Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Heller Highwater

Many years ago, at my first sommelier job, I picked an obscure, organic Cabernet from Monterey as my house pour. The distributors had never heard of such a thing, but promised to get me a good "by the glass" price for an obscure product. That wine was Durney Vineyards "Cachaqua" Cabernet Sauvignon, now known as Heller Estate.  The name was the Native American  pronunciation of "Cache Aqua," the Spanish name for "Hidden Waters" as the vineyards are fed by underground springs. 

When I first encountered the Cab, as a waiter, it was sent back by a table as not being "California Enough."


The bartender left it behind the bar for the somm to taste the next day, but forgot to cork it back up. When we arrived the next morning, the entire bar area smelled like blackberries. From that day on, I decanted the wine whenever anyone ordered it by the bottle. The other waiters asked me why I would decant a then-$35 bottle, and I said "Walk by the table in 15 minutes, and you tell me." The cloud of blackberry aroma was evident from five feet away. Imagine a house wine that not only doesn't go BAD, but gets better when open for a day or two!

This post is NOT about their Cabernet.

Heller deals in a variety of Bordeaux grapes, from the usual Cab, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, to the more unusual-and-terribly-trendy Malbec. And my personal favorite, and little gem of the Carmel Valley (they use it at Bernardus Vineyards as well....go for the grapes, stay for the spa).

A few years back, I was perusing Facebook, and the good people at Heller, fellow trivia addicts that they are, posted a contest to win a couple bottles of wine. Being an old College Bowl man, I handily won, and picked the two bottles I couldn't get from stores: Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot. I aged them and finally broke into them this year. 

This is a BEAUTIFUL wine with all the things I love about the grape: light earth, mulberries, Geraniol, violets, and on the end, as the wine opens, a touch of roasted game. If ever there was a wine to serve with duck, almost any preparation, or roast pork done with, oh, say, cherries or pomegranate, this IS it. 

$50 AT THEIR WEBSITE....my experience  says I doubt you can find it in stores.

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