Full Pull Holler

Hello friends. Today we have one of the best Cabernet values I have tasted so far in 2015, and I’m pretty sure it comes courtesy of another “Grand Cascade” effect (thanks again to Erica Landon of Walter Scott for this pitch-perfect term).

2012 Sparkman Cellars Holler Cabernet Sauvignon

Do you remember what the Grand Cascade is all about? The deal is: let’s say a winery normally gets enough fruit to make 100 cases of their expensive single vineyard Cabernet. But in a year like 2012, they get enough fruit to make 150 cases. One option, of course, is to just produce 150 cases of expensive wine and hope the market can bear it. Another option: “cascade” those extra 50-cases worth of single-vineyard juice into a cheaper label, and make your entry-level wine, your gateway drug, that much better.

It’s only conjecture that the grand cascade is what created Holler, but it’s educated conjecture, supported by some wine sleuthing. To wit, Holler comes from four vineyards: Dionysus, Klipsun, Olsen and Obelisco. Let us examine the Cabernet lineup of the main Sparkman portfolio:

2012 Evermore Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon: Dionysus Vineyard, $90.
2012 Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon: Klipsun Vineyard, $62.
2012 Rainmaker Cabernet Sauvignon: Olsen and Obelisco Vineyards, $62.

And another thing that makes Holler great. Unlike most wineries, which release their lower-end bottlings first, Holler is being released *after* all those single vineyard Cabs. In fact, it won’t even be released at the winery until September 11. Because of our list’s recent support of the winery, we’re able to send this as a kind of sneak-preview.

Now you can argue that these are “declassified” barrels, and that’s why the price is so much lower than the single-vineyard bottlings, but I have to tell you: this doesn’t drink like declass wine. I think the more likely scenario is that in 2012, Sparkman just had too damn much beautiful Cabernet juice, and some of it had to be cascaded down into a lower price point.

It begins with a nose that smells, for lack of a better word, expensive. And by that I mean there was clearly some classy new oak involved here, imparting cocoa and coffee bass notes to a core of black cherry, kirsch, and good clean soil. In the mouth, we see deep, rich cassis and black cherry fruit swaddled by luscious barrel notes. The mid-palate is wonderfully plump and earthy, and then it transitions into a finish with serious power and chew, redolent of espresso and very Cabernet-evocative indeed. This beautiful truffle of a wine reminded me a lot of the old Nicholas Cole Camille bottling; it has that wonderful generosity, that easy charm. Stuffing and structure; length and balance: all the components are in place for a fascinating evolution ahead, and all that for a sub-$30 tariff. What a beauty.

First come first served up to 36 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.

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