Three Recent Values

Hello friends. In quieter parts of the year, each of today’s wines would warrant its own offering. But in the fourth quarter of the year (“O-N-D” as trade folks like to say), unless I want to land in your inbox every day, I have to lump together some disparate wines.

The common thread here is value. This is a time of year when there are large trade tastings each week, and these three have stood out as exceptional values at their respective price points:

2008 Robert Ramsay Cellars “Masons Red” (Syrah)

Bob Harris (formerly of Coeur D’Alene Cellars) is behind this label, which has a habit of turning out wickedly good Syrah at incredible price points. Mason’s Red is going to be the entry-level table wine for this winery, with a price point destined mostly for restaurant glass pour lists. The blend will be different in different vintages, but in 2008 this could easily be labeled Syrah. From Boushey and McKinley Springs Vineyards (two Syrah sites quite familiar to long-time list members), this is 92% Syrah cofermented with 5% Viognier and then blended with 3% Mourvedre. The intensity and length made this a strong buy at its release price of $18, and a recent price drop makes it stronger still. Notes of brewed coffee and bright blue fruit comprise the core, and there are grace notes of bark and cola, eventually giving way to a finishing bitter-orange lick reminiscent of Campari.

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

2010 Teutonic Wine Company Pinot Noir Laurel Vineyard

Oh, how I love this wine, which will definitely be making an appearance on the Thanksgiving table. Time is of the essence on this one. Essentially a restaurant cult wine in Portland right now (it’s on the glass pour list of many influential menus there), the winery sent exactly one pallet (56 cases) to Washington, which arrived three days ago. I fully expect Seattle restaurants to swoop in too, so this is the least likely of the three to be available for reorder.

You might remember the 2010 Teutonic Rose of Pinot Noir we offered from the same Laurel Vineyard. That one clocks in at 10% alcohol, and today’s Pinot must have hung out in the vineyard a few days longer, because its finished alc is all the way up to 11%.

11%? 11%!

Remember Barnaby Tuttle’s motto: “all cool-climate, all the time.” Laurel Vineyard is an unusually high-altitude site for the Willamette, at 1200ft in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. This is a site only a ripeness masochist could love. But my goodness the aromatics. This is an easy nose to love: a super high-toned riot of rosewater, earth, mushroom, and red fruit. Austere as hell (is it clear I mean that in a good way?), this is a mouthful of liquefied rock and earth, doused in citrusy acids. I dare you to find a food this wine won’t complement.

In sum, a wonderful gateway drug to wine geekdom.

2007 Sineann “Abondante” (Red Blend)

Essentially the polar opposite of the Teutonic Pinot Noir, this is named for the Italian word for “generous,” and it is generous indeed (it also honors Sineann’s harvest chef, Dante, who happens to be a Full Pull list member). Because, you know, some days you want austerity and elegance, and other days you want generosity and deliciousness.

[Quick side note: Many of you have expressed enthusiasm about Sineann’s label designs. Here is the Abondante label.]

This is described by Peter Rosback himself as “probably the best value we put out,” and I’m inclined to agree. It comes from a few different vineyards, all managed by Lonnie Wright, and all in the same general vicinity: a little thumb of flat land where the Columbia River bends towards the Dalles (see map here). There is Zinfandel from The Pines (Oregon side of the river), Cabernet and Merlot from Hillside Vineyard (also Oregon), and Syrah from Scorched Earth Vineyard (great name; Washington side). This location is unique; well east of the Gorge, but well west of the Horse Heaven Hills, it’s its own area, worthy of exploration (and perhaps future sub-AVA status).

The Zinfandel really shines through here, with its ripe, brambly character. Rich red fruit, golden raisin, and brown sugar form the scaffolding for this intriguing, openly delicious blend. Finally, this is the fabulous 2007 vintage, rapidly (and sadly) becoming a rarity as most current red releases are 2008 or 2009 (and even some 2010s!).

The Ramsay is first come first served, up to 12 bottles. The Teutonic and Sineann we may need to allocate, so please limit order requests to 8 bottles of each, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. All the wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping.

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