Hello friends. I love splits. You love splits. There’s much to love about splits.
It has been awhile since we have offered 375ml half-bottles, so let’s review the ever-growing Full Pull Wines List of Split Bottle Advantages:
- Perfect size for dinner for one. None of the guilt/shame/remorse of pounding an entire 750ml.
- Allows you to feel like a giant. (Note: to continue this feeling, pour from split directly into tiny sherry glass.)
- Need to sneak alcohol into a sporting event but don’t own a flask? Split!
- Avoid oxidation! Let’s say you just drank two-thirds of a regular, 750ml bottle. You could cork up that bottle and save it, or… you could pour it into your leftover 375ml bottle (a funnel helps here) and store it in your split. Your 250ml of leftover wine will get much less oxygen exposure in a split than in a regular bottle and will maintain freshness longer.
- Makes a darling flower vase.
- Easy to drink directly from bottle.
- Fit conveniently into many pants pockets.
- They’re just so damned cute, in the same way that puppies are cuter than adult dogs.
These aren’t just any splits, either, but come from arguably the most famous estate in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. We have a hold on the entire remaining parcel in western Washington, and it’s not a large parcel at that. In most cases, wineries slap a surcharge on splits (they do the same for magnums; maddening!), but today we’re able to do the opposite: offer these at a discount. And these are wines where discounts are rare indeed.
The Brunier family has been making wine in Chateauneuf-du-Pape since 1898, and La Crau is their premier bottling. It refers to the La Crau plateau, a chunk of land crawling with the galets roulés, the famous rounded stones of the area (here’s a picture). The soil structure is deeply complex, which you can see in this picture. Layers contain alluvial deposits, limestone, silica, and red clay known as molasse.
The galets on the surface insulate the vines from both cold and heat, and provide perfect drainage for the roots. When the famous origin story of Cayuse Vineyards is told, it’s these galets roulés that leapt into Christophe Baron’s mind when he saw the cobblestones of the Walla Walla Valley, it’s this terroir that he knew from experience was perfect for Grenache and Syrah.
La Crau is a notoriously long-lived wine, and that brings us back to our list of advantages to 375ml splits. Let’s add #9, which is that splits hit the fast-forward button on the aging curve. The proportion of surface area exposed to oxygen is larger in a split, so the wines age a little faster. It’s not a dramatic effect, but it increases the odds that the wine will hit its peak a bit earlier.
A recent taste of this revealed exactly what makes Grenache so well-loved: a gorgeous core of red raspberry and fig fruit; a wild, savage, brambly character; dustings of white pepper; and swirling throughout, incredible complexities of herbes de provence: basil, thyme, lavender. You could certainly drink this now for its luscious primary character, and it’s perfect for a series of autumn meals. Throw some braised short ribs or a roast leg of lamb into the oven and crack a bottle, and a fine evening is sure to follow. Or, for the patient, La Crau will only continue to reveal untold glories with the passing of years.
Wine Spectator (James Molesworth): “($78 [Ed note: that is the price for a 750ml bottle]); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
The Rhone Report (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
First come first served up to 12 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.