Three from Two Vintners

Hello friends. Two Vintners has become a favorite among Full Pull list members, and for good reason: it is one of the real hidden gems in Washington right now, a total insider’s label. We have featured Morgan Lee’s wines on numerous occasions. In my opinion, 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. Two Vintners is a label where Morgan can take a few more chances, be a little more playful, and the results have been some of the finest values we have offered.

2010 Two Vintners “Make Haste”

Two Vintners introduced Make Haste with the 2009 vintage, and the idea is that each year, it’s a single-vineyard, single-varietal wine at a head-turning tariff. The catch: we can’t reveal which vineyard, or which varietal.

What I can say: the vineyard is in the Yakima Valley AVA, and it’s a vineyard well-loved by the Full Pull list. And the varietal is one of the allowed grapes in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It presents a nose that combines summery red fruits (strawberry, raspberry), with nice earth tones. The palate is a good, pure mix of red fruit and rocks. It’s soft, rich, and gluggable; nothing that requires endless contemplation, this one is more about easy pleasure.

2010 Two Vintners Zinfandel

Washington is not California. We need exceptionally warm sites to properly ripen a thermophilic varietal like Zinfandel. Only a few places do it properly, and StoneTree Vineyard is one of them. As you can see on our vineyard map, it’s a large site that sits at the top of the Wahluke Slope. Looking at that topography, you can probably imagine this site getting blasted by plenty of summer sun, and you’d be exactly right.

The vineyard has skyrocketed in importance over the past few years. It’s a poorly-held secret in Washington wine circles that this vineyard was the source for most of the Cabernet Sauvignon in the Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that was #1 on Wine Spectator’s 2009 Top 100 list. When Morgan joined Covington, Cindy and David Lawson (Covington’s owners) asked him which additional vineyard contracts he’d like the winery to pick up. StoneTree was at the top of his list, and since then, Morgan has worked wonders with this fruit, continuing to cement its reputation as one of Washington’s finest warm sites.

We have offered the 2008 and 2009 vintages of this wine, and I had my doubts about 2010. Cool vintage? Not at StoneTree apparently. This clocks in at 16.7% (!) alc, and it holds that alcohol beautifully, displaying no hints of fire-breathing-dragon territory. The nose is hugely expressive and very Zinfandel, all jammy brambly berry fruit and black pepper. It’s a nose that wears its wildness with pride. The palate combines ripe raspberry fruit with deeply savory tomato paste and bay leaf. This is big, spicy Washington Zinfandel, a terrific rarity and one to crack when the burgers hit the grill this summer.

2009 Two Vintners Merlot Pepper Bridge Vineyard

The winery is down to the last little bit of this and has offered it to our list to help clean them out. Perfect, because this Pepper Bridge bottling is just now coming into its own. It’s Merlot that drinks a bit like Cabernet, and Merlot from Pepper Bridge is something special, with its own unique signature: clean soil and earth notes are the stars of the show, while the fruit (blackberry, blackcurrant) and barrel (black tea, espresso) notes serve supporting roles. This is graceful winemaking, especially in a vintage like 2009 that wants to be ripe and fleshy. Instead this is a balanced bridge wine. Tasted blind, I’d be as likely to guess French Cabernet Sauvignon as Washington Merlot.

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “($29); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

First come first served up to 18 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 spring shipping window.

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