Hello friends. In our most recent Maison Bleue offering, last August, I referred to winemaker Jon Martinez as a rising star. Jay Miller, writing in last August’s Wine Advocate, wrote: “Maison Bleue Family Winery may be the most compelling new producer uncovered in my 2010 trip to Washington.” He proceeded to review seven of Jon’s wines, with all scoring between 90 and 94pts.
I think at this point we can drop the “rising,” as Maison Bleue’s new 2009 reds put the winery squarely in the ascendancy. Here is Paul Gregutt writing recently about the new wines: “Maison Bleue’s Jon Martinez has put his focus squarely on Yakima valley vineyards. His newest wines are his best ever. He is sourcing grapes from superb sites such as Boushey, Olsen, Upland, and his own French Creek. Rhône varieties and blends are the stock in trade, and belong in the first rank of such wines being made anywhere in this country. The word is getting out, so if you want these wines, get on the mailing list now.”
Or, I suppose, get them here.
2009 Maison Bleue Grenache “La Montagnette” Upland Vineyard
We offered the previous vintage of this wine (93pts Jay Miller), and it was immensely popular, generating numerous reorder requests. I wasn’t able to fulfill most of them, as this wine sold out quickly (it has been months, in fact, since Jon has had any red wines available for purchase).
The vineyard source changed in 2009, as Jon has consolidated his entire vineyard portfolio to the Yakima Valley (previously this was sourced from Alder Ridge; now from Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain). The style, however, remains the same: this is the big boy of the lineup. Ripe, lush, penetrating fruit is the star here, as this saw only four-year-old barrels.
This already has a strong review from Rand Sealey, and it presents our second chance to play Guess That Score with Paul Gregutt’s blog.
Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “($35); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19/20pts.”
For an introduction to Guess That Score (and my rant about scores generally), see this offering. In this case, here’s Paul Gregutt from a recent blog post: PaulGregutt.com (Paul Gregutt): “($35); As fine a Grenache as I have yet tasted from Washington state, this aching purity of the fruit, married to the density, focus and minerality, is breathtaking.”
The strongest reviews I can find from PaulG for Washington Grenache are a pair of 93pts for the 2005 and 2007 Cayuse God Only Knows Grenache. So I’m pegging this in the 93pt-95pt range for its eventual Wine Enthusiast review, with a best guess of 94pts.
At only 104 cases produced, I suspect this will be long gone before that review comes out.
2009 Maison Bleue “Graviere” Upland Vineyard Rhone Blend
Clearly Jon has found a muse with Upland Vineyard, as this, Jon’s first GSM blend, also comes entirely from that Snipes Mountain site. Planted at elevations from 750-1300ft, the vineyard sits on gravelly soil, with stones ranging from the size of pebbles to cantaloupes. Here Jon has blended 50% Syrah with a quarter each Grenache and Mourvedre. Again, there isn’t a hint of new wood used here; all barrels range from three to five years old, so it’s the fruit that provides the intensity and the backbone for these wines.
Glass-staining purple-black in color, this displays real purity on the overtly pretty nose: it’s all boysenberries and blossoms. And this is a wine that stains the palate much as it stains the glass, with deep, intense flavors of blackberry and roasted meats. There are nuances of crushed rock, bark, and leaf that ramp up the complexity. The overall product is memorable, especially considering it is Jon’s first foray into this particular blend.
Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “($40); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 19.5/20pts.”
Given the strong praise PaulG gave to La Montagnette, I was shocked to see that it was Graviere that was the choice for his Top Ten Washington Wines of May. And so, for Guess That Score, I can only draw one conclusion: that Graviere will receive a slightly higher score. I’m ranging this at 94pts-96pts, with a best guess of 95pts:
PaulGregutt.com (Paul Gregutt): “($40); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. ”
2009 Maison Bleue Roussanne “Soleil” Olsen Vineyard
Finally, a little treat for those of you who didn’t sample this the first time we offered it. This is a rarity – varietal Roussanne from Washington – and it’s drinking great right now. I grabbed what I believe is the final parcel of this in Western Washington, and it is set to receive a great review from Paul Gregutt in the July issue of Wine Enthusiast:
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
This wine already had strong reviews from Sean Sullivan (#20 in his Top Wines of 2010) and Rand Sealey:
Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($28); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ** (Exceptional).”
Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “($28); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19/20pts.”
These wines showcase breathtaking purity and a young winemaker at the top of his game. I wish I had endless quantities, but alas, it’s not the case. Please limit order requests to 6 x Montagnette, 3 x Graviere, and 6 x Roussanne, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. All these wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.