A few weeks ago, Brian Rudin, the winemaker for Canvasback, asked me if I would like to taste some samples of the winery's 2018 Cabernet Sauvignons before bottling. I said sure. So Brian pulled some samples for me, "from tank, pre SO2 added and pre-filtration, so they should show well for 12-24 hours once you open. The SO2 is low and they will therefore open quickly." Here are the wines tasted, with Brian's comments and my notes. The pluses on the scores indicate the potential to advance, from, say, 19/20 points to 19.5/20.
2018 Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Longwind Estate Vineyard - "Our first bottling of our Estate fruit, from 5 year-old vines. 98% CS, 2% Merlot. Clones 8 and 2 for Cab, Clone 15 Merlot." My tasting notes: "This shows a deep ruby-crimson color and an intense, berried nose of blackberries, cherries, blueberries, with scents of crushed black roses, sweet tobacco, cedar and a hint of mint. The flavors are attention-getting, with loads of black fruits that are intermixed with licorice, dark cocoa, roasted coffee beans and Red Mountain calcareous earth. The back reveals macerated berries, toasted nuts, creme de cassis, kirsch and toasty oak, followed by a long finish. 19+/20 points.
2018 Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Klipsun Vineyard - "We've been working with Klipsun since 2012, but this is the first time we've vineyard designated it. 92% CS, 7% Malbec, 1% Merlot. We blended the Malbec into the Cab the same day we pressed the Cab in November 2018 to capture its blackness of color and blue fruit..." My notes: Deep ruby colored, this possesses intense aromas of blackberries, black cherries, crushed roses, dark tobacco, black olive, sweet pea flowers, rosemary and stick incense. The flavors are generous and sweetish, yet deep cored and tightly focused, with interlayering of licorice, cocoa, French roast and earth. The back reveals macerated fruits, roasted walnuts, kirsch, mocha, toasty oak and pencil shavings, followed by a lingering sweetish tannin finish. 19+/20 points.
2018 Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard - "78% CS from 1994 Cordon Block, 20% Merlot from 2003 block and 2% Cabernet Franc planted in 1998. We love this old-vine fruit, delivering s classic WA profile. The CS and the CF hang on to a lot of tannin and pyridine right up to the end of the season...A restrained style for us." My notes: Semi opaque ruby colored, this emits sultry, smoky aromas of blackberry, black cherry, plum, cassis, black roses, dark tobacco, cedar, mint and sweet oriental incense. The flavors are powerful, yet restrained, with layers of dark fruits that are infused with licorice root, dark cocoa, Sumatra roast and mid Red Mountain earth. The penetration continues on the back with sensations of roasted berries and nuts, kirsch and cassis liqueur, integrated oak and pulverized charcoal, followed by an ultra long firm, yet sweetish tannin finish. 19+/20 points.
2018 Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley - "80% CS (McClellan and Eritage vineyards), 12% Merlot (Eritage) and 8% PV from Seven Hills Vineyard. We take some pretty deliberate measures to make this Cab distinctly different from our RM Cabs. We're looking for that earthier, mineral, somewhat more restrained expression, to contrast with our big red-fruit laden Cabs." My notes: Semi opaque ruby-crimson colored, this possesses intoxicating aromas of blackberries, huckleberries, black cherries, Damson plums, black currants, black roses, mulberry, sweet tobacco, black olive and incense. The flavors are thick and fruit forward, with dark fruits that are underlain with licorice, extra dark cacao, French roast and loess minerals. The wine intensifies on the back with macerated berries, roasted walnuts, mocha, toffee, toasty oak and creme de cassis and kirsch liqueurs. The dark fruits last and last on the ripe tannin finish. 19+/20 points.
2018 Canvasback Grand Passage Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain - "This one is 99% CS, 1% Merlot. 72% CS from Quintessence Blocks 2 and 23, with 25% CS coming from the 1985 planting at Blackwood Canyon. We love Quintessence for its black fruit, its lush tannins, its sleek modern shape and its acid retention. The Blackwood was clutch for its hefty structure and its sweet-spot pyrazines. On its own, it's all black/blue fruit, juniper berry, crushed cedar and graphite, so we blended it in at second racking to get our classic pyridine tones dialed. I think this our best one yet." My notes: This shows an inky purple-crimson color and seductive aromas of wild fruits - blackberries, black cherries, black plums, black currants - with scents of black roses, sweet tobacco, black olive, rosemary, sage, fennel, juniper berries, sweet oriental incense. The flavors are thick and lavish, yet deep cored, projecting elegance, marked by notes of licorice root, dark cocoa, extra dark roast and damp earth. The penetration continues on the back with macerated fruits, roasted walnuts, kirsch, creme de cassis, integrated oak and sleek tannins on the ultra long finish. 19.5+/20 points, likely 20/20.
Here, we have five Cabernets, all nearly equal qualitatively but each a bit different, from the terroirs of the sources. These wines are especially impressive coming as they do from a winery that began in 2011 as a Washington extension of the Napa Valley Duckhorn winery with just a Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Now there are five distinguished Cabernets. These 2018s will be bottle aged for 1 to 1 1/2 years before release.