2012 Abeja, Cabernet Sauvignon
Unless you’re brand new to this club, Abeja hardly needs any introduction. We’ve been featuring their wines every year for the last nine years. Ever since their third vintage, in fact. Abeja winemaker John Abbott focuses primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon, though he produces small amounts of other grapes as well, all of which are simply some of the best in the state year after year, thanks to excellent vineyard sources and his unerring touch. The 2012 Abeja Cab was sourced from their own Heather Hill Estate Vineyard, as well as Sagemoor’s Bacchus, Dionysus, and Weinbau vineyards; Kiona, on Red Mountain; plus Ciel du Cheval; Destiny Ridge; and Gunselman Bench. Basically some of the top vineyard real estate in Washington. In addition to the Cab, this vintage includes 14% Merlot and 1% each Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. After two unusually cool years, 2012 turned out to be the warmest vintage on record, producing complex and generous red wines. This silky-textured wine is beautifully expressive and balanced, with notes of dark fruit, earth, and amazing depth and complexity. It’s solid structure gives it excellent aging potential and it will reward those who wait, but we know that most people can’t resist, and it is delicious in its youth, too. John always provides detailed food pairing suggestions and for this one he recommends rack of lamb or grilled lamb chops; pork loin with black beans; or a grilled free-range burger or portobello mushroom with blue cheese. Once again, it is $49.75 and we can get more, although it will probably be gone by the end of summer.
2010 Almquist Family Vintners, Nebbiolo
We see a parade of wine reps every Tuesday when, for about seven hours straight, we taste through dozens of wine samples that our distributors bring us to try. No one believes us, but it is a lot less fun than it sounds, even though we do find some great gems along the way. So when an unfamiliar face shows up with yet another bag of samples to add to the fray, we’re often tempted to say (and sometimes do) that we just can’t see anyone new. But we held our tongues recently when a fellow showed up representing this winery, and we’ve been very glad we did! All of the Almquist Family Vintners wines we’ve tasted have been remarkably well made and a joy to discover. And when we tried this Nebbiolo, a variety we don’t see often from Washington, we decided it was time to put one of their wines in the club. They are made by Mike Amquist in his urban winery, two blocks west of the Fremont Bridge, originally part of the acclaimed Book Bindery (now sadly closed). This wine is made from the northern Italian grape, Nebbiolo, the principal grape in Barolo and Barbaresco, arguably some of the greatest red wines in the world. But not a lot is grown in Washington which is why we were intrigued. And delighted, when we found it to be an excellent, albeit New World, expression of the grape. Sourced from Coyote Canyon Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, it shows the characteristic Nebbiolo brick color, rose and violet aromas, and notes of tar and smoke, but the tannins are not as tough, and it is pretty much ready to drink now. It is $35 and would go with braised ribs, wild mushroom risotto, or anything with truffles. (Note: apparently there was a legal snafu in the labeling at the last minute, hence this somewhat generic label. Normally their bottles are much more elegant!)