2017 Abeja, Merlot, $49.75
Winery Info: Founded in 2002 by Ken and Ginger Harrison along with John Abbott and Molly Galt, with a goal of producing estate-grown Cabernet of the highest standards.
The winery soon joined the ranks of the top tier wineries in the state, especially acclaimed for their award-winning Cabs, Chards, and Merlots. In 2015, after 13 years with Abeja, John moved on to start a new wine project, and Daniel Wampfler came on board, along with his wife and co-winemaker, Amy Alvarez-Wampfler. Daniel was formerly winemaker at Dunham Cellars, another top Walla Walla winery, so he came with a great pedigree and the transition was seamless. Abeja continues to produce consistently stunning wines.
Winemakers: Daniel Wampfler and Amy Alvarez-Wampfler
Grapes: 100% Merlot, aged 19 months in 100% French oak, 48% new, 52% used.
Vineyards: Heather Hill, Mill Creek, Sagemoor Farms, Ciel du Cheval, and Kiona Heart of the Hill.
Flavor Profile: This Merlot is exceptionally elegant and refined, with velvety texture and plush notes of dark red fruit, dusty herbs, and a touch of spice. It is all seamlessly interwoven, with soft, well-integrated tannins and a long, lovely finish.
Availability: 659 cases produced. There is stlll more of this vintage available.
Drinking Window: Beautiful now or over the next three or four years.
Food Pairing: Try it with lamb chops and couscous, or perhaps a gourmet grilled burger.
2015 Pomum Cellars, Shya Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, $39.75
Winery Info: Pomum Cellars is owned and operated by Javier and Shylah Alfonso. Javier was born and raised in Spain’s Ribera del Duero region and originally came to Seattle to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington. Although he was never interested in working in his family’s vineyards back in Spain, he fell in love with viticulture and winemaking here in Washington. He began making wine in his garage in 2004, and eventually opened a commercial winery in Woodinville in 2008. He produces wines in very limited quantities with utmost attention to detail and focus on quality.
Winemaker: Javier Alfonso
Grapes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 18 months in 59-gallon French oak barrels (30% new), plus an additional 17 months in bottle.
Vineyards: From “older, nearly forgotten vineyards” planted 35 to 45 years ago in the western half of the Yakima Valley, which Javier has been working with for many years: 73% Konnowac (with the oldest Petit Verdot and Malbec in the state); and 27% Morrison, with Cabernet vines dating back to 1968.
Flavor Profile: The 2015 vintage was very warm, with one of the earliest harvests in recent history. This wine, now with some nice mellowing age on it, is a very classic Washington Cab, with ripe, juicy red and dark fruit flavors, a touch of spice, well integrated tannins, and just a hint of oak. A very elegant, well developed, and balanced Cab.
Availability: 265 cases made. This vintage is still in decent supply.
Drinking Window: While delicious now, especially with a bit of decanting to open up, you could also cellar it a year or two in bottle to develop even further, then enjoy anytime up to 2025.
Food Pairing: As a classic Washington Cab, this one is a perfect match for red meat.