2007 McKinley Springs Chenin Blanc

Hello friends. Well, we survived the first week of our BETA phase without any major catastrophes or international incidents. Thanks to those of you who identified issues with our account creation and order management systems. Scroll to the end of this e-mail to see a list of identified issues that we’re currently working on.

Now, let’s kick off week two with a screaming value from McKinley Springs. The Andrews family has a long history in the Horse Heaven Hills region of south-central Washington. They planted their first grapes in 1980, but at that point they had already been farming their land for 30 years. You may be wondering, then, why you have never heard of this 30-year-old operation. The answer is that, until 2002, the Andrews were wine-growers, but not wine-makers, selling all their best fruit to top wineries like Andrew Rich, Northstar, and Syncline.  Now they’re keeping some of that fruit for their own label, including these Chenin Blanc grapes, which went into the ground in 1981.

Chenin Blanc is not the safest varietal to choose as our inaugural white wine offering, but one of the goals with Full Pull is for us to branch out beyond familiar wine. There is a wide world of white wine out there beyond Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and we intend to explore it. Fortunately, there is still an element of the wild west in Washington winemaking, and growers are experimenting with almost every imaginable varietal.

Chenin Blanc is the grape equivalent of a utility player. It can be vinified in styles from bone-dry to extremely sweet (the sweetness is more honeyed than sugared), and in cooler regions it is even used to make sparkling wines. The most famous versions of Chenin Blanc are made in the Loire Valley in northwest France. When you see wines from the Vouvray or Saumur appellations, those are likely Chenin Blanc.

In Washington, the grape is a relative rarity, but this bottle helps demonstrate its potential in the state. The acid is the star here, coming in rollicking waves of honey-dipped lime and orange. This wine will sing with a wide variety of foods. For me, pairing it recently with a box of takeout Panang curry and a TIVO’d episode of Top Chef added a hint of the sublime to an otherwise ordinary Tuesday night.

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