2009 Dunham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “XV”

Hello friends. After the release of Paul Gregutt’s Top 100, there is the initial, frantic, inchoate scramble to figure out which previously-offered wines are still available and roll them into a reorder offering.

Which we did last Wednesday.

Then a deep breath.

Then a chance to more carefully review the list. Starting from the top:

1. Cayuse 2009 En Chamberlin Vineyard Syrah
$75. This is indeed a stellar wine, well-deserving of the top spot, and well-worth the endless time spent on the Cayuse waiting list. For those of you waiting for us to offer a Cayuse wine: don’t hold your breath. As much pleasure as it would bring me to write about Christophe’s magnificent wines, this is simply not a winery that needs retail support to sell its wines. Sold out.

2. Figgins 2009 Estate Red Wine
$85. We offered this on August 29. Completely sold out.

3. Quilceda Creek 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
$135. Another one that will likely never see the light of day as a Full Pull offering. Lots of anticipation to see whether David Schildknecht will continue the seven-year string of 99s and 100s in Wine Advocate. We’ll know in just a few weeks. Sold out.

4. Charles Smith 2009 Royal City Syrah
$140. The first of two in a row from Sir Charles, my curly-haired compatriot. We have offered previous vintages of this, but not the 2009. Sold out.

5. K Vintners 2009 The Hidden Syrah
$70. We offered this on October 15. Completely sold out.

6. Leonetti Cellar 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
$88. We originally offered this on February 14 and then reoffered a small amount last week. This one too is now sold out.

And that brings us to #7, which we’re offering today:

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($45); [NO REVIEW TEXT PUBLISHED YET]. 96pts.”

A few items of note. First, you’ll notice the tariff as compared to the top six: a bit more accessible. Second, no review text. PaulG included this wine in his Top 100 list, but the publishers at Wine Enthusiast have not yet seen fit to release the review out into the world. The text will show up at some nebulous future date, but let’s not wait for that; with that combination of score and tariff, this is destined to have a short half-life on the shelves.

I grabbed a pre-release tasting of this during an August Walla Walla trip and was enamored right away. Right there next to my notes, it says: “November release,” so I already had this pegged for a late 2012 offering. Easy enough to move it up a few weeks.

Eric Dunham and Dan Wampfler are dialed in right now. The entire Dunham lineup has been ultra-impressive these past few years, and this is no exception. A blend of Cabernet grapes from a series of all-star vineyards – Lewis, Phinny Hill, Wallula, and Double Canyon – this comes in at a very reasonable 13.8% alc. I mention that specifically because it speaks to the ageworthiness of this wine. Dunham keeps the alcohols relatively low, and the acids relatively high, in their Cabernets, and the result is a glorious aging curve. Those of you who jumped in for our Dunham library releases (we offered the 2001 “VII” Cab back in February) have seen the breathtaking results these wines can achieve with a few years in the cellar.

If you just can’t wait, this still provides plenty of near-term pleasure (especially with a few hours in the decanter). Look for a core of pulsing redcurrant fruit set against notes of woodsmoke (two-thirds new French here), briny green olive, and tilled earth. The tannins are well-managed: medium-grained and reminiscent of green tea.

First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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