Hello friends. Do you guys know about the E-F Scale for Washington wines? No? Well, that’s because I just invented it.
It’s a measure of Desire. Desire = Enjoyment minus Frequency (D = E – F; easy to remember, right?).
For example, let’s look at Washington Viognier. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say my regular enjoyment is a 2, and the frequency with which I seem to taste it is more like a 7. So that’s a -5 on the E-F scale. Not good. Anything less than zero means I’m not thrilled when I see that category come across our tasting table.
How about Washington Chardonnay? That’s more like a +2 (7 Enjoyment minus 5 Frequency). Not bad.
For Washington whites, I’d guess the highest desire number on my personal E/F scale is white-Bordeaux (Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc) blends. E = 8; F = 2; D = (a whopping) +6!
Do I have tongue partway in cheek with all these numbers? Of course! But what I’m trying to get across is that there are categories in Washington that are over-represented, and categories that are woefully under-represented. Today we have one in the latter camp:
2012 Cadaretta SBS
Semillon-Sauvignon blends can be exceptionally beautiful in Washington, but there are so few of them. The one that gets the most press is DeLille’s Chaleur Estate Blanc, and this is an admittedly gorgeous wine. But. I can’t ignore the fact that their price has increased almost every year of the past decade, to where now this wine is flirting with a $40 tag. Not the most accessible tariff.
In more manageable price climes, there are two standouts. The first is Buty’s Semillon-Sauvignon-Muscadelle, an absolute killer in its youth that becomes profound with a few years of bottle age (a recent tasting of the 2008 was in such a beautiful place that it got me a little emotional). That one retails around $25, and while it used to be the under-the-radar companion to Buty’s more famous Conner Lee Chardonnay, I’d say it now has just about as much acclaim as its pricier brother.
The new under-the-radar wine in this category (where Buty was five years ago) is Cadaretta’s SBS. We’ve offered several vintages of this, and it seems to improve with each passing year. Winemaker Brian Rudin just seems locked in with this wine these days. While Buty’s blend favors Semillon, Cadaretta’s looks more like DeLille’s, with Sauvignon Blanc in the ascendancy.
This 2012 is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, done entirely in stainless steel. Despite the low percentage, it’s the Semillon that shows on the nose, with its distinctive mix of figs and pears and cream. The Sauvignon Blanc adds nuances of grass and citrus. On the palate, it’s clear that Brian has embraced the warmer 2012 vintage. There is a lovely, creamy/lactic quality in the mid-palate, that carries the peach/pear/fig fruit and notes of beeswax. A spine of limey acid keeps things bright, and balances out the lush richness of the fruit. It’s a well-balanced white that’s probably more appropriate in late summer/early autumn (and for sure on the Thanksgiving table) than right now, but it’s a wine I liked too much to sit on for that long. This will not be a sub-$20 wine forever (it’s too good), but it is now!
2009 Buried Cane Cabernet Sauvignon “Roughout”
And a little bonus wine from Cadaretta’s second label, Buried Cane. I’m hiding it down here at the bottom of the offering because well-priced Washington Cabernet Sauvignon is just about our list’s favorite category. Which doesn’t sound like a reason to hide it, until I mention the other important fact: we bought out the remainder of the Seattle stock, and there wasn’t much of it (as you’ll see by the meager order restrictions below.
In the cooler 2010 and 2011 vintages, sub-$15 Cabs are a green minefield, full of under-ripe, vegetal flavors. I like herbal nuance as much as the next guy in my Cabernets, but yikes, some of these are mean wines. Not true for 2009, which was a glorious vintage for cheap Cabs. Of course, most 2009s are now gone, which is why we jumped so quickly on this one.
From Alice Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope and Spring Creek in the Yak Valley, this opens with an expressive nose of black cherry, violet, and green tea. The palate has terrifically typical Cabernet notes: cassis fruit, violets, and a bit of mint and rosemary for freshness. I’d guess there’s very little new oak involved here; it’s all about lush Cabernet fruit. The intensity, depth, and grapeskin-tannin structure are all impressive at this tariff.
SBS is first come first served up to 12 bottles and will be delivered next week. For the Roughout (already in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup), please limit order requests to 4 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests.