Full Pull HIP

Hello friends. As I said when we offered the previous vintage of this wine, there are some categories that are just frog-kissers through and through, and sub-$15 Cabernet Sauvignon is without question one of them. It is the domain of the lean, the mean, the green; press juice and oak powder, ultra-aggro tannins and green beans; a whole host of other undesirables.

But fear not: your merry band of frog-kissers has been hard at work, with wine glass in one hand and toothbrush in the other, tasting a vast panoply of entry level Cabs, especially new-release 2014s. The good news: 2014 seems to be a strong vintage for value Cab, with a lower proportion of frogs than is the norm. That’s likely thanks to a long, warm summer in eastern Washington, long enough and warm enough to properly ripen Cab (which needs a lot of growing-degree-days to shed its astringent nature). We’ve tasted a handful of princes over the past few months, but perhaps none as royal as the HIP:

2014 House of Independent Producers Cabernet Sauvignon
I have great admiration for the Hedges family. Their Red Mountain wines from the ‘90s have been influential in my personal appreciation for the ageworthiness of Washington wines (note: these occasionally turn up on auction sites at ridiculously undervalued tariffs; worth seeking out for sure), and I’ve always respected how the family has carved out their own path in Washington winemaking.

HIP is a label for the family that allows Christophe Hedges and Sarah Hedges Goedhart to play with vineyard sources outside of the ancestral Red Mountain home, and to put some serious value under an alternate label. To wit: this Cab comes entirely from Sagemoor Farms (which includes vineyards like Sagemoor, Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, and Wooded Island), an outstanding source of Cabernet. As you can see on the (stylish) label, the vineyards are as much of an emphasis as the grape (note: that label is for the 2012 vintage, but it looks essentially the same as today’s ’14).

With the grapegrowing and winemaking pedigree here, this is one of those wines that has no business really being below $15. My understanding is that it sees a lot more placements on restaurant lists (especially by the glass) than through retail, but as usual, I don’t like to let our city’s somms have all the fun. It clocks in at 14.0% listed alc and offers a very pretty nose of redcurrant fruit, rose petals, and eucalyptus top-notes. The palate presents a rich core of red fruits, shaded by earthy bass notes. This is Cabernet as chugger: soft and supple, with a plump mid-palate and a long, salty/savory finish. It offers real generosity, real pleasure for a very reasonable tag.

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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