There have been very few times in my life when I’ve tasted a grand bottle of wine (by grand, I mean it’s literally worth $999……and by few times, I mean just this one time), but let me tell you, ZD’s Abacus is worth every penny. This exquisitely complex, multi-vintage Cabernet Sauvignon is a one-of-a-kind concept with very limited production.
Here’s the story behind this vin extraordinaire:
The concept was born when ZD Winemaster, Robert and his brother, Brett were enjoying a wonderful aged Cabernet Sauvignon. They agreed that the deep complexity and subtle nuances that develop in older wines are always accompanied by a loss of fruit. What if there was a way to blend the elegance of an older Cabernet Sauvignon with the intensity of fruit found in a younger wine?
Always eager to accept a challenge, Winemaster Robert deLeuze took on the task of creating such a wine, unlike any other produced in the world. The result is a “solera style” multiple-vintage blend of every ZD Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ever produced, which is held in barrel until bottling.
The first bottling, with the 1992 – 1998 vintages, was released November 1, 1999. Approximately 15% of the total blend was bottled in distinctive custom bottles, totaling 200 cases. The remainder was returned to barrel to await the next infusion of youthful fruit. Prior to the second bottling, the 1999 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was added to the blend. This is the ongoing cycle of the ever-evolving solera; each year Abacus will increase by one vintage, gaining more and more complexity. It truly stands as a legacy to all future ZD winemakers.
The name of the wine refers to the ancient counting device. Attached to the neck of every custom-made bottle is a medallion embossed with an Abacus which identifies the first and last vintage in that bottling.
ZD’s website even describes how to read the Abacus on your bottle’s medallion:
The traditional abacus is divided into two parts, with five beads in the lower section and two in the upper section. Each lower bead is worth one unit, and each upper bead is worth five units. The beads are only counted when they are pushed against the crossbar dividing the abacus into its two sections. To read the abacus, which depicts the first and last vintages in the Twentieth Bottling of ZD’s Abacus (1992-2017), add the value of the beads above the crossbar to the value below for each row. There is a zero row separating the two dates.
Every year since 1999, the innovative ZD winemakers have added the previous vintage of their lovely Reserve Cabernet to their Abacus blend. This means the most recent bottling, Abacus XX, is a masterful mix of 26 vintages from 1992 through 2017. Only twelve caskets of this twentieth anniversary batch were produced…and Blue Plate is delighted to offer it on our wine list.
One of our servers likes to include this in his usual “daily special” spiel when greeting his tables: “And tonight, we’re offering the limited Abacus XX for a wonderful steal at $999!” Some of our patrons respond with laughs, while other glance at their wives & husbands like, Can we, please? These are the ones who understand the worth of this unique & unequaled bottle.
During one of our many staff wine training sessions at Blue Plate, we were visited by ZD’s vice president of sales & marketing, Teresa D’Aurizio. She told us about their vineyard & philosophy. Then, she cracked open a bottle of Abacus, and we all held our breath. We passed around a tasting glass, taking sips & snickering about who was gulping more than necessary, but the arguments quickly turned to a lively discussion of the wine’s excellent flavor profile. It boasts the best qualities of both a well-aged & youthful red, rich yet vibrant. Elli has indeed given it her sex-in-a-bottle stamp of approval.
Of course, Elli had already swilled this superior blend when she visited the ZD Winery last fall during her tour de Napa. Situated in picturesque Rutherford, the winery is surrounded by gorgeous vineyards as far as the eye can see. After being graciously welcomed by the staff, touring the wine-making facilities & tasting various excellent vintages with food pairing, this quickly became one of her favorite experiences of the trip.
This wine is wonderful for special occasions or simply a Friday night with your best wine-o buds. Do not delay in snagging one of our bottles! We’re the only restaurant serving it up in the Vail Valley, and it’s in very limited supply.