What do you do when you have a three year vertical of very special wines in front of you? Well, after you sip them slowly and ponder them for awhile, you eventually start writing notes. And that is exactly what I did when winemaker Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars asked if I wanted to have the three bottle vertical he had just opened. Here they were opened, breathing and primed and ready for the taking. I mean you would have to be a tea-teetotaler to say, "No."
Now the corny side of me wants to use words and phrases as I write my notes, like, "Now you see it. Now you don't." "Let me pull a rabbit out of my ..." I will try my best to refrain.
Sleight of Hand Cellars is a Walla Walla winery that opened in 2007 with winemaker, Trey Busch and partners, Jerry and Sandy Solomon. Many accolades later, it's become a winery that if you want their new releases, you better not stop and think about. You have no time, as they disappear like - - "poof" - - magic (sorry).
"The Illusionist" is a cabernet sauvignon-based blend built to hang out in the cellar for at least 10-years or more. Trey said the 2007 for the Illusionist was the winery's first vintage. The 2008 was labeled as a Cabernet Sauvignon, but in 2009 they decided to bring the Illusionist back to a blend. Trey says he strives for balance every year, so by not restricting the labeling to solely a Cabernet, it allows him to use Syrah, as an example, to bring some acid back to the wine if necessary.
The Illusionist 2007 - This was not only a vintage when Mother Nature was very kind, but again, the first vintage of Sleight of Hand Cellars. All wines should smell this great after six years. A little spice and a little espresso coming through. And when it comes to the palate, a thicket of blackberries coming through. 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot, 16% Malbec, 16% Cabernet Franc, 8% Syrah, and 5% Merlot. The Wine Advocate suggests that this dark red blend has a bright window of opportunity to sip from 2013 to 2022.
The Illusionist 2008 - This wine caught my attention. I kept going back to it. I was really drawn. Sip after sip. It starts with a floral nose, dark rich soil and autumn leaves, but to the palate it brings dark Bing cherries, milk chocolate, figs and spice. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Syrah. The Wine Advocate suggests this wine will give pleasure to 2020. I don't know about letting it hang around from now to eight years - - I doubt if I could wait that long. Truly, it was my favorite of the three - beautiful.
The Illusionist 2009 - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Syrah, and 8% Cabernet Franc. In comparison to the other two vintages, this wine seemed actually "young." However, without the comparisons of the other vintages it was still a stunner. As a fan of Cabernet Franc, it came through for me with just a hint of herbal character. Bramble berries, cigar box and currant jelly. While I couldn't find any quotes on cellar life, in my opinion this wine still has a lot of livin' to do!
When The Illusionist 2010 is finally released, my recommendation? Don't wait. "Poof!"