2019 Octavian Cellars Cabernet
Two years ago, it was a fantastic idea:
Go across the Cascade Mountains, into the Columbia Valley, and source out the best Cabernet fruit that you can find. From Red Mountain, for its beautiful blackberry compote fruit character on the nose and the lush full-bodied tannins on the palate. From Walla Walla to bring in its Cabernet’s dark mocha and cocoa powder tannins on the palate. And from Horse Heaven Hills to draw in notes of red berry fruit and raspberry jam to make the wine exciting and complex. And then finally, to age it in some of the most luxurious French oak barrels you can find to bring in notes of cedar, baking spice, and toastiness while rounding the wine into a silky, supple nectar.
It was a brilliant idea, and with some of the nation’s top sommeliers at the helm and a nearly unlimited budget from their associated restaurants, it was bound to succeed in making one heck of a Cabernet. And succeed it did, all the way from fruit, to barrel, to bottle.
And then, unfortunately, the shutdown came and this dramatic new creation became an orphan of a wine, looking for a happy home to adopt it in.
The pandemic has produced this story before in our epistles, and so our song remains the same. Top restaurants around the country have started making their own wines – heck, I got an offer from the French Laundry last year to sell its exclusive Cabernet reputed to be from Harlan. This wine holds nearly the same story, with some of the most talented sommeliers in Washington State getting together to make an expensive, delicious, restaurant-only wine – this guy. And then the shutdown. And while our shutdown was long, Washington State’s shutdown dragged on and on and on. Once made, the wine couldn’t be sold (no restaurants!), and that is where we stepped in.
I went to undergraduate school in Washington State back when there were only 8 wineries in Walla Walla (there are now over 250). I still have some connections there and was very excited when I first started hearing about this project. Loving Washington’s Cabernets, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one of the best. Then, when the world started getting super weird, I watched as this wine sat, and sat. Finally, I reached out – instead of pouring the wine down the drain to free up barrel space, perhaps I could secure it, albeit at a super discounted price?
Sometimes I get called a shark when I know there’s blood in the water. But I prefer to think of it as savvy shopping, and gently nudging a proposition into my glass. As I said to those somms – me taking the wine gets their cash out of it, and protects everyone’s ego all around.
The result? We here at Waterford have managed to secure what I believe to be one of Washington’s top Cabernets – at an exceptional price. Don’t miss this stunning wine and its concomitant value!