Three from San Felice

November 21, 2014

Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We will have bonus pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday November 22, from 10am-2pm. As an extra treat, Ben Smith will be joining us to pour Cadence wines, and I have a quick correction: there will be *no* current release wines Cadence wines; only library wines. Exciting! List members and their invited guests are welcome, but please note: we expect it to be a *very* busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
Hello friends. I have been thrilled with the way our list members have embraced Chianti over the past few years. It is a terrific value-hunter’s category, but it requires legwork, a lot of frog-kissing to find the princes. And that’s the Full Pull model: we kiss the frogs so you don’t have to (we should probably put that on a staff t-shirt; Full Pull Wines: We Kiss Frogs).

Chianti’s fortunes are improving in the US market, but it’s still walking the line between fashionable and unfashionable, still burdened by the days of swill-in-straw-baskets. But no matter. We know better. Fashion or no, we know that Chianti remains one of the world’s beating hearts of Sangiovese, and that the good bottles are really, really good.

A Chianti producer that our list has gone crazy for is San Felice, which is in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga (located here), at an altitude of about 1300ft. Their grounds encompass 650 hectares of grapes, 17,000 olive trees (!), and an agritourismo (let’s visit!). Today we have three San Felice Chiantis, one a new vintage of an old favorite, one an entirely new category of wine in Chianti, and the last a reoffer of a wine that’s getting down towards end of vintage.

This summer, reviewers from both Wine Enthusiast and Wine Advocate weighed in very favorably on San Felice, so sales pressures could be a little higher than usual as we enter Sangiovese-drinking season. Fortunately we have an import partner in Seattle who DIs (direct-imports) these wines right into town, so we’re always able to access decent parcels, and always able to offer strong tariffs compared to their release prices.

2010 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio

Wine Enthusiast (Kerin O’Keefe): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Wine Advocate (Monica Larner): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Il Grigio is 100% Sangiovese, from a selection of San Felice’s oldest/best vineyard sites. It sees 24 months in the traditional Slavonian botti (large neutral puncheon), with a small portion going into smaller barrel. Very dark and brooding, it offers blackberry fruit, shitake notes, and dark floral topnotes (violet). Of the two 2010s, this is the wilder, the more rustic, with toothsome black-tea tannins that linger well after a swallow. There’s lovely chewy charm here.

2010 San Felice Chianti Classico Il Grigio Gran Selezione

The “Gran Selezione” is a new category for Chianti, introduced by the Consorzio last year. Bruce Sanderson wrote a fine article about it (featuring San Felice, as it happens) for Wine Spectator. The upshot is: these are supposed to be the highest quality Chiantis produced. They must be entirely estate-grown, must be aged for 30 months, and must be at least 80% Sangiovese, the remainder other approved varieties.

That “other approved varieties” is where San Felice gets to have fun, because they have something on site called their “Vitiarium.” Started in 1980, it houses more than 200 obscure indigenous varieties, several of which go into this 2010 (Abrusco, Pugnitello, Malvasia Nera, Ciliegiolo, Mazzese). The wine sees 24 months in a mix of large Slavonian botti and small French barrique, then another 8 months in bottle before release. It is a beautiful inauguration of a new Chianti category, offering wonderful earthy/savory character, with mushroom and tomato paste and a fat tarry streak to pair with black fruit. Stylish, rich, and just absolutely delicious, this made me want to find the biggest bowl of pasta and crack open a bottle.

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

Wine Advocate (Monica Larner): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

2008 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Poggio Rosso

Originally offered March 30, 2014. Excerpts from original offer: Poggio Rosso is San Felice’s single-vineyard gem (they call it “the true aristocrat of Chianti Classico”), and it blends 80% Sangiovese with 10% each of the considerably more rare Colorino and Pugnitello. It comes from the calcareous marl soils of Castelnuovo Berardenga in the foothills outside of Siena, and it is aged for 20 months in large Slavonian oak botti, followed by another 15 months in bottle, before release. That means this was likely released in early 2012, so we get the benefit of an extra three years of bottle age, taking it right up against the beginning of peak drinking. Sweet.

Wine Advocate (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Great tasting note, as usual from Galloni. I agree that this is a big, ripe, deep wine, a total palate-stainer that somehow pulls off the trick of also conveying a lively sense of inner-mouth perfume and energy. The mix of loamy earth, dried cherry fruit, high-cacao chocolate, and citrus-pith bitters is fabulous. This is just going to keep getting better and better. The fine sense of balance suggests that it will offer untold rewards during each successive step in its evolution.

Please limit order requests to 36 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.

Two from Waters

November 20, 2014

Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We will have bonus pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday November 22, from 10am-2pm. As an extra treat, Ben Smith will be joining us to pour Cadence wines, a combination of current release and (woohoo!) library wines. List members and their invited guests are welcome, but please note: we expect it to be a *very* busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
Hello friends. No, not those ludes! Those ludes are for use as a sedative, a muscle relaxant, a treatment for insomnia, whereas obviously the wines we offer are… erm…

Okay let’s just pretend that first paragraph never happened. The “ludes” to which our subject refers (that is, if this e-mail survived your work’s anti-drug spam filters) are Jamie Brown’s Interlude and Prelude for Waters, two rarely-discounted wines that are discounted for OND (Oct-Nov-Dec), which makes this the perfect time to offer them.

2011 Waters Interlude

I actually got a few inquiries about this wine after it turned up as a “Value Pick” in Sean Sullivan’s Top 100 list for Seattle Met Magazine. But that was when the wine was still listed at $28, and I had heard rumors of an impending discount, so I decided to wait. Here’s what Sean had to say:

Seattle Met Magazine (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

The blend is 61% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, and 11% Petit Verdot, and the cool 2011 vintage plays right into the hands of the kind of earthy, acid-driven wines Jamie loves to make. This begins with a nose of sour cherry, brewed coffee, and terrific leafy notes. It has a serious, polished, elegant palate that easily belies the price point. Fans of Cadence Coda should pay attention here: this is another effort in that vein, and at the exact same price once the discount is applied. The continuing notes of earth and leaf are just lovely; the Merlot and Cabernet tannins are fine-grained and delicious; and the 2011 acidity provides the kind of frame that can support serious aging potential. The overall package offers real textural class for its tag.

2013 Waters Prelude

In 2013, Prelude is a blend of 68% Alder Ridge Roussanne and 32% Antoine Creek Viognier (a buzzy vineyard just outside of Lake Chelan), done half in steel and half in neutral barrel. The nose combines orange-peach creamsicle, honeysuckle, raw almond, and a squeeze of fresh ginger, with both the Roussanne and Viognier showing up aromatically. The palate perfectly balances Viognier perfume with Roussanne generosity. It’s all nuts and flowers, peaches and pears. At 13.5% listed alc, it has just the right amount of fleshy fruit and citrusy acidity.

First come first served up to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and 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.

Three from Force Majeure

November 19, 2014

Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We will have bonus pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday November 22, from 10am-2pm. As an extra treat, Ben Smith will be joining us to pour Cadence wines, a combination of current release and (woohoo!) library wines. List members and their invited guests are welcome, but please note: we expect it to be a *very* busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
Hello friends. Force Majeure made some big headlines over the summer when they announced the hiring of Todd Alexander as their new head winemaker and general manager. Todd was formerly winemaker at Bryant Family Vineyard, one of California’s cult wineries with Cabernets that command upwards of $500 at auction. Of course it will be many years before Todd’s influence on the winery becomes clear, but in the meantime, the Force Majeure lineup has never been better. Here’s Jeb Dunnuck’s introduction from this summer’s Wine Advocate:


Today we have FM’s three autumn releases. As usual, I expect allocations to be competitive (especially with strong press already published), but we’ll advocate for as much as we can.

2011 Force Majeure Collaboration Series I

Collaboration Series I is a Cabernet-dominant Bordeaux blend, and the winemaker is Ben Smith from Cadence, who knows a thing or two about Red Mountain fruit (his entire lineup for Cadence comes from Red Mountain). He’s working with some of the oldest (1975 and 1982-planted) blocks of Ciel du Cheval fruit here. Interesting that – by score, anyway – this was Jeb’s least favorite of the three, since I’m pretty sure it was the most compelling of the three for me. I’m just a big fan of Ben Smith’s style, and this is a great example of that style, full of elegance, finesse, class. Aromas and flavors combine cassis fruit with insistent earthy soil tones and lovely floral rosewater notes. Serious, intense, and full of character and Cabernet chew, this is a fine expression of Red Mountain. Just 200 cases produced.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

2011 Force Majeure Collaboration Series III

Collaboration Series III is 100% Syrah, 220 cases produced, and the winemakers are Mike Macmorran and Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery. This is just lovely in the cooler 2011 vintage, which provides a beautiful cool-year acid spine to support a riot of delicious fruit and earth tones. Smoky peaty earth, boysenberry fruit, pretty violet topnotes; just lovely. It’s intense and silky-soft texturally, with just the right amount of spiciness; like a dash of cayenne on a delicious dish. What an easy wine to love!

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

2011 Force Majeure Collaboration Series V

Collaboration Series V is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 170 cases produced, and the winemaker is Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery. This is an incredible example of old-vine Red Mountain Cab, offering all four Cabernet corners: fruit (crème de cassis), earth/herb (mint and beetroot), flower (violet), and barrel (espresso). The vine age really shines through on the palate, which somehow retains a sense of grace despite its overt power. There are huge, delicious, chewy earl-gray tannins here, coddling a core of smoky black fruit and minerals. The degree of stuffing here is just remarkable, and I’m inclined to agree with Jeb’s drinking window or maybe even beyond. Structure, balance, and concentration; this has all the ingredients to evolve positively for a very long time.

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

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of CS I, 3 bottles of CS III, and 3 bottles of CS V, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2005 Frontaura Toro Crianza (Tempranillo)

November 17, 2014

Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We will have bonus pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday November 22, from 10am-2pm. As an extra treat, Ben Smith will be joining us to pour Cadence wines, a combination of current release and (woohoo!) library wines. List members and their invited guests are welcome, but please note: we expect it to be a *very* busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
Hello friends. The fourth quarter of the year is a crazy time in the wine trade. The deals fly fast and furious, and I’m doing my best to keep up with them, taste a bunch of wine, and select the best values on behalf of our list members.

Spanish wines tend to be pretty strong values to begin with, and so when there are deals to be made in Spain, I pay very close attention. Last week, we were offered a terrific tariff on a Spanish Tempranillo that’s a decade past vintage, one that began its life at a $40 price point. The deal was: if we took the entire remaining parcel in Seattle, we could offer it at a TPU price well off that release tag, and a good bit below the lowest published price nationally:

Toro has a long history of winemaking (dating back to the 11th century) but has only been a DO (Denominación de Origen) since 1987. The region has been seeing a ton of investment by Rioja and Ribera del Duero wineries, as land prices are considerably lower than in those two well-established regions. It’s not so different from all the California money currently flowing into Washington.

Luis Gutierrez had a terrific write-up of the region for Wine Advocate this summer, and his pictures were even better. This one shows perfectly how Toro is right in the middle of a change towards modernity, with old head-pruned bush vines on the left, and modern trellised vines on the right. And this one shows how remarkably rocky some of the soils of the region are. Frontaura’s vineyards sit on rocky alluvial soils, at more than 2000’ elevation, and they’re planted almost entirely to Tempranillo.

It seems like every region in Spain has its own name for Tempranillo, and that’s the case in Toro, where it’s called (creatively) Tinta de Toro. This bottling from Frontaura is Crianza. In Toro that means it has to be aged for at least 24 months, of which 6 months must be in barrel. Frontaura has gone well beyond that, keeping it in barrel for 15 months, and then of course it has been in bottle for years and years. And more years.

The nose shows off all that bottle age, with a wonderful mix of primary and tertiary aromas. There is cedar and mushroom, smoky cherry and tobacco leaf, and subtle spice notes (the winery uses all French oak, not the American used traditionally in Rioja, so you’ll find no dill or coconut notes here). On the palate, this is in a lovely drinking window right now, rich and savory, leafy and crepuscular. While the tannins are integrating nicely, this still possesses a certain rustic charm, a finishing chew that makes me think it still has years of life ahead of it. The balance of earth and fruit is just right, and this is a bottle to remind us that there is just no place in the world like Spain for tasting mature wines in the peak of their drinking windows, especially at such accessible price points.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Two from Corliss & Two from Tranche

November 16, 2014

Hello friends. Autumn release season is winding down, and one of the latest to release their wines each year is Corliss Estates. No surprise, I suppose, since the winery has built their reputation on long-term bottle aging and the release of wines considerably closer to maturity than many others on the market.

The main focus of today’s offer is the new release of the 2009 Red and Cabernet Sauvignon for Corliss, and there is a serious twist to the tale of the Cabernet. At the bottom of the offer, we will also have a pair of bonus wines from Tranche (Corliss’ sister winery), one that was poured at our anniversary celebration, the other a last call on a popular Chardonnay.

I’ve written about Corliss at length in the past. For today, let’s offer the condensed version: Corliss only releases three wines outside the winery: a Syrah each spring, and a Cabernet and BDX Blend in the autumn. They’re noteworthy because they hold their wines about as long as anyone in the state before release. So while most Cabernets on the market right now are 2011s and 2012s (along with a handful of 2013s), Corliss is just getting ready to release their 2009s, a warm year known for rich, early-drinking generosity (I’d drink these 09s while waiting for the 07s and 08s to develop). With nearly three years in barrel and another two in bottle, the wines are usually much further along the path towards integration and complexity than their peer releases, and that’s certainly the case here.

As it seems to go every vintage, the Cab is the slight favorite for the professional reviewers (recall also, when reading the Tanzer reviews, that he is notoriously reticent with points, so these are impressive reviews indeed). I tend towards more of a split decision. I love the blend for its earlier-drinking character and its liquid-silk texture, the Cab for its dark brooding allure and its ability to age endlessly. The good news, of course, is that there’s no need to choose one or the other; we can try both.

2009 Corliss Estates Red Wine

This is typically the more Red Mountain-dominant of the two, with much of the fruit coming from Corliss’ estate Red Mountain Vineyard, and it shows in the loamy soil notes, the pillowy-textured mouthfeel. The 2009 sees Cabernet Franc in the ascendancy, and it’s a long, rich, truffle of a wine, with sultry barrel notes of smoky cocoa and dark chocolate and nougat framing a core of blackberry and plum and deep soil. The Red is so texturally polished, with such silky fine-grained tannins. It’s a beautiful aesthetic experience drinking this wine.

International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

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

2009 Corliss Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5L MAGNUM

This went from a very sad story to a very happy one very quickly. With huge press already lined up behind this wine (a pair of 95pt reviews from Jeb Dunnnuck and Stephen Tanzer, and it’s worth noting that the 96pt 2008 and 2010 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignons are the only Washington Cabs to ever achieve a stronger review from Tanzer), the winery has had terrific success selling the new Cab directly through their mailing list, leaving meager allocations for retail and restaurant. Ours was small enough that I had decided to pass on the allocation entirely.

But then I remembered visiting the winery a few years ago. And I remembered that the Corliss folks have a real affinity for large format bottles. And I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask the question. And so I did: “What about magnums?” And to my surprise and delight, the answer was yes.

I’m not sure if Corliss Cab magnums have ever been offered at retail before, but we have them today, and it’s a great opportunity to access a beautiful, ageworthy wine in a beautiful, ageworthy format. As usual, the Cabernet is the brooder of two, offering deep earthy graphitic minerals, blackcurrant fruit, smoky espresso-bean barrel notes, and topnotes of violet and mint. The palate is a powerhouse, offering impressive tannic structure for a vintage that had tendencies towards flesh. The overall package is beautiful, balanced, and evocative.

International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].95pts.”

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

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of the Red and 6 Magnums of the Cabernet, 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.

Team Full Pull

2010 Tranche Barbera

Rob Griswold poured this wine at our anniversary celebration, and it was really well-received. The folks at Tranche have offered us a nice discount from this wine’s normal $25 price point. It’s 100% Barbera, raised entirely in neutral wood, and it’s a beautiful expression of the rippin’ acidity and bright sour cherry fruit the grape is known for. There are cherry blossom and soil notes as well, but it’s really the mouthwatering texture you notice most of all. The richness of the fruit is perfectly balanced by that sturdy Barberic (new word alert!) spine of citrusy acid. A glorious wine with Italian food.

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ****/***** (Excellent/Exceptional).”

2011 Tranche Chardonnay

Originally offered March 19 and popular on reorder, this one is getting low in the inventory department. It’s all Celilo fruit, among the finest Chardonnay sites in Washington.

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

Four from Idilico

November 14, 2014

Hello friends. Like I mentioned in our Cadence Coda offer a few weeks ago, 2012 is shaping up to be such a beautiful vintage in Washington that it causes me to eagerly anticipate the release of certain mainstay wines for our list members. Javier Alfonso’s Idilico wines fit the bill. They’ve become exceedingly popular with our list members over the past few years, and I’ve been salivating over seeing Javier’s 2012s. Today we have three such releases, as well as a reorder opportunity on Idilico Albarino, which would be a beauty for Thanksgiving.

As a reminder, Javier developed Idilico as a sister label (his main label is Pomum Cellars) to highlight Spanish varietals grown in Washington. These wines are rarely reviewed, but even without the critics weighing in, the label has developed serious buzz, spurred on by the sommelier set and other insider types who know value when they see it. The sales focus for Idilico is mostly restaurant wine lists, and the wines are priced accordingly. That makes them terrific values at retail.

2012 Idilico Garnacha

This is the fourth vintage of Garnacha (aka Grenache) for Idilico, and we’ve offered all of them. At this price point, the wine tends to get snapped up by restaurants looking for exciting glass-pour options (and with only 225 cases made in 2012, this will likely move fast). It’s a 50/50 split of two vineyards: Elerding in the Yakima Valley and Upland on Snipes Mountain (evidence continues to mount that Upland is the finest site in the state for Grenache).

Aged entirely in neutral puncheon, this clocks in at 14.3% and offers a lovely nose melding bright floral rose petal notes with brambly raspberry, black cherry, and the dusty wild herbs the French call garrigue and the Spanish call… well… I don’t know; I’ll have to ask Javier next time I see him. In the mouth, it carries all the palate-coating qualities of a beautiful vintage like ’12, with depth and density to burn. It has a real sense of weight and presence through the mid-palate, and a supple fine-grained tannin finish. What a charmer, and certainly one of the finest values in the burgeoning category of Washington Grenache.

2012 Idilico Monastrell

Move it along… Nothing to see here… In truth, I feel lucky that we have access to this one. The inaugural 2011 vintage saw an 80-case production run. For 2012 it’s all the way up to… 93 cases. That’s not very much, especially considering how rare it is to see single-vineyard Washington Mourvedre (the French synonym for Spanish Monastrell) at a sub-$20 tag. This may be restaurant-only outside of Full Pull. I think Javier is doing us a favor because of our list’s long support of Idilico.

Like last year, it comes entirely from Upland Vineyard, and it was done entirely in neutral oak for 15 months. It offers a nose of wild Mourvedre, with its mix of plum and cherry fruit, citrusy grapefruit tones, peppered game, and leathery spice. On the palate, it is a spicy, intense live wire, humming along all juicy and delicious. The end of my tasting note asks a question: is there any variety 2012 can’t do well?

2012 Idilico Graciano Riserva

This is Javier’s third vintage of varietal Graciano. He only has access to two acres of fruit (I’m guessing that’s the only Graciano planted in the state), acres specifically planted for him and farmed by Todd Newhouse of Upland Vineyards, and that ends up yielding approximately 100 cases per vintage. “The Petit Verdot of Rioja” is what Javier calls Graciano. Just as PV adds acid/tannin/color in small amounts in Bordeaux, Graciano adds the same in Rioja. And just as PV doesn’t generally get ripe enough to bottle varietally in Bordeaux, Graciano doesn’t ripen enough to be bottled on its own in Rioja very often. But here in the warm, sunny new world, anything is possible.

This is such a terrific Cabernet Sauvignon alternative, with much of the texture and structure we all love in good Cabs but with a completely different, and exotic, array of aromas and flavors. Star anise, slatey minerals, briar and raspberry, warming Indian spices like cardamom, and an insistent wildness all characterize the nose, one complex enough that it sent me back to the glass over and over again during the course of a few hours. Intensity is the watchword here. Everything is dialed up to 11. Big bright acid; big chewy green-tea tannin; big rich fruit that grabs the palate and won’t quit. It’s a memorable experience, drinking a glass of this wine.

2013 Idilico Albarino

Originally offered in May, this comes from one of only three Albarino sites planted in Washington: Dutchman Vineyard, a DenHoed-planted site in the cooler part of the Yakima Valley, north of Prosser. It moves from vine to bottle with little intervention: stainless steel fermentation and aging; moderate lees contact; no malolactic fermentation. It’s pure Albarino, awash in lemon-lime fruit and mineral, lifted by lovely floral topnotes. Bone-dry, ultra-vibrant (12.5% alc), this just pulses across the palate, all electric citrusy acids and crushed rock. It has turned into a Seattle summer staple on smart restaurant wine lists, and I’m thrilled that Javier has finally bumped production to a point where the wine will be available beyond Labor Day.

First come first served up to 48 bottles total (mix and match as you like, but please note there’s a chance the Mourvedre will end up being allocated), 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.

Three from Patricia Green

November 13, 2014

Hello friends. Patty Green Pinots are as beautiful as they are inaccessible in Seattle. We were lucky enough to snag a small parcel of Lia’s Vineyard Pinot earlier this year, and the response from our list members underscored for me that we needed to do as much legwork as possible to secure more Patty Pinots.

When I learned that the winery would consider pre-selling a number of their more sought-after, small-production, rarely-distributed-outside-of-Oregon Pinots, and that they’d be doing it around the holidays, I jumped in with both feet. The bad news – that we’re dealing with teensy parcel sizes for each of these wines – is countered by the fact that we were able to snag the entire Seattle allocation for each. Well, almost the entire allocation. The fine folks at Wild Ginger jumped in and grabbed six bottles of each wine, and I wasn’t going to raise much of a fuss, since a) anyone who has eaten a meal at Wild Ginger knows that their buyers have exquisite taste, so I saw their interest as affirmation that this is a good decision; and b) if we sell out, our list members can always drink a bottle at Ginger and have a lovely meal to boot.

But for all intents and purposes, we have retail exclusivity for this trio of beautiful Patty Green Pinots. Now long-time list members may remember that my first visit on my first Willamette Valley research trip was with Jim Anderson at Patricia Green Cellars. It was a terrific place to kick things off, because what Patty (the winemaker) and Jim (the cellarmaster) do that’s brilliant is this: they hold many variables constant so those that change (vintage, vineyard) shine through transparently. A few examples of constants: 1) fruit age: they limit their purchased fruit to vines that are at least 20 years old; 2) clonal selection: they source almost exclusively Pommard and Wadenswil; 3) cooperage: they use exclusively Cadus French oak. This makes a tasting across multiple vineyards from one vintage (as we did that day, and as we have on offer today with 2013) deeply exciting, because the differences (which are obvious) come from one place: terroir.

Jim and Patty source from a diverse set of vineyards across the Willamette Valley, and they’re eloquent at describing the unique characteristics of each site. I believe it’s Jim who writes the notes on the wines, and I intend to quote him liberally, because the information is terrific. Beginning with an excerpt from his take on the 2013 vintage: The 2013 wines are a bit hard to add up, but in general seem to have some of the positive characteristics of the 2011 and 2012 vintages. That is to say, good acidity, nice weight, moderate alcohols, excellent aromatics, succulent mid-palates and above average to very long finishes. These are excellent examples of the style of Pinot Noir we have been crafting for over a decade now. The source vineyards are as strong a group as we have ever had and there are a wealth of wines to choose from that will satisfy many different types of Oregon Pinot Noir fans.

2013 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Olenik Vineyard

I was especially interested in this because – during my stint at Oregon Pinot Camp a few years ago – I clearly remember how Wadensvil Clone wines stood out during clonal tastings. They are so high-toned and ethereal, so hauntingly perfumed; I just couldn’t get enough. Done in about one-third new oak and at a production level of 266 cases, this is a fine example of Wadensvil character, with a flower-garden nose (roses, violets, lilacs) married to smoky red cherry fruit. On the palate, this is richly fruited, with a great glycerin quality to the mouthfeel. It has that Chehalem Mountains marine sedimentary soil influence, a savory character that pairs perfectly with the fruit and flowers. This ’13 vintage in Oregon seems so charming and drinkable at such a young age. I’d rather hold the ‘12s and drink the ‘13s.

Winery notes: Just outside of the Ribbon Ridge Appellation to the east is a mostly south facing hillside full of vineyards. Olenik Vineyard sits nearly smack dab in the middle of this hillside. The vineyard sits on the same type of thin marine soil as our Estate Vineyard. Wadensvil Clone is especially perfect for this type of soil. In contrast to Pommard, which can and often does develop lots of richness and sauvage type characteristics, Wadensvil is most often lighter, feminine, pure and a conduit for everything the land, the plant, the soil, the water and so on have to offer up. This bottling has always shown a quartz-laden character to the supremely pure red fruit. The texture lingers and the wine has a haunting type of complexity to it, throwing fruit and minerals into a wonderful mixture. This will do well over a long period of time.

2013 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Weber Vineyard

This is the Patty Green bottling formerly known as Ana Vineyard. A recent sale of a portion of the vineyard (including name rights) has forced a renaming, but Patty Green is still sourcing the same section of the vineyard that they have for a decade now. It’s a 1978-planted vineyard located here (dusting off the old Oregon vineyard map!), and it yields a mere 144 cases. Raised in 17% new oak, it offers a nose of red raspberry and red cherry paired with good Dundee Hills earthy forest floor notes. Bright and lithe on the palate, with pollen-dusted red fruits mixed with insistent minerality. This hums across the palate and lingers beautifully. Classy juice.

Winery notes: This is routinely the most stylish of the Dundee Hill Pinot Noir we make. The vineyard is set on the eastern slope of a bowl shaped hillside that opens to the south. The 36 year old vines combined with both the cooler eastern slope and the inversion effect created by the amphitheatre-like hill formation allows this vineyard to be a cool site in a warm area. This gives the perceived presence of warm weather features such as rich aromatics, sweet fruit and silky textures while having cool climate infrastructure such as lower alcohol, higher acidity and decent tannins. This is a calm and confident wine that is sleek, graceful and has just enough Dundee Hills-ness to show the excellence of the appellation and site.

2013 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Estate Vnyd Etzel Block

Etzel Block is the part of the Patty Green Estate Vineyard (located here) named after Mike Etzel of Beaux Freres, since the Patty Green team can often spot Mike working the BF vineyard from this particular section of their estate. It’s the second oldest part of the estate vineyard, planted in Ribbon Ridge AVA in 1986. It was raised in 27% new oak, and production is 275 cases. What a beauty. This smells and drinks the ripest of the three, with riper red cherry and black cherry, graphitic mineral notes, star anise, and other exotic spice notes. Lush, plush, seamless, and long, this is a seductive little minx with intensity to burn.

Winery notes: It still never ceases to amaze us how this vineyard produces such an array of flavors, textures and frameworks from the different sections. This particular block is so utterly different than anything else in the vineyard, including the younger vines planted between the older rows of the block that it still blows us away even though we are more used to it than anyone else. This stands in direct contrast to the Bonshaw despite their nearly adjacent locations. This wine is aromatically insane and nuanced to a fault. Minerality and seductive red fruit combine with great complexity on the palate to create a wine that shows how elegant, intricate, red-fruited and soil-influenced older vine Pinot Noirs from Ribbon Ridge can be. There is a fairly large degree of whole cluster fermentation here as well which furthers the aromatic qualities, drives the herbal and graphite notes on the palate and tightens the tannins up on the back end.

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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