This month, I give my Explorations wine club members a Barter and Trade Cabernet Sauvignon Washington State 2014
A couple of notes.
First, have you ever wondered why there isn’t a standard way of reporting the name of a wine? Seems strange right? As an example, both of these names would be completely fine for the wine in your glass:
Barter and Trade Cabernet Sauvignon Washington State 2014
Barter and Trade 2014 Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon
Folks within the industry have a devil of a time agreeing on anything really and having state and federal oversight that sometimes conflicts with best practices, doesn’t help either. So we’re largely left to our own devices and the result is something like this. No standard way of writing the name of a wine, which really isn’t a name at all, but a way to identify what’s in your glass.
That’s actually why I write the name the way I do. When Matt and I first started Uncorked Ventures, we wanted to be consistent with this stuff, I don’t recall any longer where he stood exactly, but his opinion and my own I don’t believe were the same. This is one of those though, where reasonable people can come to different conclusions.
I tend to write mine the way I do, because I believe the name of the winery is the most important. They’re making the stuff after all. Then I write the rest of the information in descending order of importance IMO, to what’s in your glass. First is the trade name of the wine, or the varietal type. Next is the AVA or vineyard source for the grapes. Lastly, the vintage.
Ok, so now onto what’s in your glass. I did a Barter and Trade Merlot a month or two ago, not everyone received it, but I think that’s a good thing to mention here. Same winery and same concept, Washington fruit being made in Paso Robles. California has top notch winemaking facilities that are expensive and time consuming to make, so it makes sense some California wineries would be bringing in grapes from outside the state. Washington is the first and perhaps most obvious target. Plus, it increases the likelihood that someone makes a wine labeled as “United States” for geography, which I think is fun (that would happen if you blended fruit from say Washington and Paso).
About that vintage, 2014. I’ve talked incessantly about the drought here in California, hell for a time it was all anyone wanted to talk about. Things change though. In Washington, the weather was warm. The vintage was called warm and abundant by one Seattle paper. I mean, the vineyard operations staff at St. Michelle said that the growing season was flat out “pleasurable”. I’ve heard the wine industry called many things, but for someone in the vineyard to consider growing grapes pleasurable, was a first. Normally, they’d say that growing grapes is hell. Walking through the vineyard on a warm summer day is pleasurable of course. Maybe an entire season becomes pleasurable when there’s been nothing but warm summer days. Plus, 2013 had something along the lines of the worst rain storm in the state’s history right around harvest which mucked up the entire thing, so maybe 2014 just kind of felt better by comparison.
Warm vintages also give us extra grapes which helps projects like this. It gives everyone some extra fruit to work with.
Lastly, I’ve talked about it at least 10+ times. What’s in your glass is what keeps California winery marketing folks up at night. Washington Cabernet is a real thing and the land is damn cheap by comparison, so the resulting wine tends to end up reasonably priced.
Perhaps making some of that themselves here in California mitigates some of that risk. It’s happening in terms of California wineries buying Oregon Pinot Noir vineyards, this is likely no different and simply just a matter of time.