What: Gramercy Cellars Lower East Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012 $32
Why: Walla Walla Valley’s Gramercy Cellars has largely made its mark over the years on the strength of its earthy, acid-driven syrahs. Master sommelier Greg Harrington started the winery in 2005, leaving behind an uber successful career in the restaurant industry to come to Washington and, in his words, “make wines that taste like dirt.”
While initially focusing on syrah and tempranillo, Harrington soon found himself taken in by the strength of Washington cabernet sauvignon. The winery has been making a varietal bottling since 2006. The Gramercy Cellars Lower East Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley ($32), which along with the winery’s name is a tribute to Harrington’s time in New York City, comes from a variety of vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley along with Phinny Hill Vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills. The latter is quickly emerging as one of the top cabernet sauvignon sites in the state.
The wine is a Washington cabernet sauvignon prototype with notes of cherry, earth, and dried herbs with the flavors showing purity and detail with a fine sheen of tannins holding it all together. Like many of the Gramercy wines, the use of oak (40 percent new French) is judicious putting the focus squarely on the fruit. It’s labeled Lower East but drinks more like the Upper West Side.