Hello friends. A Friday grab-bag today of three lovely wines for summer and autumn:
2011 Hestia Cellars Chenin Blanc
The latest in our Save The Chenin series, where we believe that the way to save good, old-vine Chenin from being ripped out of the ground to make way for another acre of Cabernet Sauvignon, is to drink more good, old-vine Chenin.
Well, there’s old, and then there’s old. And this Chenin is positively methuselaic by Washington standards. All from Hahn Hill, these vines went into the ground in 1972, on a little bump in the Yakima Valley (location here). Chenin Blanc, like Riesling, can be taken in many different directions with regards to sugar. Here, Shannon Jones has fermented nearly to complete dryness (0.2% RS, not enough to be noticeable), and the alcohol finished up at a zippy 12.5%. Aromatics are a beguiling mix of honeysuckle and cantaloupe. Those old vines add terrific depth and intensity to the palate, which features a core of melon and pear fruit, dusted with malt powder. Despite the lack of overt sweetness, there is a lovely, honeyed quality to the fruit, and plenty of bright, citrusy acid to keep things fresh.
Such a treat to devour old-vine fruit at a reasonable tariff! Too early for reviews of the 2011, but the 2010 was one of a handful of $15-and-under wines last summer to receive a **** (Excellent) rating, from Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report.
2011 Andrew Rich Sauvignon Blanc Croft Vineyard
When I made my first Oregon research trip for Full Pull, my first stop was at Patricia Green Cellars. And the first wine that Jim Anderson opened was their Sauvignon Blanc, much of which comes from Croft Vineyard. It was an eye-opener, just fantastic, right up my alley. And despite all my begging and groveling, I was not able to source that wine. Since then, I have been on the lookout for Sauvignon Blanc from Croft Vineyard, and as it turns out, only two other wineries source those grapes. One is J. Christopher, the other Andrew Rich.
So it was with high expectations that I sampled the new release of Andrew Rich’s Croft Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, and it was with the sweet relief of expectations fulfilled when I took my first sip. I’m only left to wonder: why isn’t there more Sauvignon Blanc planted in the Willamette? The wines seem to exist someplace midway along the spectrum between Sancerre and New Zealand. This one starts out with a beautiful SB nose: grasses, wild clover, tarragon, and mineral. The palate displays a mouthwatering mineral-acid core, around which grassy grapefruit flavors swirl. Racy and nervous, this is a balanced high-wire act.
2010 Teutonic Wine Company Pinot Noir “Bergspitze” (Laurel Vnyd)
Among wineries we feature regularly, I’m not sure there’s one more polarizing than Teutonic. About 25% of the feedback I receive is of the “I don’t get it” variety. The other 75% wants to know when we’ll offer more. These are not wines for everyone, and that’s okay: those of us who love this style *really* love this style. The Teutonic slogan (“All cool climate, all the time.”) says it all. You’re not going to find ripe fruit here. You will find alcohols between 9% and 12%, loads of nervy acidity, and mineral-soaked austerity-of-fruit.
Today’s Bergspitze Pinot Noir comes from the highest section (1250’) of the same Laurel Vineyard as the 2010 Teutonic Pinot we offered back in October 2011. The difference? This is a barrel selection of all free-fun juice, the best of the vintage from this vineyard. The vines are Alsatian clones, all more than 25 years old, and there aren’t many of them at the top of the mountain: only enough to produce 98 cases total. We’re lucky to be seeing any of this in Seattle.
“Fresh” was the first word that came to mind when I inhaled the aromatics, a swirling mass of mineral and meat and exotic spice. As usual, the palate is a textural marvel, featuring waves of live-wire, citrusy acids. The fruit is tart and austere: green strawberries, and raspberries that you pick off the vine a few days early because you just can’t resist. Watchwords here are vibrancy and minerality. While this is a wonderfully versatile food-pairing wine right now, I’ll be setting a few bottles aside for 3-, 5-, and 10-year aging check-ins.
First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you see fit), and the wines should all be delivered in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.