That being said, I have heard nothing but great things about Damsel cellars since the release of their Syrah last year (if I am not mistaken). This is why I was very excited to taste the Cabernet. Unfortunately, for me, the Cabernet Sauvignon was not hugely successful. Perhaps I was expecting too much. Two other wines were poured during the release: the 2010 Rivalry Cabernet Franc and the 2011 Rivalry Merlot. Here are my notes and impressions for each of these wines:
2012 Damsel Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine is from Shaw and Boushey Vineyard and was aged in 66% new French oak for 22 months. The wine was not as dark as I have grown accustomed to from Washington State Cabernet (note that this was difficult to judge though, given the quantity of wine in the glass). The color was more on the purple side. This wine was moderately aromatic with a very faint hint of minerality (maybe mingled with some earth), and there were some dark fruits (dark cherries, plums, and a tiny bit of black currant). The palate was very similar to the nose. To me, the wine lacked structure and complexity. The tannins were very subdued. There was a good amount of acidity. The wine lacked some qualities that I generally associated with Cabernet: black pepper, for example. The finish was quite short. Overall, I thought that this wine was very simple and was not built for the long haul. It can certainly be enjoyed today. Given the vintage (2012 being an exceptional year in Washington State), I think that this wine was lacking. I have said before that I am not a fan of “fruit bombs.” But I was also not a fan of this wine, which seemed to go too far to the other extreme of the “fruity” spectrum.
2010 Rivalry Cabernet Franc – This wine was, as far as I could tell, 100% Cabernet Franc from Boushey Vineyard. The color was also quite light. The nose had some green peppers on it, some earth, maybe some eucalyptus and some herbaceousness as well. The fruit fell more into the red fruit spectrum although there really was not a lot of fruit to be had. On the palate, the wine was very acidic with some red fruits (strawberry, raspberry, and cherry). It was also quite tart, which I was not expecting. This is not a typical Cabernet Franc. Overall, I was uninspired by this wine.
2011 Rivalry Merlot – The blend for this wine was not mentioned on the notes in the tasting room but, as far as I could tell, it was 100% Merlot from Boushey Vineyard. Its color was very pale, similar to the color on the Cabernet Franc (keeping in mind that I had a hard time getting a good sense of the colors). On the nose, I got something that reminded me of my childhood, a hard (like a lollipop) red candy in the shape of a fish that had a slight taste of cinnamon (but I cannot remember the name of the candy in question). This wine definitely had some red fruits in it, some vanilla, and some spiciness (which was lacking in the other wines). On the palate, however, the spiciness did not really come through. There was also some red fruit (more cherries and a bit of raspberries). There was some good acidity but tannins were almost nonexistent. Again, I do not believe that this is a wine built for the long haul. That being said, I can say that I enjoyed this Merlot more than many other Washington Merlots that I have had over the years, perhaps because it felt more restrained than others.