Hello friends. Today we have the release of a new in-house wine with an audacious goal: to make the finest $20 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon that our nature and terroir allow:
2015 Puget Purveyors Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine began with the convergence of two factors. The first factor was our list’s incredible response to the two vintages of Secret Squirrel Cabernet Sauvignon. The success of that wine cemented for me that there is a huge appetite among our list members (and the broader market) for outstanding, terroir-expressive Cab that can hit that magic twenty dollar tag. When it became clear to me that Secret Squirrel was going to discontinue their Cabernet bottling, I started thinking to myself: don’t we have the knowledge and resources to make our own?
And that’s where factor number two comes in. Because right as I was thinking about this, we were offered access to a significant amount of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Discovery Vineyard for our in-house winery, Block Wines. I had been chasing Discovery fruit for Block Wines for a simple reason: I view it as perhaps the finest site in Washington for Cabernet Sauvignon (more on that later). So I knew our answer would be yes, but what we were being offered was considerably more fruit than we needed for Block Cabernet.
And that’s when the wheels really started turning. What if we used declassified barrels and puncheons of Block Cabernet Sauvignon as the foundation for this wine, and then blended it with more approachable, openly delicious Cab from one of our other long-term winery partners?
So that’s how Puget Purveyors was born. The goal with the design of the name and the label is to convey the Pacific Northwest, this very special part of the world, and the goal with the juice inside is to show folks everywhere how special our region’s wines can be. Eventually, we’ll be aiming to distribute Puget Purveyors outside of Washington, and maybe even outside of the United States. But before we do any of that, we’ll start with the group that makes this, and all our projects, possible in the first place: our list members.
Now then, a word on what makes Discovery Vineyard so special. I first heard about the site back in 2010-2011. At that point, I believe there were three main wineries working with the fruit: Quilceda Creek, Andrew Will, and Adams Bench; serious producers all. Milo and Kay May are the owners and growers at Discovery, and they planted out the site with the encouragement of Paul Champoux, whose Champoux Vineyard is right around the corner, and the Golitzin family of Quilceda Creek, who used fruit from Discovery until their own Horse Heaven Hills estate came online.
For many years, Champoux Vineyard has proven that the Horse Heaven Hills is a wonderful area for growing Cab in Washington. Discovery is just a bit south of Champoux, (located here) right on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River. The proximity to the river, and the steeper slope, both help with frost problems. Wind also whips up off the Columbia, gently dehydrating grapes and leading to little buckshot Cabernet berries with very high skin-to-juice ratio, which leads to incredible tannic structure in finished Cabernets from Discovery.
I have three Discovery pictures I’d like to share from our 2016 vineyard visits. Here is a picture looking up a row, showing the perfect, gentle, south-facing slope. Here is a pic of the top of the vines looking out over the Columbia, showing the proximity to the mighty river. And here is a pic of a perfect Cabernet grapevine, now a little more than a decade old.
This vineyard is just entering its teenage years, and the results so far have been staggering. I’m thrilled that we’re locked into Discovery Cabernet for the foreseeable future. As I mentioned, Disco Cabernet is imposing in its structure, so we really needed some fleshy, delicious, approachable fruit for blending. Fortunately, our partners at [REDACTED] Winery came through for us, with lovely Cabernet, mostly from [REDACTED] Vineyard. Why the double redaction? The usual reason: this is very good fruit from a very good winery, and blurting their name out with a twenty dollar wine doesn’t make anyone happy. Suffice it to say it’s a long-time Full Pull partner, well loved by our list members.
Our debut Puget Purveyors Cab clocks in at 14.5% listed alc and begins with a nose combining deep dark fruit (black plum, crème de cassis) with subtleties of the kind of graphitic minerality that only the best Horse Heaven Hills vineyards provide. On the palate, it’s the texture you notice first: the sturdy scaffolding of black-tea tannin from Discovery paired to fleshy, delicious Cabernet fruit. What makes me happy is that this is a balanced four-corners Cab, hitting fruit, earth, savory, and barrel notes in turn. The finish is all Earl Grey tannin goodness, kissed with bergamot. I know this is the kind of Cabernet our list members love, and I just can’t wait for it to hit your glasses.
First come first served up to 60 bottles, and the wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.