Three from Forgeron/Blacksmith

Hello friends. Our offer today focuses on the lovely wines of Marie-Eve Gilla. The original plan was to offer two Blacksmith wines only, but Marie-Eve recently informed me that her 2011 Chardonnay for Forgeron is reaching the end of vintage (expected to sell out in the next few weeks). They’ll be rolling into the 2012 soon, so I’ll include a reoffer for the 2011 at the bottom of today’s offer, since it is a glorious Chardonnay that has been the subject of frequent reorder requests.

But first Blacksmith. I love this project, which is intended to take advantage of unique opportunities on the spot market. It’s a label where the varietals and vineyards aren’t consistent from year to year but will instead represent Marie-Eve’s opportunities to purchase quality grapes at affordable prices.

These bottlings are fireflies, blinking in and out of existence so fast that you wonder if you really saw them at all. Our last Blacksmith offer was in March 2012, so it has been awhile since the Blacksmith fireflies have blinked. But here they are again, back for a moment in ephemeral glory:

2012 Blacksmith Chardonnay

Marie-Eve studied at the University of Dijon and worked at several Burgundian wineries before landing in our fair state, so to say she has a certain comfort level with Chardonnay would be an understatement. Her portfolio is consistently an example of balance, restraint, and class, and for several vintages now, she has been at the peak of her powers, retaining a visceral, infectious passion for the work. In sum, Marie-Eve is a joy to be around, and so it’s no surprise that she makes joyful wines.

Including this lovely little Chardonnay, which has 6% Roussanne in the blend and comes from Four Lakes Vineyard in Chelan, Weinbau on Wahluke Slope, and Lonesome Springs in Yakima Valley. It’s raised in 10% new French oak, the remainder neutral, and is likely a crystal ball allowing us to peer into the future of the 2012 Chardonnay for Forgeron. It begins with a nose of peaches and pears in cream, lifted by a hint of raw almond (the Roussanne) and a little orange peel. The palate is a plump, medium-bodied delight, with peach and melon fruit, hazelnut nuance, a great creamy mid-palate, and a long leesy finish. For a balanced weeknight white, this is tough to beat.

2011 Blacksmith Red Wine

I’ll admit I was dubious when I saw the blend, which had “kitchen sink” written all over it: 50% Merlot, 17% Petite Sirah, 13% Zinfandel, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Lemberger.

But then I did two things: I tasted the wine, and I researched the vineyard sources.

The tasting: Starts with a nose of brambly blackberry and raspberry fruit, complicated by insistent earthy/mushroom notes. The palate is ripe, rich, and brambly, a palate that makes it hard to believe this is the cooler 2011 vintage. For me, despite only making up 30% of the total blend, it’s the Petite Sirah and Zin that dominate the palate with their generous burly fruit profiles. This picks up steam and rolls into a powerful finish, all chewy/delicious Petite Sirah tannins.

The vineyard sources: That 50% Merlot comes entirely from Boushey Vineyard (nice!), as does all the Cab Franc. The thermophilic varieties come from nice hot sites (PS from Stonetree, Zin from Alder Ridge). The Cab is from Red Mountain (Hightower). These are rock-solid vineyard sources for a $15 wine.

Undoubtedly this is an odd blend, but it hangs together well. Its warming, generous character makes it a lovely choice as a house wine in the bleak mid-winter.

2011 Forgeron Chardonnay

Originally offered June 10 2013. Excerpts from original offer:

Marie’s Forgeron Chardonnays are consistently outstanding, always going toe-to-toe with the best Chardonnays produced in Washington, and always offered at tariffs well below those other stalwarts. Her aptitude with Chardonnay has really been on display during these two cooler (2010 and 2011) vintages, and this 2011 has been extremely well-received:

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($27); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ****/***** (Excellent/Exceptional).”

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($27); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “($27); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18.5/20pts.”

That’s plenty of tasting notes, so I won’t add much, except to say that this is a deftly-balanced mix of fruit (green papaya and plantain and nectarine) and bread and earth, all on a mouthwatering frame that perfectly captures the vibrant potential of the cooler vintage. It’s our resident Burgundian-Washingtonian at the peak of her creative powers.

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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