2012 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Lower East

Hello friends. Today we have an outstanding vintage of what is already a list-member darling, and one of the gateways into the greater Gramercy Cellars lineup:

This wine remains a ghost. You won’t find it in Gramercy’s tasting room. You will rarely find it sold outside the Pac-NW. Lower East is a gift, from Greg Harrington to his local supporters.

Most of it goes to restaurants, a reflection of Greg’s sommelier history (direct from Gramercy’s tech sheet: “The Lower East wines from Gramercy Cellars are created specifically for our friends in the restaurant industry.”) It allows somms all over Seattle to place a Gramercy wine on their list for $50-$60, as opposed to the $90-$100 that the rest of the lineup commands. But some gets allocated to retail channels, and especially to long-term supporters of the Gramercy portfolio.

I’ve already said on several occasions that 2012 is shaping up to be a marvelous vintage for value Cabernet (yes, I recognize that we’re pushing it on the term “value” here, but by Gramercy standards, I’m going to say this qualifies), and this is another bottle that makes a strong argument for that case. I haven’t tasted Gramercy’s high-end 2012 Cabernets yet, but they’re going to have to be damned good to top Lower East this year (and judging by Jeb Dunnuck’s recently-published barrel reviews, they are indeed damned good).

This was a bottle where I was stunned by the quality right up until I saw the vineyard sources, and then everything made sense. In 2012, Lower East comes from an all-star foursome, three from the Walla Walla Valley (Gramercy Estate, Octave, and Pepper Bridge), plus the outstanding Phinny Hill in Horse Heaven. The blend includes 24% Merlot, and the whole thing was raised entirely in French oak, 40% new.

What Lower East does beautifully, year in and year out, is to establish itself as a true four-corners Cab, with fruit (black cherry, blackberry), earth, savory/herbal (beetroot, rhubarb, mint), and barrel (mocha) notes in fine balance. Here we see winemakers who strive for elegance in a year that wanted to be a little fleshier. The result: a balanced beauty, at 14.2% listed alc containing just the right amount of generosity to the laser-pure fruit, and of course plenty of balancing structure, in both the form of blood-orange acids and toothsome black-tea tannins. If you’re looking to build a cellar of sturdy, ageworthy wines under $30, this would be an awfully nice place to start. Like every vintage of Lower East so far, it is polished, classy, and punches well above its price class.

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

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