Three Pinots from Oregon

October 20, 2014

Hello friends. I recently walked into the grocery store and was greeted with the dirtygood aroma of wild mushrooms. Following my nose to the produce section, I found a riot of fungus: piles of golden chanterelles, sunset-orange lobster mushrooms, outrageously expensive Matsutakes.

Is there anything more evocative of autumn than peak mushroom season? I stood there transfixed by thoughts of cleaning and slicing armloads of shrooms, throwing them into a smoldering pot with knobs of butter and garlic and fresh parsley, maybe deglazing the pan with a little amontillado sherry if I was feeling frisky, and then opening bottle after bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir.

For me, autumn isn’t just peak mushroom season; it’s peak Pinot season. Autumn is, for me, the season of earthy meals, and Pinot is just the thing for pairings, with the right palate weight and right flavor profile to suit this time of year. Here, then, is a selection of recent highlights from a slew of Oregon Pinot tastings:

2013 Walter Scott Pinot Noir La Combe Verte

Walter Scott is a very buzzy Oregon producer whose wines are only now escaping the clutches of the winery mailing list and the state of Oregon. The husband and wife team of Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon have tons of industry experience, he on the winemaking/sales side (stints at St. Innocent, Patty Green, Evening Land), she on the restaurant/somm side. These are wines that are turning up more frequently in restaurants than at retail, and they have received nice press from exacting publications like Tanzer’s IWC and Burghound.

They began their winery in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2013 that the wines were distributed in Washington. I couldn’t nail the timing last year and only ended up with a few bottles for the personal stash (sorry).This year we’re getting in nice and early. La Combe Verte (named after Patty Green Cellars, where the winery got its start) was just released last month, and it is a blend of well-regarded Freedom Hill fruit (in the greater Willamette Valley) as well as three excellent Eola-Amity Hills sites (Bieze, Clos des Oiseaux, Eola Springs). It spent about a year in 30% new French oak and clocks in at 13.5% listed alc, and is honest to the warm 2013 vintage in Oregon, with plenty of rich flesh on its bones, a mix of ripe red cherry fruit and savory meat-brothy notes. The texture is supple, the overall wine a delicious sneak preview of the 2013 vintage. This offers fine depth, intensity, and complexity for the tag, and it’s not an easy wine to find at retail in Washington.

2012 Crowley Pinot Noir Entre Nous

For details on Tyson Crowley, check out our offer from back in springtime for his 2012 Willamette Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I’ll keep things shorter here, but Tyson is another guy who doesn’t let very much wine slip out of Oregon. He’s become a list-member favorite over the years, I suspect because his wines always offer outstanding class for their price points.

This is the third vintage of Entre Nous we’ve offered (we offered the 09 and 10, and then I missed out on 2011, since this is blink-and-you’ve-missed-it wine), distinct from the Willamette Valley bottling in a few ways: first, because it is an autumn release instead of spring, and so gets an additional 3-4 months in barrel; and second, because it is Crowley’s “flagship blend, comprised exclusively of Pommard and Wadenswil clone Pinot noir from our best vineyard sites. Each barrel is hand selected resulting in a quintessential Oregon Pinot noir with extreme purity and depth of character.” That about sums it up.

In 2012, it is predominantly (70%) Four Winds Vineyard fruit, a Coast Range site planted in 1993, rounded out with Chehalem Mountains AVA fruit from Laurel Hood Vineyard. It spent 19 months in 20% new oak, and it blasts out of the glass with aromas of pomegranate and cranberry fruit, brambles, floral topnotes, and some great Oregon forest floor bass notes. The texture is silky and polished, with a plump mid-palate and a rich, lingering finish. The 2012s from Oregon don’t reveal their wares as quickly as the 2013s, I think. This has a core of minerality and structure that is going to take some time to fully unfurl. For those of us with patience (or with a decanter), there are glories ahead.

2012 Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

This was poured at our fifth anniversary shindig, and we included it in the post-anniversary offer, but I wanted to call it out one more time. Eyrie is a special winery, both in Oregon generally where it has some of the richest history in the Willamette Valley, and for Full Pull specifically, where it was our first Oregon wine offered and one of our list members’ favorite Oregon wineries. Jason Lett is doing a remarkable job both honoring his late father’s legacy and stamping his own indelible mark on Eyrie wines.

This remains predominantly (93%) Eyrie estate fruit, but it does include small amounts of three outside sources (hence the WV label). Russ Margach of Eyrie, who was kind enough to come up from Oregon and pour at our event, has this to say: “In 2012 there are small amounts of three outside sources included, one in Dundee right next to our Sisters Vineyard, another from Yamhill Carlton that Jason used to manage before he was our winemaker, and one in the Eola-Amity Hills that Jason calls a twin of our Eyrie Vineyard in terms of height and direction, organic farmed, non-irrigated, own rooted plants, same clonal material, old vines, etc. The wine is still, however, predominantly our own estate fruit.”

It clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and is so insistently earthy and minerally that it’s hard not to toss the word Burgundian around. The black cherry and sour cherry fruit is there, but in the role of supporting actor. This lingers with a mouthwatering salinity for what feels like forever. It’s a classic Oregon Pinot from a classic vintage, and unsurprisingly, it already has its first strong review:

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of each wine, 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 Eight Bells

October 20, 2014

Hello friends. Red Willow Vineyard is one of Washington’s most important sites, the defining vineyard, in my opinion, of the far western Yakima Valley (location here). It was originally planted by Mike Sauer in 1973, and for many years, the preponderance of the fruit went to Columbia Winery. In recent years, as Columbia contracts have loosened and as boutique, sterling-reputation wineries like Betz and Owen Roe and Gramercy have begun working with the fruit, the reputation of Red Willow has only grown and grown.

Many of Mike’s plantings over the years were done in conjunction with the late Master of Wine and long-time Columbia Winery winemaker David Lake. Those plantings include a total of four fascinating field-blend blocks, and there’s one winery that gets all the fruit from three of those four blocks. It’s not any of the aforementioned wineries, either; instead, it’s up-and-comer winery and Full Pull list member favorite Eight Bells.

So today we present a block party, with wines featuring two of those field blend blocks. The first is the new vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon from David’s Block; the second a last-call reoffer on Syrah from the 8 Clones Block:

2011 Eight Bells Cabernet Sauvignon Red Willow Vyd David’s Block

We offered the 2010 vintage last July. It received a strong (93pt) review from Jeb Dunnuck and disappeared soon thereafter. The block is named after David Lake, who designed it, and it was developed to test out a number of different clones. It contains rows of all five Bordeaux varietals, and each row contains a different clone. For example, there are twelve rows of Cabernet Sauvignon, which means there are twelve different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon. Mike Sauer’s goal, and the eventual goal of the folks at Eight Bells, is to be able to harvest the entire block in a single day and co-ferment all the grapes together.

Now it would be one thing if this wine just had historical significance. That would be enough to tickle the intellect. But it hits the double-whammy, engaging the intellect and the senses. It’s dynamite Cabernet. And when you look at this wine’s peer group – other Red Willow Cabernets (e.g. Owen Roe at $72) – Eight Bells is coming in well below tariff par for its comparables. It’s an outstanding value, beginning with a nose marrying black cherry and blackcurrant fruit to subtleties of cherry blossom and graphitic mineral. In the mouth, you find a wine true to the cooler 2011, a wonderful bridge between Washington and Bordeaux, with those wonderful BDX qualities of leaf and earth to go with brisk black fruit and espressoey tannins. Well-made Cabs from Washington’s two cooler vintages (2010 and 2011) are poised to age in fascinating directions. One need only taste wines from the 1999 vintage to realize where these wines could be in another ten years.

Most of this wine has already sold through the Eight Bells winery and mailing list. We have access to a small parcel, but this is likely one and done, with reorder prospects murky at best.

2011 Eight Bells Syrah “8 Clones” Red Willow Vineyard

Originally offered on September 30, 2013. Excerpts from original offer: The “8 Clones” block, as you probably deduced already, contains eight different clones of Syrah. This is the only place to taste this specific piece of Red Willow terroir, and it’s a beauty. The nose is glorious, interweaving marionberry fruit, bacon fat, white flowers, and green olives. The mix of rich fruits and meaty/briny/umami savories continues on the palate, which finishes with a lick of salty mineral tang. The mouthfeel is lovely, silky, with a sense of inner-mouth perfume that goes on and on through the lengthy, grin-inducing finish.

Since that original offer, two positive reviews have emerged:

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

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19/20pts.”

I had a chance to taste this recently, and another year of bottle age has only improved this beauty. It was crazily aromatically expressive during that recent tasting, and the briny green olive notes have really moved to the fore. I’m crazy about its brackishness. There’s something that feels almost naughty about loving this silky savory stew of a wine. The winery is holding onto their small remaining parcel for us, so this is officially last call on a terrific Syrah.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of each wine, 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.

Seven from Top 100

October 17, 2014

Hello friends. The October issue of Seattle Met Magazine has been released, and it contains this year’s Top 100 Washington Wines, again compiled by Sean Sullivan, author of Washington Wine Report and newly-minted reviewer of all Washington wines for Wine Enthusiast. With Sean’s new gig, it’s unclear to me whether he’ll be able to keep going with his Top 100 for Seattle Met in future years. If this is his swansong, it’s a good one! He tasted more than 700 wines to compile the list, which is full of names that will be familiar to Full Pullers.

Because this list is published in the Met, it is read widely, and the wines on the list tend to move quickly. Therefore, I want to turn around a quick offer for some of the wines on the list that I believe are still available.

An important note, before we get into the wines: these are wines that I *believe* to still be available, but I don’t have confirmation on all of them (the time it would take to receive confirmation is, in my opinion, better spent hitting the Send button on this offering). Some of these may be sold out; apologies in advance if that’s the case, and now onto the list:

2012 Efeste Riesling Evergreen Vineyard#9 | Top White Wines. Originally offered January 19, 2014. Seattle Met Magazine (Sean Sullivan): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]

2010 Tulpen Cellars Coalesence#4 | Top Bordeaux Blends. Originally offered July 31, 2014. Seattle Met Magazine (Sean Sullivan): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]

2012 W.T. Vintners “Dalliance” (Rhone Blend)#2 | Top Red Blends. Originally offered April 16, 2014. Seattle Met Magazine (Sean Sullivan): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]

2012 Woodward Canyon Chardonnay#3 | Top White Wines. Originally offered December 13, 2013, and I know this one is very close to sold out, after which they’ll move onto the 2013 vintage. Seattle Met Magazine (Sean Sullivan): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]

2010 Waters Cabernet Sauvignon#1 | Top Cabernet Sauvignons. Never previously offered. Seattle Met Magazine (Sean Sullivan): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]

2011 Buty Rediviva of the Stones Rockgarden Estate Vineyard#4 | Top Rocks Wines. Never previously offered. Seattle Met Magazine (Sean Sullivan): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]

2011 Lauren Ashton Cuvee Arlette#1 | Top Bordeaux Blends. Originally offered August 25, 2014. Seattle Met Magazine (Sean Sullivan): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]

Please place order requests as you see fit, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. All the wines should arrive within the next few weeks, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Three from Gramercy

October 15, 2014

Hello friends. For every year that I can remember of my first eighteen, my family would rent a house in Ocean City, NJ for part of August. And I was one of those kids for whom the anticipation of going “down the shore” was almost the equal of the vacation itself. As the muggy weeks would roll by in the Philly suburbs, I would start to see the boardwalk, smell the salt air, hear the seagulls caw, taste the Kohrs custard, feel the roar of the first wave I would body-surf with my uncles.

Not much has changed in my adult life (well, okay, less bodysurfing unfortunately): the act of looking forward to something brings almost as much pleasure as the thing itself.

And so it is with Gramercy’s 2012 Syrahs. Here’s what Greg Harrington had to say about the 2012 vintage: “Brandon and I have been particularly excited about the 2012 vintage. You have to love when everything goes right. It gets scary when everything is going right. We just stand around the winery waiting for something to happen – a sudden freeze that we didn’t expect, the truck to break – so many things can go wrong. We feel it’s a bit easier to deal with the tougher vintages like 2010 or 2011. We tend to stay on our game all day. In 2012, we just kinda sit around and drink beer while interns process perfect fruit. Put it in the fermenter, its ferments steady and clean, and put it in a barrel. Winemakers end up feeling totally useless. But that is the story of 2012. It’s a fantastic vintage a la 2007… I feel this is an incredible release and a fantastic way to introduce you to the spectacular 2012 vintage.”

I think most of you know by now how I feel about the 2012 vintage in Washington (outstanding) and how I feel about the winemaking team of Greg Harrington and Brandon Moss (operating at the top of their game). That combination, plus Greg’s text above, had me salivating before the corks were popped on Gramercy’s 2012 Syrahs, and that saliva was not ill-founded. This is a marvelous pair of Syrahs from Rhone specialists working at the peak of their powers, must-try wines for those of us who love terroir expression through the prism of Syrah.

[Please note: we also have a small parcel of 2012 Third Man, and we’ll include an offer link at the bottom.]

2012 Gramercy Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley

This is a new wine for Gramercy, so I’ll let Greg introduce it: “As we search Washington for better and more unique Syrah, we see two things happening: First, our upper end wines are becoming more vineyard focused with John Lewis and The Deuce based on Les Collines and Lagniappe based on Red Willow. Second, we love the combination of fruit from the lower Yakima Valley and Walla Walla. We can make earthy wines with both structure and freshness. Third, we want to make a Syrah that has better availability and some potential for growth. Enter the Columbia Valley Syrah. This wine blends 4 vineyards – the northerly Minick and Olsen with two Walla Walla Rocks sources – SJR and Stony Vine. Minick and Olsen provide red fruit and freshness, the Rocks gives pepper, funk, smoke, depth and structure. This wine, aged 18 months in neutral barrel, is about 40% whole cluster. Taste: Blueberry, leather, saline, meat, smoke, funk, raspberry, red cherry, violets, roses, medium body, crisp acidity and energy.”

I think people are going to freak out over this wine. I certainly did. The nose has glorious complexity with obvious Rocks character: earthy and briny, with smoke and mineral and salt and kelp notes overlaying raspberry fruit. There’s a real wildness to this, a sauvage character that is thrilling. It’s the nervier of the two Syrahs texturally (13.7% listed alc), a tightrope walk of savory/umami flavors. For me, this is quintessential Gramercy house style, and it might be the lowest-priced Gramercy Syrah we’ve ever offered. For those of you who have hesitated to dive into Gramercy’s Syrah portfolio because of pricing, I heartily encourage a splurge here. And for those of you who already love Gramercy’s Syrahs, I probably don’t need to say any more.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[Barrel Sample]; [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]”

2012 Gramercy Cellars Syrah The Deuce Walla Walla Valley

Greg’s notes: “We realized a major inequality for our Syrahs in 2012. Every wine has a name, except the Walla Walla Syrah… The Deuce pays homage to our hometown of Walla Walla. So nice they named it yada yada yada… The 2012 Deuce shows the best of Les Collines combined with a bit of Rocks fruit. Fruit & Funk. Each year, Les Collines seems to give us more. We truly believe it is one of the top 5 Syrah vineyards in Washington. We are privileged to have Blocks 50, 46 and 36 on the slope. Most excitingly, our new planting across from the John Lewis Block (46) comes online next year. Fermented with 80% whole cluster, the wine was aged for 18 months in neutral puncheon and 225 liter barrels. The 2012 is the most intense and structured Walla Walla Syrah to date. Taste: Black cherry, funk, salumi, salty meat, soy sauce, cranberry, green olive, pepper, lavender, brine, rocks, jerky, violets, tar, pine needles.”

This combines two of my absolute favorite Walla Walla Syrah vineyards: Les Collines and SJR. Those of you shut out or under-allocated on our Delmas Syrah offer may want to pay attention here, as this is another chance to access SJR fruit, a site of growing importance in the Rocks. And you can see why, as it contributes to a thriller nose, funky and beautiful with flowers and smoldering meat, smoky bacon and blue fruit, brine and salt. Les Collines adds its signature pine nut note for lift, and the whole package is a masterpiece of complexity and intensity. It clocks in at 14.1% listed alc, drinks a bit richer than the CV Syrah but not much, and should easily age for a decade. This has to be among the most successful Syrahs Gramercy has ever bottled.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[Barrel Sample]; [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]”

2012 Gramercy Cellars The Third Man

Greg’s notes: “The 2012 Third Man is most likely our best to date. It is certainly the richest and most full bodied. Remember we are using the Gramercy Scale when we say ripe. These amps go to 7… In 2012, we finally found that elusive red – black fruit combination of the best wines of the Southern Rhone. In 2012, we decided to switch the usually Minick Syrah for the infamous Les Collines Block 50. The improvement is a momentous change. The black fruit of Les Collines is a fantastic blend with the Grenache and Mourvédre from Olsen and Alder Ridge Vineyards. We fermented each variety with varying degree of stems in open top fermenters for 17-21 days. The wines were blended and aged in 2-7 year old puncheons and 225L barrels. The 2012 Third Man has 57% Grenache, 38% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre. Taste: Combination of red/black fruit, raspberry, blackberry, plum, smoke, meat, black pepper, Provence herbs, ripe, intense mid-palate, floral potpourri, slight vanilla.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck):“[Barrel Sample]; [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]”

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of CV Syrah and 6 bottles each of The Deuce and Third Man, 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.

2012 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Sauvignon Bacchus Vyd (FPF-8)

October 13, 2014

Hello friends. One of our most exciting developments for Full Pull in 2014 is beginning to wind down for the year. Today we have the penultimate bottling in this year’s Full Pull & Friends series:

I’ve been sitting on this offer for the better part of the year, getting more and more excited as the wine continued to blossom with each passing month. Recently, we deemed it fit to pour, and we’ve poured sneak previews of this wine twice now. The first pouring was during our most recent open Saturday back in September. On that day, we poured a bunch of FP&F wines and allowed warehouse sales. This was our most popular wine of the day. Then more recently, we chose this as one of the two FP&F wines poured at the Full Pull table during our 5th Anniversary event. We didn’t allow any sales that day, so for those of you who tasted the wine and loved it at the event, here’s your chance.

Having some FP&F bottles open on those two Saturdays underscored a few points for me:

Point #1: This program is exceptionally popular among our list members. I’m thrilled to hear it, because we couldn’t be having more fun identifying juice for these bottlings. I know many of you were fired up to see a FP&F bottle make it onto Sean Sullivan’s Top 100 Washington Wines for Seattle Met Magazine, and we were awfully proud too. We’re going to continue submitting these wines to critics, because we feel they represent exceptional values across the portfolio.

Point #2: The breadth of the FP&F lineup has led to a little bit of confusion about which wine is which. To combat that confusion, we’re going to start numbering these bottles. To wit, today’s offer is FPF-8, and here is the full list of previous offers:

•    FPF-1: 2007 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Sauvignon | Undisclosed Winemaker | Sold Out
•    FPF-2: 2012 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Sauvignon Phinny Hill Vineyard | Undisclosed Winemaker | Sold Out
•    FPF-3: 2012 Full Pull & Friends Syrah-Grenache  | Chris Peterson | 27% Remaining
•    FPF-4: 2007 Full Pull & Friends CVBDX | Undisclosed Winemaker | 34% Remaining
•    FPF-5: 2012 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Franc Bacchus Vineyard  | Chris Peterson | 47% Remaining
•    FPF-6: 2008 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Sauvignon| Undisclosed Winemaker | 20% Remaining
•    FPF-7: 2012 Full Pull & Friends Merlot Klipsun Vineyard  | Chris Peterson | 49% Remaining

I’m not going to include reoffer links for the five wines with stock remaining (it’ll make an already unwieldy offer, erm, unwieldier), but if you’re interested, just respond to this e-mail with the wines and the number of bottles, and we can get those manually entered.

Point #3: I still haven’t done a good enough job communicating how/why these FP&F bottles come into existence. On that note, today’s offer provides a good window into the process. So, let’s say you’re [REDACTED] Winery, and you have plans to grow your production levels significantly over the next five years. You’re offered about twice as much outstanding old-vine Bacchus Vineyard Cabernet fruit as you need for the 2012 vintage. Do you:

a) Only purchase the fruit you need, and hope that by the time you hit 2017 and are ready to take all that fruit, the contract will still be there?; b) Take all the fruit, vinify it, and sell what you don’t need on the bulk market?; or c) Call up your good friends at Full Pull Wines and see if they’re interested?

Option a) is a non-starter for a smart winery. Old-vine Bacchus Cab is a scarce resource, and doubtless if you move out of a block, a younger/hungrier winery will move in, and you’ll never see it again. Option b) is marginally better, but you’re likely to lose money on every gallon of juice you sell. Option c) it is!

The reasons this is a win-win scenario: it’s a win for the winery because we pay a small premium above the bulk market, enough that the wineries can at least recoup their fruit costs. It’s a win for us because we get access to classy juice that we can sell for well under what the price would be if it had the winery label on it. And that’s why many of our winery partners (including today) choose to remain anonymous; they don’t want to see their names appended to wines selling for half the price of their lineup.

Because this is such an attractive scenario for wineries, we have been approached with A LOT of FP&F options over the past year. We’ve said no to most, and yes to only the most exceptional juice. Including this Bacchus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Bacchus Vineyard (located here) is one of the Sagemoor properties managed by Kent Waliser and Derek Way. It contains some of the state’s oldest Cabernet vines (planted in 1972) and some of the most important.

I still remember one of the most magical barrel tastings I’ve ever done was in January 2011 out at Abeja with John Abbott. We were tasting through some of the 2009 barrels John was considering for Abeja’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (which to date has only been made in 2002, 2005, 2007, and 2009), and suddenly we hit this barrel of 1972-planted Bacchus Block 3, and my world stopped. I remember just shaking my head at John, and I was sure then and there that he would make a Reserve in 2009, and that it would contain Bacchus fruit. As it turned out, it contained only Bacchus fruit, 165 cases made entirely from that block, $85/bottle and so limited that we were never able to offer the finished wine.

When we began doing private label wines, I knew we’d do some Cabernet Sauvignons, and I hoped we’d be able to source Bacchus fruit. I’m thrilled it has all come to fruition, and I’m not surprised this wine has been so popular during the sneak preview tastings. The vineyard source, the grape-growing, the winemaking: all impeccable here. [And just to be clear, in case I was implying it, the winery involved in this one is not Abeja, although I’d love to work with John on an FP&F bottling someday.] It spent 20 months in 60% new French oak, and it does come from 40-year-old blocks of Bacchus.

While the winemaker here obviously can’t comment, the grape-grower certainly can, and Derek Way was kind enough to send a bunch of information about this block of Bacchus, which was also among the original 1972 plantings:

Block 10 is super interesting and is very unique among Bacchus Cabernet. First off, this block was planted in 1972 from, what we believe, clone 8 stock… The block is planted North/South, on a relatively flat piece of ground, at just under 900 ft. elevation… The soil is made of sandy loam and silty loam complexes, with areas of clay.

Block 10 happens to be the coolest (and, maybe the coolest!) Cabernet site in the Sagemoor portfolio. This, along with its age, make it very unique among what we do. To start, it is very difficult to over-ripen this block. The fruit profile here dances between red fruit and blue fruit, with hints of spice and herb. The tannins, although present, are very well integrated. Because this block, in most vintages, hangs to late October/early November, the tannins are allowed to mature and integrate. That is one of the beautiful characteristic of this block: relatively low sugar accumulation with ripe fruit. This block is structure, but not in the over-the-top tannin sort of way. It is possible to have elegance and structure in the same profile…Block 10 is a great example.

As I mentioned above, this has been getting better with each passing month, and it also seems to be true for each passing moment of oxygen exposure. With a little time and air, this unfurls into an honest Cabernet nose awash in bright fruit (blackcurrant, redcurrant, blueberry) and wonderful complexities of violet and mint, espresso and good clean soil. I love the balance of fruit and earth elements on the palate, the seductive silk of the mid-palate, the way this pulsates across the palate on a lithe 13.8%-alc frame. It’s a wine built for the long-haul, and that’s never more clear than on the long, chewy, beautiful finish, redolent of earl-grey tea and with just the right amount of Cabernet tooth. I’m smitten with this one, and it has been thrilling to see our list members who have tasted respond with equal affection.

First come first served up to 36 bottles, and the wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Two from Gorman

October 12, 2014

Hello friends. We’ve offered a number of Chris Gorman’s red wines over the years, but they have been at prices like $50 (Bully), $65 (Evil Twin), and $80 (Albatross). Today we have something different. For those of us curious about the Gorman house style – typically a hedonist’s dream, with ultra-ripe fruit, heady levels of alcohol, and luxurious oak treatment – today we have the new gateway drug into the upper-echelon Gorman lineup:

[Note: we’ve also fielded a few requests for Chris’ new Big Sissy Chardonnay, I presume from those of you who know, as I do, that the wine is set to receive a strong review in the upcoming November issue of Wine Enthusiast. We’ll include an order link for that one as well at the bottom of this offer.]

2012 Gorman Winery “The Devil You Know”

Beginning last year with the 2011 vintage, Chris introduced a pair of wines retailing in the $20s, one called The Devil You Know, the other The Devil You Don’t Know. Clever. I liked those 2011s and had plans to offer one or both, but then Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator came along and gave one of the wines a 93pt review, and that was pretty much all she wrote for the debut vintage.

Perhaps missing out on the ‘11s was not the worst thing, though, because instead we get to introduce this new Gorman tier with the (borrowing from Springsteen) heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, love-making 2012 vintage. I had the chance to taste both wines recently, and for me, The Devil You Know was the clear winner. We may revisit the Devil You Don’t Know in a few months and give what are now overt oak notes some time to integrate. But in the meantime, the Devil You Know is a showstopper right now.

It’s Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant, at 64% of the blend, rounded out with 15% Merlot, 13% Petite Sirah, and 8% Petit Verdot. It clocks in at 14.7% listed alc, and it comes soaring out of the glass with wonderful Cabernet aromas: cassis and blackberry, violet and mint. This is big and rich to be sure, but it conveys a wonderful sense of balance and textural class. So silky and supple on attack and mid-palate, it rolls into a powerfully chewy finish, awash in the delicious tannins that Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot bring to the table.

2013 Gorman Winery Chardonnay “Big Sissy”

Any fear of Chris’ Chardonnay under his Gorman label getting lost in the glare of all the acclaim for his new Chardonnay-only Ashan label will be put to rest with this review:

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

Typically a blend of Celilo, Conner Lee, and Kestrel Vineyards, raised in 100% new French oak for about a year, this clocks in at 14.5% listed alc. Don’t expect a shy Chardonnay.

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.

2011 Montepeloso A Quo Toscana IGT

October 10, 2014

Hello friends. One of the great joys of Full Pull’s expansion into imported wines has been our exploration of the Tuscan renaissance. Most of our offers to date have been focused on the interior regions – Chianti, Montalcino, Montepulciano – but today let’s drive east until we hit the coast, within spitting distance of Napoleon’s island exile Elba. Today let’s drive until we reach the town of Suvereto, and the hillside vineyards of Montepeloso (located here).

We were offered a sweet price drop if we took the entire remaining parcel of the 2011 vintage in Seattle, a wine that began its life with a $24 tag. Once I tasted the wine, the decision was an easy one, and as you can see, our tariff is the lowest I could find on the west coast and just about on par with the lowest in the country.

Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

Other than replacing “literally” with “figuratively” (I’ve yet to see a rose petal take corporeal form and leap out of a wine glass), I agree completely with Galloni’s note. He’s an exacting critic, and a 90pt review for a wine we can sell in the teens is a fine review indeed. I think his drinking window is spot-on, too. This puppy is in the early stages of its peak and should continue to drink beautifully for the next five years. It’s earthy and savory, full of spicy tomato paste and raspberry, angostura bitters and brewed coffee. The 14.5% listed alc is just about right for a warm region in a warm year, and this does have plenty of plush fruit, but terrific balancing acidity to keep things vibrant. It’s a blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Marselan, Alicante Bouschet, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and it is a hearty, seductive winter red.

In Galloni’s recent (Sept 2014) review of the Tuscan coast, he wrote the following on Montepeloso: “[TEXT WITHHELD].”

Chiarellotto is a Swiss native who has been on a mission since purchasing Montepeloso in the late ‘90s to completely rehabilitate the vineyards and the winemaking. As Galloni’s prose indicates, this is a Tuscan winery on the rise, but still flying a bit under the radar. Perfect timing. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests (note: if this one turns popular, allocations are likely to be closer to the 3-6 bottle range; our stash isn’t all that large). The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


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