2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, Les Collines Vineyard

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, Les Collines Vineyard

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This Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Block 45 of Les Collines Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley AVA.  In French the term “Les Collines” translates to “the hills” and, accordingly, this vineyard sits in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.  Due to its elevation, Les Collines has one of the longest growing seasons in the Columbia Valley.  This extended season ensures that fruit has the best opportunity to reach full physiological ripeness. 


Wine Enthusiast Magazine posted the following review on March 1, 2024:

"Imagine a bowl of vanilla gelato topped with blackberries and a handful of violets.  That is the aromatic combination that greeted my first sniff from the glass. A pronounced black cherry fruit highlights the palate, tempered by traces of lemon zest, bittersweet dark chocolate, and shaved coconut. Try this wine with a steak sandwich and any John Coltrane record. 93 pts., Editors' Choice” 

Great Northwest Wine offered the following review on August 19, 2023:

"Each vintage, Portland vintner Robert Bailey selects one or two vineyards to focus on, and while 2019 was a problematic growing season for some, that doesn’t appear to have been the case for this site with historic ties to famed Walla Walla Valley grower Norm McKibben. No new oak was involved during the 25-month barrel program for this clone 8 Cab, which offers aromas of cherry compote, Marionberry and vanilla cream, backed by cocoa powder and a scrap of light toast. On the palate, it’s rich, luscious and filled with Bing cherry juice on the entry. Fine-grained cranberry-skin tannins flit highly across the gum, leading to an injection of cherry/pomegranate juice for a food-friendly finish. A number of consumer also look for wines that are unfixed and unfiltered, and those aspects add to its appeal. Suggested pairings include this provided recipe for Pot Roast Made Perfect. This marks the fourth straight bottling of Cab by Bailey to receive our top rating, and he also earned an Outstanding! for his 2018 Chardonnay91 points — Outstanding!"

Paul Gregutt, www.paulgwine.com, March 17, 2023.  An author and former principal reviewer of Pacific Northwest wines for Wine Enthusiast magazine, Paul writes: 

"Walla Walla is better known for Merlot and Syrah, but here's a single vineyard Cabernet making a valid claim for first class status. Clear varietal character is fully evident, with a generous support system of herb, earth and fungus. It's smooth and supple, with inviting aromatics, though it lightens up as it fades." 91/100 

He wrote more about Arenness Cellars in the "Deep Dive" section of his weekly report.  Check it out here: https://www.paulgwine.com/deep-dive


Growing Season - The 2019 growing season was an unusual one. A mostly warm winter in eastern Washington gave way to late winter weather that left snow in vineyards well into March. This resulted in lower soil temperatures that delayed bud break and bloom. Summer temperatures were cooler, with a notable lack of heat spikes. Temperatures cooled considerably after the first week of September and remained cooler throughout the month. A minor frost event at the end of September was followed by a series of larger, statewide frosts and freezes in mid-October that left many growers and wineries scrambling to pull fruit from the vines. While some consider 2019 to be a cool vintage, it is only cool relative to recent years. Despite challenges presented by the freezes, the general view about the vintage is that quality is high with wines showing freshness, elegance, and intensity. (Summarized from reports produced by the Washington State Wine Commission and the Washington Wine Report.)

Composition - 95% Cabernet Sauvignon (Clone 8), 3% Merlot (Golden Ridge Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley) 2% Cabernet Franc (Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley)

Panel Tasting Notes - Our 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon from Les Collines Vineyard presents a rich, deep color of garnet and plum at the core. In the glass, the wine offers aromas of black licorice, black cherry, black currant, and lilac. There is also an earthy, dried mushroom component, along with sarsaparilla and orange peel. On the pallet, the wine is medium to full-bodied, complex, and impeccably balanced. Cigar box, dried leather, and fine grain tannins dominate for now, as the dark fruit flavors have not fully developed (typical of young wines from Les Collines Vineyard.) However, you can just pick up fruit at the edges - fruit that is taking its time to join the party! This wine has the classic Arenness Cellars finish - pleasant and long with a wonderful mix of supple tannins, bright acidity, coffee, and a delicate sweetness. This wine is best with food. With proper cellaring, it will continue to develop complexity over the next 10+ years.

Winemaking – Fruit for this cab was harvested on October 13th and inoculated with D80 yeast on October 15th.  During 15 days of primary fermentation the must was punched down twice daily.  The must was then pressed and wine racked to tote.  After settling, wine was racked to barrel where malolactic fermentation occurred.  The wine aged for 25 months in French and American oak barrels and was racked three times prior to bottling on December 8, 2021.  The wine was not fined or filtered.

Cooperage – Sylvain (once used), The Oak Cooperage (neutral)

Numbers - Alcohol 14.5%, pH 3.68