2010 Nefarious Cellars Syrah Rocky Mother Vineyard

Hello friends, and a warm welcome to those of you who joined the list after reading Paul Gregutt’s article about Full Pull in the Seattle Times. As you can imagine, we have spent the weekend in a celebratory mood, drinking Champagne and listening to Box Of Rain on repeat.

Many thanks to PaulG for the write-up, and thanks also to our long-time list members, who have helped us through “the danger zone that all new businesses must navigate,” as Gregutt puts it. That article never gets written without your support, and I’m deeply appreciative of that fact.

Now as it happens, the offering we had lined up for today is a perfect introduction to Full Pull: a well-reviewed, difficult-to-source bottle of terroir-driven Washington Syrah with a great story. It’s the crown jewel of the Nefarious lineup, offered to us by Dean and Heather Neff in part because of our list’s long, consistent support of their entire portfolio.

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

This was among PaulG’s strongest reviews of any Washington Syrahs in 2012, and that review, which came out in the year-end issue of Wine Enthusiast, has put sales pressure on an already-limited wine. I’m not sure if Rocky Mother will be offered through any retail channels other than Full Pull and directly through Nefarious (if we have to under-allocate, I’d suggest buying direct from Heather and Dean; please note: they are limiting to 2 bottles/person).

Rocky Mother is beautiful insanity, a vineyard right on the cusp of climatic viability. Check out its location on the zoomed-out vineyard map; see any other vineyards nearby? I see Evergreen Vineyard, generally considered one of Washington’s more northerly sites; it’s 85 miles south of Rocky Mother. This is extreme winegrowing, in the mouth of the Methow Valley (here’s a zoomed in version of the map); one block called Stone’s Throw planted to Riesling and one block called Rocky Mother planted to Syrah. From the names (and the fact that the Neffs were able to build a rock wall from the vineyard excavation), you can probably intuit the rock-hewn nature of the vineyard. In a year like 2010, the Neffs had to be ruthless to get the fruit ripe, cropping the Syrah at about 1 ton/acre (that’s *painfully* low by eastern Washington standards).

I have been a fan of Rocky Mother (and Stone’s Throw) from the beginning. There’s something compelling about making wine on the frontier. Because Riesling thrives in cool climates, Stone’s Throw has been more consistently available; Rocky Mother not so much. After a fine debut with the 2006 vintage, there was no Rocky Mother in 07, and a mere 69 cases in 2008. 2009 was a more forgiving year, and production got all the way up to 100 cases, which is about where it has stayed for the 2010 vintage.

If Dean’s Defiance Vineyard Syrah (which we offered last week; it’s the one grown on the banks of Lake Chelan) is all about elegance, Rocky Mother is all about power. Aromatically, it presents a complex kaleidoscope: sappy grapes, smoky bacon fat, white flowers, cocoa powder. While most Washington Syrah plays in the blue-fruit spectrum (and some in purple fruit territory), this is insistently red-fruited, with dark cherries and brambly raspberries. The joy of the palate, though, is again in the complexities, the subtleties. There are meaty notes, and a deep gravelly core, and them some gorgeous floral notes to add lift. And all of that flows seamlessly across the palate, staining every square inch of surface area. It’s a complete, complex wine, a singular Washington Syrah.

Please limit order requests to 3 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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