Four from Efeste

Hello friends. 2012 was a vintage of transition for Efeste. It was the year that Brennon Leighton was recruited to join Charles Smith and his new Chardonnay label (we should see the first releases from that project later this year), and Efeste hired on as his replacement Peter Devison.

At the time, I was excited about the choice. I recalled a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Peter had made in a previous gig that floored me with its nervy acid, its unapologetic brightness (especially in a fleshy year like 2009). This was clearly a guy who could understand, and honor, the racy house style Brennon had established for Efeste’s whites.

Today you can see for yourselves, as we have Peter’s first white wine releases under Efeste. And as a callout to Brennon’s days at Efeste, we’ll also include a reoffer for a well-loved red, the 2010 Big Papa.

2012 Efeste Riesling Evergreen Vineyard

Part of Brennon’s legacy at Efeste is the connection to Evergreen Vineyard. When Brennon worked for Ste Michelle, they used Evergreen fruit to form the core of Eroica, and when he landed at Efeste, he continued working with the vineyard. Evergeen (located here) sits on a giant bed of uplifted caliche in a corner formed by the Columbia River to the west and the Ancient Lakes to the north. It’s a site prized for the chalky mineral spine it seems to impart to all the white grapes grown there.

Evergreen does great with Sauvignon Blanc, great with Chardonnay, great with Pinot Gris. But it has built its reputation on Riesling. As the main source of both Eroica and Charles Smith’s Kung Fu Girl, it has become an ambassador vineyard for Washington Riesling, and for the Ancient Lakes region specifically.

Peter’s version clocks in at 12.8% alc and barely a tick above 1% RS, so it drinks quite dry. I love the balance here, across several axes: acid-sugar, fruit-mineral. It provides a lovely sense of dry extract, and layers of flavor: peach, pluot, tangerine, honeysuckle, all streaked through with Evergreen’s chalky minerals. A terrific example of Evergreen Riesling, and Stephen Tanzer agreed (recall that a 91pt score from the point-reticent Tanzer is a strong review indeed):

International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91(+?)pts.”

2012 Efeste Sauvignon Blanc “Feral” Evergreen Vineyard

This Sauvignon Blanc (13.5% alc), also from Evergreen, is made entirely with “feral” (non-commercial) yeasts, and it has garnered something of a cult-like following in the Seattle market. While there are several places to experience Evergreen Riesling, Evergreen Sauv Blanc is a rarer bird altogether. The nose begins with a bright green grassy note, oh so Sauvignon Blanc and feral indeed. The beautiful Evergreen acidity carries a mouthful of mineral and sweet pea, with citrus-pith undertones. A nervy, electric wine.

International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

2012 Efeste Sauvignon Blanc “Sauvage” Boushey Vineyard

No Tanzer review for this one (in fact, no reviews period that I could find). Sauvage is a companion to Feral, another native-yeast-fermented, single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, but coming entirely from one of Dick Boushey’s vineyards.

There is an attractive earthy muskiness to the aromas of grapefruit, lime zest, and jalapeno. Peter used a touch of new wood here (15%, the remainder neutral), and it shows as a smoky subtlety on the nose. In the mouth, this 13.7%-alc wine displays truly rippin’ acid. It’s a nervy enamel-stripper, and if you like soft, round wines, this is one to avoid. But for those of us who appreciate a racy white than can walk the acid tightrope, this is a mouthwatering treat from a fascinating terroir.

2010 Efeste Cabernet Sauvignon “Big Papa”

Originally offered June 24, 2013. Excerpts from offers:

Big Papa is 100% Cabernet, and it’s where Brennon blends the best old-vine blocks that he works with. The average vine age is between 30 and 35 years, from Red Mountain (Klipsun and Kiona) and Sagemoor properties (Sagemoor and Bacchus). It sees 80% new French oak, contributing notes of woodsmoke to a lovely nose of dark fruit (blackberry, blackcurrant), fresh herb (bay leaf, rosemary), and green tea. The palate is truly succulent; clearly Brennon had no trouble getting ripeness in the cooler 2010 vintage. An attack of mint-tinged blackberry fruit gives way to a plump mid-palate, and then the powerful tannins take over, carrying the finish in a wash of black- and green-tea chew.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “($54); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), 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.

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