Sep 27 2019

Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon is back

Two years ago, we introduced a new single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, a unique addition to the Avennia collection.

After many years of touting the idea of the Bordeaux blend, many were surprised when we suspended that idea to produce a 100% varietal Cabernet. However in 2014, there was something incredibly compelling about the old vine Cabernet grapes harvested from Red Willow Vineyard, and after a few months in barrel, each time we tasted it our intrigue grew. Soon we knew it was something special, something that merited a special stage, hence our decision to produce for the first time a 100% Cabernet varietal wine.

Shortly after release, our 2014 Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon wine received our highest score to date at Avennia - 97 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (subscription required) - and our less than 100 case production sold out rapidly.

But we knew from the beginning that this was a wine we couldn’t make every year, and it wasn't until 2016 that this fruit once again demanded our attention.

We are delighted to present our 2016 Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon.

Please do not be misled by the term 'varietal wine'. Winemaker Chris Peterson’s artful blending skills are still very much a part of this wine’s story, as this too is a blend and a selection. Each year as harvest approaches, Chris spends countless hours visiting the vineyards, tasting the grapes, and tracking progression.

In this particular block at Red Willow Vineyard, Chris knows that the vines on the long, steep, west-facing slope, are a little different. The vines at the bottom of the block are in a slightly richer soil and get a bit more water, so they are picked separately, sometimes even a week or ten days apart, and they are kept separate in barrel. While the 2014 was all from the upper portion of the block, this 2016 version blended in 17% from the lower section. This brought a darker fruit component as well as a richer texture, while still allowing the concentration and complexity of the upper block to shine.

Then further, nearly every combination of new and used French oak barrels were trialed to find the best blend. It’s not enough to simply use, in this case, the six best barrels. Rather, it is essential to trial each combination to see how they complement each other. For a wine with this much mass, 83% new French oak was used. We purposefully delayed the release of this second vintage, to allow the wine all the benefits from an additional six months of bottle age. It will only continue to unmask itself with cellaring and we are confident it will still be full of life two decades from now.

Be forewarned, with a mere 140 case production, we predict this wine will sell out quickly (again) and priority is always given to our valued club members for limited wines like these. For the next 2 weeks, it will only be available for pre-purchase to those with an active club membership. After this initial pre-sale period, remaining quantities will be available for purchase in our Woodinville Tasting Room beginning at 11am PST on Saturday, October 5th. We will be pouring it too…while it lasts. In fact, Winemaker Chris Peterson will be pouring it himself from 1:00-3:00pm that day. Mark your calendars and stop by to learn more.

If you can’t make it in, online purchases will also begin that day at the same time.

Club members: note that pre-sale purchases will not be ready for pick up in the tasting room until October 5th.

2016 Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Chris Peterson's recent tasting notes:
"This wine, from one of Washington’s top vintages, opens with a beautiful and complex nose of red and black currants, crushed roses, fresh sage and thyme, dark chocolate, and a hint of cardamom. The flavors are palate-coating and rich with crème de cassis, flood minerals, a piquant herb note, as well as deeper notes of dark chocolate, baking spices, and damp earth. The richness on the palate now conceals some formidable tannins. So, while this wine is certainly enjoyable now, expect it to live for a long, long time." - CP

Acclaimed reviewer Jeb Dunnuck (formerly of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate) visited earlier this year and tasted it from barrel:

(95+) points - Jeb Dunnuck - "Another gem from this great winemaker. Deep purple-colored, with a huge perfume of blackberries, crème de cassis, cedarwood, pencil lead, and graphite, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness and depth, nicely integrated acidity, and building, ripe tannins. Give bottles 3-4 years and it too will cruise for 15-20 years or more." - JD

$95/btl | $250/magnum

Membership Program Pricing:
$76/Prestige | $80.75/Grand | $85.50/Demi & Maison | $90.25/Petit