2004 Forgeron Cellars Merlot Klipsun Vineyard

January 31, 2011

Hello friends. Today’s offering is a reminder of why Merlot helped put Washington on the map. Deep, complex, and endlessly rewarding, this takes a hammer to misperceptions about the varietal and begs to be bagged up and served blind to Merlophobes.

I just received confirmation that we have first dibs on the last remaining parcel of this wine on the west coast, and those dibs come with a fine tariff attached.

There is much to love about Forgeron Cellars, but perhaps nothing sets the heart aflutter more than their release schedule. This marks the fourth red wine we have offered from Forgeron; the vintages on the other three were 2003, 2004, and 2005. Now we have access to another 2004. Considering that I’m tasting 2009 reds on a regular basis right now, it is a real treat to sample a wine being offered at something close to peak.

And there is no doubt that this wine needed some bottle age. It comes, after all, entirely from Klipsun Vineyard, smack in the heart of tannin country on Red Mountain (see location here). For those used to soft, vaguely insipid Merlots, this wine is going to be revelatory. Klipsun Merlots are just as structured and inaccessible in their youth as Klipsun Cabs, but oh the glories of bottle-aged Klipsun juice.

This is a wonderful time to access this wine. It is just at the tail end of its primary stage: the deep breath before the plunge, to quote Tolkien (nerd alert!). Drink it now to experience the purity of black-cherry fruit and the hints of mineral, tar, and tobacco. Or wait a year or two, watch the further emergence of those secondary notes, and watch that lovely cherry fruit take on a dried character. Either way, you will find a wine brooding and serious; one that demands your attention and rewards the attentive.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Jay Miller): “($46); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

Only 176 cases of this wine (100% Merlot, 100% Klipsun) were produced, and it was bottled in spring 2006, so we’re approaching five years of bottle age already. As I mentioned, we have access to the final available parcel of this wine, and it’s not large. Please limit order requests to 4 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. We should have the wine in the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.


2008 Ross Andrew “Glaze” Cabernet Sauvignon

January 30, 2011

Hello friends. Glaze and I have a complicated history.

Soon after the launch of Full Pull, I noticed a value Cabernet in the Ross Andrew section of one of my distributor books, and I asked my rep for a sample. He brought me the 2006 Glaze, and it was lights-out. In fact, a list member who was in the warehouse and got to sample the wine pre-ordered a full case within moments of tasting.

Unfortunately, my distributor rep left Full Pull and went to restaurant-that-shall-not-be-named, where he poured the 06 Glaze for a buyer who was so enamored that he immediately purchased the entire remaining stock of the wine. I have since established a one-man boycott of (un)said restaurant, which can only be seen as a completely appropriate expression of my petty jealousy and silent rage.

But now this story has multiple happy endings. The distributor rep, who has since become one of my better friends in the industry, left that job and went on to found Fat Cork, which just launched last week. Bryan Maletis is direct-importing and retailing grower Champagnes that are unavailable anywhere else in the country. The wines themselves are outstanding, the packaging is beautiful, and the prices are compelling. Full disclosure: I have no financial interest in Fat Cork; only an overarching desire to see good people succeed in this business and to see sicko-delicious bubbly end up in the hands of an appreciative audience.

And now we get our own happy ending, as there is a new vintage of Glaze in town (note: Ross didn’t make any in 2007). Ross is cagey about this wine, but here’s what I can tell you. It’s 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s released about two years younger than Ross’ regular Cabernet. It’s made from Ross’ own grapes (not purchased juice) that, for percentage reasons, don’t make it into his other wines (that narrows the field of vineyard sources considerably). And it’s juice that’s just too good to bulk out.

Those internet sleuths among you will likely be able to piece together the quality of the sources. Or, of course, you could just taste the wine and delight in the mix of orange peel, plum, and cocoa powder. This wine conveys a marvelous sense of depth for its relatively-low alcohol (13.6%; not too surprising considering 2008 was a cooler vintage) and has neon levels of acid to brighten up all those flavors. The mouthfeel has a chalky seriousness that belies the price point. That price point, by the way, is clearly meant to target restaurant glass pours, and that’s where you’re more likely to find this wine. It’ll be more of a rarity on the retail shelves.

First come first served up to 24 bottles (unless my personally-boycotted restaurant swoops in again, in which case I may have to resign from my own company), and the wine should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.


Two 2007s from Cadence

January 28, 2011

Hello friends. There is a special vineyard taking root on Red Mountain. Beneath the young vines of Cara Mia Vineyard sits a jumbled mix of sandy loam, cobblestones, and clay. Much of Red Mountain is homogeneous sandy loam, so the heterogeneity of this site (well up Red Mountain; see its location here) presented a beautiful challenge to vineyard manager Ryan Johnson (you may remember him as the vineyard manager for Ciel du Cheval and one of the partners in Grand Reve) and winemaker Ben Smith. They took no shortcuts. They dug 31 separate 8-foot-deep pits, mapped the varying soil types across the vineyard, and using that data matched soil type to varietal, planting 10.5 acres in 2004.

So the 2007 vintage was just fourth-leaf for this vineyard, making the impressive results that much more stunning. It would come as no surprise to me if, in five years, we’re talking about Cara Mia in the same breath as Ciel and Klipsun; the potential is that high. (Note: If you want to geek out on the vineyard more, our offering of the 2006 Camerata goes on at some length).

Ben Smith is a Red Mountain savant. Having already worked with fruit from Ciel, Klipsun, and Tapteil Vineyards for years, he now has his own estate site to control from vine to glass. And the results are pure Red Mountain magic

2007 Cadence “Bel Canto” Cara Mia Vineyard

Ben crafts a grand total of two wines from Cara Mia: a left-bank Bordeaux blend and a right-bank Bordeaux blend. Bel Canto is the right-bank blend, dominated by Cab Franc and Merlot. Floral and leafy, this wine is like a walk in the springtime woods. As always with Cadence wines, the tannin management is exceptional, adding a finishing lick of fine-grained green tea.

Only 11 red wines from Washington have ever scored better from Stephen Tanzer (a series of 95s and one 96 for Cayuse, Quilceda Creek, Betz, and Leonetti), and this wine has been well-received by Jay Miller and Rand Sealey as well:

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): ” ($55); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Jay Miller): “($55); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “($55); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19+/20pts.”

2007 Cadence “Camerata” Cara Mia Vineyard

The left-bank blend, Camerata could legally be labeled Cabernet Sauvignon, as the grape represents a full 85% of the blend. Darkly-profiled and stunningly-structured, this showcases the raw power of Red Mountain and its wall of black-tea tannins. Oh, the splendors ahead for those of us with the patience to lay this bottle down for a few years.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Jay Miller): “($55); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “($55); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92(+?)pts.”

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “($55); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19+/20pts.”

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles total (mix and match as you see fit). We’ll do our best to fulfill all requests, and the wines should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.


Three Wines from Syncline

January 26, 2011

Hello friends. We have three wines today from the wonderful Mantone family of Syncline Winery. Syncline is, to my mind, the anchor winery of the Columbia Gorge AVA. Due to their location in the hinterlands, they remain a bit under the radar, especially to those outside Washington. But Washington insiders have come to treasure Syncline wines for James Mantone’s judiciousness with oak and alcohol, his love of the full range of Rhone varietals, and his delicious experimentation with grapes not regularly seen around these parts.

2008 Syncline Cuvee Elena

This is Syncline’s flagship wine each year, a Chateauneuf-du-Pape-style blend from James’ finest barrels of Rhone varietals. It sees no new wood, and the fruit is correspondingly exuberant. Those of you with affinity for the leafy side of Southern Rhone blends should pay close attention here, as this wine is always driven by notes of garrigue, brush, and forest floor. Cuvee Elena has a crepuscular charm; it is autumn twilight in a glass.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Jay Miller): “($38); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

2009 Syncline Gruner Veltliner

We originally offered this back in July. The winery is now sold out, and I have access to the last parcel in western Washington, so this will be the final opportunity to access this vintage of Gruner. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only Washington Gruner currently in production, and it packs an intellectual/sensual punch that is irresistible. This also just received a fine review from Paul Gregutt:

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($20); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

2008 Syncline Mourvedre Coyote Canyon Vineyard

This is 100% Mourvedre, all from Coyote Canyon Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. Straddling the high-water mark of the Missoula floods at 1200ft, this vineyard is an amalgam of gravel and calcium carbonate. Mourvedre was planted here in 2002, so the results here are thoroughly impressive considering the youth of the vines. Some of the Mourvedre from this site goes into Cuvee Elena, but much of it is held back for its own varietal bottling. Aged entirely in two-year-old French oak, this is a seductive rarity. It just earned the highest score Paul Gregutt has ever bestowed upon a Washington Mourvedre, and we’re accessing the final parcel of this wine as well:

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($30); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of Cuvee Elena and Gruner and 4 bottles of Mourvedre. We’ll do our best to fulfill all requests, and the wines should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.


2008 Abeja Merlot

January 24, 2011

Hello friends. The end-of-year frenzy over Abeja’s Reserve Cabernet underscored for me the sharp interest in this winery. So today we’re offering the one red wine in the portfolio that we have not previously offered, along with a reorder opportunity on Abeja’s fine Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon:

2008 Abeja Merlot

Lost in the shuffle, I suspect, of the madness of the holiday season, was this review from the final Wine Enthusiast of 2010:

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($38); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

While Abeja’s reputation has been built squarely on the broad shoulders of Cabernet, the swirling sands of time hold a little secret: it was Merlot that originally drew John Abbott to Washington in 1994, and it was his Canoe Ridge Merlots (produced between 1996 and 2001) that originally established John as a serious talent.

He has a long relationship with Sagemoor Farms, which gives him access to choice, old-vine Merlot at Bacchus and Dionysus Vineyards. This bottling continues the drumbeat of quality coming out of Sagemoor and displays again the successful completion of the rehabilitation project Kent Waliser has undertaken with those vineyards (Paul Gregutt wrote a great article about this site back in 2008).

Aged for 18 months in 60% new oak, this is dense, lush, serious Merlot from a cooler vintage (harvest took place two weeks later than normal). Please limit order requests to 6 bottles and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. We should have this wine in the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

2007 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon

Originally offered last May, this has since received several strong reviews:

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($42); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($43); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ** (Exceptional).”

First come first served up to 12 bottles, and we should have this wine in the warehouse in about a week as well, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

Originally offered last May, this has since received several strong reviews:

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($42); This is 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Thick and dense, it’s a perfect companion to the winery’s current release of Merlot, though they are a year apart in vintage. This Cabernet has slight intimations of herb and black olive, and is tightly focused with very dark cassis and plum fruit flavors. It’s a wine to cellar, as it is still a little hot and tightly wound. 93pts.”

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($43); Blackberry, black cherry, chocolate, earth, and touches of spice on a complex, evolving nose. The palate brings rich, intense cherry fruit and chocolate. Easily among the best Cabernets the winery has ever produced. 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. Heather Hill, Sagemoor (Bacchus and Weinbau), Hedges Estate, Blue Mountain, and Wallula vineyards. Aged in French oak (60% new). 14.9% alcohol. Rating: ** (Exceptional).”

First come first served up to 12 bottles, and we should have this wine in the warehouse in about a week as well, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.


Two Rare Rieslings from Poet’s Leap

January 22, 2011

Hello friends. Many of you touched base over the past few days to express excitement that two of the three wines served at this week’s State Dinner at the White House were Washington wines (here is the menu). One of those two wines happens to be a previous Full Pull offering: the 2008 Poet’s Leap Botrytis Riesling. I’m reoffering that wine today, because while we can’t all be a head of state, we can at least drink like one!

In addition, while nosing around for an additional parcel of the Botrytis Riesling, I also unearthed a small lot of the rarest of Poet’s Leap wines – their Ice Wine – and I am including that in today’s offering as well.

2008 Poet’s Leap Late-Harvest Riesling (Botrytis-Affected) 375ml

Original offering here from December 13 of last year. 94pts Gregutt, 93pts Tanzer, 93pts Miller.

2008 Poet’s Leap Riesling Ice Wine 375ml

One of the true rarities of the entire Long Shadows collection, with only 84 cases produced, this almost never moves through retail channels. Harvested at 4 degrees Fahrenheit on the morning of December 16, this comes entirely from The Benches’ Sonnet Vineyard (formerly Wallula). Our quantities are so small that I’m going to stop there and hand it over to the critics:

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): ” ($85); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].  95(+?)pts.”

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($85); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Jay Miller): “($85); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of Botrytis and 3 bottles of Ice Wine. We’ll do our best to fulfill all requests, and we should have the wines in the warehouse in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.


Single-Vineyard Wines from Ross Andrew

January 21, 2011

Hello friends. We lovers of Washington terroir have a real treat today: a chance to sample two of Washington’s most notable vineyards, from a rising-star winemaker determined to express the character of these sites:

2008 Ross Andrew Syrah Boushey Vineyard

Boushey Syrah is one of our state’s true vinous treasures: a wonderland of fruit and funk, tended with careful attention by the generous farmer-genius Dick Boushey. The footprint of his vineyard, in the cool foothills of the Yakima Valley north of Grandview, is surprisingly small, considering the breadth of its reputation.

Some of Washington’s finest Syrah producers work with this fruit. We have previously offered Boushey Syrah from McCrea Cellars, and we have offered Bob Betz’s La Serenne Syrah, which comes entirely from Boushey Vineyard fruit. Ross Mickel spent nine years as Betz Family Winery’s assistant winemaker, time enough to develop real perspicacity with Boushey Syrah.

That comfort level is readily apparent in this wine. It’s clear that Ross has determined a pitch-perfect level of oak char to lend a smoked quality to all the meaty Boushey notes. The result is a mouthful of tar and salt, earth and fruit. Along with truly alluring aromatics, another impressive aspect of this wine is its intensity, especially given the cool-vintage alcohol level of 13.8%. The flavors are conveyed with density and weight at very reasonable ripeness levels.

Paul Gregutt recently discussed this wine in his blog:

PaulGregutt.com (Paul Gregutt): “($34); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

I’m certain this will lead to a strong review in a future Wine Enthusiast, but will this wine still be around then? I’m not taking any chances. First come first served up to 12 bottles, and we should have this wine in the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

2009 Ross Andrew Pinot Gris Celilo Vineyard

We originally offered this last July. It comes from the 1975 block of Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris, on the southern flanks of the extinct Underwood Mountain volcano in the cool, Columbia Gorge AVA. Along with Paul Gregutt’s recent mention, this has received positive reviews from Stephen Tanzer and Rand Sealey.

PaulGregutt.com (Paul Gregutt): “($18); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. ”

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): ” ($18) [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): ” ($18); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18+/20pts.”

First come first served up to 12 bottles, and we should have this wine in the warehouse in about a week, at which point it too will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.