Three from Southard

September 19, 2014

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.

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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.

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Regards,

Team Full Pull


Two from Gramercy

September 17, 2014

Hello friends. One of the more exciting developments in the past year or so has been the extension of Gramercy’s Lower East line. We’ve offered a number of vintages of Lower East Cabernet (see reorder link at bottom for the most recent vintage), and now this is year two of the extension into the Southern Blend.

I’ve called Lower East wines the gateway drugs to the Gramercy Cellars portfolio. I’ve called them wine ghosts. You won’t find Lower East wines on Gramercy’s website. You won’t find them in Gramercy’s tasting room. You will rarely find them sold outside the Pac-NW. Lower East is a gift, from Greg Harrington to his local supporters.

Most of it goes to restaurants, a reflection of Greg’s sommelier history. But some gets allocated to retail channels, especially to long-term supporters of the Gramercy portfolio, and even more especially to retailers who obsess over the release of this wine and know nice and early that a stash of the wine has landed on the west side of the mountains and turn around an offering as quickly as possible:

2012 Gramercy Cellars Southern Blend “Lower East”

This is also the next step in our ongoing exploration of the marvels of the 2012 vintage in Washington. Earlier in the year, the value 2012s started coming out, and we’ve been all over them: Buried Cane Roughout Cab, Purple Star Cab, Syncline Subduction, Saviah The Jack, Ross Andrew Glaze. Later this year, and in early 2015, we’ll start to see most of the big gun 2012s get released. The interim is this step: wines in the $20s and $30s, tweeners that can really over-deliver in a vintage like 2012.

This sophomore effort for the Lower East Southern is a thing of beauty. The blend is 40/40/20 Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre, and it comes from several of the stars of Gramercy’s vineyard stable: SJR, Upland, Minick, Olsen. It also contains fruit from a newer site called Oldfield, an Efeste estate site about which they say the following: “Oldfield Vineyard is planted next to Dick Boushey’s vines on a southwest slope over 1300 feet in elevation. This elevation puts it well over the height of the Missoula flood table which means that these soils are truly ancient.” Cool!

Done entirely in neutral French oak, this clocks in at 14.2% listed alc, which seems right for Gramercy’s style and for the down-the-middle 2012 vintage.  And friends, this is a knee-buckler. I found it gorgeous from first sniff to last swallow, and it speaks to Greg Harrington and Brandon Moss’ quality at points across the price spectrum. Beginning with a gorgeous, appetizing nose mixing red and blue fruits with beautiful briny castelvetrano olives and insistent, lovely garrgiue notes of dried herb and lavender, this moves into a silky, complex palate, a swirling stew of notes fruity and salty, smoky and meaty. If this is baby Third Man, this is one beautiful baby indeed. A harbinger of wonderful things to come from Gramercy’s 2012 Rhone lineup.

2012 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Lower East

Originally offered July 27 and a frequent reorder target since, this seemed like a good opportunity to reoffer this beauty. Excerpts from that July offer: This was a bottle where I was stunned by the quality right up until I saw the vineyard sources, and then everything made sense. In 2012, Lower East comes from an all-star foursome, three from the Walla Walla Valley (Gramercy Estate, Octave, and Pepper Bridge), plus the outstanding Phinny Hill in Horse Heaven. The blend includes 24% Merlot, and the whole thing was raised entirely in French oak, 40% new.

What Lower East does beautifully, year in and year out, is to establish itself as a true four-corners Cab, with fruit (black cherry, blackberry), earth, savory/herbal (beetroot, rhubarb, mint), and barrel (mocha) notes in fine balance. Here we see winemakers who strive for elegance in a year that wanted to be a little fleshier. The result: a balanced beauty, at 14.2% listed alc containing just the right amount of generosity to the laser-pure fruit, and of course plenty of balancing structure, in both the form of blood-orange acids and toothsome black-tea tannins. If you’re looking to build a cellar of sturdy, ageworthy wines under $30, this would be an awfully nice place to start. Like every vintage of Lower East so far, it is polished, classy, and punches well above its price class.

First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and both wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Two from Ross Andrew

September 15, 2014

Hello friends. We have an offer today to show the breadth of Ross Mickel’s talents. The main thrust of the offer will be his new vintage of Glaze Cabernet Sauvignon, about as popular a Cab label as we’ve featured over the years. And then at the end, we’ll include a quick blurb about a fantastic high-end Syrah (offered to us at a discount).

2012 Ross Andrew Glaze Cabernet Sauvignon

As has been his demonstrated pattern, Ross has skipped a vintage for Glaze and moved directly from 2010 into 2012. We offered that 2010 back in February of this year, so the story may be fresh in everyone’s minds, but in case not…

… I tasted the first vintage of Glaze (2006) in the very early days of Full Pull and was all ready to offer it, only to have a restaurant swoop in and grab the entire remaining parcel.

The 2008 vintage we jumped on nice and early. That one we offered in 2011, and it became a hit, a low-weight/high-intensity Cabernet perfect for mid-week drinking, one made from Ross’ own grapes that, for percentage reasons, don’t make it into his other wines.

Then Glaze returned for the cool 2010 vintage, and much to my surprise (I didn’t realize Ross even submitted Glaze for review), Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator released a positive (90pt) review towards the end of 2013, such that we offered that 2010 once and once only, and then it was gone.

And now the wine is back with yet another even-year vintage, but this is no ordinary vintage. This is the acclaimed 2012, which has impressed me again and again over the course of this year as more and more wines have been released. I can’t even imagine how fabulous some of the high-end 2012s are going to be when the value wines are this good.

This comes from vineyards in Red Mountain, the Horse Heaven Hills, and the central Columbia Valley, and that’s all I know. Purposely vague, I suspect (usually because the vineyards are either really nice or really unremarkable; let’s hope for the former). That’s okay anyway. For a midweek glugger like Glaze, I try not to get too wound up in research knots and instead enjoy the wine for its simple pleasures (but for what it’s worth, this saw 18 months in 15% new French oak).

I’m not sure who is writing Ross’ tasting notes, but the notes for this wine contained a line I love: “Just enough structure to let you know this is Cabernet Sauvignon, but not so much that it needs time in the cellar.” Ain’t that the truth. What I’ve dug about every vintage of Glaze is that it has Cabernet varietal character, both in the form of cassis fruit and toothsome tannic structure, but not so much skeleton that it gets in the way of the flesh. This has a deep blackcurrant core, lifted by minty topnotes and complicated by savories of rhubarb and beetroot and tobacco leaf. The texture is brisk and supple, humming along on a reasonable 13.8%-listed-alc frame.

I mean, I know I called this a midweek glugger above, and it can certainly play that role, but sheesh, this offers real polish and complexity too. If you wanted to open this for a nice weekend dinner or a special occasion, I wouldn’t stand in your way. Rare is the $15 Cab that fills that role.

2009 Ross Andrew Syrah Boushey Vineyard Old Block

Now then. As you can see, the winery has moved onto the 2010 vintage of this, at a retail price of $80. That was the original release price of this 2009 as well, a wine that has a pair of strong reviews:

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

From Boushey’s oldest Syrah vines, planted in 1994 (which makes them some of the oldest Syrah vines in the state; amazing to think how nascent the Washington Syrah movement truly is), this is wine entering peak drinking in my opinion. I often think Washington Syrahs begin showing their best at 5-6 years past vintage, and that’s certainly true for a warm year like 2009. This begins with a deep, pure nose of blackberry, violet, and mineral. It takes time and air for Boushey’s savories (mushroom, earth, smoked ham) to begin emerging. The texture may be the real star here. This is an intense palate-stainer, coating every inch of the mouth with its savory-rich Syrah goodness. It has length, and insistent richness, but it doesn’t venture into the fruit bomb territory that plagued some 09s. At 14% listed alc, this is a balanced beauty from Boushey.

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First come first served up to 60 bottles of Glaze and 12 bottles of Boushey Old Block, and both wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


2011 Owen Roe Syrah “Ex Umbris”

September 14, 2014

Hello friends. Today we have the return of an old list favorite that hasn’t been seen around these parts in a few years:

Ex Umbris was supposed to be a one-time deal. Created in 2002 as a destination for smoke-and-ash influenced Syrah grapes from a wildfire near the vineyards that summer, the label proved so popular that here we now sit, ten vintages later, and the wine still exists (albeit minus the ash influence).

Full Pull’s involvement with Ex Umbris began in October 2011, when we offered the 2009 vintage. In that offer, I predicted the wine would end up on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list. Our list members purchased the wine in droves, and sure enough, two months later when Spectator announced their list, it landed at #25.

We then offered the 2010 the following year, and since then, things have been busy in the Owen Roe camp. Sean Sullivan did a good job detailing the changes in an April article in Washington Wine Report. I had the chance to visit their Yakima Valley production facility as part of research for an upcoming Seattle Magazine article, and it is well worth a visit. Owen Roe, which used to be inaccessibly located in an out-of-the-way corner of the Willamette Valley, is now a mere two-hour drive from downtown Seattle. Better yet, their location just south of Yakima is on the same road as Treveri Cellars, the sparkling wine specialists and another fine stop. You can make a helluva day trip from those two wineries alone.

Ex Umbris, as usual, is a pan-Washington Syrah, coming from four different AVAs: Yakima Valley (56%), Horse Heaven Hills (24%), Columbia Valley (15%), and Walla Walla Valley (5%). But if you look carefully, you can see that this vintage includes declassified barrels from some of Owen Roe’s most serious Syrah sources: Red Willow Vineyard, for example, makes up 12% of the blend; Lewis Vineyard (source of Dunham’s exquisite Syrahs) another 15%. The fruit sources begin to paint the picture of a wine that delivers more than its price point would indicate, and that, I think, is why this wine has been so popular with our list members.

The 2011 spent a year and a half in barrel, just 10% new. It clocks in at 14.1% listed alc, and it begins with the signature smoky/wild/sauvage note we’ve come to expect from this label (the outstanding bottle design, by the way, remains the same). There is dark dark Syrah fruit (blackberry mostly), and a lovely autumnal wet-leafy note, kind of woodsy, kind of tobacco-leaf, very appealing. The texture is outstanding for the tariff, gliding across the palate silkily and finishing long and smoky. This one is almost so easy to drink that you can miss the sneaky complexity. Either way is fine: drink it for its supple sensual pleasures, drink it for its intellectual complexities. It’s a wine to light up both sides of the brain.

It also has a strong review from Stephen Tanzer (recall that a 91pt review from the point-reticent Tanzer is a fine review indeed for a wine at this tag). International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

The winery has already moved on and is selling the 2012 vintage, and we grabbed the entirety of the remaining 2011 in western Washington, so I suspect this will be a one-and-done offer for us. Please limit order requests to 6 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. 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.


Three from Betz

September 12, 2014

Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We have our next set of bonus Saturday pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday Sept 13, from 10am-2pm. For those of you beginning to think about holiday gifts, we’re going to have a handful of our Full Pull & Friends wines open to sample and available to purchase, including sneak-preview tastings of the final two FP&F releases of 2014. List members and their invited guests are welcome to come by. As usual, we expect it to be a busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
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Hello friends. We have an extremely limited set of Bob Betz’s 2012 Rhone releases today. The less said the better, given our quantities, so I’ll repeat what I have said before: Bob Betz’s face would doubtless be chiseled on a Mt. Rushmore of Washington winemakers. He is the only Master of Wine making wine in Washington, having achieved that honor back in 1998. After a 28-year career at Chateau Ste Michelle he launched his eponymous winery in 1997, crushing 150 cases worth of wine in the Woodinville warehouse district.

Since then, production has grown to 3500 cases total, but acclaim has grown more quickly than that, forcing the family to close their mailing list in 2008 and establishing them as one of Washington’s cult wineries. The winery is open to its list members on just two weekends each year: once in the spring, for the release of its Bordeaux portfolio, and once in the fall, for the release of these Rhone-styled wines.

The acclaimed 2012 vintage was only going to mean more competitive allocations to begin with. And then Jeb Dunnuck said the following a few months ago: “They are easily some of the greatest wines I’ve tasted from this estate to date. While these wines always have considerable structure and focused profiles, these 2012s have an extra dimension of depth and texture, and should not be missed!” He proceeded to publish glowing reviews for all three of today’s wines in Wine Advocate, blowing up any chance of large allocations or reorders. With all that, and with no time to waste, let’s jump in:

2012 Betz Family Winery “Besoleil” (Grenache Blend)

Bob’s ode to Chateauneuf, a blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 15% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah, all from the Yakima Valley (15% Red Mtn, 10% Snipes Mtn, 75% Greater Yak).

Winery notes: “Washington southern Rhone varieties continue their winning streak, proving to excel in cool and hot vintages. Fans of this Southern Rhone-inspired wine will note that there’s no Counoise in the 2012 blend as there has been in recent vintages; that variety ripened fine, but they lacked the penetrating character needed to complement the final wine. The Mourvedre fraction (15%) stepped right up to fill its place, its deep, brooding and sweet ink character carrying through in the wine, making the 2012 deeper, more structured yet finely layered. Grenache (50%) still dominates the blend, with its creamy black raspberry, wild dried strawberry, dried herbs and floral notes. Cinsault (20%) fills in with its dusty blue notes, and Yakima Valley Syrah (15%) provides more backbone. This is a Bésoleil for the cellar, dense and full, and a few years of aging will expand its Chateauneuf-like appeal.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

2012 Betz Family Winery Syrah “La Cote Rousse” (Red Mtn)

Here Bob blends four different Syrah clones (Phelps, 99, 174, 383), all from two vineyards on Red Mountain: Ciel du Cheval and Ranch at the End of the Road.

Winery Notes: “We get to play a lot (read “challenging”) with Syrah La Côte Rousse at the blending table. In the months following harvest we taste through the barrels of four different Syrah clones from four distinct blocks, all within a stone’s throw of each other on Red Mountain. Each clone gives its unique signature to the mix, contributing various shades of texture, color, aroma or taste. This diverse blending material ultimately gives a more complex wine, especially from a “terroir –dominant” region like Red Mountain. The 2012 comes across with classic Red Mountain signature: a powerful, dense nucleus of black fruits, supported by layered complexity of violet, dusty gravel, leafy underbrush, spice and black olive. The palate is bold, vigorous and persistent, jammed with blackberry, black plum and spice. It’s the sturdiest of our three 2012 syrahs, most demanding of cellaring; its concentration and sheer power will easily support a decade or two in your cellar.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

2012 Betz Family Winery Syrah “La Serenne” Boushey Vineyard

La Serenne is 100% Syrah from Boushey Vineyard. Bob Betz and Boushey terroir: need I say more?

Winery Notes: “Syrah La Serenne’s character in 2012 reinforces the loose axiom: cooler sites produce their finest wines in warm vintages; think of Mosel Rieslings or Cote Rotie Syrahs, both cooler than other nearby appellations, and how they shine in warm vintages. So too with the higher altitude, cooler-temperature Boushey Vineyard, for 13 vintages the sole source for La Serenne. The vineyard made great use of the warm late July and August, yielding small berries with thick skins, providing extraordinary density and richness. Supple and fleshy are hallmarks of this vineyard in any vintage, butin 2012 pack on more textural breadth, and add more of Syrah’s wildness, a meaty, spicy, earthy nuance. It’s inky black, with dark plums, creamy black fruits, generous smoke and anise, and yet it still retains its cool site vitality. Don’t be deceived by its supple tannins and juicy approachability: this is one that will live a long life in the cellar.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”

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Please limit order requests to 4 bottles of Besoleil, 2 bottles of Rousse, and 1 bottle of Serenne, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


2010 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe

September 10, 2014

FP In The News UPDATE: I’m pleased to announce that Full Pull has been named to the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Washington for 2014, a great honor for our entire team. The honor also belongs to you, our wonderful list members, who have been such tireless advocates for Full Pull and who have been so instrumental in our rapid growth. Thank you. And thanks also to our partner wineries and importer/wholesalers, who provide us with such exceptional wines to write about and to drink.

PSBJ will reveal the actual rankings – in a countdown from 100 to 1 – at a reception on October 9. I’ll be sure to let you all know where we land on the final list!
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Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We have our next set of bonus Saturday pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday Sept 13, from 10am-2pm. For those of you beginning to think about holiday gifts, we’re going to have a handful of our Full Pull & Friends wines open to sample and available to purchase, including sneak-preview tastings of the final two FP&F releases of 2014. List members and their invited guests are welcome to come by. As usual, we expect it to be a busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
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Hello friends. The Piemontese wines of GD Vajra have been a huge hit among our list members at all points along the price spectrum. Recall Antonio Galloni praising the winery a few years ago: “This is another superb set of wines from Aldo and Milena Vajra. What else is new? I am sure one day the Vajras will receive the broader recognition they so richly deserve. In the meantime, savvy readers know the exceptional quality these wines deliver for what remain very modest prices.”

There was a multi-year window where Vajra wines were not being imported into Seattle at all. That changed in 2013, when one of our terrific import partners began direct-importing them from Italy. I still remember that first tasting where I sampled through the lineup and was just blown away by the quality-for-price.

We were on this producer right from the start of their reintroduction to the market, and that is paying dividends, as once under-the-radar Vajra is drawing more and more attention (as you’ll see from the pair of reviews below). Today’s wine is currently floating on a container ship and should arrive in early October. Because of our previous support for Vajra, we’re being asked to send along our wish list, and I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll get what we ask for. Reorder prospects are murkier. Once this wine lands, smack in the middle of autumn Barolo season and with the press it already has in hand, I’m thinking it’ll disappear quickly.

“Value” and “Barolo” are two words that usually cause cognitive dissonance. Vajra transcends all that. I don’t have a great note on this wine (I tasted a pre-arrival bottle at an importer tasting a few months ago, and it’s difficult to write proper notes at those tastings), but the stars and exclamation points next to the bottle tell the story. I remember thinking at the time that Albe is going to wind up as a $60 bottle someday. Fortunately that day is not today.

Wine Enthusiast (Kerin O’Keefe): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94 pts.”

Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94 pts.”

To put Galloni’s review into some context, I’ll note that in his set of reviews of 2010 Barolos back in January, the wines with stronger reviews than the 2010 Albe ranged in price from $70-$715, with average price of $196.61 and median of $142.50. Albe is without question one of the finest values of the 2010s. It’s a real beauty, a herald of this shimmering vintage in Barolo. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. 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.


Three from Avennia

September 8, 2014

Hello friends. Welcome to autumn release season! This period, which runs from September through November, is as exciting as it gets for Washington wine lovers. Many of our state’s big guns save their heavy-hitter releases for the run-up to the holidays, and one thing I can promise you with Full Pull: we have fall release season covered.

As has become something of a tradition, autumn season kicks off with new releases from Avennia. Now in year three (doesn’t it feel like they’ve been around longer?), Avennia ascended rapidly from under-the-radar newbie to rising superstar to potential cult wine status (as I wrote for the January issue of Seattle Magazine).

A few sample quotes from critics in the three years of Avennia’s existence: Stephen Tanzer (Tanzer’s IWC) “This was the best set of new wines I tasted in Washington in July, but given their pedigree this should not come as a surprise.” David Schildknecht (Wine Advocate): “…one ought to sign up for some [Avennia wine] immediately if they have not all already been spoken for, because this is one auspicious debut!” Jeb Dunnuck (Wine Advocate): “…this Woodinville-based operation needs to be on everyone’s radar. The wines are superb across the board and while they have solid fruit, they stress purity and elegance, with vibrant cores of acidity.”

For those of you who have come to love Chris Peterson’s wines, let me suggest that joining the mailing list would be a good idea. This is the first Avennia release where our allocation is going to end up a little below our initial ask. And that’s okay; it’s the intersection of our growing mailing list and increasing national interest in Avennia’s wines (spurred by the glowing praise above), and we’re still receiving a very generous allocation. But we all know where this is headed, and hedging your bets with a spot on the winery mailing list is not a bad idea.

A big part of the reason why Avennia has captured so many imaginations is Chris Peterson’s house style, one that insists on exploring the ribald earthy side of Washington wine. It’s a style that our list members have found deeply appealing, and I’m thrilled to kick off our autumn release season with three wines from this dynamo:

2012 Avennia Justine (Rhone Blend)

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

The vineyards involved here are Kiona Heart of the Hill for the Mourvedre, Alder Ridge for the Grenache, and Angela’s Vineyard for the Syrah. Listed alc is 15.1%, and this was raised entirely in neutral oak for 16 months. It offers the wildness of a good Mourvedre nose, plum and dark chocolate and star anise all lifted by a brambly sense of the sauvage. Ripe, rich, and openly delicious, it mixes mineral and meat tones with supple fruit, rolling into a finish that surprises with its toothsome chew. This gained complexity with each passing sip, each passing minute of oxygen exposure. Just 325 cases made. The inaugural 2011 vintage went fast, and I expect this to do the same.

2012 Avennia Syrah Arnaut Boushey Vineyard

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

Jeb ranged Arnaut out at a future 94-96pt review, which is going to put serious sales pressure on this vintage of Avennia’s Boushey Vineyard Syrah. With only 250 cases produced, there’s not much to go around, either. Done with 15% whole clusters and in 15% new French oak, this clocks in at 14.8% listed alc and is 100% Boushey Syrah. Oh, the nose: smoldering meat, charcoal, violets, marionberry fruit – everything we’ve come to expect from high-class Boushey fruit. Purity is the watchword here, and this presents a complex pastiche of flavors: the briny, the meaty, the richly fruited. It possesses fine concentration without a shred of excess weight. The sense of balance is pinpoint, and the overall package is an honest, glorious expression of a special site.

2013 Avennia Sauvignon Blanc Oliane

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

My note differs a bit from Jeb’s on vineyard sources. Mine says 70% Boushey and 30% Red Willlow, two outstanding sites in the Yakima Valley. Chris puts 50% of this through malolactic conversion, and it sees just a kiss of new oak. At 12.9% listed alc in a warm year like 2013, you know these are cool vineyards being picked nice and early. The flavors, which meld creamy peach and pineapple to insistent mineral tones, are delightful, but this charms most for its texture and mouthfeel, which combines fleshiness with vibrancy. A seamless Sauvignon Blanc, this glides across the palate and lingers with citrusy goodness.

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


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