Three from Two Vintners

Hello friends. Two Vintners is one of the real hidden gems in Washington right now, a total insider’s label and a Full Pull favorite. We have featured Morgan Lee’s wines on numerous occasions, mostly because I think he’s a star in the making.

Morgan cut his teeth at a winery that knows a thing or two about value: Columbia Crest. He was hired by Covington Cellars in 2007 and helped launch Two Vintners, a sister-label, soon thereafter. I see the Two Vintners label as a place where Morgan can take a few more chances, be a little more playful, and the results have been outstanding.

2009 Two Vintners “Make Haste” (Red Wine)

A new wine in the Two Vintners portfolio, and an outstanding value. It’s single-varietal, and single-vineyard, but which varietal? And which vineyard? Morgan ain’t sayin’.

When he and assistant winemaker Donavon Claflin poured this for me, they wanted me to guess. What I knew from the outside: it had listed alc of 13.5%, and it was a Rhone-shaped bottle. Then the aromatics: dusty red fruit. Then onto the palate: more red cherry fruit, with light dusty tannins, and notes of soil and mocha.

My guess: Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot (despite the Rhone bottle, I don’t think this is Syrah or Grenache).

Why? Well, 2009 was a warm year, so the low alcohol made me think it was a cooler vineyard that needed to be picked before the October freeze in ’09. The briskness of the mouthfeel, the elegance, the purity of the red cherry fruit; it all reminded me of lots of bottles I have had from Seven Hills, queen of the Walla Walla Valley.

And Merlot because of the red fruit/mocha flavors, and the plush (but present) tannins.

My guess was wrong (the deal was that they would only reveal if I guessed exactly right), but by the slightly stunned look the two exchanged, I think I came closer than they expected. Was it Merlot from a neighboring Walla Walla Valley vineyard? Was it a different varietal from Seven Hills Vineyard?

Who the hell knows! But I encourage you all to grab some bottles and send me your own guesses.

Regardless, whatever this is, it’s high-quality, single-vineyard fruit at a terrific tariff. It does not play the typical part of 2009s. Don’t look for the usual plushness of the vintage. It goes against type, but it does so beautifully. Color me intrigued.

2010 Two Vintners Syrah

Mostly destined for restaurant glass-pour lists, I had to beg for a parcel of this, and I was willing to grovel, because this is a ridiculous value. If you want to see why people get excited about what Washington Syrah can do at sub-$20 tariffs, this is the wine to check out.

It’s not a vineyard-terroir play, but this is a pan-Washington treasure. Check out the list of vineyards: Discovery (Horse Heaven Hills, down the road from Champoux), Stonetree (Wahluke Slope), Pepper Bridge (Walla Walla Valley), Klipsun (Red Mountain), Olsen (Yakima Valley).

The aromatic complexity is outrageous. You just don’t see it at this price. Bacon fat, espresso, a panoply of blue fruits and floral topnotes: it’s all here. On the palate, it combines richness and vibrancy, savory meaty notes and coffee notes and plush blue fruit. I can’t remember tasting many wines as complete as this one at $18.

Is this the best sub-$20 Syrah from Washington this year? When we get to December, it will certainly be in the conversation.

2011 Two Vintners Grenache Blanc Boushey Vineyard

An offering with two reds and one white, and the white is the most expensive? What world, you might ask, are we living in?

I’ll tell you: a world where that white is Dick Boushey’s Grenache Blanc.

The buzz for this wine began at Taste Washington, where Dick was pouring it at the Boushey Vineyard table. Tasting it, I can see why Dick and others were so excited. It begins with a seductive, unusual nose: white peach and rosemary and mineral. On the palate, it drinks crisp despite ample (14.3%) alcohol, with flavors of white melon, pineapple, and more mineral. Medium-bodied, turning creamy on the mid-palate (a small amount of Roussanne blended in might help there) and through the long, intense finish.

There are rumors that this will be receiving a strong review from Paul Gregutt in an upcoming Wine Enthusiast, but I don’t want to wait for that. At total production of 150 cases, this isn’t going to be around for long.

First come first served up to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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