2011 Gramercy Cellars Southern Blend “Lower East”

Hello friends. One of the most exciting developments I learned about during my recent trip to the Walla Walla Valley is that Gramercy is extending the Lower East line. We’ve offered a number of vintages of Lower East Cabernet (see reorder link at bottom for the most recent vintage). I’ve called it the gateway drug to the Gramercy Cellars portfolio. I’ve called it a wine ghost.

You won’t find Lower East wines on Gramercy’s website. You won’t find them in Gramercy’s tasting room. You will rarely find them sold outside the Pac-NW. Lower East is a gift, from Greg Harrington to his local supporters.

Most of it goes to restaurants, a reflection of Greg’s sommelier history. It allows somms all over Seattle to place a Gramercy wine on their list for $50-$60, as opposed to the $90-$100 that the rest of the lineup commands. But some gets allocated to retail channels, especially to long-term supporters of the Gramercy portfolio, and even more especially to retailers who run out to Walla Walla and dig up information and learn that a stash of the wine is already on the west side of the mountains and turn around an offering as quickly as possible:

Much like the Cabernet, this Lower East Southern Blend highlights some of the younger vines in the Gramercy portfolio. So while 2011 Third Man will feature Grenache from established sites (Upland, Olsen), Lower East features a big whack (59%) of Grenache from SJR Vineyard.

I actually walked SJR Vineyard a few weeks ago with its owner, Steve Robertson. It’s an amazing spot, right at the edge of the rocks (but clearly in the rocks, as you can see in this picture; of course my best picture of the vineyard has my stupid fat fingers all over it; egads!). Exactly three wineries purchase fruit from SJR: Rasa, Rotie, and Gramercy. Here it’s blended with 32% Syrah from Les Collines and Minnick, and 7% Cinsault from Olsen.

But ultimately, it’s the Grenache that shines through, and more so, the rocks that shine through via the prism of Grenache. Earthy and stemmy on the nose, with funky-briny green olive notes, it’s all that savory character that comes to the fore, complemented brilliantly by Grenache’s lovely red strawberry fruit. The pattern repeats on the palate, with clear rocks character: meaty notes (bacon fat and smoked beef), briny notes (more green olive, seaweed), and mixed berry fruit. It is absolutely fascinating to experience the Gramercy house style expressed with rocks fruit. Lively, energetic, insistently expressive of where it’s from; it’s difficult for me to believe that this juice landed in the Lower East line instead of the high-end bottles. But I’m not complaining!

Please limit order requests to 6 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 ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: