Hello friends. When folks sign up for our mailing list, they may not realize it, but they’re not only accessing the resources of the Full Pull team, and our willingness to taste A LOT of crap wine so that they don’t have to; they’re also accessing Full Pull’s Vast Network of Wine Spies™.
And yeah, we use the term with tongue in cheek, but it’s getting ever less cheeky with each passing year. We really do have contacts scattered all over Washington. We really do hear about things that allow us to present opportunities to our list members that would otherwise be unavailable.
To wit: at a tasting on September 21, a member of the VNoWS whispered to me of a rumor, a rumor that Nine Hats had a Cabernet Sauvignon in bottle, and that it was available as an under-the-table tasting. As it turned out, part of that was wrong (at the last minute, they had decided to pull it from the tasting), but part of it was true. For the first time in their history, Nine Hats had put a Cabernet Sauvignon in bottle. Nearly five months later, our VNoWS rumor is a reality:
Basically, I spent the better part of the past five months asking questions, cajoling, pleading, all along the same lines: when will the Nine Hats Cab be released, when can I sample? The reasons I was so antsy about this one were a) I had also heard that the production level was fairly small for this wine; and b) I know how much our list members love Nine Hats and I know how much our list members love Cabernet.
The winery finally relented and allowed a sample. I tasted the wine on Feb 4, am writing this offer on Feb 9, we’ll order the wine on Feb 15, and it will arrive in our warehouse on Feb 16. This is what we in the trade call a smash and grab job. Get in, get the wine, and get out before anyone else notices. I’m willing to bet that most people in town won’t even know about this wine’s existence until well after our list members already have the wine safely in hand.
Now, a quick reminder about the winery, and then a word about the wine itself. Since the 2007 vintage, Nine Hats has been one of the best value labels in Washington. Here’s what the winery says about the label: [TEXT WITHHELD]. For folks curious about wines like Feather, Pedestal, Pirouette, Sequel, Nine Hats presents an accessible entry point to Gilles Nicault’s polished, expressive winemaking. While Nine Hats purportedly refers to the nine different winemakers involved in the Long Shadows project, what I think of when I see it is the number of different hats Gilles Nicault has to wear as the resident winemaker for all the Long Shadows wines. The John Duvals and Michel Rollands of the world fly in and fly out, but it’s Gilles who remains behind and cares for their babies. It’s a truly unique job in the world of Washington winemaking, and Gilles does it beautifully.
I’m sure people are going to call this wine “baby Feather.” There’s a temptation to do so, because Feather (Long Shadows’ high-end Cabernet, made in conjunction with Randy Dunn of Dunn Vineyards), is exquisite, costs $60+, and has become highly allocated the past few years. Stylistically, there are of course similarities, because Gilles is involved, but the vineyard sourcing is quite different. Feather in 2013 came from three sites: The Benches, Dionysus, and Weinbau. None of those are on Red Mountain. Nine Hats Cab, on the other hand, comes “predominantly from Red Mountain vineyards.” Perhaps Randy didn’t think the Red Mountain barrels fit Feather stylistically in 2013. I don’t know the whole story (our spies aren’t *that* good), and I don’t really care. The proof is in the bottle, and it is damn good.
Aged for 20 months in a mix of new and used French oak, this clocks in at 15.1% listed alc and pours into the glass an inky black-purple. The nose is very Cabernet and very expressive: crème de cassis, violet, cocoa powder, star anise. In the mouth, it’s texture you notice first. This is creamy, silky, with density and power and stuffing to spare. The structure takes over somewhere around the mid-palate, and then you’re just holding on for dear life, as the tannins take hold of the cheeks and gums and won’t let go. Redolent of earl gray tea, deeply chewy and delicious, those tannins frame the long, long, satisfying finish. This would be lovely as a cocktail wine and would probably show at its very best with a carefully-selected, cooked-to-medium-rare slab of cow.
It’s hard to know how quickly this will catch on in the market, so this could be a one-and-done deal. Please limit order requests to 12 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.