Hello friends. We have a serious price drop today (from a release of $29) on a wine whose previous vintages have been well-loved by our list-members: a Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon now six years past vintage and drinking beautifully:
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”
I have a feeling this one is going to be hugely popular. I know there’s deep affection for this wine, ever since we first offered a Beresan Cab on November 11, 2011 (yes, 11/11/11). That was the 2006 vintage, and you might remember we offered it in conjunction with a Paul Gregutt blog where he tasted a six-year vertical of Beresan Cabs.
What was fascinating about that blog entry was that PaulG published his scores from when he had initially reviewed the wines for Enthusiast, and then revised scores based on how the wine was drinking at the vertical tasting. One wine went down a point (the 2005 vintage, from 92pts to 91pts); all the others increased, by anywhere from one point to a whopping eight points. The conclusions I think many of us drew from the exercise: first, as PaulG himself said in that post, “Beresan makes my short list of the most important, consistent, stylistically riveting small wineries in Washington. It is also among the state’s best value plays…”; and second, that Beresan’s Cabernets generally improve mightily with age.
Why the price drop, you might be asking? It goes back to the story behind the 2007 Beresan Merlot and Syrah we offered back in February 2014. Remember in that one I asked if you have ever cleaned out a closet and found an awesome t-shirt that you had completely forgotten about? It’s kind of like that.
There are a series of wine warehouses scattered throughout Washington, and wineries stash little parcels here and there to make fulfillment easier. I believe the one in question for these wines was outside of Spokane. Unsurprisingly, inventories get screwed up sometimes, vintages get confused, and little treasures get tucked away. Every now and then, a winery cleans out the closet (via a physical inventory) and finds some retro t-shirts, in this case solid little stashes of 2007 and 08 and 09 wines. Rather than ship the wine back to the winery and deal with the headache of selling multiple vintages at once, the folks at Beresan had a better idea: they presented the wines to us, and sweetened the deal with a significant price drop.
Beresan is one of the gems of the Walla Walla Valley, and it starts with their outstanding estate vineyards. This Cabernet is nearly equal parts Waliser and Yellow Jacket. Both of these estate sites are in the rocks; both are farmed by Tom Waliser (one of the valley’s finest growers). Waliser Vineyard was planted in 1997, Yellow Jacket in 1999 (it’s worth noting that Christophe Baron planted his first Cayuse vineyards in the rocks in 1997, so these vineyards are contemporaries). As the folks at Beresan note, “The vineyards are planted on old cobblestone riverbed soils, providing the wine with unique and distinct earthy minerality qualities.”
That beautiful rocks Cabernet fruit was brought to bottle by Tom Glase, who makes Beresan wines in addition to his own Balboa wines. It spent about two years in barrel (all French, 30% new), and now has nearly another four years of bottle age. Perfect. The nose is classic Cabernet: blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, minty topnotes, and dark bass notes of silty mineral and espresso. It still smells quite primary. And then the palate is just in a fantastic place right now. 2009 was a warm year that does not require decades for its Cabs to show best. I’d actually drink the 2009 and let the 2008 sit a few years more. It’s in early-peak for me, a wonderful mix of fresh and dried fruit, some emerging tertiary grace notes of olive and leather, and plenty of dark soil/mineral notes. Texturally the extra bottle age has yielded a wine with supple, delicious, fine-grained tannins, redolent of earl grey tea. The overall package is polished, classy, harmonious.
It’s so difficult to source Walla Walla Valley Cab at this price point, and this delivers the goods beautifully. Given the parcel size, I’d say it’s 50/50 that this will be available for reorder. For now, it’s first come first served up to 24 bottles, and 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.