The 2009 vintage was a unique year with a late spring, extremely hot summer and an early October frost which affected a number of vineyards. With these challenges, site selection and winemaking experience came into play in order to make remarkable wine. Fortunately we had picked our Sagemoor fruit before the frost and the Desert Wind Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope avoided the frost. We are very happy with the 2009 wines which are quite ripe with good flavor and mature supple tannins.
2009 Desert Wind Vineyard Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Wahluke Slope
Vineyard: Desert Wind
Production: 53 cases
The Wahluke Slope is one of the warmer Washington appellations and is particularly good for growing red grapes to produce some of Washington’s great red wines. It is not unusual to find pieces of petrified wood on the vineyard floor in the ancient sandy soils that allow for good drainage and low nutrient capacity. These soils along with the warm days and breezes produce small canopies and berries for concentrated flavors and color.
The Desert Wind Vineyard is owned and managed by the Fries family. This particular block was planted in 1993 and I’ve had the good fortune to make wine from this block since 1996. I like the Desert Wind Cabernet Sauvignon as it has a lot of Cabernet character which, while it can be a bit over-powering in the young wine, with aging this Cabernets’ herbalness translates into complexity and spice which is complimentary to the cherry fruit which is framed with moderate tannins. These grapes were fermented in a one ton bin and punched down daily by hand. Once flavors, color and tannin had been extracted to the proper balance the wine was pressed off the skins. The wine was then racked to French Oak barrels where it was aged for two years.
2009 Sagemoor Vineyard Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
Varietal: 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Syrah
Appellation: Columbia Valley
Vineyard: Sagemoor 96% Spice Cabinet 3% McKinley Springs 1%
Production: 50 cases
The Sagemoor Vineyards, located north of Pasco, were the first substantive vineyards in Washington soon after they were planted in 1968. The vineyards are within the Columbia Valley appellation which is the largest Washington appellation encompassing most of the smaller appellations. Many of Washington’s top wineries procure grapes from these vineyards. Sagemoor vineyards consist of three vineyard entities – Sagemoor, Bacchus and Dionysus. This Cabernet Sauvignon is made from grapes of the Dionysus Vineyard block 14, a Southwest facing block overlooking the Columbia River. These old vines are challenged in the low-nutrient and water holding sandy soils producing small but flavorful berries and a supple rich mouth. The grapes were fermented in small one-ton bins and punched down by hand daily and then pressed to French oak barrels where the wine was aged for two years followed by extended aging in bottle.
2009 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
Varietal: 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot
Appellation: Columbia Valley
Vineyard: Sagemoor 51% Desert Wind 47% Spice Cabinet 2%
Production: 47 cases
I decided to do an approximate 50/50 blend of the Desert Wind and the Sagemoor lots. The Sagemoor wine moderated the more aggressive Cabernet character of the Desert Wind wine while the latter brought some verve and structure to the blend. Blending is a powerful winemaking tool to bring the positive elements into a blend. This wine was blended and aged for 24 months in new and one year-old French oak barrels to allow a slow maturation with the low oxidative conditions of barrel aging. Further extended bottle aging allows for further softening of tannins and evolution of flavors.