Two from Gramercy Cellars

Hello friends. A recent tasting with Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars revealed a winemaker at the top of his game. The 2010 vintage (and, I suspect, the 2011) seem to have been created specifically for the Gramercy house style, and the results are irresistible.

2010 Gramercy Cellars Syrah “Lagniappe”

There are three Syrahs in the Gramercy lineup. The John Lewis Reserve, which is nearly impossible to source. The Walla Walla Valley bottling, frequently dominated by some combination of Les Collines and Forgotten Hills. And Lagniappe.

Lagniappe is Cajun for “a little something extra.” Here’s Mark Twain on the word:

“We picked up one excellent word — a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word — ‘lagniappe.’ They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish — so they said. We discovered it at the head of a column of odds and ends in the Picayune, the first day; heard twenty people use it the second; inquired what it meant the third; adopted it and got facility in swinging it the fourth. It has a restricted meaning, but I think the people spread it out a little when they choose. It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a ‘baker’s dozen.’ It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure. The custom originated in the Spanish quarter of the city. When a child or a servant buys something in a shop — or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I know — he finishes the operation by saying — ‘Give me something for lagniappe.’ The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root, gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the governor — I don’t know what he gives the governor; support, likely. When you are invited to drink, and this does occur now and then in New Orleans — and you say, ‘What, again? — no, I’ve had enough;’ the other party says, ‘But just this one time more — this is for lagniappe.’ When the beau perceives that he is stacking his compliments a trifle too high, and sees by the young lady’s countenance that the edifice would have been better with the top compliment left off, he puts his ‘I beg pardon — no harm intended,’ into the briefer form of ‘Oh, that’s for lagniappe.’”

Greg doubtless picked it up during his stint working as Emeril Lagasse’s Wine Director in New Orleans, and he has used it to represent his Syrah that picks up fruit from all sorts of interesting places. But none have been as interesting as the place Greg picked up in 2010: Red Willow Vineyard.

Yep. There’s nothing on the bottle that would indicate it, but 2010 was the first vintage where Gramercy got access to Mike Sauer’s vineyard, a reference-point site for Syrah (located here, on the far western edge of the Yakima Valley). Red Willow plays a big role in Lagniappe, and it’s thrilling to see the Gramercy style applied to this hall-of-fame site. The aromtics are terrifically complex, boasting notes fruity and floral, meaty and minerally. Gramercy Syrahs are always vibrant, but in a cool vintage like 2010, they positively pulsate. There is plenty of silken blackberry and black cherry fruit, all of it well-balanced by briny olive and a deep, rich, meaty note (something like roasting marrow bones, or demi-glace). Greg and his assistant, Brandon Moss, are total pros at tannin management. They’re beautifully fine-grained, giving us a wide glide path across the palate. A thrilling mouthful, this drinks like a 20-year wine.

2012 Gramercy Cellars Rose Olsen Vineyard

And now a little bonus wine. I got a lot of requests last summer for the 2011, especially after Sean Sullivan’s article and strong review came out. But at just 97 cases produced, that vintage was sold entirely through the winery, so I couldn’t fulfill any of those requests.

This year, I’ve pried a small parcel from the clenched hands of the Gramercy folks. There’s not much of it, I’m not sure if any other retail accounts will get any, and, finally, it’s delicious. A blend of 46% Cinsault, 32% Grenache, and 22% Syrah, all from Olsen Estate Vineyard, all harvested specifically for rosé, these grapes spent all of six hours on skins before going into the press, leaving the wine with the palest salmon-orange color. The nose combines melon fruit with chalky minerals and a sea-breeze note. You can almost smell the vibrant acidity to follow. But there’s plenty of richness from the killer 2012 vintage to go with the vibrancy, and the fruit is a delicious mix of melons: honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, all cut by a cooling mineral tone. This hits a sweet spot: delicious enough to serve as a porch-pounder, but complex and serious enough to contemplate for a few minutes before the pounding commences.

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of each wine (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. 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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