Hello friends. Today we are witnessing a new chapter for Washington wine. Abeja has been a hit amongst our list members for years, and is a rockstar example of what the Washington wine world can do. Today, we’re offering the 8th consecutive vintage of the Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the hard-to-get-your-hands-on Columbia Valley Merlot.
While it may be considered old news now, Abeja has gone through some big changes over the last few years. John and Molly Abbott departed the winery in 2015. After the departure, Abeja announced that they hired Dan Wampfler (previously of Dunham Cellars) into the lead winemaking role, along with his wife, Amy Alvarez-Wampfler, formerly the head winemaker at Sinclair Estate Vineyards. Dan and Amy are both outstanding winemakers in their own right, and we’ve been excited to see what this duo will do at the helm of this Washington wine darling. The pair has been with Abeja for just over a year and a half now, leading the way for an exciting future. The 2014 vintage marks a special one for Abeja; while this vintage still has some of John’s signature fingerprint attached to it, it marks the first red release with Dan and Amy’s influence. With talented winemakers on either side of this bottling, it’s hard not to be excited about these quintessential Washington wines.
2014 Abeja Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Abeja believes wholly in Cabernet Sauvignon, and its representation as the best of Washington. Cab is iconic for for our state—and Abeja has truly played a large role in continuing this trend. In the winery’s own words: This is the grape that we believe will increasingly be recognized as the icon varietal of Washington State and comprises the majority of our production. This Cabernet is stylish, elegant, and impeccably balanced. We accomplish this by meticulous viticultural management, utilization of a rare sorting system, gentle handling of the fruit and the wine, customized practices for every lot no matter how small, and carefully selected French oak.
The fruit comes from a diverse and highly regarded group of vineyards around Columbia Valley. Abeja works with this small group of growers because of their shared passion for quality, innovation, and the land that is being farmed. Those of us who have loved the 2012 and 2013 vintages will be happy to see that the vineyard sources for the 2014 are nearly identical: old-vine Bacchus and Dionysus, Weinbau, Kiona Heart of the Hill, Ciel du Cheval, Scooteney Flats, Destiny Ridge, Gunselman Bench. That is a pan-Washington all-star Cabernet lineup. The wine itself has a greater percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon than the previous vintage, 94%, with 3% each Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The wine saw 22 months in French oak, 75% new and 25% once- and twice-used.
This wine has only been released from the winery cellar doors, and our order will be a special one across the mountains for Full Pull list members only. At 14.8% listed alc., this Cabernet opens with warm, toasty notes lined with anise, cocoa, herbaceous peony, and subtle yet succulent black fruit. On the palate, spicy tobacco and dark red fruit prevail, with bright acidity throughout and polished, strongly-formed tannins. This is truly one of the flagship Cabernets produced in Washington, and year after year, it is heartily-loved by our list members.
2014 Abeja Columbia Valley Merlot
Recently, I’ve started coining this term rebuttal Merlot. We all have friends who “don’t like Merlot.” Maybe they’ve watched Sideways one too many times, or perhaps have only sampled boring or jammy examples of this red offering. Rebuttal Merlot is a bottle of Merlot that you give to your friend who insists they don’t like Merlot. Usually from Washington (because we just might be growing the best Merlot domestically here in Washington), rebuttal Merlot is structured, smooth, thoughtful, and interesting. Rebuttal Merlot makes a Merlot lover out of even the most insistent Merlot denier.
And this bottle is definitely 100% Rebuttal Merlot from some of the best producers of Washington Cabernet. Its actual breakdown is 97% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. The grapes are sourced from Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, Celilo Scooteney Flats, and Mill Creek Estate. The wine saw 18 months of French oak, 40% new and 60% “experienced” barrels before bottling in June 2016. Clocking in at 14.8% alcohol, this wine opens with a nose that’s meaty, herbaceous and woody, lined with plum, cherry, and a touch of vanilla. On the palate, it is deliciously round and smooth, finishing with fully matured, structured tannins.
What is truly so exciting about this Merlot is that we get to offer it at all. The only vintage of Abeja Merlot we’ve ever been able to offer was the 2008, back in 2011. That was the last time we got our hands on enough of this wine to make it available to the list—which makes this offer incredibly special. Who knows! It could be another six years before we get to offer it again.
Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of the Cabernet and 12 bottles of the Merlot, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. These wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.