Full Pull Anniversary Week #2: A Sad, Extraordinary Value

October 6, 2015

Hello friends. Today’s offer is not the happiest story we’ve ever told through Full Pull. The end result is that our list members will get access to a terrific value, but the way it happened: I wish it wasn’t so.

Today we have a Washington Cabernet Sauvignon from the wonderful 2007 vintage, originally intended to command a $40 price point, now offered for considerably less:

2007 Berg Family Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

On August 21, 2014, I received this initial e-mail, with the subject line “Inquiry”: Hello. I have been hired by a San Francisco family whose father planned to open a winery in Washington… and passed away before he founded a winery or sold any wine… We are actively looking for a buyer. This is the inventory: [REDACTED] cases of 07 Cabernet Sauvignon, [REDACTED] cases of 08 Cabernet Sauvignon, [REDACTED] cases of 08 Syrah, [REDACTED] cases of 09 Syrah. [The winemaker] suggests the pricing at retail be $40 for the Cab and $30 for the Syrah. If you have any interest please contact me… You were referred to me by [REDACTED], [REDACTED] Winery.   

The person sending the e-mail was legit, the reference was legit, the consulting winemaker was someone whose wine we had previously offered, and the vintage/varietal combinations were interesting. So I asked for samples. Logistical difficulties followed, such that I didn’t receive samples until March of this year. After trying all four wines, there was one clear winner, and it was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. The Berg family was interested in finding a buyer who would take all four wines, but that buyer was not going to be me.

I did place a bid for the entire lot of the 2007 Cab, at a price well below what I knew the family was hoping for. As I said in my cover letter attached to the bid, my intention was not to lowball or vulture a difficult situation. The juice inside the bottle was quite good, but alas, the packaging, in my opinion, as someone who sees *a lot* of wine bottles, placed a hard, low ceiling on the price. Not just the label design, but also the quality of the adhesive (you can see some label bubbling in our picture; that is fairly common among these bottles).

I then heard nothing for the next four months, and assumed that the family had found a higher bidder. Not so. In late July, they reached out to see if I was still interested. I was, and things went quickly after that, with the wine arriving in our warehouse on August 11. The listed alc is 13.9%, and that’s about all the detail I have about this particular wine. On first sniff, you know you have a wine moving along its ageing curve. Aromas mix primary fruit notes (dried cherry), secondary barrel notes (smoke and mocha), and plenty of tertiary maturing notes: damp earth and mushroom, roasted red pepper and soy. While the nose seems fairly advanced, the palate is surprisingly lively, with a lovely mix of fruits both fresh (currants, red plums) and dried (dried cherry, date). The acidity is still lovely and quite prominent; the tannins integrating and softening nicely; the overall package a rich, satisfying, maturing Washington Cabernet.

In the end, the story is indeed a sad one, about a venture left unfulfilled. I take comfort from two things: first, that Mr. Berg’s wine is going to end up in the hands of people who know the story and who will appreciate the value in what they’re drinking; and two, that this is a step towards the Berg Family’s goal of selling through their father’s wine, dissolving their Washington LLC, and moving on with their lives.

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.

Full Pull Anniversary Week #1: The Yellow Brick Road

October 6, 2015

Hello friends. Today is Full Pull’s sixth anniversary. Often when I stop to reflect on anniversaries, I think about the earth taking one big loop around the sun. All of us astride the globe, hurtling through the cold vastness of it all. It’s daunting. What are we to do, confronted with the big chill of the universe?

One man’s answer: Love each other well. Radiate what light and heat we can into the darkness.

That’s the theme of today’s offer, proceeds of which will be donated entirely to the winery involved. And the story of today’s offer is about two brothers who are most certainly not in Kansas anymore:

2012 Carter Lamour Chardonnay

On August 16, 2013, one literal misstep caused the fall that crushed Dain Dillngham’s C5 vertebrae. From the roof of an elevator shaft, Dain fell eight feet to the main roof below, landed squarely on his neck, and irrevocably altered his and his brother Dreux’s lives.

The unfairness: staggering. Why were the brothers Dillingham in Seattle? To celebrate Dain’s 28th birthday. Why had they climbed to a roof above a roof? To get a better view of the glimmering Emerald City. For brothers who grew up in Lawrence Kansas, this really did seem like the end of the yellow brick road.

They both had much to celebrate. Dreux had first landed in Walla Walla in 2005 and spent the better part of the next decade in various winemaking gigs around the state (our list members interacted with him during his stint at Waters; he came to our old warehouse and helped Jamie Brown pour wines back in March 2011). He had just landed a plum gig in the Okanogan and was getting ready to move to Canada.

Dain arrived in Walla Walla in 2008. As this StoryCorps recording recounts (note: the whole forty minutes is worth a listen, if you want to get a sense of both brothers and the way they interact), Dain began his glamorous winemaking career as an apple picker. Soon thereafter, he landed a gig at the outstanding Walla Walla custom crush facility Artifex, under the direction of Jean-Francois Pellet, and his career blossomed from there. Over the next five years, he went from part-timer to full-timer to cellar-master to production manager. Five months before his accident, he was plucked by Aryn Morell to serve as his assistant winemaker on a number of Aryn’s projects.

That was before the fall. After the fall, Dreux eschewed the Okanagan job in favor of becoming a licensed caregiver. After the fall, Dain spent seven weeks in the hospital and the better part of the next year adjusting to the new normal. He began a blog called How I Survived Love, Paralysis, And The Crushing Weight of Popular Culture. His introduction gives a sense of the martini-dry sense of humor that seems to have survived the fall intact: [TEXT WITHHELD]

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the tight-knit winemaking community in Washington was mobilizing. Fundraisers. Internet campaigns. And, natch: wine. Two of the winemakers closest to Dain are Aryn Morell and Andrew Latta. Half of the barrels for this 2012 Chardonnay come from La Reyna Blanca Vineyard fruit originally intended for Aryn’s Alleromb project. The other half from Roza Hills Vineyard, part of the Sixto Chardonnay project Andrew was involved in at the time. The whole package clocks in at 14.5% listed alc, and it begins with an expressive nose: layered fruit (peach, pineapple, plantain), crème fraiche, and nutty notes of roasted pecan and marzipan. In short, this smells luscious. And then the palate delivers, with a rich, ripe winter white, full of lush fruits mixed with nutty barrel notes and leesy complexities. The texture is so supple you’d swear you had a red wine in your mouth if you were blindfolded. This is long, dense, satisfying Washington Chardonnay.

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

The eventual goal of Carter Lamour (a mashup of the brothers’ middle names) is to become a fully functioning winery whose profits can help offset the large ongoing costs associated with Dain’s care. This is the beginning of that venture, and I hope you’ll join me in helping the brothers Dillingham in their efforts. Another thing about anniversaries: a year goes by, we go all the way around the sun, and we find ourselves back where we started. For the Dillinghams, that’s trying to make a go of it in our burgeoning, sometimes maddening, often loving Washington wine scene.

First come first served up to 48 bottles, and the wine should arrive in the warehouse in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull Long Lost Horse

October 6, 2015

Hello friends. Today we have a trio of autumn releases from Mark Ryan – new vintages of their muscular Bordeaux blends, Long Haul and Dead Horse, along with Lost Soul, their glorious Red Willow Syrah – and a bonus white at the bottom. All three reds come from the charming 2013 vintage. There are no reviews yet of the finished wines (typically by the time reviews are released for these wines, they’re long gone), but Jeb Dunnuck of Wine Advocate did review barrel samples, and we’ll include those.

He also had this to say in his introduction to the winery: [TEXT WITHHELD]

High praise indeed! Now, onto the wines:

2013 Mark Ryan Long Haul

For the second year in a row, Long Haul gets the Red Mountain designation, with the fruit including Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Force Majeure Estate Vineyards. It’s a right-bank blend, dominated by Merlot and Cabernet Franc (51%, 40%) and rounded out with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. It was aged in 62% new French oak for just shy of two years and clocks in at 14.8% listed alc. Rich, dense black plum and blackberry fruit is swaddled gently by barrel tones of smoke and mocha and roasted hazelnut. The heavy dose of Cab Franc here adds earthy subtleties, floral topnotes, and a structured, lengthy finish. Power and grace rolled into a singular package: that’s the promise of Long Haul, year in and year out. This also received the strongest of Jeb’s barrel reviews, ranging out at 93-95pts.

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

2013 Mark Ryan Dead Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

For the third year in a row, Dead Horse gets Cabernet Sauvignon on the label, as its proportion exceeds the 75% threshold. In 2013 it’s a full 87% Cab (as high as it’s ever been, I believe), the remainder Merlot, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot. It includes fruit from stellar Red Mountain sites: Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, Obelisco, Quintessence, Force Majeure. It saw 21 months in French oak (about two-thirds new), and it clocks in at 14.6% listed alc. My oh my, was this a beautiful brooder on the day I tasted it. Brooding black fruits, deep dark mineral tones, asphalt. The Horse is a tightly wound powerhouse, the layers of black fruit currently hiding behind walls of minerality and tea-leafy tannin. Don’t let the supple attack and mid-palate fool you. This is all tannic power, all toothsome chew on the finish. Give this several years before opening, or a lengthy decant. Or both.

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

2013 Mark Ryan Lost Soul Syrah Red Willow Vineyard

We don’t offer every vintage of this one, because it’s small production (325 cases, compared to multiple thousands of cases for Long Haul and Dead Horse), and the timing has to be just right. Well, this year we threaded the needle perfectly (Mark Ryan’s own release party was just yesterday). Raised entirely in large 500L French puncheons (about half new) for 18 months, it clocks in at 14.5% listed alc and comes roaring out of the glass with a fecund sense of earthiness unique to Red Willow that I find utterly irresistible. Those earthy soil tones are paired to dark floral notes (violet) and smoke and huckleberry fruit. The fruit is dense and delicious, with a wonderful sense of weight and heft in the mouth. What a terrific expression this is of such an important vineyard. This is funky Syrah, in its own unique western Yakima Valley kind of way.

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

2014 Mark Ryan Viognier

This Viognier has developed into something of a list favorite, and this is now the fourth vintage in a row that we’ve offered. It comes from Ciel du Cheval, Red Willow, and Olsen fruit. For a winery that produces such bold, muscular reds, you always expect this to be a fat, oily version of Washington Viognier. Instead it never seems to be anything of the kind. There is plenty of fleshy fruit (14.1% listed alc), but it is brightly balanced by plenty of citrusy acidity. Aromas and flavors include peach and fig fruit, crème fraiche and ginger, and plenty of floral notes (jasmine, honeysuckle). I like how this fans out and seems to pick up weight across the palate, and I also like the continuing sense of verve, rare for new-world Viognier.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

First come first served up to 48 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull Eliminator IX

October 2, 2015

Hello friends. The Eliminator is back!

Based on the name of the final American Gladiators challenge (see link for an excellent example of the original Eliminator, and also for an epic blond ‘80s mullet), this is where we eliminate extra bottles that have accumulated for one reason or another (some reasons purposeful; others accidental/stupid/I-don’t-wanna-talk-about-it).

A reminder: we handle this offer a little differently than most. These will be first-come first-served, and the upper order limits will be the number of extra bottles in the warehouse (with one exception). So, if we have 15 bottles left, and you want all 15, and you’re the first to jump in, they’re yours.

This gives slight advantage to longer-term list members. Our offers are throttled, and it takes about two hours to send offers to the entire list. So the old-heads will get a bit of a head-start (much like the Gladiators Eliminator, but with fewer tassels), but list newbies will be nipping at their heels!

All of these bottles are in the warehouse and available for immediate pickup.

2011 Montepeloso A Quo Toscana IGT

From the Tuscan coast comes this hearty, seductive Sangiovese-driven beauty. Originally a $25 wine, we secured a sweet price drop if we took the entire parcel; hence some extra bottles. It’s earthy and savory, full of spicy tomato paste and raspberry, angostura bitters and brewed coffee. In a 90pt review, Antonio Galloni put the drinking window at 2013-2019 (so we’re entering the peak of the peak), saying “A Quo is fabulous. I expected to find a rich, powerful wine given the year, instead the 2011 A Quo is fresh, vibrant and beautifully delineated.” 55 bottles available.

2014 Southard Rose Le Paon

I blame fatherhood’s atrophying effects on the cerebral cortex for my inability to recall how we ended up long on this wine. I literally have no idea how we wound up with 25 extra bottles. With so few extras, I needn’t say much. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and this would be a glorious pink for the turkey table. It’s a concrete-raised Grenache-dominant delight, all minerally goodness to match the strawberry-cucumber fruit.

2011 Tintero Barbaresco

This one I remember perfectly. It took a sturdy volume commitment to secure our best pricing since the 2008 vintage (twenty bucks for Barbaresco is just unfair), and we wound up with 77 extra bottles. This was originally offered at an awkward time for Nebbiolo (July). October? Perfect Nebbiolo season. Fire up the polenta and mushrooms, crack a bottle of Tintero, and call it a day. The 2011 vintage is known for accessibility, so this is an immediate gratification play.

2010 Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas

We went long on this lovely Gigondas back in March, taking the entire remaining parcel of 2010 in Seattle. At this point, we may well be the only folks in the country with the lovely 2010 in stock (69 bottles remaining). MdlG is a traditional, old-school producer, with all fermentation in concrete, and maturation done in a combo of concrete and old foudres. The blend is very true to this part of the world: dominated by Grenache (80%), with equal tenths of Mourvedre and Cinsault. The nose presents a wonderful combination of fruit (brambly raspberry, dried cherry) and flower, hot-rock minerality and spice. It’s a hearty, red-blooded, honest Gigondas, coming into prime drinking window and prime drinking season. This will be a killer autumn-into-winter red.

2012 Full Pull & Friends Merlot Klipsun Vineyard (FPF-7)

From the oldest Merlot blocks at Klipsun (1990-planted), this is structured, burly, adult Merlot. For what it’s worth, I’ve put away more bottles of this in my cellar than any other FP&F wine to date. I think its ageing curve will be absolutely fascinating to watch. After raiding our stash for my personal needs, we have 37 bottles remaining. Oh, and I love the 19/20 review from Rand Sealey, who noted “if you like a brawny Merlot rather than an effete, silky one, this is for you.”

2007 Scarborough Cabernet Sauvignon “Stand Alone”

Glorious Cab from Travis Scarborough, this comes entirely from Wallula Vineyard. If you’re racking your brain about where you’ve seen Wallula Vineyard Cab, that would be Den Hoed’s Andreas bottling, which we’ve offered many times over, at price points that have reached as high as $85. It’s also from arguably the finest vintage of the past fifteen in Washington. Look for a compelling, maturing nose: dried cherry, cherry blossom, bay leaf, cocoa powder, and smoked paprika. It’s in a beautiful drinking window, offering a mix of fresh and dried fruits, integrating/softening tannins, and a long, rich, luscious finish. 23 bottles available.

2013 Betz Family Winery Syrah La Serenne Boushey Vineyard

We received such a piddling allocation this year that it didn’t make sense to include this with our main Betz autumn release offer. This wine has huge fans on the list, so I’ll say no more, except that we have 24 bottles available, and that we’re going to limit to 1 bottle per list member.

All these wines are in the warehouse and available for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull The Beautiful (+Bonus Sixto)

September 30, 2015

Hello friends. For the third year running, we’re fortunate to have dibs on a rarity from the higher end of the K Vintners lineup that is about to hit Seattle. That Syrah will form the main thrust of today’s offer, but we also have access to small parcels of three of the four wines from Charles Smith’s new Sixto Chardonnay project. See below for those wines. And now, a few items of note on the Syrah:

1. Our list has first right of refusal on the tiny parcel coming into Seattle. If we want it all, we get it all. We need to place our order on Tuesday morning, so please try to get order requests in by Monday night. Given the quick turnaround, I had to made a go/no-go decision without sampling. Given the love for K Syrahs among our list members and the consistency of my experience with previous vintages, I’m confident that these wines will deliver the goods.

2. As usual with the K lineup, this wine has not yet been professionally reviewed. Unfortunately, the turnaround time for most publications just does not mesh with the speed of sales here. The most recent vintages of K wines to be reviewed are typically one or two vintages prior to the current release.

3. I suspect we’ll have to under-allocate here, given the parcel size, so a quick reminder of our allocation technique: Our allocations favor breadth over depth, so that everyone gets one bottle before anyone gets two. And our formula for prioritizing allocations includes overall orders, frequency of orders, recency of orders, and list tenure, among other factors.

Now, onto the wine:

2013 K Vintners Syrah The Beautiful

K only releases The Beautiful in years where they can harvest Viognier with their Syrah and co-ferment the two. This is the eighth vintage of the wine (following versions in 2002, 03, 05, 09, 10, 11, and 12).

In 2013, they wound up with 4% Viognier in the mix, and all the fruit comes from River Rock Vineyard, a site in the rocks of the Walla Walla Valley planted in 2001. This gets ambient-yeast fermented with 100% whole clusters and is then aged for a little over a year in French oak (30% new). Listed alcohol is 13.5%, and production is in the 200-300 case range, so there’s very little of this to go around. Expect soaring floral aromatics from the Viognier, and a palate that mixes silky texture with the verve and power of funky, mineral-inflected fruit from the rocks.

Jeb Dunnuck has given 95pt reviews to each of the past four vintages: the 2009 when he was still writing for The Rhone Report, and then the 2010 and 2011 and 2012 in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. It won’t be until sometime in 2016 that we’re likely to see the 2013 reviewed, and by then, hopefully our bottles are safely tucked away in our cellars or our bellies.

Now some quick-hitter offers on three of the four Sixto Chardonnays from this project’s inaugural 2012 vintage. These have been difficult wines to source, and I’m pleased that we have access today. I tasted each of the single-vineyard wines out of barrel, and they were total thrillers, expressive and delicious. This is a label intended to explore old-vine Washington Chardonnay, especially sites released from contract by Ste Michelle after natural yields fall too low with vine age. It’s named after the musician Sixto Rodriguez, subject of the outstanding Oscar-winning documentary Searching For Sugar Man.

2012 Sixto Chardonnay Uncovered

This is Sixto’s gateway drug, a blend of each of the three single vineyards involved in the project.Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92pts.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92pts.”

2012 Sixto Chardonnay Moxee Vineyard

Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 93pts.” [Sullivan context note: of the 160 Washington Chardonnays Sean has reviewed for Wine Enthusiast, none have received higher scores than the 93pt reviews for Sixto’s Moxee and Roza Hills wines.]

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

2012 Sixto Chardonnay Roza Hills Vineyard

Roza Hills Vineyard (planted in 1977) forms a south-facing bowl at about 1400’ in the Rattlesnake Hills of the Yakima Valley. It is the warmest site of the three by some measure, and the wine is the most obviously new-world in style.

Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 93pts.”

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

For The Beautiful, please limit order requests to 6 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The Sixto parcel sizes are a little hazier, so I won’t put limits on those; ask for what you like, and we’ll do our best there too. All the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull The Noisy Neighbors

September 28, 2015

Hello friends. I recently had a chance to taste through new releases from the Olé Wines import portfolio, and several of the wines are fantastic. It was a tasting that really displayed the brilliant ability this particular importer has to eschew better-known regions in Spain for neighboring, up-and-coming regions. Often with the same varieties. Invariably with more accessible pricing.

So that’s what we’re building today’s offering around: the up-and-comers. The noisy neighbors.

As a reminder, our ability to access Olé wines (and especially at solid pricing) comes largely from our relationship with John House. In addition to his work making beautiful wines for Ovum (expect to see new releases from that project soon), John is also part of the Olé team, and that relationship has allowed us to pluck some of the best cherries from a book that Robert Parker himself has been known to praise thusly: [TEXT WITHHELD]

2014 Nortico Alvarinho

Instead of chasing Albarino from Rias Baixas, let’s cross the border into Portugal and instead pursue Alvarinho (same grape, different spelling) from Minho. This comes from vines planted between 1910 and 2005 in the granite and schist soils of the Minho River’s south bank. It sees four months in stainless steel and then goes into bottle young and fresh. This drank a little like a delicious gin-and-tonic to me, with citrus (lemon-lime) and quinine, but maybe a G&T that you poured over a base of crushed rock and salty mineral. As you’d expect, the acidity is bright and lively (and not, in this case, gussied up with any CO2), but what surprises (on the 12% alc frame) is the sense of palate-weight. This has enough heft to easily serve as an autumn white, and it’s a fine early candidate for the Thanksgiving table.

2013 Ludovicus Garnacha

From the team at Olé: [TEXT WITHHELD]

A few miles away in Priorat, the Garnacha commands double or triple or quadruple what we see in Terra Alta. This region tends to be a real bridge between old world and new, and that’s definitely the case here. The nose combines blackberry fruit, star anise, dusty earth, and umami soy notes. In the mouth, my word is this unapologetically delicious Grenache. It offers a dark-berried, very ripe (still, just 14% listed alc) version of the grape, with nice cooling slate mineral tones to keep things from getting too over-the-top. This compares very favorably with all sorts of Grenache-based Cotes du Rhones I’ve tasted this year. What a charmer!

2011 Cal Blanca Toro (Tempranillo)

From the team at Olé: [TEXT WITHHELD]

Instead of overpaying for Ribera, here we’re after Toro Tempranillo, a wonderful alternative. When you think about some of the characteristics of this wine (high elevation 30-year-old vines entirely on limestone, estate bottling), the price point starts to seem ludicrous. But that’s Spain. This offers a wonderful nose of black cherry fruit and cherry blossom florals, paired to earthy notes of graphite and leaf and mushroom. It’s an evocative, appetizing nose to be sure. And then the palate delivers a rich (14.5% listed alc) swirling stew of ripe fruit and savory beef broth. That brothy character, along with the substantial and delicious tannins, made me want to find a tough cut of meat (a shank of some kind would do) and braise it in this wine for hours (reserving a few glasses for drinking of course). A deeply satisfying cold-weather Tempranillo, with tremendous stuffing and personality for the tag.

Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 90pts.”

2012 Barahonda Barrica

Okay, this one is a little bit of a stretch, because even Jumilla, generally regarded as the capital of Monastrell (Mourvedre) in Spain, is under-known. And this is from Yecla, an even lesser-known neighbor to Jumilla. Yecla forms a transition zone between coastal Mediterranean climate and an inland continental climate. Monastrell thrives in Barahonda’s high-altitude (2300 ft) estate vineyards, which are substantially cooler than neighboring areas. The soils here are limestone and chalk with clay and gravel subsoils. I can tell you that these are non-nutritive soils, low in organic materials, but this photo offers a clearer picture. It’s quite something to see those gnarly old head-trained vines growing straight out of that moonscape, and as you can imagine, this soil keeps the natural yields quite low and therefore the concentration quite high.

Barahonda is among the oldest producers in Yecla, operating since 1925, and they have helped fuel the resurgent interest in Mourvedre from this ancient winegrowing region. Barrica is a blend of 75% Monastrell and 25% Syrah, and it comes entirely from the oldest vines on the estate, all 60 years or older (amazing given the price point). Those old vines contribute wonderful depth and intensity to the aromas and flavors of blackberry fruit, white flower, orange peel, and leathery spice. There is a spicy gaminess on the palate that is very true to Mourvedre from this part of Spain, and despite plenty of rich fleshiness (14.5% listed alc), this conveys plenty of vibrancy as well.

Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 91pts.”

First come first served up to 48 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull Cadence

September 28, 2015

Hello friends. Back in March, we offered the first two of Ben Smith’s four single-vineyard Red Mountain wines from the 2011 vintage. Today we’re back with the final two, along with a reorder opportunity on the 2013 Coda, which just received a lovely review that is accelerating sales pressure.

As I mentioned earlier this year, Cadence really seems to be having a moment. What I have come to admire about Ben Smith over the years is his consistency. Fashion trends in wine wax and wane, but Ben has his house style, has his Red Mountain vineyard sources, and has just continued to pump out bottle after marvelous bottle. And at some point in the past few years, it seems like everyone caught on.

The pair of cool vintages in Washington (2010 and 2011) seem put on this earth specifically for Ben Smith to make wines at Cadence. Those vintages are just so well suited to the house style (textural elegance, carefully-tended structure, finely-tuned balance) of the man who, according to Stephen Tanzer, makes “some of Washington’s most Bordeaux-like wines.” For lovers of terroir expression in general, and Red Mountain terroir in particular, these are wines from a man dedicated to delivering sense of place in the glass, and from a vintage that gave him the raw materials to do just that.

2011 Cadence Tapteil Vineyard

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 93pts.”

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

Tapteil is a bit lesser known on Red Mountain than sites like Ciel and Klipsun, and it is a beautiful vineyard with a dark, sultry heart. The spine of this (59%) is 1985-planted Cabernet Sauvignon (the remainder is Merlot and Cabernet Franc). Even by Red Mountain standards, Tapteil is a windy site, and those Cabernet berries develop extra-thick skins to compensate, leading to wines with powerful tannic structure. In other hands, those tannins can get a little out of control. In Ben’s hands, they are managed capably, always adding a lovely toothsome quality, a rusticity, to the Tapteil bottling. Aromatics are dark and exotic: black plum, star anise, cardamom, loamy soil. On the palate, this is noteworthy for its deep inherent minerality, a core of crushed rock that pairs beautifully with a laser beam of the purest darkest blackcurrant fruit. A seamless powerhouse, this is a truly beautiful vintage of Tapteil, dark and alluring.

2011 Cadence Bel Canto Cara Mia Vineyard

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 94+?pts.”

Ben’s Bel Canto is so wonderfully Cabernet Franc, with its unique and evocative mix of earth and pimenton and dried flower complicating a core of blackberry fruit. I love the smoky earth notes here, too: something like peat moss. As usual, this is a wine that conveys power and grace in turn. All of us who have paid attention to Bel Canto over the years (arguably the queen of the Cadence lineup in terms of elegance) had high expectations of the 2010 and 2011 vintages. Even with those high expectations, Ben has over-delivered. To put that Tanzer review into some context: of all the 2011-vintage Washington wines that he reviewed, only five received stronger notes: Cayuse Bionic Frog Syrah (96+?pts; $95); Cayuse En Chamberlin Syrah (95+?pts; $80); Corliss Cab (95+?pts; $85); Quilceda Creek Cab (95+?pts; $140); and Leonetti Cab (95+?pts; $90). Impressive company to keep.

2013 Cadence Coda

Originally offered July 19, 2015. Original offer text here. You may remember that Cadence moved Coda up from its usual autumn release to a late-spring release, in part because the demand for this wine is just so damned high. And then this happened:

Wine & Spirits Magazine (Patrick Comiskey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 93pts.”

Now the winery is saying it’s iffy as to whether their remaining stock will see out the year. So if you’re looking for a high-QPR gift for holiday time or a reasonably-priced way to build a Washington cellar, now would be the time to jump on this vintage of Coda; it’ll likely be the last time we offer it.

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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.