2012 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley

Hello friends. We’ve talked on numerous occasions now about benchmark wines for our list members, and the breathless anticipation for the release of the 2012 vintage. One such wine is Abeja’s Columbia Valley Cab, and I’d been chomping at the bit to try the new vintage. I finally had the chance to taste it during a visit to Walla Walla a few weeks ago, and my already-sky-high expectations were exceeded.

It’s actually slated for a May 1 release, so we’re jumping the gun a little here, but I want to make sure we have our orders in nice and early for this barnburner of a wine.

The very most important thing to know about Abeja’s 2012 Columbia Valley Cab is that John Abbott decided not to bottle a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve in 2012. Was I surprised? Yes I was. Was I delighted? Yes I was, because many of the barrels that were involved in their right-down-to-the-wire, go/no-go decision making process on the Reserve ended up in the Columbia Valley bottling.And it is a marvel.

Let’s start with vineyard sources: Abeja’s Heather Hill Estate, old-vine Bacchus and Dionysus (often the backbone of the Reserve program), Weinbau, Kiona Heart of the Hill, Ciel du Cheval, Destiny Ridge, Gunselman Bench. That is a pan-Washington all-star Cabernet lineup (note: there is also 14% Merlot, and 1% each Cab Franc and Petit Verdot in the mix).

Elevage was two years in 60% new French oak, 40% one- and two-use French oak. It clocks in at 14.8% listed alc, and it aromatically comes jumping right out of the glass, with soaring cassis, violet, high-cacao chocolate, and wonderful eucalyptus topnotes. A complex, honest, serious Cabernet nose. John Abbott is the king of Cabernet texture, and his skills are on fine display here. The palate is velvety, seamless, luscious, with no apparent holes. Strong on attack, plump in the middle, and toothsome in just the right way on the back end, this is a completely charming wine. I know Abeja’s Cabs age beautifully, but they never seem to survive for very long in my cellar because they’re so damned generous and seductive in their resplendent youth. This is a flagship Washington Cabernet in any vintage. In a vintage like 2012, and with reserve juice in the mix, my thoughts run to two words: go deep.

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in the next week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Did I just get through the entire offer without telling the Abeja story? Oops! Quick reminders: It was during his time as a pre-vet at Oregon State University that John Abbott happened upon sensory evaluation work in the Food Sciences department. Soon after, he traded in ungulates for grapes, transferring to Fresno State’s Viticulture and Enology Program. After post-grad stints in Napa making Cab at Pine Ridge and Pinot Noir at Acacia, he moved to Washington in 1994 to make wine from the nascent Canoe Ridge Vineyard. He remained at Canoe Ridge, making outstanding wines (the Merlots from this site were especially well-received) until 2002, when he helped launch Abeja. The winery quickly developed a sterling reputation for its Cabernet Sauvignon, and its mailing list has been closed for years now, one of only a handful of Washington wineries with closed lists (here’s a link to their waiting list).

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