2009 Den Hoed Wine Estates Cabernet Sauvignon “Andreas”

October 16, 2013

Hello friends. We have a new vintage today of a lovely under-the-radar Cabernet that has become something of a list-member darling in its previous vintages. We’ve jumped around a bit in vintages, too. First we offered the 2006 and 2007 in October 2011. Then we got access to a library parcel of 2004 in February 2013. And now we have the latest release.

This new release already has one strong review from the only reviewer to publish so far:

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

For the story behind this wine, I’ll excerpt from those previous offerings:

The first force of nature to get its hands on Wallula Vineyards was the Missoula floods. The second was the Den Hoed brothers. As to which was the more powerful, the more stubborn, well, that’s an open question.

Even today, Wallula looks like an impossible place for a vineyard. In much the same way we puzzle today about Stonehenge and the Easter Island statues, future historians might wonder if it took alien technology to blast a vineyard out of virgin terraced rock and sagebrush. As it happens, no aliens were required; just two Dutch brothers and more than two backhoes.

When the Wallula site came up for sale in 1997, Bill and Andy Den Hoed had already been growing wine grapes in Washington for 20 years. Their parents, Andreas and Marie, first-generation Dutch immigrants, began their Washington farming career in the Yakima Valley, where they grew mint, potatoes, and Concord grapes. In 1978, they were among the first farmers in the state to plant vinifera, and it wasn’t long before Chateau Ste Michelle was their biggest customer, and Bill and Andy were hooked into the family business.

Here are object facts about the site in 1997: Untouched sagelands bordering 7 miles of the Columbia River near the Wallula Gap, a Missoula Flood bottleneck. Steep slope, ranging from 350ft above the river at the bottom of the vineyard to 1400ft at the top. Intensely variegated soils, with soil depth ranging from 6 inches to 20 feet.

The difference between seeing difficulty and seeing opportunity is, I suppose, experience. The Den Hoed brothers had experience in spades, and they saw the opportunity to create a special vineyard. Wallula is a spectacular site. It’s difficult to capture in pictures, but let’s try anyway. Here is a wide shot, and here is a closer view to give a sense of the steep, terraced nature of some of these blocks. Remarkable.

As the vineyard came online and the vines gained some age, the better winery owners and winemakers in the state began to take notice. One of those was Allen Shoup, founder of Long Shadows. Recognizing the incredible potential of the vineyard, he put together an investment group that purchased a majority interest in Wallula Vineyard in 2008. Much of the vineyard was then renamed The Benches, but the Wallula name was retained for some of it, and the Den Hoeds continue to own a minority stake and to do all the farming and vineyard management.

But before any of that happened in 2008, Bill and Andy started a small label, with dual purposes: first, to showcase the exceptional nature of Wallula Vineyard; and second, to honor their mother and father. Their mother’s wine is Marie’s View, a multi-varietal blend made each year by Rob Newsom of Boudreaux Cellars. Their father’s wine, Andreas, is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon made by Gilles Nicault of Long Shadows.

Gilles controls every aspect of Andreas. The detail of the grape selection here is intense. It goes beyond block selection, beyond even row selection. In some instances, Gilles is choosing specific plants within a row that are appropriate for Andreas. Once the grapes are picked, all the winemaking is done at Long Shadows, so that Gilles can be intimately involved with the wine at all steps of its evolution. In short, this is lovingly cared-for, deeply coddled wine. And it shows. It shows in the piercing cassis notes, overlain with woodsmoke and dust. It shows perhaps most in the texture, which is balanced, seamless, intense, a silky mass of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit dusted with sweet spice and cocoa powder. This would be a great wine to slip into a tasting of cult Napa Cabs, a fine ringer indeed.

This wine is just getting released, and with the strong review already in place, I’m not sure what will be available to us. Because of that, I’m not going to set an upper order limit. Request what you like, and we’ll do our best (we’ll allocate if needed, but I’m hoping we’re getting in early enough that it won’t be necessary). The wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Two Wines w/ About-To-Be-Published Reviews

October 15, 2013

Hello friends. Sneaking in a quick offering on this fine Tuesday for two wines that were originally slotted for later 2013, or maybe early 2014, but each has an about-to-be-published review that is going to exert extra sales pressure. Let’s not take a chance on missing out:

2012 Guardian Cellars Sauvignon Blanc “Angel”

This review is set to appear in the November issue: Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

As you can pretty easily glean from PaulG’s note, this is the strongest review he was written for a Washington Sauvignon Blanc. Ever.

It certainly does have the pyrazine pungency that only Sauv Blanc can bring to the table, but not in the aggressively green way that can plague New Zealand. Instead, it’s a grass-clover-tarragon-jalapeno all-things-green mish-mash. That appetizing nose gives way to a palate that marries richness to vibrancy in an intense, palate-coating manner, all citrusy and grassy and oh-so Sauv Blanc. The creamy mid-palate is just right, connecting the bright front palate to the lingering, mouthwatering finish. Impressive juice from an AVA (Red Mountain) much better known for burly reds than for Sauvignon Blanc.

2010 Robert Ramsay Cellars Syrah Boushey Vineyard

This review is set to appear in the October 31 issue: Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Note: this has the score/price chops to make Spectator’s Top 100 list at year’s end, but I suspect the production level is too low. All Boushey fruit, and a coferment of 95% Syrah/5% Viognier, if it’s not the funkiest Boushey Syrah ever, it certainly has savory tomato-paste/braised-meat charm to spare. I also picked up some woodsmoke and coconutty/mocha barrel notes that makes me think some proportion of the French oak here is new. The overall package is an intense, spicy, smoky version of this benchmark Washington vineyard.

First come first served up to 12 bottles of each wine, and the wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Two from Marcel Lapierre

October 14, 2013

Hello friends. We have two wines today from a reference point producer in Morgon, one of the ten crus of Beaujolais. The thrust of the offering will be the new vintage of Raisins Gaulois, which was a surprise hit for our list members last autumn. And then we’ll include a short blurb (okay, a rant if I’m being honest) on the tremendous Cuvee Lapierre.

2012 Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois

The late Marcel Lapierre had two famous quotes about his Raisins Gaulois bottling:

#1: “It’s wine to quench your thirst and make you piss.”
#2: “It’s wine to drink in the shower when you wake up in the morning.”

Brilliant! Showering has been so boring lately, and now I know how to fix it.

As you can glean from those quotes, Marcel was a character. He passed away about three years ago, and Eric Asimov’s obituary in the New York Times provides a lovely recollection of the man. Mathieu Lapierre, who had worked several vintages with his father, has now taken over winemaking duties, continuing the family’s serious pursuit of pleasure-making.

Marcel was a member (perhaps the leading member) of the famous Beaujolais “Gang of Four.” Along with Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet, he pushed back – forcefully – against the horrors of banana-bubble-gum-flavored, carbonically-macerated, air-freighted Beaujolais Nouveau, which has about as much in common with good Cru Beaujolais as a sunflower has in common with the sun.

He helped revive interest in the region, and reminded us all that Gamay Noir has its own unique appeal, especially when grown on hillsides and treated with care. The particular hillside cru that became Lapierre‘s focus is Morgon. Raisins Gaulois is mostly declassified Lapierre Morgon, and it’s blended with a few lots from the greater Beaujolais AOC. Because of quirky French labeling laws, this gets the “Vin de France” designation, but it is 100% Gamay from Beaujolais proper.

The label gives a pretty good indication of what this wine is going for. Just plunge the corkscrew directly into the cluster. The goals are transparency, purity, honesty. Josh Raynolds from Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar has called this wine “frighteningly easy to drink,” and that’s about the measure of it. Tapped in kegs at many a Lyon restaurant, here in the states we’re restricted to bottles, but you can make up for it by skipping the stemware and drinking direct from the vessel. Marcel would approve (especially if done in the shower). It’s appetizing, gulpable joy juice, filled with the crunchiest, mineral-drenched berry fruit. Ultra-refreshing (especially with a light chill), it’s a slam dunk for Thanksgiving. Year in and year out, for my palate this is among the finest wine values in the world.

2011 Marcel Lapierre Cuvee MMXI

Vintages of this wine are scattered all over my cellar. I know, I know: $40+ for Beaujolais? But it all depends on your frame of reference.

If your frame of reference is grocery stacks of Beajolais Nouveau, then yeah, this is going to seem like expensive Gamay. But if your frame of reference is greater Burgundy, then this tariff begins to make sense.

I tasted this most recently at a huge portfolio tasting for Lapierre’s Seattle importer, and it was being poured at a table with similarly-priced (slightly more expensive) 1er Cru Savigny Les Beaune Fournaux and 1er Cru Beaune Bressandes from a domaine that shall remain nameless. And I have to tell you: Cuvee Lapierre was the winner by knockout.

It underscored for me how cru Beaujolais remains one of the under-tapped great wine values out there. I blame (praise?) the Brits and their vinous necrophilia, their obsession with aging red Burg until all the fruit has faded and been replaced with a mouthful of dead leaves. They’ve pushed wine fashion towards these wines that take forever to come around, if they ever do. I’m not saying a mature red Burgundy isn’t a profound beverage. It is. Sometimes. But it’s high-stakes gambling, and I’d rather push my chips towards wines where I don’t need to wait 25 years to see if I hit the jackpot.

Cru Beaujolais from a good producer is reliable. It can be drunk young for fresh fruity pleasure. It gains complexity for a few years and then plateaus for a good chunk of time after that. And it doesn’t break the bank.

Okay, rant over. Blanket accusations of mass necrophilia over. Back to the wine, which is deep, intense, filled with silky black cherry fruit and silty minerals and mouthwatering acids. It’s about as fine an expression of Gamay as you’ll find, and not Gamay trying to be Pinot, either. This is Gamay that’s comfortable in its own skin, and the result is breathtaking.

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Josh Raynolds): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Wine Advocate (David Schildknecht): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Go crazy on Raisins: it’s first come first served up to 72 bottles. For the Cuvee, please limit order requests to 6 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. Both wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Two 2011s from Gramercy Cellars

October 13, 2013

Hello friends. The back to back cool vintages of 2010 and 2011 seem to have been created specifically for the Gramercy house style: low-alc, low-oak, high-purity, high-terroir-expressiveness. What a joy it has been to taste what Greg Harrington and Brandon Moss have crafted from these cooler years.

As Gramercy wines from those vintages have been released, the winery’s star has only continued to rise, and allocations have become more and more competitive. I remember the days early in Full Pull’s existence where the notion of reoffering a high-end Gramercy wine was not so ludicrous. But no longer. With releases from the top end of the lineup, we get one shot to access them.

Jeb Dunnuck published reviews from barrel, and we’ll include those notes, along with some pre-publication reviews from Washington Wine Report that Sean Sullivan was kind enough to share.

2011 Gramercy Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley

Winery notes: “While we approached 95% Les Collines fruit in the 2010 Walla Walla Syrah, the 2011 we finally hit 100%. What more can we say about Les Collines? It’s truly a world-class vineyard for Syrah, unique in Washington. It doesn’t have the smoked meat of the Rocks or the firmness of Yakima sites (e.g. Red Willow), but Les Collines is powerful without being cloying. It emphasizes aromatics and behaves like a Burgundian Grand Cru vineyard, with the mid-slope being the best part… In terms of winemaking, 2011 wasn’t much of a departure from previous vintages: stems, puncheons, neutral oak. The wine pretty much makes itself. This cuvée is a selection from different parts of the hill, each piece giving different characteristics. What was different was the harvest date – October 18-20.  Usually we pick this vineyard around the third week of September.”

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ****/***** (Excellent/Exceptional)”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): [BARREL SAMPLE] “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

For aromatic complexity, it’s tough to beat Les Collines. This is full of smoke and blueberry and pine nut and a magic high-toned floral component, all violets and lavender. Beautiful to smell, and supple and bright in the mouth, with the usual Gramercy Syrah mix of brambly fruits and savories (briny olives especially). Precise, pure, vibrant: this is beautiful wine.

2011 Gramercy “Third Man” (Grenache Blend)

Winery notes: “The 2011 brings another exciting addition to the Gramercy Grenache vineyard arsenal. We have been working with Alder Ridge and Olsen for a few vintages and in 2011 we added Upland Vineyard.  We now think we have the Washington Grenache trifecta: our own ‘Three Tenors.’  Upland is a legendary Grenache vineyard and we are honored to have it.  The 2011 is from Olsen and Upland Vineyards.  (What happened to the Alder Ridge?  Stay tuned for the 2014 Spring MTA release.) Upland adds another level of aromatics and complexity.  It’s all about red fruits i.e. strawberry and raspberry, with gravel, tar and Provence herbs.”

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ***** (Exceptional)”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): [BARREL SAMPLE] “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

This one was all about the texture for me. The silky, pillowy Grenache fruit is the star, bringing raspberry and strawberry fruit that is especially compelling for its wild, brambly, sauvage character. It’s a seamless palate, lighting up sensory receptors along the entire trip from lips to gullet. Nuances of smoked meat, white pepper, and green olive ratchet up the complexity. Glorious earthy Grenache.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of each wine, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Misfits I

October 11, 2013

Hello friends. We’re rolling out a new offering today, and if it’s successful, you can expect to see it become a recurring monthly feature.

It’s called Misfits, and it will feature wines that don’t quite make it into their own offering, but that are too compelling not to write about. These will mostly be wines that are a little outside the mainstream, but wines where those of us who like them *really* like them.

Unlike a regular Full Pull offering, which drills into deep detail on one or two or three wines, a Misfits offering will have much shorter blurbs (a paragraph or maybe two) on a greater number of wines.

Now it wouldn’t be a new Full Pull feature without a new map. Since we’re going to be zooming all over Europe today, here is a map with a key to all the locations we’ll be visiting.

Happy Friday, fellow wine nerds. Let’s fly the geek flags high today!

2012 Tasari Sicilia IGT Catarratto

A lot of Sicilian imports that make it into Seattle are of the dirty-stinky-belching-volcano variety. This bottle is the opposite: a clean-as-a-whistle Catarratto. Catarratto is the second-most planted white grape in Italy, and much of it goes into their vast Marsala production. But it can also make a lovely, dry, unfortified wine. This one drinks a little like Semillon, with its mix of fig and melon. I like the palate weight here, the juicy acidity, and the herb-inflected fruit. Classy texture, good complexity, and clean drinking from southernmost Italy.

2011 Olivier Morin Chitry Blanc

I sampled this at a recent tasting, and it was so good it sent me down the research rabbit hole to figure out why. Let’s start with this map. As you can see, Chitry is about as close to Chablis as you can get, yet up until 1993, any bottle from this area carried the generic Bourgogne appellation. In ’93, Chitry producers were granted the right to put Chitry on the bottle, but this still remains a very obscure part of Burgundy. Pity for them, bully for us, because this drinks exactly like a nice Chablis, but at an obscurity discount.

The soils in Chitry are the same kimmeridgian chalky series as Chablis. If you like your Chardonnay flinty, minerally, with no new oak, this is the bottle for you. A killer example of cold-climate Chardonnay, all steely white fruits and tree fruits and rippin’ acid. The value-for-price ratio is tremendous, and the only downside is that very little made it into Seattle (very little of any Chitry makes it into the entire United States for that matter), so this is unlikely to be available for reorder.

2011 Eric Texier Cotes-du-Rhone

Eric Texier is one of the most exciting vignerons working in the Rhone Valley today. His wines are imported into the US by the terrific Louis/Dressner (a stamp of approval for natural/geeky/delicious wines). This bottling is unlike any other you’ll taste from the one-size-fits-all Cotes-du-Rhone category. Eric starts with 80% Grenache (normal enough), but the remainder is all white grapes, a mix of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Bourboulenc. The result is a wine with soaring aromatics: white flowers, fresh summer strawberries, ripe red brambly raspberries. I could smell it all day long. The palate is light (12.5% listed alc), juicy, refreshing, and above all, balanced. It’s CdR as a vin de soif, and it should be on our Thanksgiving tables without question. A singular Cotes-du-Rhone from a special producer.

2012 Domaine Aime Vin de Pays d’Oc Cabernet Franc

A 100% Cabernet Franc from the Languedoc. I’m not used to this kind of palate-staining character at this tariff. “Rich and deep for cheap” my note says. Look for black fruit, mole poblano, sweet pepper, and minty topnotes. We’re worlds apart from the cool-climate Cab Franc of the Loire Valley (Chinon, Bourgeuil, Saumur). Instead look for the warmth and generosity of the Languedoc, the value garden of sunny southern France.

2011 Cantina del Bovale di Sardegna Monica

A Sardinian red, from the grape Monica (possibly indigenous, possibly from Spain), this is a delightful curiosity from that Mediterranean island. A nose of red cherry, sagebrush, mint, and bay leaf gives way to a juicy, fresh-herb-inflected mouthful, with subtle stoniness and a real wild/sauvage character to the mountain berry fruit. Not quite like anything I’ve tasted recently.

2010 Domaine du Cros Marcillac Vieilles Vignes

Marcillac is an almost-forgotten wine region in Southwest France, but there is a long history of winemaking here, and the dominant grape is Fer Servadou. Geek alert! The “fer” (iron) in Fer Servadou is thought to refer to one or both of a) the iron-hard wood of this particular vine; and b) the iron-rich, red-clay, “rougiers” soils.

Domaine du Cros is about as good as it gets in Marcillac, and this VV bottling comes from vines that are all more than 80 years old (80!!). It’s only the obscurity that keeps the price low here; the quality is spectacular. Aged in large barrels of both oak and chestnut, it starts with a nose of earth, rose petals, and stemmy red fruit. The palate has raspberry fruit, blood-orange acids, cherry-tea tannins, but this is above all an earthy, earthy wine. If you like tasting a specific piece of terroir, this is a wine to cherish.

First come first served on all of these, with no upper limits. All the wines should arrive within the next few weeks, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Four 2011s from Kerloo Cellars

October 9, 2013

Hello friends. Appropriate that today’s offering comes during our anniversary week. I feel a special kinship and history with Ryan Crane and his Kerloo Cellars wines. A Kerloo wine was the third Full Pull offering, way back on October 9, 2009. It was the first Syrah we ever offered. It was also Ryan’s first vintage (2007), and it has been a pleasure watching our ventures grow in tandem.

As good as Ryan’s wines were back in 2009, they have only gotten better in the intervening years. And they haven’t gotten any easier to find. He has kept his production levels ruthlessly low, such that you can set an annual clock to Kerloo’s rhythm: released in autumn, sold out by year’s end.

For 2011, we have two Kerloo wines that will be familiar to long-term list members and two that are new:

2011 Kerloo Cellars Tempranillo

A blend of Tempranillo from cooler Les Collines Vineyard (54%) in the Walla Walla Valley and warmer Stonetree (46%) at the top of Wahluke Slope, done in 28% new oak (a mix of French and the more traditional-in-Rioja American). The aromatics are smoky, sultry; a mix of smoldering leaves and black cherries. The palate is juicy, mouthwatering, with a real earthy/tea-leaf character buffering black fruit and juniper berry. The tannins are fine-grained. The overall package is a balanced, honest expression of Washington Tempranillo.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19.5/20pts.”

2011 Kerloo Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley

Ryan makes otherworldly Syrahs from the Walla Walla Valley. In my opinion, it’s those Syrahs that have built Kerloo’s reputation more than any other wine. This year, he adds a new vineyard into the mix, working with Blue Mountain fruit for the first time (this is the Tranche estate vineyard, located here, formerly the estate site of Nicholas Cole Cellars). That makes up 38% of the blend, and the remaining 62% is Les Collines (location here). Ryan threw in whole clusters (stems and all) for 60% of the grapes, and a quarter of this was fermented in concrete. Out of seven barrels of wine (about 175 cases), only one was new.

As usual, Ryan captures the aromatic beauty of Les Collines Syrah, with a soaring nose of blueberry fruit, violet and lavender flowers, and cracked black pepper. This could only be Syrah. In the mouth, this is silken-textured and savory-flavored, with smoky tarry espresso streaks running throughout a core of boysenberry fruit and mineral. Because the texture is so ethereal, the length and intensity sneak up on you, a happy surprise to finish a fine Walla Walla Syrah.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19/20pts.”

2011 Kerloo Cellars Grenache

Previously a club-wine only, this is the first widely commercial release. Although widely is kind of a joke, since Ryan made a grand total of 80 cases. From Alder Ridge and Upland, with 20% whole clusters and done entirely in neutral wood, this starts with a classic Grenache nose of white pepper, herbs de provence, and raspberry fruit. The palate conveys super-crunchy berry fruit, like biting through the taut skin of a perfectly-ripe grape. It’s a bowlful of mixed berries, intercut with hot-rock minerality, and it finishes long and mouthwatering.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19/20pts.”

2011 Kerloo Cellars Malbec

Ryan made 161 cases of 100% Stonetree Vineyard Malbec, done in 30% new French oak. Inky black in the glass, it presents a lovely nose of blackberry, earl gray tea, and iron filings. There is pretty inner-mouth perfume here, and a big gravelly mid-palate. It exists someplace between Argentina and Cahors, all ajumble with fruit and rocks.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19+/20pts.”

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2011 Array Cellars Chardonnay Dijon-Clone (Otis Vineyard)

October 7, 2013

Hello friends. Is Otis Vineyard in line to be the next Red Willow?

You remember the Red Willow story, right? Under contract to Columbia Winery (and/or its owners, Constellation Brands and Ascentia Estates) for many years, followed by a recent explosion in interest as they began to be able to sell their outstanding fruit to boutique wineries.

Well, Otis is even older. Planted in 1957 (!), it has what are believed to be the oldest commercial Cabernet vines in Washington state. Paul Gregutt wrote a wonderful article about Otis Vineyard, and its relationship to the late great Master of Wine David Lake, for the Seattle Times back in 2005.

As far as I know, the only winery to bottle Otis Vineyard fruit on its own has been Columbia (or its old name, Associated Vintners). Until today.

Leave it to Henry Smilowicz to be the one to bottle Otis fruit. We introduced Henry’s Array Cellars last autumn. Array is a focused, Chardonnay-only winery looking to unearth the best plots of Chardonnay Washington has to offer. They source from an all-star list of vineyards: Celilo, Conner Lee, Dionysus, Stillwater Creek. And Otis.

For the 2010 vintage, they blended all their sites into one delicious bottling, a bottling that began to build serious buzz locally (inclusion in Seattle Magazine’s Best New Washington Wines in 2013 didn’t hurt). Now Array is back, and I suspect their 2011 vintage is only going to build on all that strong publicity. In 2011, several vineyards stood up and demanded to be bottled on their own. One of them was Otis, all from a block of Dijon-clone vines planted in the 1980s.

The Otis connection happened through Robert Takahashi. Robert now helps make the Array wines, but for many years, he assisted David Lake at Columbia, crushing plenty of Otis Vineyard fruit. Robert’s connection to Terry Herrmann, the vineyard manager for Otis, proved to be the key that unlocked these beautiful grapes.

This bottle’s historical significance is intellectually interesting, for certain, and the juice inside may be even more interesting. For me, this wine delivers on the promise of Array’s inaugural vintage and enters the conversation of top Chardonnays in Washington (with Woodward Canyon, Abeja, Buty Conner Lee, Efeste Lola, and a handful of others I’m sure I’m forgetting). When I look into my crystal ball, I see a future where this wine’s tariff begins with a 4 or a 5. But not today!

Right from the first sniff, this one grabs your interest, because it has a real dusty/earthy component overlaying the stone fruit. My note says “nose has a clean funkiness, if that makes sense.” No, no it doesn’t, but it made sense to me at the time, so I’m sticking with it. Take a sip and you’ll find a live wire, a palate stainer, coating your mouth with plantain fruit, hazelnut, lemon oil, and sweet spice. It’s fleshy, earthy, concentrated; as seamless and complete a Chardonnay as I’ve tasted from Washington in some time.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19/20pts.”

Production is a mere 165 cases, so no telling how long this will be available for reorder. But for now, it’s first come first served up to 12 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.