Hello friends. Today’s offer was originally planned for October 5, our fourth anniversary. We didn’t quite make it under the wire to send it out in time for that celebration, but the truth is, the wine is milestone enough to warrant its own celebration:
This is our first private label/negociant bottling, a wine that will be available exclusively to our list members. While it’s a new project for us, it’s certainly not a new concept. For generations, merchant-negociants in Europe, in addition to buying finished bottles, have purchased juice and/or grapes for their own labels. And closer to home, I’ve been inspired by the outstanding wine that McCarthy & Schiering puts out under their own label, as well as the terrific ded.reckoning labels from Doug Charles at Compass Wines.
This is an idea that has been germinating for some time now, because every time I’m in northwest wine country, I’m tasting not just finished bottles but plenty of juice from barrel as well. The problem, until recently, was that we simply didn’t meet the volume requirements necessary to commit to a full barrel, or two barrels, or three or four.
Which brings us to the first reason that we’re calling the label “Full Pull & Friends.” The reason is: we couldn’t have done this without our wonderful list members. It’s your support of this venture that has brought us to the point where we could even consider a project like this.
The other set of friends are our winery partners (a special note of thanks here to Trey Busch, who was very patient in explaining the economics and logistics of negociant bottling over multiple conversations). I suspect this will not be our last FP&F bottling (in fact, for our winemaker friends on the mailing list, please consider this your official RFP; Full Pull is in the market for compelling juice), and I expect that in some cases, we’ll include the name of the winery involved, and in others (like today’s offer) we won’t.
I understand the wineries that don’t want their names revealed. They have brand equity to protect, and they don’t want to see their name splashed on a bottle that costs less than half of their own. What I can say is: my plan is to only work with wineries that are already popular with our list members, wineries with whom Full Pull has a long relationship. For example, consider our winery partner for today’s offer. We first started working with them in early 2010, and we’ve offered a grand total of 28 of their wines.
Now a quick word on the label. One advantage with a wine that never has to sit on a retail shelf is that we were able to be completely abstract with the design of the front label (many thanks to Nick Peyton for the design work there). As for what it looks like, well, you’ll just have to wait and see. I also want to note that it was important to me to include “Full Pull” on the label. This is juice that we believe in, that we *want* to put our name on, that we feel represents extraordinary value for our list members.
It is Cabernet Sauvignon from perhaps the best vintage of the past decade in Washington, and it spent about two years in French oak, about two-thirds new. The fruit comes from outstanding vineyards: three of the brilliant sites managed by Kent Waliser and Derek Way for Sagemoor Farms (Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau), along with a bit of fruit from Stillwater Creek. To give a sense of the quality of these sites for Cabernet, Bacchus and Dionysus are vineyards that John Abbott uses for Abeja’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon program, among the very best bottles of Cab produced in Washington.
I’ll start with the end of my tasting note from when I first tasted this back in the spring. It reads: “killer 20-year balanced Cab.” There were some exclamation points and stars, too, I’m lightly-chagrined to admit. But I was wowed. For me, it drank more like wines that we taste regularly in the $50+ range, and I firmly believe that you could cellar this for 10-20 years if you wanted to.
On the other hand, why wait? We’re already six years past vintage (and what a vintage it was: the glorious 2007), and this brings plenty of pleasure right now. It opens with a classic four-corners Cabernet nose: fruit (deep cassis and blackberry), earth (good clean soil), herb (tarragon, beetroot) and barrel (cocoa powder). In the mouth it’s a textural marvel, with depth, intensity, and a real palate-staining character. There’s delicious fruit, and silty minerals, and the whole package is just so fresh still, with minty top-notes and big ripe grape-skin tannins.
For our list members who usually go for our $20-and-under offerings, I hope you’ll consider a splurge here. And for our shipping list members, I should note that these bottles are already in the warehouse, and we should be able to confirm them immediately and get them shipped out during this autumn shipping window, in time for the holidays.
We also have a review for this wine. During my autumn Walla Walla trip, I asked our winery partner to pour this wine for Sean Sullivan out of a shiner (an unlabeled bottle), and I didn’t reveal what it was until he had already written a full review. To his credit, Sean wanted to be extra careful here, so he also asked for another sample bottle from the finished, labeled stash to bag up and slip into one of his blind tastings of multiple Washington Cabernets. He has been kind enough to share this pre-publication review here:
Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ***** (Exceptional).”
I hope you all feel a sense of ownership in this wine, because we couldn’t have done it without you. We’re awfully proud of it. First come first served with no upper limit, and the wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup for shipping.