Two from W.T. Vintners

April 16, 2014

Hello friends. Canlis. The Herbfarm. Wild Ginger. The Metropolitan Grill. These are some of the most competitive restaurant wine lists in Seattle. Wineries beg, plead, cajole and give up significant margin to distributors in order to make inroads in places like these. So how did a self-distributed newbie make it into those accounts?

The answer: because Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen has years of experience buying and selling wine for some of Seattle’s finest restaurants, and he’s now applying his formidable palate to WT Vintners.

By evening (and probably a good chunk of day), Jeff is the Wine Director at RN74 in Seattle, which means he basically tastes every important wine that comes into Seattle. That gig came after previous stints at Cascadia, Wild Ginger, and Café Juanita. I’d also lay better than even odds that Jeff is going to be Seattle’s next wine pro to pass the Master Sommelier exam.

He has a wickedly sharp palate, and a clear point of view, honed from tasting thousands of wines for his various restaurant gigs. To wit, here is an excerpt from Jeff’s winemaking philosophy:

“From our inception I strive to be the conduit from which our vineyards speak. Minimal additions are made in the winery beyond yeast and the occasional racking off solids. I avoid the use of new oak in favor of used barrels, which add a bit of texture and little else. Foremost, I want our wines to serve as the champions of Washington’s extraordinary terroir. By utilizing whole clusters, versus just the berries, during fermentation I attempt to coax both greater structure and more savory flavors and aromas in our Syrah. With each vineyard we work closely with the vineyard’s manager and owner to reduce crop loads and find the optimal time to harvest, which is often weeks before our neighbors. By picking early I ensure the vineyard’s voice is heard and not lost to high alcohols and overtly fruity wines. Ultimately, I am attempting to make the wines I want to drink, wines of place, wines that complement a meal and wines that tell a story. I want them to be delicious as they are interesting.”

WT is a buzzworthy winery that is just starting to pick up momentum. They celebrated the grand opening of a new tasting room in Woodinville on April 5 and 6 with the release of four new wines (we’re offering two of them today). Right now, the wines are sold almost exclusively through restaurant channels (check out their list; we’ll be happy to sidle on up next to our esteemed colleagues at McCarthy & Schiering as the only retailers listed)

Stephen Tanzer has written some positive press in the past year, but this remains a winery flying well under the mainstream radar. For now.

2013 W.T. Vintners Gruner Veltliner Underwood Mountain Vineyard

What, did you think the sommelier was going to make a 15%-alc Viognier? Not bloody likely.

Jeff has zeroed in on probably the most exciting place in Washington for white wines: the Columbia Gorge (yes, Ancient Lakes can make a compelling argument too). Gruner Veltliner grown on the southern slopes of the extinct volcano Underwood Mountain is one of the hidden treasures of the northwest. Syncline is the only other Washington winery I’ve seen to vinify these grapes.

This clocks in at 13% listed alc, and it nails Gruner’s savory character that is so unusual for white grapes, with lovely green pea vine notes to go with lemony fruit. There’s a smoky/flinty character, too, almost reminiscent of Chablis, and awfully compelling. In the mouth, there’s Gruner’s signature lemony acid, savory green lentil notes, overt minerality, and plenty of dry extract. This is a balanced beauty, varietally correct and with plenty of rippin’ acid even in the warm 2013 vintage.

Here’s Jeff’s note: “Drawing inspiration from Gruner’s homeland, the Wachau region of Austria, we divide the fermentation between stainless steel and a small amount of neutral oak barrels to coax the austere mineral and spicy elements from the steel and a weightier mid-palate from the permeable oak. The end result is a Gruner Veltliner with medium body, brisk acidity and notes of green apple, meyer lemon, under-ripe peach, nectarine, spicy arugula and an undercurrent of minerality not often seen in new world wines.”

2012 W.T. Vintners “Dalliance” (Rhone Blend)

And here are Jeff’s notes on where this one comes from: “In 2012, W.T. Vintners formed a new partnership in one of the world’s most unique vineyard areas, the Walla Walla Valley’s sub-region known as ‘The Rocks.’ Unlike the dominant soils of Washington’s flood affected vine growing areas, ‘The Rocks’ are an ancient alluvial fan of river tumbled basalt cobblestones formed by the Walla Walla river. ‘The Rocks’ area shares it’s soil structure with only a couple very rare and special regions, evoking visions of Chateauneuf-du-Pape in France’s Southern Rhone Valley or New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay sub-region known as the ‘Gimblett Gravels.’ While Chateauneuf’s famous ‘galet roulés’ are just surface stones, the Walla Walla Rocks are deep; well over 200 feet deep in some spots. The lower hanging fruit benefits from the radiant heat being absorbed by the cobblestones throughout the sunny days. More importantly, the heat that is absorbed by day continues warming the root system and assisting in ripening well into the night. The resulting flavors from the region are decidedly very different from anywhere else in Washington. Flavors and aromas of wild game, earth and deep heady fruits pervade the wines made from fruit grown in this small area, regardless of varietal. It is truly a special place and worthy of the critical honors the region’s wines continue to garner each year.”

This is a 41/36/23 blend of Mourvedre/Syrah/Grenache, all from a single vineyard in the rocks (I’m not allowed to reveal, but I do know which one it is, and I can tell you: it’s a good one). The nose is very pretty, with lovely strawberry fruit lifted by cherry blossoms. The bass notes of briny olives and marine/kelpy funk help remind us that we can only be in one part of Washington. Perhaps most impressive for its fruit intensity, this possesses real purity to its mix of fruit, meat, and brine. Jeff says he likes to go for the savory side of Rhone varieties, and he nails it here. This is balanced and downright delicious.

Jeff’s note: “Dalliance exudes ‘The Rocks’ intensely aromatic wild cherry, black plum, boysenberry, white pepper and distinct earthy minerality. Flavors including smoked meat, stony earth, cherry, raspberry, lavender, violets and sage carry the long supple tannins through the persistent finish.”

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.

2009s from Produttori del Barbaresco

April 14, 2014

Hello friends. Last year’s offer for the 2008 Riservas from Produttori del Barbaresco was a hit, and we’re back today with the 2009s.

This time, however, I also want to offer the gateway drug to the lineup, so let’s dig into that first:

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco DOCG

For those of you curious about the Produttori house style, their Barbaresco DOCG bottling (sometimes called Torre) is a great introduction. A blend of the cooperative’s vineyards all over Barbaresco, this is vinified in an accessible style, and in an early-drinking year like 2009, it’s going to be ready to go right about now. The original idea was to offer the Riservas today, and this in a few months. That idea was blown up by Wine Spectator, who will be publishing this review in their April 30 issue:

Wine Spectator (Bruce Sanderson): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

With the combination of score, release price ($37), and production level (a staggering 23,333 cases), I’d bet dollars to donuts that this will land on Spectator’s Top 100 list for 2014 when it’s released in December. I know it muddies the water a little to include this one with the Riservas, but waiting any longer just didn’t seem to be an option. For this one, please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best.

Now, onto the Riservas. While they lack the stratospheric scores of the 08s, they do have the appealing counterweight of being an early-drinking vintage. And demand is still quite high for these, both because the allocation for Seattle is smaller than the 08s, and because Produttori has announced that it did not bottle separate Riservas for the 2010 vintage (which means it will be 2016 before we see the next set of releases).

First, some notes on logistics:
1. We should be able to send allocation notices towards the end of April.
2. As usual, we will not charge for the wine until it has arrived in the warehouse.
3. One advantage to pre-ordering is that we can lock in better tariffs than landed pricing.

Again this year, I feel fortunate that we have a chance to access these beautiful wines. Allocations will be small (and might be zero in some cases; we have no guarantees here), but we’re building a track record, and they should continue to get better with each vintage.

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja

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

Please limit order requests to 1 bottle.

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano

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

Please limit order requests to 2 bottles.

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Montefico

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

Please limit order requests to 2 bottles.

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Ovello

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

Please limit order requests to 3 bottles.

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota

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

Please limit order requests to 3 bottles.

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Asili

Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

Please limit order requests to 1 bottle.

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Pora

Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

Please limit order requests to 3 bottles.

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo

Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91+pts.”

Please limit order requests to 3 bottles.

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Paje

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

Please limit order requests to 3 bottles.

All these wines should arrive in late April, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

NV German Gilabert Cava Rosat Brut Nature

April 13, 2014

Hello friends. We have the return today of our most delicious debacle from 2013:

Let’s start with the debacle.

We offered the wine on August 13, saying in that offer that “the wine should arrive from California in two or three weeks.”

Did the wine arrive in two or three weeks? No it did not. Had I only said “months” instead of “weeks,” I would have been considerably more accurate. The final parcel of the wine arrived on (gulp) November 6. I still feel a profound sense of chagrin just writing that.

The long delay was the result of a miscommunication, such that the bulk of the parcel had to come direct from Spain, which, as it turns out, is a titch further away than the Golden State.

But there’s another side to the story: the wine was worth the wait. After all, the subject of today’s offer isn’t “Desultory Debacle” or “Detestable Debacle;” it’s “Delicious Debacle,” and this is indeed a painfully delicious bottle of wine. Few wines that we’ve offered have inspired as many unsolicited positive comments from list members.

So we’re reoffering this wine today, and can you believe what I’m about to say? The parcel is going to be special-ordered from California. Not “California” (read: Spain). California. And yes, it’s shame on me if this goes awry again, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Now, a reminder of what this beauty is all about, excerpted from our original offer:

One of the most appealing aspects of jumping into imported wines was the opportunity to write about the wines of Jose Pastor Selections. JPS plays for Spain the role that Louis/Dressner plays for France: discoverer and importer of exceptional, natural, vineyard- and farmer-driven wines. Especially for Spain, which seems to see many of its gloopiest, most cynical wines imported to the United States, having JPS as a counterweight is very important.

I was introduced to this lineup through the well-loved and well-missed importer/wholesaler Triage Wines, but by the time we moved into imports, Triage was sadly out of business, and JPS was no longer being brought into Seattle. Last June, however, JPS announced that they had partnered with a new Seattle wholesaler to pick up their portfolio.

At that point, Chris Barnes from JPS came down to the warehouse and poured a terrific group of wines, but it didn’t include this Cava Rosat. I always had a vision for what our first JPS offering would be – German Gilabert Cava Rosat Brut Nature – and when I inquired about it, the response was: “we’re not bringing that one into Seattle.”

Fortunately, several weeks and more than several e-mails later, we settled on a solution: JPS would allow Full Pull to special-order the wine from their Northern Cali warehouse and bring it into Seattle as an exclusive (note: I don’t know whether it remained exclusive; I promised not to raise a fuss if other retail/restaurant accounts wanted to special-order their own parcels).

Why, you might be asking, did I have this stubbornly burrowed into my brain as a necessity for our first JPS offering? Well, there’s the simple reason and the more complicated reason.

The simple reason: because it’s a terrific wine. A total standout in a sea of forgettable Cava, it’s a bubbly, pink, bone-dry, minerally, beautifully-proportioned, focused, perfect-acid palate-washer. Isn’t that enough? No? You want the more complicated reason?

Okay, the complicated reason: well, you may remember that sparkling wine holds a special place in the Zitarelli household, and in Full Pull lore (see here for the full story). And you may remember the agreement my wife and I developed at Full Pull’s launch: her responsibility to supply several years of steady income and health insurance, and my responsibility to keep at least one case of sparkling wine on hand at all times. But what you may not know: a Triage sparkling wine tasting was one of the first trade tastings I attended for Full Pull, and the German Gilabert Cava Rosat was the first case I brought home. It was a bellwether of my commitment to our arrangement, and so it has always held special resonance.

So, Cava. Okay. The problem with Cava is that the Catalans send us all their worst dreck while the tapas bars of Barcelona overflow with cheap, delicious bubbles. Any of us who have visited Barcelona know the drill: we drink amazing Cava in every tavern and restaurant we visit, then we get home and try to recreate the experience, only to be sorely disappointed. It’s a frustrating category, a minefield, one where I think Full Pull can play a role, in that we can taste through all the disappointments (and they are legion) and discard those in favor of the gems.

German Gilabert is a gem. A pink blend of 80% Trepat (a red grape indigenous to northeast Spain) and 20% Garnacha (considerably more familiar), it comes from 40+ year old vines grown on limestone and sand and is made using the methode champenoise (called metodo tradicional in Spain to avoid the wrath of French wine bureaucrats). Most importantly, it is Brut Nature, which means it is bottled with no dosage (with zero additional sugar) after 18-20 months on the lees. That puts it in the driest category of methode champenoise wines. For those of you looking for lush richness, look elsewhere. This is all ethereal litheness.

It starts with a complex nose combining fruit (strawberry pastille), floral (lilac), and savory (chicken stock) notes. As expected, it is bone dry, a nervy mouthful of crushed rock and electric acid framing notes of baked bread and bright red fruit. It’s amazing as a cocktail, and it’s amazing as a food wine, where it has a character that just wipes your palate clean after every sip. The only characteristic this shares with the sea of crappy Cava is its compelling, accessible price point.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in two to three weeks (should!), just in time for summer glugging, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2010 Gorman “Evil Twin” (Cab-Syrah)

April 11, 2014

Hello friends. We have a new vintage today of a wine that has been popular with list members and critics alike:

After working in the wine trade for more than 10 years (on the import and distribution side) Chris Gorman launched his eponymous winery in 2002 with a focus on Red Mountain and a clear house style. That style is a hedonist’s dream: ultra-ripe fruit, heady levels of alcohol, and luxurious oak treatment. Gorman’s wines are unapologetic givers of pleasure, and critics always respond favorably, as they have here:

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

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

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

I won’t add much, as that’s already plenty of tasting-note goodness, but this is indeed a big wine (especially for cooler 2010), clocking in at 15.2% listed alc, staining the glass with its opaque purple-black color, and presenting plenty of smoky/nutty barrel notes to complement the massive purple fruit. The cool vintage weighs in only in the form of floral/violet topnotes. Gorman has become one of the masters of the Cab-Syrah blend in Washington, borrowing the plush fruit and mineral tones of Syrah and pairing them to the massive structure of Red Mountain Cabernet. The result is a palate-staining monster, a black-hearted beast.

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.

Two from Kiona

April 9, 2014

Hello friends. We have one of the happiest surprises of 2014 so far: an estate bottled, Red Mountain Sangiovese going on a decade past vintage; a Chianti ringer with years left in the tank; all for a tariff that is as accessible as can be. [Note: we’ll also include a well-reviewed sticky from the same producer at the bottom.]

2005 Kiona Estate Reserve Sangiovese

Long term list members with elephantine memories may remember that we offered the 2004 vintage of this back in autumn 2011. That one was offered at $19.99 ($17.99 TPU), which was still a strong value, and it was a popular reorder target back in the day. Today’s tariff is just crazy, and if we blow through our entire allotment, there do seem to be out-of-state parcels floating around at $20 and in-state winery-direct at $25.

But enough about pricing; let’s get to the important part: the wine itself. Kiona is the original vineyard on Red Mountain (see location here), planted in 1975 by John Williams and Jim Holmes (who went on to plant Ciel du Cheval). The attached winery produces wines from estate grapes and purchased grapes from across Washington. For more on the winery’s history, I recommend reading Sean Sullivan’s Focus Report from February 2010.

What happened in 2011, back when we offered that 04 vintage, was a distributor swap. Kiona had been distributed through one of our mega-distributors here in Washington, and their wines got a little lost in the shuffle. In ‘11, they switched to a boutique distributor, and that switch unearthed a treasure trove of wine, with parcels covering a broad swath of vintages (2003 on) and varietals (probably about 15 in all). Every few months, we try to taste any newbies in the lineup, and in our recent tasting, this Sangio was just a complete standout.

Coming from a warm vintage and a warm AVA, this must have been picked nice and early, because its listed alc is 13.5%. Perfect, since early-picked, acid-retaining wines tend to age so much more beautifully than their over-ripe brethren. Pour this from the bottle, and you instantly know it has serious bottle age. The color is brick red, moving to garnet on the edges. The nose made me think immediately of well-aged Tuscan wines: dried cherry and dried fig fruit, earth, and dusty Red Mountain notes. Then I tasted the wine, at which point my tasting note turns to squee (I’m not proud to say that the word “WOW” in all-caps was prominently involved). But I was just blown away the balance and complexity, the mix of sour cherry fruit and insistent earthiness, the adult palate tinged with angostura bitters, the maturing mushroom notes. It’s a real marvel, and it certainly has enough intrigue to drink on its own, but where this wine will really shine (as is true of any honest Sangiovese) is with food. Drinking this made me want to run home and make one of my favorite go-to pasta dishes (note: unless you’re a serious hardcore, store-bought pasta and store-bought stock work just fine).

This is definitely in its peak drinking window, but it doesn’t drink tired at all. There’s so little track record with aging Washington Sangiovese that I’m reluctant to say much about drinking window, but I wouldn’t worry at all about holding this for another five years, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a decade from now, this will still be drinking nicely. What a treat. First come first served up to 24 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.

2012 Kiona Ice Wine Chenin Blanc (375ml)

And now from the department of dentist-(not)-recommended wines comes this lovely Chenin Ice Wine. I’ve had a few requests since the publication of PaulG’s recent review:

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($25); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

I got to taste this recently, and Mr. G is spot on in terms of quality. It’s a sensational, luscious mouthful, with a real Chenin malt-powder quality to the melon-pear-vanilla nose. Sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious, this has terrific balancing orange-peel acidity for all that caramel-drenched sweet fruit. Pair this with the most pungent cheese you can find, and keep the Lipitor handy.

2012 Baudry Chinon Les Granges

April 7, 2014

Hello friends. For today’s offer, I broke one of my regular rules, which is that our order of events at Full Pull should be 1) offer wine; 2) buy wine.

In this case, we bought the entire parcel that just arrived in Seattle on the day we tasted the wine. This is just such a reference-point producer for Chinon, and Louis/Dressner doesn’t allocate much to Seattle, and restaurants tend to snap it up for glass-pour, that I decided to pull the trigger and pre-purchase. This wine is in the warehouse and ready to go.

We offered the 2011 vintage about a year ago, and as I mentioned then, the Loire Valley is the value garden of France. While Bordeaux and Burgundy command ever escalating prices, the Loire keeps chugging along, sending us containers of transparent, delicious, well-priced wines. A rule of thumb I suggest to friends when perusing a long restaurant wine list: find the Loire. Muscadets, Vouvrays, Savennieres, Jasnieres, Chinons, Saumurs, Bourgeuils: they’re almost without fail the finest values on the menu, and the most complementary of food.

But the Loire is a big place, so let’s get oriented. Chinon is region #22 on this map, right there along the Vienne River, one of the tributaries of the greater Loire. In fact, Baudry’s vines for Les Granges are literally right next to the river, so much so that he is known to prune the outer plants via rowboat. That, my friends, is some bucolic winegrowing.

Bernard Baudry has been making wine since 1982, and his son Matthieu now joins him at the domaine. He is revered among lovers of Chinon for the purity and transparency of his Cabernet Francs, as well as the attention he pays to terroir. To wit, check out this display at the winery, showing each of his bottlings on top of their respective soil types. Les Granges (the leftmost) comes from a combination of sand and limestone (that limestone is famous in this region, and as you can see in these pictures – one, two – the Baudry caves are hewn right into the lime cliffs). It is the youngest vineyard that Baudry works with, but youth is relative here: these vines were planted in 1985, so they’ll celebrate their 30th birthday next year.

For more great pictures, check out this visit report from the Louis/Dressner team from winter 2013. And for a delicious Cabernet Franc, check out this Chinon, which starts with the classic mix of flowers, tea leaves, smoky peppers, and black fruit. So appetizing. In the mouth, this possesses an effortless palate-coating character, with leafy black fruit transitioning into a finish with loads of old-world minerality and earthiness. While the textural heft and toothsomeness evoke Cabernet Sauvignon, the flavor profile is uniquely Franc, that alluring mix of fruit and veg, earth and flower.

I think our list members will plow through all of this, but if not, I’ll happily stash a bunch away in my own cellar. 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.

Three 2012s from For A Song

April 6, 2014

Hello friends. This For A Song project just keeps getting more and more interesting. In addition to their well-loved Syrah (one of our most popular wines of the second half of 2013), which we’ll reoffer today, I was also able to recently taste new releases of two white wines, both single vineyard, both entirely from Caliche Lake Vineyard in the new Ancient Lakes appellation:

2012 For A Song Syrah

Since our original offer, Sean Sullivan has published a review of this wine: Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: **** (Excellent).”

And now, excerpts from that original offer, from November 20, 2013:

For A Song grew like a sapling out of the ashes of the dearly-departed Olsen Estates winery. The Olsen family had been growing grapes in the Yakima Valley for 40 years when, in 2006, they decided to launch a winery to feature their fruit and build the brand of the vineyard. That winery, which crushed grapes only through the 2009 harvest, was terrific, and the wines produced never lacked for positive reviews. The problem was never with grapegrowing or winemaking; it was always with selling. Entering a competitive market, in a recession, without a distributor, proved too great a challenge to overcome.

When Olsen Estates went out of business, all their juice, in bottle and barrel, was purchased by their distributor (Vinum), who created the For A Song label as a house brand to find happy homes for all that quality juice. Since then, the project has been such a runaway success that Vinum has kept the band together. They have Kyle Johnson, the former winemaker at Olsen Estates, making the wines. Because of that connection, they still source beautiful Olsen Vineyard fruit (while the winery went out of business, the vineyard operations have continued uninterrupted, and there’s no denying that the winery project did indeed raise the profile of the vineyard, which sells fruit to Gramercy, Betz, and Maison Bleue, just to name a few).

This is 100% Syrah, a blend of about a quarter from Olsen, the remainder from Weinbau Vineyard (a terrific Sagemoor site). It spent about a year in barrel, of which 20% were second-fill and 80% third-fill. So no new oak, but not exactly neutral oak either. Aromatically, this reminded me of the 09 vintage, and the sensory marker for me was the lovely white-flower topnotes above a core of good Yakima Valley blueberry and boysenberry fruit. In the mouth, this has a strong palate-staining character for the tariff, the intense fruit lifted by floral notes and complemented by lashings of espresso and insistent mineral streaks. Ripe, balanced, delicious, this is a juicy little baby now. It’s already quite nice, but I’d give it a few more months in bottle (or a couple hours in a decanter) to show its best right now.

2012 For A Song Chardonnay Caliche Lake Vineyard

Once growers and winemakers began to see the beautiful chalky minerality of the white wines coming out of Evergreen Vineyard, it wasn’t long before other sites in the Ancient Lakes were planted out. The “Caliche” in Caliche Lake refers to calcium carbonate deposits scattered in large rocky chunks throughout this area.

I believe most everyone else in town is still working with the 2011 vintage, but I preferred the 2012, and the folks at Vinum have been kind enough to let us jump the gun a little on offering it (which also means no reviews for this one). It begins with a nose of peach fruit, smoke, biscuit, and chalk. I like the interplay of the fleshy fruit from the warmer vintage (13.7% listed alc; this is still a cool area) – peach, plantain, lemon curd – with the insistent chalky mineral notes from this AVA. This has a plump, creamy mid-palate that proceeds into a long, leesy/bready finish. Wonderful quality and single-vineyard intrigue for the tariff.

2012 For A Song Riesling Caliche Lake Vineyard

Riesling from the Ancient Lakes is what put the area on the map, and with this bottle, we can see why. The nose is a piercing mix of citrus and rocks, all lime zest and tangerine and chalk. Stats are 11.6% alc and 1.6% residual sugar, so this drinks off-dry, with a spritzy mouthfeel, a lovely sense of extract, and a burly mineral-acid spine. With notes of grapefruit and quinine, this was somehow evocative of a delicious gin-and-tonic.

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

First come first served up to 72 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.


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