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This One Goes up to Twelve

Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012
$47.99/$38.50 by the case
We’ve been anticipating this arrival ever since early March when we tried it at the big Walla Walla event. Across all price points, this was a standout- one of the most complete and straight-up delicious Cabs tasted - and there was plenty of good wine that day. Since Abeja’s first vintage in 2001, winemaker John Abbott has quietly created a reputation as crafting one of Walla Walla’s best Cabernet. They aren’t flashy about it, they didn’t triple the price after some great scores and although it certainly is more limited than the early years, you don’t have to get on a waiting list to try a bottle. Given their past success it is no surprise that the 2012 wows. Generous and expressive, this has plenty of flavor intensity but it’s the way those flavors are delivered that makes it so compelling. Polished smooth and lithe in texture, there’s a dynamic vibrancy that’s often hard to conjure in bigger reds. A lively whirl of blue and black fruit notes, brown spice and light cocoa powder practically dances across the palate, gently melting into the seamless finish. Limited availability, this just arrived and is already selling quickly.

Cristom Pinot Noir Mt. Jefferson Cuvée Willamette Valley 2012
$27.99/$22.40 by the case
A so-called entry-level cuvée typically made in a more drink-now style, this 2012 far outshines its entry-level moniker. Made with the same care and methodology as the reserve and single vineyard wines, this does what it is supposed to do, capturing the essence of Cristom’s style while offering near-term pleasure, but ultimately drinking like a more serious wine than the price would suggest. As is common at Cristom, whole cluster fermentation was used for 40% of the fruit; this not-common practice gives the wine an underlying brambly woodsy feel with aromatics of licorice, violets and damp earth. The palate is broad-shouldered and dark with a satisfying warm spicy backdrop to the plum and black cherry fruit. Little pops of crisp pomegranate and fresh raspberry add dimension and vitality before finishing with a gentle grip. In a positive way, this has a more Burgundian feel compared to many flashy fruit-forward 2012 Oregon Pinots and those with enough patience to decant or age will be richly rewarded.

Gifford Hirlinger Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2008
$22.99/$18.40 by the case
Last month’s Sineann Cab deal sold out so fast we were like “uhhh, better look for something else…” Surprisingly we actually found this; same varietal, same price, just one year younger and from Walla Walla, not Napa. The winery currently lists the 2010 at $34; not sure where this 2008 got lost but we’re happy to have it. Several years in bottle have have been kind to this wine, allowing its powerful structure to soften and reveal subtle layers of flavor. Inky red fruits and warm wood on the nose lead to mellow blackberry and currant on the palate and the texture is chewy yet playful. Still ageworthy but drinking so well right now, it’ll be hard to wait. Limited availability as this is the last of it.

Domaine Labet Chardonnay Fleurs Côtes de Jura 2012
$21.99/$17.60 by the case
We’re always needing an affordable white Burgundy fix whether it’s from Chablis, Mâcon or anywhere in between. Or in this case, the Jura. Proudly off the beaten path, this region lies just east of Burgundy and its white wines are mostly known (and prized) for their purposely oxidized style. Not this one: the back label specifically states “aged in topped-up barrels” and this tastes more like good white Burgundy. Aged 15 months on its lees in old oak casks, this is flavorful, complex and richly-textured. Musky floral and white pepper aromatics lead to bread dough, toasted nuts and poached pear on the palate, flavors that are layered in a creamy-like-Sunday-morning texture. A gentle lemony lift on the finish pulls it all together while those leesy spicy notes linger on.

Vajra Langhe Rosso 2011
$14.99/$11.99 by the case
Home to some of the most sought-after northern Italian reds, Piedmont has something for every wine enthusiast including elegant and structured Nebbiolo, fresh and fruity Barbera and the workhorse local’s favorite - Dolcetto. All said, if you're unsure or just looking for something to pair with this week’s Mediterranean meal, look no further. This Langhe Rosso is a blend of the aforementioned grapes with the unusual andknit, Albarossa and Pinot Noir. The result: touchdown, thegoes wild! Beautiful, heady floral aromatics with red fruit, plum and Asian spice. The palate mirrors the nose adding an earthy component to its supple and generous mouthfeel. The finish is long and elegant with smooth tannins. Think Lauren Bacall, only she's in color! As an introduction to Piedmont or even if youris full of it, no matter... This is the ultimate gateway drug and we certainly approve!

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