Hello friends. We have the latest release today from a winery that is about as hot as it gets among our list members: Southard. What can I say: you all have good taste. Scott Southard has been producing a series of outstanding wines over the past few years, all at prices that seem unlikely given the quality in the bottle.
In addition today’s new release, we’ll also include reorder opportunities for the 2011 Columbia Valley Red (offered in March) and the 2011 Lawrence Vineyard Red (offered in May). Those two wines are not long for this world.
2011 Southard Zinfandel Stonetree Vineyard
There’s a reason you don’t see much Zinfandel grown in Washington. It is a deeply thermophilic variety, one that thrives on abundant sunshine and sweltering heat. Perfect for parts of California, not so much for most of Washington.
But there’s one particular patch of Washington terroir that fits Zinfandel like hand in glove: the remarkable Stonetree Vineyard. A few weeks ago, I checked an item off my Washington wine bucket list when I finally got to stand atop Stonetree. As you can see on the map, the site occupies prime real estate. It’s at the top-center of the Wahluke, and it has a near-perfect southern-sloping aspect, giving it endless sun exposure during every single day of the growing season. From the top of the vineyard, you can cast your gaze down at the entirety of the Wahluke Slope, which is exactly what I did when I visited (pictorial proof!). You can also learn where the vineyard got its name. The stump in the center of that picture is a giant hunk of petrified gingko. A tree of stone. A Stonetree.
We’re right at the base of the Saddle Mountains, with elevations ranging from 940 feet along the Wahluke Branch Canal at the base of the vineyard up to 1250 feet at the top. Stonetree is a warm, frost-free site, and it is one of many Wahluke Slope vineyards to emerge from the ashes of a Red Delicious Apple orchard. The base of the vineyard is made up of cataclysmic flood deposits from Glacial Lake Missoula, and on top of those deposits sits 1-3 feet of wind-blown loess. In short, Stonetree is a wonderful place for growing all manner of wine grapes, and it’s a site that is only growing and growing in importance with each passing vintage. (Note: it’s also a poorly-held secret that Stonetree was the source for most of the Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that was #1 on Wine Spectator’s 2009 Top 100 list).
This is a small-production lot for Southard: just 148 cases. It clocks in at an honest 16.5% alc (what did you expect; a 13.5% Zin?), and it holds its alcohol beautifully, just one of many components in fine balance. Aromatics include kirsch, black cherry, Dr. Pepper, and briar patch. The fruit is as big and rich as you’d expect, just unabashed in its deliciousness, daring you not to be seduced. There are warming tones to the finish, but this never ventures into fire-breathing-dragon territory.
There’s a great seasonal beer released each winter in Seattle by Maritime Pacific Brewing Company called the Jolly Roger. It’s a winter warmer, not shy on flavor nor on alcohol, and perfect for the Pac-NW’s cold-grey months. I think of a wine like this as the wine version of a winter warmer, something to take the chill off your bones. And if your bottles happen to survive the winter, Zin is a wonderful cheeseburger pairing when grilling season cranks back up next summer.
First come first served up to 12 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.
And now, as promised, reorder opportunities on a pair of popular Southard wines whose numbers are beginning to dwindle:
2011 Southard Red Wine Columbia Valley
Originally offered March 10, 2014. Excerpts from original offer: This 72/28 blend of Syrah and Zinfandel is a tale of two slopes. The Zin comes from (no surprise) Stonetree on the Wahluke Slope. The Syrah comes from the Royal Slope, not yet an AVA (although I expect that to happen soon) and one of the hottest (in terms of buzz) areas for Syrah in Washington right now. It is the home to Lawrence Vineyard, which comprises about half of the Syrah in the 2011 Red. First planted out in 2003, Lawrence is a high-elevation site, ranging from 1400’-1600’, and Syrah from there has been really well-received (including the 09 Southard Lawrence Vineyard Syrah; $25 and 93pts Paul Gregutt in Wine Enthusiast).
The combination is marvelous, with the Zin adding welcome richness and heft to a lean year like 2011. The nose begins with fig, black cherry, mocha, and a lovely leafy/smoky peat note. In the mouth, there is plenty of Zinfandel character despite its low percentage, with its trademark brambly fruit and tomato paste notes. In the mouth this is plump, generous, a near perfect balance of salty savories and rich fruits that coats the palate. The finish goes on and on, impressive indeed for a wine at this tariff. Scott Southard has seemed really dialed in these past few vintages, and this is another effort that is going to impress.
2011 Southard Lawrence Vineyard Red (Grenache Blend)
Originally offered May 9, 2014. Excerpts from original offer: This is a blend of 72% Grenache and 28% Syrah (14.5% listed alc), all from Lawrence Vineyard. The site is farmed by Scott Southard’s cousins (the Lawrence family), which helps explain his access to this pristine fruit.
This was done 100% whole cluster (stems and all), which might help to explain its overt wildness. Yes, there’s great red strawberry fruit, but that’s only the beginning. There are layers of unexpected stone fruits: peaches and apricots. Then we get into the funky/umami goodness: bacon fat, seaweed, olive brine. Just glorious. The mouthfeel is seamless, and it carries super savory/saline notes and smokey red fruits across the palate. The balance of fruit elements and non-fruit (earth, savory) elements is pinpoint, and the brackish personality is deeply appealing. This is dirty love.
Team Full Pull