2019 Cabernet Sauvignon
A terroir-driven vintage? Perfect? We just made it over the finish line in 2019. We picked 80% of our fruit in one week due to the frosts that hit the Columbia Valley the second week of October. Luckily, everything was ripe and ready and I was already booked on our growers’ picking schedule a week ahead of time. Picking within a day or two of a frost is critical to avoid the once-green leaves, now brown and crunchy, from getting into the picking bins. Once they are on the fruit, they are impossible to remove and can negatively impact the flavor of the wine. We were able to get in all of our fruit before this happened except for our Merlot from Canoe Ridge Estate. Luckily, I had my vineyard intern Elijah Shields. I sent him out to the vineyard with a leaf blower to blow all the dried leaves off the vines before the fruit was picked. A miserable task, but one that paid dividends in terms of the quality of the Merlot we realized — Thanks Eli! 2019 was a tricky vintage for growers. Forecasts for hot weather never seemed to come to fruition, which made it difficult for vineyard managers in terms of scheduling irrigation. If you held off on watering, you were fine as the evolving forecast pushed high temps off into the future, but if you pulled the trigger too soon, you over-watered which resulted in excess vigor in the vineyard. Over-watering also makes for delayed ripening and big berries – which are not desirable with any vintage. Very intense scrutiny of the vineyards throughout the vintage on my part really paid off. The 2019 wines are pure with each vineyard showing its’ unique personality. I can’t remember a vintage where every lot was so distinct and defined.
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
64% Red Mountain
36% Horse Heaven Hills
9% Scooteney Flats
20 months in new (15%), single use (32%) and neutral (53%) French oak barrels
October 8 – October 12, 2019
289 cases of 750mL bottles
60 1.5L bottles
This pure Cabernet, tasted against the winery’s J|R|G Red, which is 97% Cab, seems bigger, chewier, more tannic and focused, though not necessarily better. Both wines are fine expressions of classic Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, here sourced from Klipsun, Discovery and Scooteney Flats vineyards. The 55% Klipsun fruit accounts for the firm, dark, pencil lead tannins, which are perfectly ripened and polished to a fine luster. Winemaker Robert Henry has made a poised, balanced wine with impressive, yet restrained, power. This bottle sings out for dry-aged beef and a hearty appetite.
The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon from Robert Henry is composed of roughly two-thirds fruit from Horse Heaven Hills and one-third from Red Mountain. It was raised this year in a discreet fifteen percent new oak and one-third “one wine barrels”, with the cépages comprised entirely of Cabernet Sauvignon. The octane is 14.1 percent in 2019 and the wine delivers a superb young aromatic constellation of cassis, black cherries, a touch of new leather, cigar ash, dark soil tones and a discreet foundation of cedary oak. On the palate the wine is deep, pure and nascently complex, with a full-bodied and seamless format, a great core of fruit, lovely soil signature, ripe, buried tannins and a long, poised and impeccably balanced finish. Allow this outstanding young cabernet sauvignon sufficient hibernation time in the cellar to start to hit on all cylinders! (John Gilman)
Pamplin is one of the best, under-the-radar wineries making wine from Washington. 100% varietal, the aromas are vivid, with notes of blackberry, black cherry, chocolate and barrel spice. Supple, reserved dark fruit flavors follow, with the oak seemingly pulled back. It shows an ideal mixture of ripeness and freshness, with exquisite depth, balance, length and acidity – a complete standout. (Sean P. Sullivan)