What Are Block Wines?
Just to reiterate what the Block Wines are sourced and certified by ABC Fine Wine and Spirits and exclusively sold in Florida by ABC. They are sourced from famous, quality wineries who have an exceptional vintage and leftover quality juice from that specific vintage. They make a ONE TIME only batch from that vintage and as many bottles or cases as they can and number the bottles as “Number 900 out of 10,900 bottles produced” These are LIMITED ONE TIME ONLY Wines. When that particular Block Number Sells out, unlike brand names who just change vintage, they will be replaced by a different Block Wine from a different Winery and so on. Our guests love these wines because they offer a tremendous value over what they would pay for a wine from that very same winery and same vintage. We call those guests “Blockheads” 99.9% of our Block wines came from Napa Valley or other regions in California. Captain Washington…ME, is happy to see that a few Block Wines are coming from great wineries in Washington State. This is our 5th. We still have the Block 1029 made by famous winemaker Caleb Foster of J Bookwalter and the Connor Lee Vineyard. Browne Family winery owned by Precept Brands and made out of the Waterbrook Facility in Walla Walla. They made the Block 220 from Red Mountain Appellation which we still have plenty to offer and the new kid from Washington to move in on the Block also made by Browne Block 218 which I am about to review here on this Blog.
Meet John Freeman
As you know my nickname is “Captain Washington”. There are 1500 Wineries making what I call the best wines not just in America but the best in the world! With that said, on one hand, I am happy to see some more presence of Washington State Wines in our stores but on the other hand they haven’t even slightly scratched the surface of what is available. I don’t think any retailer will ever except for Chateau Ste Michelle as they are a LARGE PRODUCTION Mass Produced winery with many different labels but not the Washington State Wine I am talking about. John’s winemaking style is similar to Chateau Ste Michelle. I am happy to have these as they don’t represent my Bordeaux style of wines the smaller wineries produce, but and that is a BIG BUT… they are a great introduction to a Napaholic who refuses to try Washington State and not as much sugar as Napa, not as much Oak and certainly a quality to price ratio of 1/3 the price and double the quality. For that reason I am grateful to have these wines and the new Block 218 to offer.
Born in San Francisco and raised in Napa Valley, John Freeman was destined to be in the wine industry. John’s initial work in California included seven years at Franciscan Vineyards and an additional five spent as the Cellar Master at Miner Family. Charmed by the Walla Walla Valley, John decided to move to Washington in 2002.
From vine to bottle, he and his team carefully manage every step of the winemaking process to ensure the overall complexity, balance and consistent quality that Waterbrook wines are known for. John’s favorite things about winemaking are expansive. He is passionate about working with many different growers discovering ways to improve the vineyards each year. He enjoys experimenting in the winery to find new ways of improving quality.
2015 Block 218 Cabernet
Canoe Ridge Vineyard HHH AVA
HORSE HEAVEN HILLS AVA
Horse Heaven Hills is a 570,000-acre stretch of land located in South Central Washington state along the Columbia River, near the town of Paterson. The AVA was established in 2005. Unique features:
- Precipitation: Average of nine inches annually, usually during dormancy; very limited irrigation prevents vine canopy growth and results in well-balanced grape characteristics.
- Topography: Mostly south-facing sloped, well-drained sandy soils dotted with dry plains, lending optimal sun exposure for ripening and protective air drainage, ideal in winter months.
- Temperature: Warmer growing season fully matures grapes earlier in the harvest season (decreasing the risk of fall frost).
- Wind: Brisk wind patterns contribute to a thinner canopy and more sun exposure that helps with ripening while naturally preventing pests.
- Prevalent Varietals: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah.
Canoe Ridge Vineyard: On Canoe Ridge Vineyard, the sandy loam ranges in depth from 18 inches to five feet. This mixture allows the vine roots to drill deep for nutrients while providing excellent drainage. Here, vines grow on their own roots, in part thanks to below-freezing winters that thwart Phylloxera (a vine-killing pest common in France and California).
First of all, good news and bad news. The good news is that John Freeman has lots of experience making Napa Valley Wines with Franciscan And Miner. The bad news is that John Freeman has experience making Napa Valley Wines wish Franciscan and Miner lol. The good news is GOOD NEWS because he can cut the difference in his styles using grapes sourced from all over Washington State and make wines that are right in the middle stylistically in between Napa And Washington to introduce Newbie Washington State wine consumers to the great wines of these states. Maybe call them “Training Wheels” before we put them into the Gormans, And The Mark Ryans, The Figgins, The Tamaracks and Boudreaux Cellars to name a few.
The wine has a beautiful purple color that fades slightly on the edge. 2015 was a very hot vintage so that pushed the sugar levels up and the alcohol is 14.3 % but even my colleague and new Assistant Wine And Spirits Specialist in my old Sunrise Location with my old partner in crime, Jennifer,Antoine who is a Frenchman and hates Alcohol Levels over 13.5% admitted he didn’t smell or taste the higher Alcohol on this Block Wine. Aged 18 months in French Barrels only. The wine has classic Cabernet Sauvignon (I am detecting Merlot and Petite Verdot) aromas. Dark Black Currant, Raspberry, Violets, Cedar, Vanilla. On the palate this wine just glides in a feminine ripe but not overripe style with a silky mouth full of cassis and boysenberry and black raspberry with hints of plum. On the finish …Here’s the “Training Wheels” … Both myself and Antoine like Grippy Tannins or some Tannins and dryness… There are none I could detect. It went all the way down with hints of milk chocolate and vanilla and a pretty long finish that invites you to want to sip and sip and oops …it’s gone. We ordered in a Pizza with Fresh Garlic and Mushrooms and it worked well but this wine is such easy drinking that it would pair well with my Sweat Socks !!. This is your chill out, wind down Cabernet. I will score this new Block 218 and 88 Points out of 100!
Blockheads will love this 218 just like the 220 made by the same winery and winemakers from Washington State. For so many people who don’t pair wine and food and just want to come home to an easy drinking silky red wine but insist on only Cabernet Sauvignon (To me All My Style Of Cabernet Is ONLY Meant for Food) this will cost you $24.99 on Sale and since it is a limited edition wine I would pick up a case or 2 and save your $10 off $100 (You will get $20 off each case with your ABC Card) instead of buying your $50- $80 or even $25 Napa Cabernets, I promise you this will out perform anything from Napa of that overripe style and at 1/3 the price. You can Thank Me later. Welcome to the Block Family Number 218 !! #CaptainWashington
Grape-fully yours, Larry