Hello friends. Anniversaries are worth celebrating.
Time is decay. Uncared for, our collective efforts wither.
It takes hard work to maintain our relationships, to battle our complacency, to nurture our ventures.
Anniversaries allow a stepping back, a distancing, to peer back at our most recent revolution around the sun, at what we have maintained, how we have battled, what we have nurtured.
Today we celebrate two anniversaries: a third, and a three-hundredth.
Today is Full Pull’s third anniversary. On October 5, 2009, we sent out our first offering. We celebrated our first and second anniversaries with reasonably-embarrassing stories from Full Pull’s early days (a fall in the bathtub on day one that ended with me being licked back to consciousness by our cat, a stubborn shipping case that led to a massive hole in a delicate part of my pants).
What strikes me as I read back over both of those stories is that I was alone. Alone in the bathtub (probably a good thing); alone in the warehouse. While I was never truly alone with this venture (my friends who painted the warehouse floor can attest to that; Chris who built our wicked order management system can attest to that; Emily and Lindy who helped out behind the bar in the early days can attest to that), my main takeaway from year three is that Full Pull has become a collective venture.
And so, some thank-yous to the collective. Thank you to Nick, for (nearly) unwavering good cheer on Thursdays and for frequently ludicrous shelf talkers. Thank you to Matt for intellectual curiosity and tireless work ethic. Thank you to Pat for being a fine consigliere and coaxing us over the finish line into international waters. And thank you to Kelli, for enduring support, and for continuing service as the Board of Director.
Sometimes I think of Full Pull as a matchmaking service, and as any good matchmaker knows, a happy match takes efforts from both sides. So thank you to the winemakers, the importers, the distributors, who create and identify and deliver this beverage we love, this drink that has stubbornly resisted commoditization in a commoditized world. And thank you to our wonderful list members, who care deeply enough to seek out the small-and-compelling and eschew the large-and-vapid. I often feel like the lead buyer in the best wine co-op in the world, and I’m deeply appreciative to all of you for allowing this to be my job.
As I said, Full Pull’s third is not the only anniversary we’re celebrating today. We’re also celebrating the three-hundredth anniversary of C.N. Kopke, the oldest port shipper in the world:
Kopke was founded in 1638 by German-born Christiano Kopke. While they deal in the entire range of ports, their specialty has been tawny port. Now many of us have had tawnies: 10-year, 20-year, 30-year. Those are a blend of multiple vintages, where the target average age is what is listed on the bottle.
Much more rare are Colheitas – tawny ports from a single vintage – and that’s what we have today. Every drop in the bottle was harvested in the Douro during autumn of 1938, three hundred years after the founding of Kopke. These grapes were harvested as Orson Wells was causing a panic with his broadcast of The War of the Worlds, harvested as Seabiscuit was defeating War Admiral in their famous match race, harvested as Germany was annexing Austria.
This is bottled history (bottled, by the way, in 2007, after spending nearly 70 years in barrel), and it would be one thing if it were just that: a treat for the intellect. But it is more. Tawny ports are among the longest-lived wines in the world, and this wine is very much alive. Roy Hersh, who runs For The Love Of Port and is among the world’s greatest authorities on port, has said “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”
I purchased a bottle to taste last week, and it seems a shade vulgar to attempt a tasting note. Fortunately I’m no stranger to vulgarity. What you notice right away is the vibrancy, the liveliness; it seems impossible for a wine this old, but there it is. Flavors include densely packed layers of pecan pie, buttered toffee, caramel, citrus peel. And then with a little time and air, more exotic notes appear, something like a melted baklava, with pistachio and almond and sweet spice. More time, more complexity: lemon oil, smoke, marmalade. The intensity is palpable. The finish is endless. You’ll have to brush your teeth if you want to stop tasting this beauty.
Fortunately, one of Kopke’s main American storage facilities is just outside Seattle, so we have access to a treasure trove. Kopke is a Colheita specialist, and while I chose the 1938 for its anniversary resonance, I can also access a slew of vintages from the 1940s ($265-$340), ‘50s ($150-$200), ‘60s ($85-$125), ‘70s ($43-$57), ‘80s ($25-$40), and ‘90s ($18-$25). If you’re seeking out a birth-year wine or anything else for a special occasion, please inquire, and I can get you an exact price quote.
I know today’s wine carries a high price point (only $17.23 in 1938 dollars; don’t you feel better now?), but this is an experience to be shared anyway. Find nine friends, each chip in $27, and share an unforgettable wine experience.
And that, again, is my takeaway from year three of this venture: that there is more joy in shared experience, more happiness when clattering around the sun together.
Please limit order requests to 3 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.