Hello friends. It was with some fanfare that our friends at Abeja announced that the release of their new Cabernet Sauvignon marked their 10th vintage of this wine.
My (incredulous) response: that’s all?!?
John Abbott’s Columbia Valley Cabernet feels like a wine that has been around forever, perhaps because it has become such a Cabernet ambassador for Washington. That it has only been around since 2001 is a striking reminder of how far Abeja has come, and how fast.
The “Winery” section of the Abeja website contains a grand total of three sentences: “Our winery is housed in what was once the mule and horse barn of the Kibler Farm. It is set up with state-of-the-art equipment and a small team who are passionately dedicated to quality. This is where our relentless pursuit of extraordinary Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon begins.”
In the past few years, Abeja has received accolades for plenty of other varieties as well – Syrah, Chardonnay, Merlot – but ultimately, Cabernet is king at Abeja, and this is their flagship bottling. There will be no Cabernet Reserve in 2010, so all the old-vine Bacchus and Dionysus fruit that would normally be set aside for that bottling has been shifted here. There is also a chunk of Abeja’s estate Heather Hill Vineyard in the mix (I don’t know whether they plan to release a 2010 Heather Hill Cab), along with fruit from Weinbau and Hedges on Red Mountain.
Life is full of contingencies. I’m sure there’s another universe where I’m putting my applied math degree to use doing something, well, mathematical, and John Abbott is a happy veterinarian tending to Oregon’s cats and dogs. But in this universe, he abandoned his pre-vet studies, transferred to Fresno State’s Viticulture and Enology Program, made Cabernet at Pine Ridge and Pinot Noir at Acacia, moved to Washington in 1994 to join the nascent Canoe Ridge Vineyard, and launched Abeja seven years later.
And in this universe, I get to write about John’s wines, including this beauty. It starts with an it-could-only-be-Cabernet nose: blackcurrant and blackberry, earthy notes of good clean soil, and barrel notes of smoke and oreo. As usual with this wine, texture is the star. This is a seamless, hole-free wine, with a beautiful, plump mid-palate linking the attack (smoky, cocoa-dusted cassis fruit and silty minerals) to the finish (ripe grapeskin tannins – no easy feat in the cool 2010 vintage – full of espresso and black tea). I’ve had enough of John’s Cabernets to know that they age beautifully, but I find it difficult to age a wine like this, one that presents such generosity and intrigue in its youth. A standard-bearer for Washington Cabernet.
Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.