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.