Hello friends. There are some wine categories that are just frog-kissers through and through. Sub-$15 Cabernet Sauvignon definitely qualifies. It is the domain of the lean, the mean, the green, full of press juice, ultra-aggro tannins, green beans, and other undesirables.
As per the usual, your merry team of frog-kissers has been hard at work, with wine glass in one hand and toothbrush in the other, tasting a vast panoply of entry level Cabs. I’ve been wanting to explore my theory that the 2013 vintage is going to perform a lot like the 2009s: both warm years that both offer (hopefully) good-value, early-release, early-drinking Cabs. So far, I’d say it’s a mixed bag, but certainly better than tasting value Cabs from 2010 or 2011 (horror shows both).
So yeah, plenty of frogs, but who cares about them? Today let’s focus on a prince:
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Hedges family. Their Red Mountain wines from the ‘90s have been influential in my personal appreciation for the ageworthiness of Washington wines, and I’ve always admired how the family has carved out their own path in Washington winemaking.
HIP is a label for the family that allows Christophe and Pete Hedges to play with vineyard sources outside their Red Mountain home, and to put some serious value under an alternate label. To wit: this Cab comes entirely from the Sagemoor Farms group (which includes vineyards like Sagemoor, Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, and Wooded Island), an outstanding source of Cabernet. As you can see on the (stylish) label, the vineyards are as much of an emphasis as the grape (note: that label is for the 2012 vintage, but it looks essentially the same as today’s ’13).
With the grapegrowing and winemaking pedigree here, this is one of those wines that has no business really being below $15. My understanding is that it sees a lot more placements on restaurant lists (especially by the glass) than through retail, but as usual, I don’t like to let our city’s somms have all the fun. It clocks in at 14% listed alc and offers a great Cab nose of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit paired to a nice dusty earthy mushroom character. Ripe, rich, and honest to the warm 2013 vintage, it offers a continuing balance of fruit and earth tones and an appealing plumpness on the attack and mid-palate. Then some sneaky-serious Cab tannin appears on the finish, toothsome and redolent of black tea and espresso.
[Late note on this one. I had originally thought there was plenty of this to go around, and my first draft had an order limit of 120 bottles, but as it turns out, the winery is almost completely sold out of the 2013 vintage. We have a hold on a solid chunk, but this will for sure be a one-and-done offer, with no prospect for fulfilling reorders. We’ll be placing our order on June 8, so please try to have all requests in by the evening of June 7.]
Please limit order requests to 24 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.