Hello friends. The 2012 vintage has been so wonderful for Washington, and it has not been always been easy keeping up with the releases of all our list favorites. Fortunately, we have an array of contacts scattered across eastern Washington who are great about letting me know when wines are getting down to end-of-vintage, last-call status.
That’s what happened today, with a pair of wines from Seven Hills Winery, a total Walla Walla gem and a list member favorite. Seven Hills has become a favorite based in large part on Casey McClellan’s clear, dedicated house style: acid-driven, texturally elegant, long-lived. Casey deserves admiration for sticking with that style as fashion trends have waxed and waned. In the early 2000s, he held steady as trends towards alcohol and oak ruled the day. Casey is a grower’s winemaker, well-loved by vineyard owners and vineyard managers, because he picks fruit early and is single-mindedly dedicated to expressing the terroir of their sites.
We have two of those sites today, both wines that have been well-loved in previous vintages. Both wines are down to their last handful of cases available in western Washington, so neither is likely to be available for reorder.
This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2012 vintage marks a milestone. Here’s Casey: This wine is drawn from the original Cabernet Sauvignon blocks at Seven Hills Vineyard, planted by my father in 1980. This vintage marks the 25th year I have been making Cabernet Sauvignon from these same, precious old vines. Seven Hills Vineyard is the queen of the Walla Walla Valley, and this particular bottling has proven to yield near-immortal agers even in average vintages. In a vintage like 2012, all bets are off.
The wine spent about two years in French oak, 40% new, and clocks in at 14.2% listed alc. Casey McClellan has been working with these grapes for many, many years, and that comfort level shows. This Cabernet always revels in the pretty side of the grape, here offering soaring high-toned violet and lavender notes over a core of redcurrant and red plum fruit. There are wonderful spice-note complexities as well, something like pimento dulce, the wonderful Spanish smoked paprika. It’s downright gorgeous in the mouth, both for its texture (intense and elegant in turn, with silky polished tannins redolent of English breakfast tea, and with bright citrusy acidity) and for its insistent inner-mouth perfume. With freshness, stuffing, and a tremendous sense of overall balance, this is poised to be a *very* long lived wine.
In 2012, that blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, and 9% Cabernet Franc. It spent a total of 20 months in new French oak (40% new), and it clocks in at 14.4% listed alc. What happens when you combine a vineyard and winemaker known for elegance with a vintage known for rich intensity? The answer: you get something balanced, breathtaking, beautiful. The hallmarks of Ciel are on fine display here: the inveterate minerality edging towards sanguine/ferrous, the dusty tannins, the citrus-pith complexities. Wonderful. The fruit is red in nature (red cherry, redcurrant), and the herbaceous complexities are fennel frond and sagebrush. This is a lovely, spicy marvel, with fine palate-coating texture and a wonderful balance of fruit and nonfruit (earth/herb/spice) elements.
Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.” [Sullivan context note: Sean has now reviewed 138 BDX Blends for Wine Enthusiast. Only five have stronger reviews, all at 94pts, with price points of $50, $57, $70, $80, and $120. A 93pt review from Mr. Sullivan is a glowing review indeed.]
Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of each wine, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.