Wednesday, June 13, 2007

WBW #34 is WWWBW

Could it be WBW #34 already? It seems like just the other day that I was missing the deadline for WBW #33.

In any case, we have a fantastic theme for this month. Washington is an exciting area for grape growers and winemakers.

I happened across this article about the turning point for Washington’s wine industry and the role of Walter Clore in driving the creation of Washingon's world-class wines. It’s very interesting reading.

Our kind host this month is Catie, the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman, of Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine. Our mission was to avoid the Ch. Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest wines and seek out cabernet sauvignon from some of the state’s numerous other wineries.

With this in mind, I went out scouting for WA cabs. To my immense delight, I found a bottle of 2001 Isenhower Batchelor’s Button Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2001 ($32).

While this is actually a Columbia Valley wine, it is from a Walla Walla winery, which hopefully will score me some extra credit points.

As soon as I picked up the bottle, I realized that I was on to something. The beautiful label suggested a small winery. The back of the label told me that the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered, which I love, and that 450 cases were produced. The vintage was another good sign, as 2001 was a very good year for Washington cabernet.

My hunches were nicely rewarded. It definitely needs some air, but after some time in my glass and in the decanter—it was pure heaven.

I read somewhere that Isenhower makes their cabernet more in the style of Bordeaux rather than California cabs. Bordeaux-ish is certainly an apt description in my opinion. The blend for this vintage is 90% cabernet sauvignon and 10% merlot, and it reminded me of of some of the best attributes of Paulliac.

In the glass, the 2001 Batchelor’s Button is opaque purple with a deep, concentrated nose of black cherry, cassis, currant, eucalyptus, cocoa, mint, and cigar box. Those flavors continue in the long, complex mouthfeel, which is framed by bracing acidity and persistent tannins.

It nicely sidesteps the plush, overdone fruit and oak of some California cabs, while not leaning too far towards the austerity of Bordeaux wines. Given the amount of breathing time it took for this wine to really show its stuff, I would guess it will continue to improve for another 5-10 years.

What’s even more fascinating about this wine is that this is the first vintage Isenhower produced. Bravo.

I highly recommend a visit to the Isenhower Web site. Denise and Brett have a great story to tell and clearly have a commitment to making outstanding wines. I believe I'll be back to that wine shop in search of another bottle.

Thanks to Catie, and thanks, as always, to our WBW guru, Lenn, of Lenndevours.


Brett Isenhower said...

Thanks for the positive comments about the 2001 Batchelor's Button. My only correction is the price was $27 for the 2001 Batchelor's.

The 2005 Batchelor's Button will be released this fall. We will bottle it on Wednesday June 20, 2007. This will be the first wine that I will bottle with my new bottling line. Very exciting! The 2005 blend is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon from Tapteil and Bacchus Vineyards, 11% Merlot from Spofford Station and 4% Petit Verdot from Elerding Vineyard.

John said...

It's nice to hear from you, Brett. Although I much rather would have paid $27, your wine was worth every penny of the $32.99 plus tax I paid. I was especially excited to find a 2001 vintage. Maybe my local wine shop charged extra for the storage.

I'll definitely be looking for more Isenhower wines in the future.

Brett Isenhower said...

Hi John,

Thanks for the update on the pricing of wine in your area. I hope you get to try the 2005 Batchelor's Button. We bottle it on Wednesday.


John said...

I'll keep an eye out for it, Brett.