Hello friends. Let’s begin today with logistics. This will be our final offer of 2013, and we will not be visiting your inboxes again until January 6. As for pickups, we are CLOSED for the next two weeks, and our first TPU pickup day in 2014 will be on Thursday, January 9.
Now, with that out of the way, onto the message I like to send out at the end of each year, which is: I believe that the day-to-day rhythms of our jobs are adept liars. And the main lie they tell is: we’re not making any progress. Thank goodness, then, for the milestone that the end of the year brings; the chance to pull back from the microscopic and try to see things at a macro level.
2013 was a wild year for Full Pull. We experienced considerably more PR this year than in our previous years combined. That helped contribute to terrific growth, which led us to move to a new warehouse space. Having more space allowed us to chase after a long-held dream, to pursue private label/negociant projects under our new Full Pull & Friends label (more on that below, and more to come in 2014).
It was a year of steadfast progress, of happy growth. I want to thank all of you for inviting us into your inboxes and your dining rooms. As I’ve said numerous times, nothing gives me more pleasure than receiving notes from list members detailing a meal or a gathering where one (or several) of our wines enhanced the experience, loosened the lips for better storytelling, strengthened the bonds of fellowship. Full Pull’s mission is simple – to facilitate happiness – and your stories help underscore that we’re fighting the good fight to succeed at that mission.
I also want to thank you for continuing to spread the word about Full Pull to other wine-lovers. The most common answer, when we ask list newbies picking their wine up for the first time where they heard about Full Pull, is from another list member. That’s a point of pride for our entire team, and we’re deeply appreciative.
Now, long time list members know that we like to include an excerpt of Tennyson’s In Memoriam in our final offer of the year. Each time I come upon these stanzas at the end of a year, I find myself moved beyond measure. The poem speaks to the cleansing grace of the end of a year, the power of first remembering and then letting go:
from Tennyson’s In Memoriam:
I thought we’d keep this last offer simple this year. I’ve been thrilled with the response to the Full Pull & Friends offer from October, and now that many of our list members have actually had a chance to taste the wine, I’d like to offer an opportunity for reorders:
Originally offered October 27, 2013. Excerpts from original offer:
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.
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 WITTHELD]. Rating: ***** (Exceptional).”
First come first served with no upper limit, and the wine is in the warehouse and ready for pickup in the new year or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.
The year’s end is always a reminder to me that it’s a dream job, this: writing about wine for people who care. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do so, and my wish is that our wines can continue to bring the same happiness to you that this endeavor brings to me. Here’s to a year light on sorrows and heavy on joys. Happy holidays, happy new year, and onwards to 2014.