2009 Cadence, Tapteil Vineyard
One of the most festive days of the year in our shop is the last Saturday in January, when Ben Smith comes to pour his new releases. Ben’s wines are so meticulously crafted and so elegant that you can’t help but be impressed. In our judgment, his 2009 lineup was the most impressive ever, with all four of his single vineyard blends (Ciel du Cheval, Tapteil, Camerata, and Bel Canto) outstanding. It’s no surprise that every year Ben wins at least one “Winemaker of the Year” from some publication. For eight years in a row we have put the Bel Canto in this club, and we will do so again in April, but this year we also felt that we should make sure that Washington Club members get a bottle of the Tapteil. This blend is usually a bit slower to develop than Ben’s other wines, due to the high percentage of Cabernet in the blend. However, 2009 was such a warm year that the flavors in Ben’s Tapteil almost jump out of the glass at you. Although the wine will continue to develop for at least another five years, it’s drinking quite well now, and would be a great match for a nice pepper steak. It’s $45 and still in good supply. In addition we have older vintages of most of Ben’s wines, going back to 2007, and even a four-year vertical of his Camerata. And we are very proud that our customers have become such strong supporters of what we think is the best winery in Seattle.
2010 Abeja, Merlot
As a nice complement to the Cabernet-dominant Tapteil, the other club wine is John Abbott’s wonderful Merlot, from the cooler 2010 vintage. Year after year, John is also one of the top winemakers in the state. Although Cabernet and Syrah have eclipsed Merlot in reputation, Washington is perfectly suited for growing classic Merlot. John’s is pure, lush, and stylish, with an intensity that is typical of Washington fruit. Try it with lamb chops and couscous, or perhaps a gourmet grilled burger. It’s ready to drink, $41.50, and quite limited due to the paltry yields of the vintage.