Three from Gramercy Cellars

Hello friends. On a recent trip to Walla Walla, the lineup at Gramercy Cellars was staggering.

Greg Harrington, and his assistant winemaker Brandon Moss, are just dialed in at this point. Gramercy began with the 2005 harvest, so they have now put the initial learning stage of their venture squarely to bed and just seem to be making exactly the kinds of wines they want to make. And then they were gifted 2010, a vintage that plays perfectly into the reactionary house style: low-alc, low-oak, high-purity, high-terroir-expressiveness.

Their autumn releases for 2012 include three wines – two from 2010 and one remaining 2009 – and we’re offering all three today. The (devoted. greedy?) Gramercy mailing list snaps up a huge chunk of their releases, so these wines are typically one-time-only offerings. We’re also getting in ahead of reviews from Tanzer and Schildknecht (the replacement for Jay Miller at Wine Advocate), and rumors are percolating that those reviews will be strong indeed (previous vintages of each of today’s three wines has received scores of 94pts and up from a major publication).

Let’s grab our share and get the hell out of here before anyone notices:

2010 Gramercy Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley

I have tasted every vintage of this wine since its inception, and this is the finest, without question. It is a dead ringer for what Gramercy’s John Lewis Reserve tastes like in a normal vintage: soaring aromatics, aching purity; it’s all there.

Turns out, much of the usual source for John Lewis (Les Collines Block 46) went into the WWV Syrah in 2010. Overall, Les Collines makes up 95% of the blend, with the remainder coming from the younger SJR Vineyard, down in the rocks. They throw loads of whole clusters into the mix (40%), and then drop this into big ol’ neutral puncheons. Here’s what Greg says about Les Collines: “It’s truly a world-class vineyard for Syrah, unique in Washington… Les Collines is powerful without being cloying.  It emphasizes aromatics.  We can’t throw enough stems into it. And it behaves like a Burgundian Grand Cru vineyard, with the mid slope being the best.”

Les Collines aromatics are incredible. There are topnotes both floral (violet, lavender) and resinous (pine, sagebrush) that soar over a core of plummy, peachy fruit, with further complexities of salty bacon fat. The palate is noteworthy for two elements: the incredible purity of the fruit and the sensual suppleness of the texture. It is a seamless sip of wine: complex, intense, movingly beautiful.

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ***** (Exceptional).”

2010 Gramercy Cellars “Third Man” (Grenache Blend)

I love that Greg and Brandon make this wine. Stylistically, this never seems to perfectly jibe with the rest of the Gramercy lineup, but who cares when it’s so delicious? Third Man is the brash cousin who carries the flask to the family reunion and shares liberally, making everyone feel better before the night is through.

What I mean is: in a lineup full of finesse and elegance, Third Man is where we go to find richness, generosity, overt fruity goodness. It is a Grenache-dominated blend (80%; the remainder 15% Mourvedre and 5% Syrah) from the cooler Olsen Estate Vineyard in the Yakima Valley and the riper Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills.

There is a core of sweet strawberry on the aromatics surrounded by salty, briney grace notes. The rich, ripe (14.7%-alc) palate shows strawberry pastille, and complexities of leaf and underbrush. The tannins are combed to a fine sheen, and the overall package is a total pleasure bomb.

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: **** (Excellent).”

2009 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2009 vintage is dominated by Phinny Hill Vineyard fruit, so let’s let Master Sommelier Greg Harrington wax on about this fine site in Horse Heaven: “The 2009 CV Cab is all about Phinny Hill.  Dick Beightol.  Brandon Beightol… I’m telling you folks, Phinny is where it’s at – hillsides, higher altitude, GRAVEL… It’s an insane property.  When we go to Phinny, I just let Dick talk, tell us what’s going on, where he is going to go, what’s going to happen with the vintage, make us tuna fish sandwiches;  line caught only.  He, like so many of our growers, is a guy we just don’t question.  We are so fortunate that way. The family grows grapes because they love it.  Although Dick asks all the time, I can’t imagine telling him what to do in the vineyard.”

As the vines at Phinny continue to age, the Cabernets just seem to keep getting better and better. This one hits all the elements we look for in Cabernet. There is lovely cassis-driven fruit. There is earthiness. There are savory notes of bay leaf and tobacco leaf. Everything is properly-proportioned. Everything is in fine-tuned balance. You’ll find enough richness to make this enjoyable right now, but my oh my does this present some earthy tannic heft on the back end, lovely and ripe with green-tea flavors, and all that structure makes me think this wine’s best years are 5 to 10 years ahead of us.

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ***** (Exceptional).”

Please limit order requests to 18 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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