I recently had the chance to try the 2007 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.
This is a wine that is not produced in every vintage; winemaker John Abbott reserves the label for special bottlings in what he considers to be extraordinary vintages. It is therefore of no surprise that this, the third Abeja Reserve, came from the phenomenal 2007 vintage (previous vintages of this wine were from the hallmark 2002 and 2005 vintages). I’ll quote Paul Gregutt about the fruit sourcing: “…sourced principally from the same old vine Bacchus and Weinbau blocks, this also includes a significant portion of grapes (20%) from the estate’s Heather Hill vineyard.”
Bacchus and Weinbau vineyards are part of the Sagemoor Farms family of vineyards, comprised of Bacchus, Weinbau, Sagemoor, and Dionysus vineyards. This group of vineyards is one of the most critical building blocks for many premium Washington wineries, including Delille, Januik, and Corliss, just to name a few. Some of the vines (including much of the Cabernet in the Abeja Reserve) date back to 1972, which is just about as old-vine as you can get in Washington. I had the privilege of visiting the vineyard earlier this year, and it was beautiful, immaculately tended, and right next to the Columbia River- a key element, since it leads to cooling breezes coming off of the water and mitigating some of the Eastern Washington heat.
So how was the wine? Certainly concentrated; it was dense and chewy, with obvious oak influences- coffee, mocha, and toasty wood were evident throughout. The fruit was dark and intense, filled with classic Cabernet black currant and very ripe plum.
I think that this is a wine that will satisfy many, many consumers. It is the epitome of what one might expect out of a New-World Reserve Cabernet. Did I like it? Sort of. I certainly enjoyed having the opportunity to try it. However, I wished at the time that it had been showing more acidity. It felt in the mouth much like an Oakville Cabernet might; very big and mouth-filling, but without the high acidity that I have come to expect in the best Washington State wines. Perhaps I was just not in the mood for a wine of this style; that has certainly been true for me on many occasions, and I have come back to the same wines and found them to be much more enjoyable than I thought on first taste.
Don’t get me wrong: I think that Abeja’s Reserve Cabernet is a well-made wine. I think that in the style it is made in you can spend three or four times the amount of money for a similar experience. But lately I’ve been looking for wines that offer a little bit more than rich, plump fruit and big flavor. Maybe it’ll change in the bottle; I don’t claim to know. If you’re looking for Napa in Washington, drink this wine; you’ll love it. But it wasn’t for me right then.
But then, that’s what makes wine so special, isn’t it? Different times, different people, different bottles, different experiences. I hope I try this wine again three years from now and it blows my mind.