2012 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard

April 20, 2015

Hello friends. This is the third ever offer of what I like to call Sauron wines: wines requiring the full attention of Full Pull’s great lidless eye. Basically, these are wines with long delays between a strong review and the release date for the wine. The previous two Sauron wines, in case you’ve forgotten, were 2010 Maison Bleue Graviere in 2012 and 2008 Bunnell Horse Heaven Syrah in 2013.

Since then, the lidless eye has been taking it easy, keeping an eye on things via Palantir and just hanging out in Mordor with the Witch-King of Angmar. You know how it goes. But then earlier this year, the lidless eye stirred:

First, a word on logistics, because I know this is going to be a very popular wine. We’re going to place our order on Tuesday morning, so please submit requests by end of day Monday. You’ll see that we’re keeping the upper allocation limit relatively high (12 bottles). Apologies in advance if we have to under-allocate, but I suspect we’re going to snag a decent parcel of this wine, both because of our list’s long-term support for Evening Land, and because I’m not sure anyone else knows this wine is about to hit the market.

How do we know it’s about to hit the market?

The lidless eye of Full Pull, of course! It has been trained on the Willamette Valley for months now, awaiting word of this wine’s imminent transit. Our network of spies is vast and talented, and reliable sources tell me that this wine is about to land in the Emerald City. We might be jumping the gun a little, but I’d rather be too early than too late.

The great eye first turned towards this wine on January 22, when Wine Spectator Insider hit my inbox with the following review: Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”

Given the combination of price, rating, and production (3000+ cases), I’d say this has a strong shot to land on Spectator’s year end Top 100 list. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in the next week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2012 Result of a Crush

April 19, 2015

Hello friends. Reynvaan continues to be about as buzzy as a winery gets in Washington. Allocations for the main label have become more and more competitive over the years, especially after Harvey Steiman’s series of glowing reviews two years ago that included a 98pt review for Stonessence, the highest score Spectator has bestowed on any Washington wine. Ever. (Note: a 2009 No Girls Syrah and a pair of Eroica Single Berry Selects have also earned 98pt reviews).

All that to say: sourcing main-label Reynvaan wine is as difficult as ever these days. Which only makes the Result of a Crush label that much more appealing. Today we have the new release, a wine many of us have been anticipating given the lovely vintage involved:

This is the gateway drug into the gloriously funky world of Reynvaan, and I apologize in advance if tasting this leads you to spend way too much money on auction sites trying to track down the main label. It’s a family project for the Reynvaans: Since 2011, sisters Amanda Reynvaan and Angela Reynvaan Garratt have been producing approachable red blends and Rosés from elite vineyards throughout the Walla Walla Valley and Columbia Valley in conjunction with their brother and consulting winemaker, Matt Reynvaan. The family started out in the wine business in 2004, launching Reynvaan Family Vineyards in Walla Walla, which quickly developed into a Washington State cult winery. With the Result of a Crush project the family aims to produce wines that are distinctive, affordable, consistent in quality and showcase the owners’ sometimes whimsical attitude toward wine.Here is what we know about the 2012:

1. Unlike three of the previous bottlings we’ve offered (two NVs and the Christmas Cuvee), this is single vintage, coming from 2012.

2. It still has the smooching lips label that belies the seriousness of the juice inside.

3. It is mostly Syrah and Viognier, with some Cabernet Sauvignon.

I’ll begin my note with the last sentence written in my notebook: “spectacular vintage for this wine.” And indeed it is, beginning with a funky, no-doubt-about-it rocks Syrah nose: smoked ham, green olive, flowers, boysenberry fruit. The umami/savory character is just outrageous on the nose. It’s so appetizing, and the palate delivers, with a mouthful of plush red and purple fruit paired to loads of bacon-fat. The swirling stew of meats and olives and fruits is just glorious, and the texture has a level of richness and polish that was just not possible in the cooler/leaner vintages. As far as I know, this remains the most accessibly priced entry point to Syrah fruit from the rocks of the Walla Walla Valley, and it continues to punch well above its price class.

First come first served up to 36 bottles, and the wine should arrive in the next week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

NV Full Pull & Friends Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature (FPF-11)

April 17, 2015

Hello friends. Today we have the latest in our burgeoning negociant portfolio, and those of you who know me probably won’t be surprised to see what kind of wine it is:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sparkling wine is emotional currency in my house. When Full Pull started back in 2009, my wife and I developed a simple agreement. Her responsibility: supply several years of steady income and health insurance. My responsibility: keep at least one case of sparkling wine on hand at all times. It seemed like a reasonable bargain at the time, and it has served us well since. As many of you know, even our cat likes the bubbly.

I first got the bug in my brain about a Full Pull & Friends sparkling wine when I visited Treveri Cellars last May on a research trip for this eventual Seattle Magazine article. That was my first chance to see Treveri’s production facility and to meet Christian Grieb. The facility seemed plenty big enough to support custom bottling, and Christian and I hit it off right away, in no small part due to our shared obsession with one Seattle Sounders Football Club.

Later that year, Chip McLaughlin (long time list members will remember his well-loved Vinyl Wines project) was pouring at an event for Treveri, and he and I discussed the concept further. From that point on, things only picked up momentum quickly. If there’s one category of wine that unites the entire FP team, it’s sparkling wine. So this project had to happen.

Christian and his team at Treveri have been terrific to work with. We knew we wanted a 100% Chardonnay blanc de blancs project, and they let us work with specific lots of juice. A large majority of our wine comes from a single vineyard: Harold Pleasant’s Pleasant Vineyard in a cool pocket of the Yakima Valley that, according to Christian, “grows absolutely brilliant sparkling cuvee fruit.” But perhaps the most fun part of the project was when our team sat down with Christian to do dosage trials, tasting a series of different versions of the wine with different levels of added sugar. We settled on three grams per liter, right at the upper end of the Brut Nature category, and drier, I believe, than anything Treveri has released previously. I think we all loved the alpine fruit and mineral characters that were most prominent at the lowest sugar levels.

Our bubbly also saw extended time on the lees, a full 24 months before disgorgement and bottling a few weeks ago. This wine shipped over to Seattle soon thereafter, and we’ve since given it time to get over any disgorgement shock. I’m thrilled that it is ready just in time for spring and summer. It clocks in at 12% alc and has a wonderful nose combining Chardonnay fruit (lemon curd, honeycrisp apple) with complexities leesy (smoke, baked bread) and mineral in turn. The palate is noticeably dry and brisk, perfect for the warm weather ahead, and it simultaneously conveys intensity and energy. The finish is all meyer lemons and minerals: long, mouthwatering, and inviting of the next sip. For what it’s worth, I’ve never seen one of our private label wines so heavily depleted by requests from Team Full Pull. I guess we’re all suckers for bubbly.

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.

[Note: I’m going to stop republishing the full history/availability/explanation of Full Pull & Friends with each of these offers, but we now have a page on our website displaying all that info. If you see any other wines on the still-available list that pique your interest, again please just respond to this with the wine and the number of bottles you’re looking for, and we’ll enter those manually in the order in which they’re received.]

3 from Bookwalter

April 15, 2015

Hello friends. The Bookwalter family has some of the deepest roots in Washington winemaking. Today we’re going to offer a trio of their wines from the superb 2012 vintage, showing the breadth of their success at a wide range of different price points.

John Bookwalter is the tenth generation of Bookwalters to be involved in American agriculture. That’s a pretty long legacy even by European standards. John’s father Jerry (generation nine) was the first to specifically work in viticulture. After graduating from UC-Davis in 1963, Jerry spent thirteen years farming the San Joaquin Valley in California before moving his fledgling family to Washington in 1976.

There, he helped manage the planting of several Mt. Rushmore level Washington vineyards – Sagemoor, Bacchus, Dionysus – between 1976 and 1982 (that is seriously early days by Washington standards). John recalled living onsite at Bacchus and Dionysus as a kid, and as someone who has visited those spots, I feel comfortable saying: they’re out there. Like way out there. Like sagebrush and nuclear reactors and UFO sightings out there.

Remarkably, John survived the childhood of the endless harvest (Sagemoor grows cherries and apples and peaches in addition to vinifera), forged his own path in the wine world for awhile, and then in 1997 returned to the family winery, where he has been ever since. During John’s tenure, the focus has shifted squarely away from whites (which were 90% of production in the late ‘90s) and onto rich, smoky, supple reds from some of the finest vineyards in the state. As you’d expect, a portion of the fruit is still sourced from Sagemoor properties. Another solid chunk comes from the inimitable Conner Lee Vineyard outside of Othello, which is co-managed by Jerry Bookwalter.

One of the more exciting stories in Washington wine right now is the passing of the generational baton. It’s happening at a number of pioneering wineries, and each time a great Washington winery successfully executes a succession plan, it feels like a small miracle. After all, there’s nothing written in stone that says that, just because the parents loved winemaking, the children will too. There’s nothing guaranteed about the continuation of these ventures. And that only makes winery stories like that of the Bookwalter family that much sweeter.

2012 J. Bookwalter Subplot No. 28

This reminded me an awful lot of the old Bookwalter Bookmark that we offered way back in 2011. That one was seriously well-loved among our list members. But unlike Bookmark, which was non-vintage (which really of course means multi-vintage), this Subplot comes entirely from the wonderful 2012 vintage. I’ll let John introduce the Subplot label: “The number on the bottle represents how many non-vintage and vintage table wines we have produced since 1983. Each lot of wine that we select for Subplot is carefully chosen each year after we have made our final blends for our top tier wines. We attempt to create a flavorful, full bodied yet approachable wine by layering multiple vineyards and varietals in these unique blends. The combination of press wine from our oldest vineyards and free run wine from our young vines results in a wine that offers fruit, structure, approachability and exceptional value.”

The blend in 2012 is nearly half (48%) Cabernet Sauvignon, rounded out with 32% Merlot, 11% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Malbec. The winery doesn’t reveal the vineyard sources, but the fruit quality seems outstanding here. Listed alc is 14.8%, and it begins with a nose of black cherry fruit married to barrel notes of smoke, toast, and coffee bean. The palate is plush, rich, a mouthful of dark fruit swaddled in barrel tones. The 2012 vintage is so successful across so many price points, and this is a prime example, offering terrific stuffing and charm. Supple and delicious, creamy in texture, it offers a remarkable lack of rough edges for the tag and would make a fine weeknight house wine for those so inclined.

2012 J. Bookwalter Cabernet Sauvignon Foreshadow

Conner Lee Vineyard forms the backbone of Bookwalter’s Foreshadow Cabernet, making up about half of the vineyard mix, the remainder from five vineyards scattered across the greater Columbia (Dionysus, Rosebud) and Yakima (Elephant Mtn) Valleys, Red Mountain (Red Mtn Vineyard), and the Horse Heaven Hills (Destiny Ridge). It was aged for just shy of two years in a combination of new, once-used, and twice-used French oak barrels.

Clocking in at 14.8% listed alc, it jumps out of the glass with an honest oak-raised Cabernet nose: blackcurrant, mint, and then the barrel threads of espresso and smoke that seem to characterize much of the Bookwalter lineup. Beautifully balanced, this pairs supple fruit to mouthwatering acid and  polished tannins. Rich and drinkable, it has depth and personality to spare. No reviews yet for the 2012, but previous vintages have topped out at 93pts Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman) and 94pts Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt).

2012 J. Bookwalter Chapter 5

This is a label only produced in the very best vintages at Bookwalter, and it is frequently only sold through the winery. The previous four “chapters” were produced in 2002, 2006, 2007, and 2009, so this book is proceeding at a George RR Martin-like pace (as I write that sentence, I can practically feel someone flicking my glasses and yelling NERD!).

The most recent chapter, Chapter 4, received an outstanding (95pt) review from Wine Spectator, and disappeared soon thereafter. The 2012 has fortunately not yet been rated. It is a Cabernet-dominant blend (81%) that comes from a 70/30 split of the older blocks at Conner Lee and Dionysus Vineyards. Like Foreshadow, it was aged in a combo of new and lightly used French oak. Only 313 cases were produced, and it clocks in at 14.9% listed alc.

It displayed the most depth and greatest mineral character of the Bookwalter lineup, with a wonderful graphite core shaded by black fruit (blackcurrant, blackberry), tarry streaks, smoke, and roasted herbs. A topnote thread of eucalyptus keeps things fresh. But this is as much about texture as it is about flavor. Silky, suave, and supple, it glides easily across the palate and then lingers well after the finish. This is a fine flagship wine for the winery, offering tremendous depth and density with no excess weight. Old vines, old farming family; what could be better?

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

2010 San Felice Brunello di Montalcino Campogiovanni

April 12, 2015

Hello friends. Since most Brunellos di Montalcino are not released until more than four years after harvest, we’re just now beginning to see the arrival of the heralded 2010 vintage. How heralded, you ask? Pretty damned heralded:

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

Wine Enthusiast (Monica Larner): “[TEXT WITHHELD].”

Cue feeding frenzy. As you’d expect, with this level of critical buzz, the 2010 Brunellos are not going to be the easiest wines in the world to source. We’re going to be looking at a lot of pre-sells, especially for wines that have already been reviewed positively, and we’re going to be looking at a lot of tight allocations.

Fortunately, one of the best received Brunellos of the vintage comes from a familiar producer to Full Pull list members, and because of our list’s long support of the winery across the breadth of its portfolio, we’re being offered a sizeable chunk of this crown jewel, despite the fact that it already has a screaming review from Spectator:

Wine Spectator (Bruce Sanderson): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

I’d say this one has a puncher’s chance at winding up on Spectator’s year-end Top 100 list. They’ll likely want to include a 2010 Brunello due to the acclaim of the vintage, and right now, the seven wines with stronger reviews (six 96pt reviews and one 98pt review) range in price from $60 to $190, and all are smaller production than San Felice’s. Since Spectator factors in score, price, and availability (production), San Felice seems like a strong candidate.

Now to date, we’ve focused almost exclusively on San Felice’s glorious Chianti portfolio, but they also quietly own a 65-hectare estate called Campogiovanni, on the southwestern side of Montalcino, deep in the heart of Brunello country. They purchased the estate in the early ‘80s, when Brunello was still a sleepy category, and have carefully tended it since. Twenty of the hectares are planted to vines (and fourteen of those twenty are used for Brunello production), and the remainder in olives and forest. It looks like this. [Sigh. Must visit.]

This is a traditional Brunello, aged for about three years mostly in large, neutral Slavonian botti before spending another year in bottle. The parcel destined for Seattle is still on the water, scheduled to land at the port on April 15. Because of the feeding frenzy effect, waiting and trying to score a sample bottle is not going to be possible. Given the quality of the producer and the consistency of previous vintages, I’m confident this will deliver the goods as expected.

We have to submit our own request on Tuesday morning. Please try to get all order requests in by Monday night, so that we can advocate for a parcel that accurately reflects our members’ wishes. And note: this one is unlikely to be available for reorder. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in the next week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2 from Maison Bleue

April 10, 2015

Hello friends. I received a welcome phone call from Jon Meuret of Maison Bleue last week. He had discovered an unexpected stash of his otherwise sold-out 2011 Grenaches kicking around a western Washington warehouse, and he offered the remainder to our list, a last call before these beauties are completely gone.

When we originally offered this pair of wines back in June 2014, I had said we would only get one shot at them. At the time, that was what I believed to be true. Now? I’m happy to be wrong. I’m sure many of you who have sampled these will also be pleased with my misstatement, thrilled to have one more chance to access them. So, without further adieu:

2011 Maison Bleue Grenache “La Montagnette” Upland Vineyard

Like the previous two vintages, this comes entirely from Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain. Alfred Newhouse bought the vineyard in 1972 (there were vinifera vineyards on Snipes Mountain as early as 1917), and now his grandson, Todd Newhouse, farms the site. It is planted to numerous varietals, but perhaps none has garnered more acclaim than the Grenache.

Jon makes one of the classiest versions from this site, and in 2011, it was raised entirely in five-year-old French oak for just shy of a year. It clocks in at 14.3% listed alc, and total production was a mere 265 cases. It’s such an honest Grenache, a ringing bell of purity. The trinity of brambly berry fruit and brushy garrigue and rocky minerality are all here and are well-balanced. This is very pretty and lifted in the mouth, offering silky texture and plenty of power with no excess weight. The plushness of the fruit pairs beautifully with the brightness of the cool-vintage 2011 acidity.

Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

[Note: if you’re comparing Enthusiast reviews, please note that the reviewers are different: Sean Sullivan for Montagnette and Paul Gregutt for Midi.]

2011 Maison Bleue Grenache “Le Midi” Boushey Vineyard

And Midi, of course, comes entirely from Boushey Vineyard. The combination of Dick Boushey’s growing prowess and Jon Meuret’s winemaking prowess is seductive indeed. This saw a little more than a year in barrel, this time a combo of four- and five-year-old French oak. Listed alc is 14.5%. 320 cases produced.

This has a completely different savory character than Montagnette. I daresay there’s some Boushey funk here (seen more commonly in Syrah from this site), in the form of truffle and ham hock aromatics to go with the red raspberry fruit and dustings of white pepper. In the mouth, the insistent savory earthiness continues. I like the wildness here, the suggestion of the sauvage (likely thanks to 50% whole cluster fermentation, with stems and all). It’s more high-strung, more nervy, less immediately-accessible than suppler La Montagnette. Both styles are successful, and there are plenty of occasions for both. It just depends on your mood that evening (or perhaps morning).

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

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 the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

3 Oregon 2012’s (+ Bonus Pinot)

April 8, 2015

Hello friends. What a beautiful vintage 2012 is turning out to be for Oregon Pinot Noir. They’re like 08s but more approachable, or like 09s but more serious. I guess they’re really their own beasts, and glorious beasts at that. Today we have a trio of 2012 Willamette Valley Pinots, one each from three different producers popular among our list members. Each of the three represents outstanding value for its price point.

[Note: because I can’t help myself, I’m also going to include a bonus 2012 Pinot from a completely different part of the world at the bottom of today’s offer. Geek alert!]

2012 Belle Pente Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

This is probably the strongest QPR Oregon Pinot I’ve tasted so far in 2015. Belle Pente, in my opinion, still does not receive a level of attention commensurate with the quality of wines Brian O’Donnell crafts. Perhaps it’s because he’s as nice and unassuming as a winemaker gets, and just quietly goes about his business, making vintage after vintage of haunting, ethereal Willamette Valley Pinot.

This Willamette Valley bottling is Brian’s entry-level cuvee. Tasted in a flight that included several considerably more expensive Oregon Pinots, it was a real standout. The somewhat reductive nose took a few minutes to come around, so a brief decant may be in order here, but my oh my, the nose that emerges: dark berry and black cherry fruit, streaks of tar and pine resin and mineral; it’s complex and inviting. The palate combines the deep fruit character of 2012 with the bright, energetic acidity that characterizes the house style at Belle Pente. The flavor profile hits the holy trinity of Oregon – cherry and mineral and forest floor – in perfect balance. In sum, this is a glorious vintage of an under-rated, underpriced wine.

2012 Owen Roe Pinot Noir The Kilmore

Our list members have been crazy for Owen Roe’s Pinots, most especially several vintages of the (now discontinued) Solomon Hills Vineyard bottlings from California. The Kilmore – based, as it is, entirely on Yahmill-Carlton fruit – drinks like an Oregon-Cali tweener, with the best of both worlds. It has the depth and richness (14.1% listed alc) of a good Cali Pinot, and the freshness and earthiness of Oregon. Aromatics combine black cherry fruit, clean soil, and nuances of dried herb and espresso. Soft and rich, dark and deep, this is true to both vintage and AVA.

It comes from two vineyards – Lennè and Merriman – in the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA. While YCD is just adjacent to the red jory soils of the Dundee Hills, the Yamhill soils are completely different: old marine sedimentary soils, at elevations between 200 and 1000 feet. They tend to produce deeply colored, powerful Pinots with wonderful herbal/tobacco/woodsmoke complexities.

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

As you’ll see, the winery has moved onto the 2013. We’re lucky there is still a parcel of the beautiful ’12 kicking around Seattle. It’s not a very big parcel, so this one will not be available for reorder.

2012 Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir Original Vines Reserve

This is a reoffer and last call, as there are only a handful of cases left in Seattle. We originally offered it on December 8, 2014, and here’s what we said:

This is one of the most sought-after wines in Oregon, and the pressure is even greater on the 2012, which is shaping up to be a gorgeous vintage after the two challenging cooler harvests of 2010 and 2011. It comes entirely from Eyrie’s 1965-planted estate vineyard, and it is a selection of the finest barrels from the old site. 18 months in neutral barrel, 13.3% alcohol, and total production of 497 cases.

Since that offer in December, Paul Gregutt released a scorching review in Wine Enthusiast, and that has caused what little wine remained to dwindle even further, down to last-call status: Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”

All of these are in various stages of end-of-vintage, so let’s please limit order requests to 12 bottles of Belle Pente, 6 bottles of Owen Roe, and 4 bottles of Eyrie, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. All the wines should arrive in the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Team Full Pull

2012 Weinhaus Heger Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) 1L

And now the bonus wine. Geek alert indeed!

Kevin Pike directed national sales for Michael Skurnik Wines for 13 years, and I was lucky enough to interact with him on a number of occasions. He has led some of the best, most educational wine seminars I’ve experienced and has always conveyed a visceral sense of passion for the wines he loves. So, when he branched out on his own in 2014 to found Schatzi Wines (an importer/distributor), you can bet I paid attention.

One of the most exciting producers he brings in is Dr. Heger, from Baden, the warm-and-sunny part of Germany. Here is Kevin’s writeup of the producer, and here is what he says about this particular wine: [TEXT WITHHELD].

This is indeed a real pleasure-bringer of a wine, seemingly born for summer parties. It’s a full liter bottle (1000ml as opposed a regular 750ml bottle), and it has a lovely nose of dried cherry, citrus peel, and shitake mushroom. “Vin de soif bistro chugger,” says my first note on the palate, and that gives a pretty good idea of how I feel about this one. Put a light chill on it, serve it outside in the sunshine: instant party. For those of you interested in the German Pinot scene, I can’t think of a more charming introduction.


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