2012 Cadence Coda

Saturday Pickup ANNOUNCEMENT: Our next bonus open Saturday for TPU members and their invited guests will be Nov 22, 10am-2pm. But you already knew that, so that’s not our main announcement. Our main announcement is that we’ll have Ben Smith joining us in the warehouse to pour Cadence wines, a combination of current release and (woohoo!) library wines. Ben produces some of the most ageworthy wines in Washington, and getting a chance to sample some of his older bottles is a treat indeed. This is part of our ongoing commitment to more pouring events in the warehouse, thanks to the feedback we received during the planning of our fifth anniversary event.

Now you folks know that our regular bonus Saturdays are busy enough, but with Ben pouring, I’m expecting we’ll be totally slammed, so to help us out, please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
Hello friends. It’s been building, hasn’t it? The first glimmers began appearing earlier this year, in the form of some low-end, early-released wines from the 2012 that waaaaaaay exceeded their usual pedigree. As 2014 has puttered along, a critical mass of 2012s have been released, enough to identify it as an epic vintage in the making for Washington. You can make arguments for the elegant charms of the cool 2010 and 2011 vintages, for the robust generosity of the warm 2013 and 2014 vintages. 2012 – the difference splitter, the needle threader – it speaks for itself.

And I don’t know about you, but on those rare occasions when I can see a great vintage in the making, my mind turns to standard-bearer wines. As in, if this is such a tremendous vintage for wines that are sometimes mediocre, what is going to be like for wines that are outstanding year in and year out? To put a finer point on it, my mind turns to wines like Coda.

And apparently your minds do too! I have been asked about this wine more than any other wine this year. In the beginning, it was mostly over e-mail, but then on one Thursday morning, two list members picking up their wine asked me about when we’d be offering 2012 Coda. Within about ten minutes of each other. And that was about another ten minutes before my meeting was scheduled to taste 2012 Coda. Crazy.

The concern expressed by both of those gentlemen was that we’d wait until January to offer Coda, as we did this year (we offered 2011 Coda on January 13). Traditionally, I’ve thought it worked great as a January offer; a terrific value to kickstart the new year. But what both list members noted is that Coda is a perfect holiday gift choice, always punching well above its price class. And a January offer doesn’t exactly work for holiday gifts. Which brings us to today.

Now then, why is Coda such an incredible value year in and year out? Well, Ben Smith makes exactly four single-vineyard wines for Cadence, all from Red Mountain. Two come from the estate Cara Mia Vineyard, one from Ciel du Cheval, and one from Tapteil. And that’s it. Ben carefully crafts the blends for those high-end ($45-$60) wines, and then whatever barrels aren’t included during those blending trials end up in Coda.

What that means for Coda is that it’s always a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot, always a blend of Cara Mia, Ciel du Cheval, and Tapteil, and always barrels that were raised with the exact same care as the higher-end bottles. And we get all of that for a tariff that is about half the single-vineyard wines.

Fortunately, no reviews have been published yet for this as a finished wine. Tanzer reviews should be released any day now, and if I were a betting man, I would bet on a strong review for this wine. In the meantime, Jeb Dunnuck does have a review from barrel:

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

I was totally smitten when I tasted this wine. To give you the temperature of my notes, the first line says “oh wow baby Bel Canto!” which of course refers to one of Ben’s beautiful blends from his estate Cara Mia Vineyard. And my oh my, if this is a sneak preview of what is to come in a year or so when Ben releases 2012 Bel Canto and Camerata and Ciel and Tapteil, batten down the hatches. But for now we can revel in this marvelous vintage of Coda, a 33/29/29/9 blend of Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot that comes soaring up out of the glass with a gorgeous high-toned flower garden of cherry blossoms, roses, and lilacs, overlaying beautiful spiced black cherry and redcurrant fruit and terrific soil-driven earth tones. This really nails the earth-and-flower aspect of Cabernet Franc that can be so exotic, so haunting when done well. At 14.4%, this is positively rich by Ben standards but of course retains Cadence’s signature elegance of texture, briskness of mouthfeel.

As it rolled into its powerfully structured finish (citrus peel, chamomile tea), I remember asking myself two questions: first, have I ever tasted such an honest rendition of Red Mountain at a price point anywhere close to this? And second, what in the world is the aging curve on this? Jeb says at least a decade, and I’d feel comfortable doubling or even tripling down on that. It’s a remarkable wine, a clarion call for the grace, power, and incipient class of Washington’s 2012 vintage.

Since I know several of you have your sights firmly set on this wine for holiday gifts and parties, let’s open it up: first come first served up to 72 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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