Full Pull Coda

Hello friends. I think I’ve exhibited real patience in waiting a full 24 hours since Cadence released their new vintage of Coda before sending our own offer for the wine. In all seriousness: when I tasted this wine with Ben Smith and Heather Jeter from Cadence last week, they said their release date was May 14 and asked me when I wanted to offer the wine. “Um, Is May 15 okay?”

2014 Cadence Coda
Why the urgency? Two main reasons: high quality and low quantity. Let’s tackle the latter item first.

So, 2013 Cadence Coda. I loved it. You loved it. We all loved it. Released in May 2015. Sold out by December 2015. And that was with 1300 cases produced.

Production for the 2014 Coda: 713 cases. Gulp.

The issue, according to Ben, was low yields. They ended up with tiny little buckshot berries on Red Mountain, which means very little juice. It also means high skin-to-juice ratio, which translates to burly tannic structure in the finished wine.

Coda is an incredible value, year in and year out. Why? Well, Ben Smith makes exactly four single-vineyard wines for Cadence, all from Red Mountain. Two come from the estate Cara Mia Vineyard, one from Ciel du Cheval, and one from Tapteil. And that’s it. Ben carefully crafts the blends for those high-end ($45-$60) wines, and then whatever barrels aren’t included during those blending trials end up in Coda.

What that means for Coda is that it’s always a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot, always a blend of Cara Mia, Ciel du Cheval, and Tapteil, and always barrels that were raised with the exact same care as the higher-end bottles. And we get all of that for a tariff that is about half the single-vineyard wines.

The blend in 2014 is 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot, and it clocks in at 14.4% listed alc. The ’14 is much more reminiscent to me of the structured, serious 2012 than the more charming, approachable 2013. It kicks off with a glorious nose, all perfumed and exotic with its notes of star anise and juniper over dark blackcurrant and black plum fruit. The palate balances the richness of the vintage with Ben Smith’s deft hand and somehow still conveys textural elegance and earthy minerality, even in the warm year that wanted to be all fruit. But it’s the structure that really shines on the palate. “ROBUST tannic structure,” says my notes, and I tend to use all-caps sparingly. But truly, this is a muscular, powerful wine, without question cellar-worthy. The long, long finish is awash in black-tea tannins, a final grace note on a deeply impressive wine.

This is one of the strongest renditions of Coda I can remember tasting. A pity there’s so little of it. Ben figures the wine will at least last through the summer, but let’s not take any chances: first come first served up to 60 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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