Hello friends. In a very short period of time, Rasa Vineyards has become one of the buzziest wineries in Washington. Each new release has been greeted with breathless admiration from consumers and critics alike.
For those of you who have not yet sampled the visceral winemaking of Billo Naravane, today we have a gateway drug into the Rasa lineup:
Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “($29); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”
Please note: after that Spectator review (Steiman’s highest score for a Washington Cabernet Franc is 93pts, and there have only been four of those, so this is a strong stamp of approval indeed), the winery sold out of their remaining stock of this. There’s a small parcel remaining in Seattle, and we have dibs (at a competitive tariff to boot!). But this will be a time-limited deal; no reorders on this one, I’m afraid. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
PB (which stands for Pinto and Billo: the Naravane brothers behind Rasa) is a destination for juice that, for blending reasons, does not make it into the higher-end Rasa lineup. This is not the same thing as declassified juice. When wineries declassify juice, they taste a series of barrels, deem some good enough for the main label, and “declassify” others down to a second or third label. That’s not what’s happening here.
What’s happening here: Billo ends up with a certain amount of Weinbau Vineyard Cabernet Franc (one of Washington’s best-regarded sites for Franc; see location here, at the eastern edge of the Wahluke Slope). He wants that juice for his “in Order to form a more perfect Union” blend, but when they reach the blending trial stage, the perfect blend for “perfect Union” ends up leaving Billo with seven extra barrels of Weinbau Cabernet Franc.
Enter PB Wines.
What that means, of course, is that this is exceptionally good Cabernet Franc for the tariff, and a fine introduction to the Rasa house style: liberal use of native-yeast fermentation, judicious use of new oak, and unwavering attention to tannin management and mouthfeel. I definitely got some of the “haunting notes of rose petal” Harvey mentions in his review. Part of the beauty of good Cabernet Franc is its floral topnotes, which here overlay aromas of red raspberry and poblano. A strong representative of the 2010 vintage, this is vibrant, juicy, and brings a deep sense of earthiness to the table. I’m glad Billo’s blending trials ended the way they did, because the result is a dazzling single-vineyard Cabernet Franc at a very accessible tariff.
First come first served up to 12 bottles, and 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.