2010 Rotie Cellars “VdP” (Rhone Blend)

Hello friends. There is no substitute for feet on the ground, for local intel. I’m reminded of that every time I travel to eastern Washington. On just about every trip out there, I learn about some kind of cool opportunity for our list members that could never have been unearthed from behind a computer screen.

That’s how we ended up with the friends-and-family 2007 Gramercy Pinot Noir. That’s how we ended up with library wines from Dunham and Seven Hills. And that’s how we ended up with today’s wine:

1. VdP is, as you can see, a Club-Only wine for Rotie Cellars. Or at least it has been. Traditionally, this wine is a little gift from Sean Boyd to his club members: a well-priced Vin de Pays from the same vineyard sources that go into the higher-end ($40 and up) Rotie bottlings. To the best of my knowledge, this wine has never been offered through a retail channel before.

2. The bottles we’re accessing have their back labels written entirely in French. Pourquoi? They were originally a special parcel intended for Quebec. I’m not sure why these never shipped to Les Quebecois, and I don’t care. This is like getting a baseball card with the wrong name on it: it only adds to the intrigue.

3. It’s a total one-off. We have access to one parcel, one time, with no reorders available. Please try to get all order requests in by Monday night. Sean’s going to send one truckload over the mountains, and that’s all she wrote. I wouldn’t expect us to have any access to future vintages of VdP, either.

Long-time list members know that I like to identify themes emerging out of the wine-ether each year, and even more, that I like to make those identifications far earlier than is reasonable. Well, now that we’re a full 30% of the way through 2013, let me declare this the year of the value Rhone blend in Washington. Ryan Crane’s “Majestic” for Kerloo; Kevin White’s “La Fraternite” and “En Hommage”; all three blends of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and/or Cinsault; all three retailing for under $25; all three enormously popular among our list members.

Add VdP to the list: it’s another wine with shocking quality for this tariff. As I mentioned above, these are not declassified barrels. They come from the exact same sites that go into wines like Rotie’s Northern Blend, Southern Blend, and Homage. Considering the listed blend (50% Syrah/25% Mourvedre/25% Cinsault), the listed vineyards, and the case production (a mere 100 cases), we can take a crack at the building blocks of this wine. My guess: two barrels of Dwelley Vineyard Syrah (which usually goes into the Northern Blend), one barrel of Alder Ridge Mourvedre, and one barrel of Gunkel’s River Cinsault.

The combination is gorgeous, beginning with a high-toned nose of crunchy berry fruit, lilac, and star anise. Purity, vibrancy, intensity: those were the first three words of my tasting note. The fruit is so pure and fresh here, all blackberry and violet surrounding a core of gravelly mineral. With time and air, even more complexity emerges, with notes bacon-fatty and briny. Sean calls this Rotie’s party wine, and that makes sense for the tariff, but it belies the quality and complexity of the juice inside. I guess what I’m saying is: that would be one hell of a party.

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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