challenging year. Clearly, this is where John’s decades of experience and enormous talent really shine. The wine is barrel-aged in new and used French oak, and goes through 100% malolactic fermentation, adding a generous richness to the underlying elegance and balance. He made only half his usual production in 2010, and we have a bit more, at $38, but it won’t last long. John says they have been enjoying it at the winery with Cajun food, but he is hoping to pair it with alligator, and also suggests a potato-based garden soup.