Hello friends. Long-term list members know that I love the “red wine” category. Why? Because it’s such a broad category that the juice inside could be just about anything. Because it’s a category that rewards those of us willing to do homework to figure out what’s inside the bottle.
Some red wines are terrible. Press fractions that should have been pressed down a drain. Spoofy jam-monsters with notable residual sugar. Wines obliterated by oak powder and other undesirables. We don’t offer those.
But some red wines turn out to be five-variety Bordeaux blends from excellent vineyards that punch way above their price class:
2014 Pomum Cellars Red Wine
[Note: while the red wine will be the main thrust today, we’ll also have a bonus Cabernet Sauvignon at the bottom of the offer.]
In this case, the blend is dominated by Upland Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (32%) and Dineen Vineyard Cabernet Franc (31%), the remainder 23% Merlot, 9% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot. And it comes from list-favorite winemaker Javier Alfonso. Our list members have gone bananas the past few years for Javier’s outstanding value Spanish varieties under his Idilico label, but before Idilico, there was Pomum, and Javier has always been gifted with Bordeaux varieties as well as those of Spain.
This is a time of year when our offers tend more towards wines in the $30s and $40s and $50s (and up). But even during November and December, we all need Tuesday night bottles that over-deliver and take the edge off the holiday madness. This is about as strong a sub-$20 BDX blend as I can remember tasting from Washington this year, and no surprise that it comes from the 2014 vintage, a high-quality/high-yield year where a lot of very nice barrels were cascaded down into lower price-point bottlings.
This one begins with a complex nose that belies its accessible tariff: cassis fruit and exotic star anise spice complemented by subtleties of dusty earth and cedar. You expect this type of blend at this price point to be all yumball fruit, but this is something different: more complicated, more characterful. The palate is full of verve and energy, with a beautiful acid spine paired to plush (14.5% listed alc) earth-inflected fruit. I loved how the Dineen Cabernet Franc reared up on the palate, offering grace notes of winter greens and pimenton agriducle. The texture here is classy as hell, just great for the asking price, with subtle fine-grained tannins that offer a lovely sense of toothsome finishing chew, all green tea and dust as a parting gift. This drinks like a wine you could easily lay down for 10 years if you’re into doing that sort of thing with twenty-dollar wines.
2013 Pomum Cellars Shya Cabernet Sauvignon
And a bonus Cabernet from Javier, which I wanted to offer because a) it’s damned good (that should be a given for every wine we offer) and b) it comes from vineyards I’m not used to seeing: predominantly Konnowac and Morrison, two Yakima Valley sites that have some seriously old vines (some of the Morrison Cabernet dates back to 1968). Javier ages his Cab in French oak, 20% new, for 18 months, and this clocks in at 14.7% listed alc. It begins with a dark, dark profile – black plum, violet, loamy soil – lifted by this wonderful topnote of eucalyptus. The palate is a beautiful, honest expression of Washington Cabernet, with texture and structure and concentration that are down the middle for this variety. The complexity, the mineral finish, the overall sense of harmonious balance; all dazzle. So too Javier’s perfectly-weighted tannins, redolent of smoky tea leaves and just as chewy as you’d want from a good Cab. This is wine for the red meats and roasts of winter. Cue roaring hearth.