Hello friends. It’s Bunchgrass day! Which means our offering begins with a Robert Sund poem:
For those newer list members wondering what the hell is going on, here is an introduction to Bunchgrass and Robert Sund, borrowed from our autumn 2011 offering:
It is always a great joy to write about wines from Bunchgrass Winery. Certainly part of that is because the wines are excellent, well-priced, and quite difficult to source outside of the Walla Walla Valley. There is a little mystique built up around the winery, due in some measure, I think, to their open hours (or lack thereof): from April through early December, on Saturdays only, from 11am-4pm.
And the winery has deep roots in the Walla Walla Valley. Roger Cockerline, who I finally got to meet on my most recent visit, founded Bunchgrass as the eleventh winery in the valley, and was deeply involved in grape-growing before that, even helping to establish a grape-grower’s society in Walla Walla in the 1980s. Roger’s fruit even made it into some early Leonetti bottles, perhaps because Gary Figgins thought it might improve his son Chris’ grade in Roger Cockerline’s 8th Grade Social Studies Course (yep; folks wear many hats in the valley; it’s part of the charm).
But quality, mystique, and history aside, I derive joy from writing about Bunchgrass because it means a chance to delve into the poetry of Robert Sund. During research for our last Bunchgrass offering, I discovered that Roger Cockerline named the winery after Bunch Grass, a book of poetry by his friend, the northwest poet Robert Sund (1929-2001).
Today we have the first of Bunchgrass’ 2009 releases, a vintage notable because it was the first where Tom Olander took over winemaking duties. Both of these wines are micro-production. We get one shot at them, and we’re one of the few sources for these wines west of the mountains:
2009 Bunchgrass Malbec (Frazier Bluff Vineyard)
A single vineyard Malbec from Frazier Bluff in the Walla Walla Valley. This site is planted mostly to Petit Verdot but has nine rows of Malbec, and Bunchgrass gets all of it, so this is their little Malbec monopole and represents the only opportunity to taste Malbec from Joe Frazier’s vineyard.
The only time I have seen this reviewed was the 2007 vintage, by Paul Gregutt in Wine Enthusiast. He scored that 07 93pts, which remains his strongest review for a Washington Malbec. I’m guessing they stopped submitting it for review, since there’s just so little of it. 50 cases for this 2009.
I’m crazy about the aroma/flavor profile, which sees a beautiful white pepper note swimming above a good core of wild mountain berry fruit. There is a brambly character, something very alive and wild, and the mouthfeel is delicate, lithe, energetic. It’s a singular Washington Malbec, from a tiny patch of ground in the Walla Walla Valley.
2009 Bunchgrass “Founder’s Blend” (BDX Blend)
This is our first opportunity to offer the Founder’s Blend, and I couldn’t be happier. It has always been among my favorites in the Bunchgrass portfolio, but quantities just haven’t been high enough to warrant an offering. And even now, there’s just barely enough: total production is 75 cases.
This is Tom’s homage to Cheval Blanc, and the proportions of Cabernet Franc (about two-thirds, from Dwelley Vineyard) and Merlot (about one-third, from Seven Hills Vineyard) are true enough. There is even a splash of Malbec in the mix, which is true for the great Saint-Emilion producer as well. All of it comes from the Walla Walla Valley.
Good savory Franc aromatics (beetroot) convey a compelling wine ahead. Flavors are a lovely mix of rich cherry fruit, earthy savories (chard, pimenton), and barrel nuances (high-cacao chocolate; 20% new French oak). More than the flavors, though, it’s the texture that shows off this wine’s true class. Silky and seamless, this floats across the palate on a pillow. If I were the type of writer who used “sexy” as an adjective to describe wines, this might be the one. Good thing I’m not.
Again, these are quite limited and will not be available for reorder requests. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in 2-3 weeks, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping.