Three 2008s from Saint Laurent

March 31, 2014

Hello friends. A family with a long tradition of grape-growing decides to get into the winery business. They make lovely wines from their estate fruit, wines that receive plenty of critical acclaim, but they never quite get the sales side figured out. Eventually, they decide to hand off the sales side completely and go back to focusing on growing. The result: wines doled out over a period of months/years at prices that represent tremendous value for the money. The wines themselves are released just as their peak drinking windows are beginning to open.

Sound familiar?

If you’re thinking Olsen Estates, I’m not surprised. Our list members’ love affair with those wines, and the For A Song label they spawned, is well-known.

But today, despite eerie similarities in the story, we’re talking about a different producer, one with estate vineyards on the Wahluke Slope. We’re talking about Saint Laurent.

This is not an unfamiliar producer to our list members. We’ve previously offered their 2006 Syrah, and their 2005 and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignons, all of which were well-received. Today we have the first set of releases since this deal went through, all from the terrific 2008 vintage.

2008 Saint Laurent Merlot

This clocks in at 13.9% listed-alc, and the nose presents an alluring mix of black cherry and blackberry fruit, swaddled in nutty, spicy oak. It’s evolving nicely in the mouth, the fine-grained tannins softening up and making for a deeply pleasant, quaffable beverage. There are some bottle-age notes emerging, in the form of leather spice and soil and dried cherry, and the oak is integrating beautifully, offering mocha grace notes on the back end.

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “($18); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

2008 Saint Laurent Syrah

I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: Washington Syrah 5-6 years past vintage is just lovely. The nose has this lovely mix of dried berries, fresh cherries, and raspberry preserves. In the mouth, those fruit notes continue, now complemented by earthen/mineral subtleties. This possesses a real mouthfilling, palate-coating quality for the tariff (on a reasonable 13.9% listed-alc frame). And again, the extra bottle age has sanded down all the rough edges, leaving a polished delight behind.

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “($18); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

2008 Saint Laurent Cabernet Sauvignon

For me, this is the most developed of the three, with terrific tertiary notes of earth and mushroom emerging on the nose to complement the cassis and dried cherry fruit. Already awfully complex, it combines fruit and earth elements, savories (more shrooms and beetroot), espressoey barrel notes, and lovely mentholated topnotes. It’s a wine that picks up steam across the palate, finishing with legitimate Cabernet chew for the tariff, the tannins just leaving their rustic stage and beginning to soften up.

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “($22); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

I like Steiman’s drinking windows for the Cab and Merlot, but I’d suggest drinking up the Syrah in the next 2-3 years. There’s certainly no need to wait on any of the three; they’re all immediate-gratification plays. They’re also strong options for wedding and parties, so let’s open it up: first come first served up to 72 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.

Two 2008 Chianti Classicos

March 30, 2014

Hello friends. One of the happy Full Pull trends of 2013 was the way our list embraced Chianti. It is doubtless a terrific value-hunter’s category, but it requires legwork, a lot of frog-kissing to find the princes. There you have the Full Pull model: we kiss the frogs so you don’t have to.

Chianti is on the rebound in the US, but it’s still walking the line between fashionable and unfashionable. Still burdened by the days of swill-in-straw-baskets, (quick reminder: the name for those straw baskets is “fiasco,” which means flask in Italian but which doubles as an accurate description of Chianti marketing in recent decades.), uttering the word Chianti is still as likely as not to lead to your friends’ doing terrible Hannibal Lecter impersonations.

But no matter. We know better. Fashion or no, we know that Chianti remains one of the world’s beating hearts of Sangiovese, and that the good bottles are really, really good.

Recently we tasted two lovely examples from the 2008 vintage, one entry-level, one higher-end, and both entering the early stages of their peak drinking windows:

2008 La Maialina Chianti Classico

Here is Antonio Galloni, writing about La Maialina for Wine Advocate in 2010: “La Maialina is my most exciting discovery in Tuscany so far this year. Consulting oenologist Attilio Pagli buys wines in bulk from one of Tuscany’s most elite properties [a property that wishes to remain anonymous], then raises and bottles them in a separate facility. I was blown away by what I tasted. When you factor in the price, these are some of the most stunning values to come out of Tuscany, or anywhere for that matter.”

This comes out of the gate with a deep dark nose of plum, raisin, fig, dark chocolate, and dark soil. I like the mix of fresh, dried, and stewed fruit. The plush palate contains a deep well of black fruit, complemented by earth notes, savory tomato paste, and good Italian bitters. This drinks with noteworthy polish for a Chianti Classico (especially at this tariff), but a nice sense of rustic chew on the back end reminds us what part of the world we’re in.

Wine Advocate (Antonio Galloni): “($16); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

2008 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Poggio Rosso

San Felice has been a hugely popular producer for our list members. We offered their 2010 Chianti Classico, 2009 Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio, and their 2004 Maremma Toscana at various points in 2013. Poggio Rosso is their single-vineyard gem (they call it “the true aristocrat of Chianti Classico”), and it blends 80% Sangiovese with 10% each of the considerably more rare Colorino and Pugnitello. We have it today for about as good a tariff as I could find nationally, and well off its $60 release price.

It comes from the calcareous marl soils of Castelnuovo Berardenga in the foothills outside of Siena, and it is aged for 20 months in large Slavonian oak botti, followed by another 15 months in bottle, before release. That means this was likely released in early 2012, so we get the benefit of an extra two years of bottle age, taking it right up against the beginning of peak drinking. Sweet.

Wine Advocate (Antonio Galloni): “($60); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Great tasting note, as usual from Galloni. I agree that this is a big, ripe, deep wine, a total palate-stainer that somehow pulls off the trick of also conveying a lively sense of inner-mouth perfume and energy. The mix of loamy earth, dried cherry fruit, high-cacao chocolate, and citrus-pith bitters is fabulous. This is just going to keep getting better and better. The fine sense of balance suggests that it will offer untold rewards during each successive step in its evolution.

Please limit order requests to 12 Maialina and 6 San Felice, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. 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.

2010 Echo Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon

March 28, 2014

Hello friends. We have a compelling tariff today on a great single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon that normally retails for $65. And I can’t really take the credit for this one. The credit goes to you. Or at least, some of you.

Our list has something of a virtuous cycle going on when it comes to Washington wineries. Many of you buy Washington wines from Full Pull, try them, love them, and then visit those wineries when you travel to places like Walla Walla. And then you’re apparently a vocal bunch, frequently mentioning to the winemakers with whom you interact that it was Full Pull where you were first introduced to their winery.

I can’t tell you how much this has helped strengthen our relationships with those wineries. It’s strengthened because a) our winery partners see what knowledgeable, jovial, all-around-above-average folks populate our list, and they like selling wine to folks like you; and b) they see that, in addition to the sales they get from Full Pull, they’re also getting a fringe marketing benefit.

And then those wineries *want* to offer our members special opportunities. Like today’s Cabernet.

The folks at Echo Ridge were really thrilled with our list’s response to our first offer for their wine (2010 Syrah, back in May 2013), and as a thank-you, they’re offering this fine tariff on their Cabernet. It has already received praise from Tanzer (recall that a 92pt review from the points-reticent Tanzer is a fine review indeed):

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

Do you remember the Echo Ridge Vineyard story? The site wasn’t always called that. It used to be called Flying B Vineyard, and it was an estate site owned by none other than Drew Bledsoe. He purchased the land in 2003 and planted the vineyard in 2006. As Doubleback was becoming closer to a reality, the focus became the Walla Walla Valley, and so they sold Flying B sometime in late 2010/early 2011 to Jay and Kim Bales, who renamed it Echo Ridge (it’s just outside of the town of Echo, on the Oregon side of the Columbia Valley [see location here]). For such young vines, the intensity of the fruit is outstanding, and this is a fascinating, underexplored part of the (waaaaaaay) south Columbia Valley.

And the winemaker happens to be one Billo Naravane, whose Rasa Vineyards wines are as hot as hot can be right now. This is a terrific opportunity to taste Billo’s tasteful winemaking style through the prism of a completely different Cabernet vineyard. What he has created is a total old-world/new-world bridge wine, so it’s not surprising that Tanzer was seduced. This is a true four corners Cab, with elements of fruit (redcurrant), earth (a real crushed gravel character), savory/herbal (beetroot, mint), and barrel (espresso, mocha). This is so far away from a crème de cassis fruit-bomb Cabernet. Instead it dazzles with its insistent earthiness, its polished texture (as usual, Billo is on point when it comes to tannin management), its nervy energy.

I agree with Tanzer that this combination of buoyancy and intensity is truly remarkable for vines this young. Echo Ridge is a vineyard with incredible potential, and this is a chance to be there at the beginning. First come first served up to 24 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.

2008 Owen Roe Pinot Noir Solomon Hills Vineyard

March 26, 2014

Hello friends. Some of our job when it comes to buying for Full Pull is mind-reading – divining the desires of our list members.

And I have a gut feeling (admittedly an educated gut based on e-mails sent and reorders requested) that our list members want one more shot at this wine:

Here’s how the exchange went down; the anatomy of a reoffer:

FEB 20
PAUL: Do you think there’s enough 2008 Owen Roe Solomon Pinot to consider a reoffer for that wine?
OWEN ROE’S SEATTLE REP: I have reached out to the winery to see what they have left. Matt ordered our last 18 bottles today. Will let you know.

FEB 21
ORSP: Owen Roe has [REDACTED] cases remaining. I have put a hold on those. Is that enough for a reoffer?
P: Yep. We’ll take all [REDACTED], to deliver on whatever Wednesday works for you guys. Thanks!
OSRP: Due to the trucking/warehouse schedule the order will arrive to our warehouse late Wednesday afternoon next week. We will plan on [delivery to Full Pull] Wednesday March 5th.

The entire remaining stock of this wine arrives at the Full Pull warehouse. The wine is now effectively sold out in all northwest markets, and 2008 was the last vintage Owen Roe made of this Pinot, so there’s a real poignancy for those of us who have loved the 07 and 08 vintages of this wine.

And that brings us to today. The wine has now had a chance to settle and is ready to go. We have a decent chunk; borderline whether we’ll sell the entire parcel today, or whether this will show up in future Eliminator offers.

We originally offered it on September 19, 2013. Here are excerpts from that original offer:

This is an Oregon producer who is best known for wines from Washington fruit, with a Pinot Noir from the Santa Maria Valley. In California. Confusing enough?

Perhaps this will help cut through the clutter: our tariff is nearly half off the release price of $42.

If Full Pull were located in Portland or San Francisco, that pricing never would have happened. In the twin hearts of domestic Pinot country, blowout tariffs on five-years-past-vintage high-end Pinot Noirs just don’t tend to happen. The wines sell fine. But Pinot is a slower mover in Washington, allowing for the occasional screamer, and we are in the right place at the right time.

Solomon Hills Vineyard is a sister site to Bien Nacido, and it’s about as far west as you can get in the Santa Maria Valley, sitting on a bed of ocean floor sandy loam. Check out the location. You can see that this site gets as much maritime influence as possible, making it one of the coolest vineyards in the AVA as well (as evidenced by the 13% alc on this one, a far cry from the boozier Pinots from California’s warmer climes).

The aromatics on the 2008 are immediately reminiscent of the 2007, with a core of raspberry fruit complemented beautifully by meaty, marine, and leafy. The palate sees rich cherry fruit and earth notes, combined with that continuing savory/umami/seaweed note that ratchets up the complexity. Like the 2007, this displays tightrope balance, supple texture, fine intensity, and a lingering finish. The extra bottle age is the final layer of polish on a lovely wine.

Allen Meadows, the Burghound, is known as a particularly exacting reviewer when it comes to scores. Domestic producers are generally thrilled to see anything from 88pts on up, and a 90 from the Hound is a fine achievement indeed:

Burghound (Allen Meadows): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

Gotta love seeing “Drink 2013+” when we’re sitting here in 2014. This is a rare opportunity to taste well-aged Central Coast Pinot at a fine tariff, and this 2008 is the last vintage ever made of this wine, so we shan’t be seeing it again.

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Three Limited Wines

March 24, 2014

Hello friends. A trio of limited wines today. Each would easily deserve its own offer, if only there was more to go around. In the event, we’re rolling them together into one sweet super-offer. Or super-sweet offer. Or something.

2012 Kelley Fox Pinot Noir “Mirabai”

We’ve never offered a Kelley Fox wine before, and the problem has always been availability. For the past several years, these wines have been available in Oregon and in New York. But not Washington.

They’re popular among the somm set (and much more likely to turn up on restaurant lists than on retail shelves) in part because of their clear Burgundian sensibilities, which makes sense when you consider Kelley’s background. She was at one point the assistant winemaker for Eyrie Vineyards, working alongside David Lett himself, and since 2005 has been the winemaker for Scott Paul Wines. Scott Paul also has his Burgundy imports arm, so doubtless Kelley is tasting plenty of Burgundian wine and interacting with plenty of Burgundian winemakers.

Here is David Schildknecht, writing about the winery in the October 2013 Wine Advocate: “Kelley Fox – who also takes day-to-day charge of Scott Paul wines – interprets “hands-on” more strictly than any other small, non-vineyard-owning vintner I’ve met. Pruning, canopy management, and biodynamic treatments in her 1978 block at Maresh are accomplished solo; she calls the shots and takes the lead in harvest at both her sites; bottling is by her own hand; and sales – whether to trade or her devoted cadre of private customers spread around the globe – are also handled and tracked personally.”

Sound compelling enough? Now, Kelley makes three wines: a Maresh Vineyard Pinot, a Momtazi Vineyard Pinot, and then Mirabai, a wine that combines both vineyards (in 2012 it’s 85/15 Maresh/Momtazi) and is crafted for more youthful accessibility (it has a great label, too). That meshes perfectly with the 2012 vintage in Oregon, a generous year with plenty of plush, delicious Pinot fruit. This begins with a great Oregon nose combining black cherry, silty mineral, and lovely topnotes of forest floor and mint. In the mouth, this is precisely balanced (13.5% listed alc), melding the depth of the old-vine fruit, the flesh of the 2012 vintage, and plenty of nervy acidity. There’s a savory-sweet note here – something like rhubarb – that is just lovely, and plenty of salty mineral tang. The suaveness, class, and silken texture here easily belie the price point. I’m thrilled that Kelley’s wines are back in Seattle, and that we can offer this particular beauty.

2012 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir Dundee Hills

One of the great thrills of attending Oregon Pinot Camp back in 2012 was meeting Veronique Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin Oregon (see picture, taken from the top of DDO’s vineyards; Veronique is front and center with the purple name-tag; I’m looming behind her). Her home base these days is in Beaune, but she is in Oregon on a regular basis, especially around harvest time. Veronique mentioned that her father also still comes to Oregon during harvest time on a regular basis. It’s clear that the family has a deeply-rooted connection to the Willamette Valley. It’s a second home to them, and many of the other long-time winemakers in the valley seem like extended Drouhin family members.

I won’t rehash the entire story of DDO here (see our inaugural DDO offering for those details), but suffice it to say that making wine in Oregon was still a pretty risky proposition in 1987, and for the young Veronique to eschew the clear path leading to a career in Burgundy, and to instead farm wine grapes on a converted Christmas tree orchard in the Dundee Hills, well, that should give you a sense of the woman’s character.

After the challenges of the cooler 2010 and 2011 vintages in Oregon, 2012 was welcomed with open arms. As usual, DDO’s Dundee Hills bottling (which used to be their Willamette Valley bottling) is the most approachable of their Pinots, with raspberry pastille, sour cherry, and forest floor notes kicking things off. There is plenty of lovely plush cherry fruit here, but nice mineral/soil tones as well. I like how this starts out all elegance on the attack and mid-palate, then picks up some attractive rustic chew on the back end. It’ll be tough to decide whether to drink this young or hold it for a few years; each choice will have its unique pleasures.

2011 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon

I’m not going to say much here, as our allocation really is quite limited. For a good introduction to this partnership between Chris Figgins (of FIGGINS and Leonetti) and Drew Bledsoe (of, well, the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys), check out Sean Sullivan’s Focus Report from April 2010.

This 2011 is the fifth vintage for Doubleback, the second to contain fruit from Drew’s estate McQueen Vineyard (planted in 2007 near Seven Hills Vineyard), and the first to contain fruit from his other estate site, Bob Healy Vineyard. [Note: Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but last year’s 2010 (the first to contain fruit from McQueen) ended up with 95pt reviews from Gregutt and Dunnuck (Wine Enthusiast and Wine Advocate) a 94pt review from Steiman (Wine Spectator), and Sean Sullivan’s highest possible review in Washington Wine Report.]

The remainder comes from three Walla Walla Valley stalwarts: Seven Hills, Waliser, and Lefore, (a vineyard in the rocks; Chris Figgins has said of this site: “Cabernet Sauvignon from the LeFore vineyard, grown in gravels, builds complexity and adds a savory minerality to the finish of the wine.”)

The blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, the remainder Merlot/Petit Verdot/Malbec, aged all in French oak for 20 months (71% new). This is one of those wines that is typically sold out before a single review is released.

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of Kelley Fox, 2 bottles of DDO, and 2 bottles of Doubleback, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. Doubleback is already in, and the other two should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2011 Eric Texier Cotes-du-Rhone

March 23, 2014

Hello friends. Well, this is a first for us: a former member of the Misfits graduating to the big leagues. But after many a reorder request since our original offer in October, and after a recent re-tasting revealed a wine that just keeps getting better and better with each passing month, this wine deserves its spot on the main stage:

Cotes du Rhone is one of the truly magnificent value categories for wine, but my oh my is it a minefield too. Because of the breadth of vineyard land that falls under the appellation, and the breadth of producers working with the fruit, there’s simply no substitute for tasting every last bottle.

It’s one of those categories where a curated model really shines, not only because we can choose the best examples, but we can also explain the style in detail so that you know exactly what you’re getting. Style is yet another place where CdR has serious breadth. There are CdRs pushing 15-16% alcohol that are perfect autumn/winter wines (just add roaring fireplace and bubbling stew). And then there are completely different CdR’s like today’s beauty, which is about as perfect a spring/summer red as I can think of.

It begins as many CdRs do: with a whole lot of Grenache. 80% to be exact. But Texier is Burgundy-trained and a fan of 1970s-era Cote Rotie, so do you think he is going to make 16%-alc Grenache? No he is not.

This clocks in at a brisk/lively 12.5%-alc, and that brisk/lively Grenache is not blended with its expected partner Syrah, but instead with a full 20% white Rhone varieties. And no, not your everyday white Rhone varieties (Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne). That would be way too pedestrian. Think geekier. Grenache Blanc! Clairette! Bourboulenc!

The thing is, though: this is not some mad scientist just throwing things into a cauldron and seeing how it turns out. Texier has a house style, and it shines through across a huge portfolio (more than 30 wines) from the Maconnais, the Northern Rhone, and the Southern Rhone. He wants to exhibit the kind of earthy and floral and mineral subtleties that simply disappear at higher ripeness levels, and he succeeds, even with his entry level $15 glugger.

And yes, you can treat this like a glugger if you wish. It’s one of those wines that can play dual roles, with enough sheer joyful quaffability to please your friends who don’t care about wine, and enough intellectual thrill and complexity to make your friends who do care about wine swoon with pleasure. Throw a little chill on it (30 minutes in the fridge will do) and crack a bottle on the porch mid-summer. Glasses will be optional. Or let it keep evolving, and toss it onto the Thanksgiving table later this year. Or maybe both. It’s a versatile delight that seems to only keep getting more compelling.

Here were my original notes from back in October: “A wine with soaring aromatics: white flowers, fresh summer strawberries, ripe red brambly raspberries, I could smell it all day long. The palate is juicy, refreshing, and above all, balanced. It’s CdR as a vin de soif.”

Tasting it last week, it still has that fresh/floral/red-fruited character, but with the added time in bottle a funky earthiness is emerging too. The aromatics have only become more pronounced: fresh summer strawberry and kiwi and green papaya fruit, bright floral notes from the white varieties, and crushed-rock minerality. The mix of fruit and rock is pinpoint, as is the precise balance of the texture, which is nervy without being shrill. It’s a tightrope walk, a mouthful of joyful energy, a stylistic mashup of Cotes du Rhone and Burgundian Pinot Noir. Color me smitten.

First come first served up to 36 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.

2012 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Sauvignon Phinny Hill Vineyards

March 21, 2014

Hello friends. One of the most exciting developments of 2013 for us was the release of our first private-label, negociant, Full Pull & Friends bottle.

We were overjoyed with the response from two camps: First, from our list members, who have made it clear that having access to these kinds of small-lot, high-quality bottlings made exclusively for us is an appealing proposition indeed. And second, from a number of our outstanding partner wineries in Washington. After that first FP&F offer went out in in October, we started receiving barrel samples and shiner samples from all over the state, with all sorts of interesting juice looking for a happy home.

Several of those samples were exceptional, and we now have a collection of barrels set to go into bottle throughout 2014, so expect a smattering of new Full Pull & Friends bottlings throughout the remainder of the year. Beginning with today’s wine, which has one big thing in common with our inaugural FP&F bottling and is otherwise quite different.

The one big thing it has in common, of course, is that it too is a Cabernet Sauvignon (considering the bevy of Cabernet lovers on our list, I doubt there will be many complaints). And the story here is one that will be similar for many of these negociant opportunities.

Put yourselves in the shoes of a winemaker. Harvest time comes along, and you’re offered access to beautiful Phinny Hill fruit. The only problem: you’re offered access to too much of it. Now you can take a smaller portion, but that means as your winery grows, you might never get access again to this larger amount. Or… you can take the larger portion and figure out what to do with it later.

In many cases, lots like this get “bulked off,” sold on the bulk market, where they’re usually blended into big anonymous lots. But you can imagine, from a winemaker’s point of view, this is painful. Here you have single-vineyard Phinny juice, vinified carefully, and it seems a pity to see it blended into oblivion.

Enter Full Pull, and everyone is happier.

The winery is happier, because their carefully-tended juice gets bottled on its own and offered to folks who they know to be enthusiastic about Washington wine. And our list members are happier, because we all get access to these little gems that would have otherwise never been available.

The front label is again an abstract design, similar but not exactly the same as the first label. And the back label again says “Full Pull & Friends.” These will always be wines that we *want* to put our name on, that we feel represent compelling opportunities and solid values for our list members.

Now in some cases, we’ll be able to include the name of the winery involved, and in others (like today’s offer) we won’t. Generally, the advantage to unnamed wineries is that we can negotiate better tariffs, and the drawback is that we’re left with some intrigue around the source of the wine. Our plan continues to be to only work with wineries that are already popular with our list members, wineries with whom Full Pull has a long relationship.

We first started working with today’s winery during Full Pull’s first few months of existence (late 2009/early 2010), and we’ve since offered more than 25 of their wines. To be clear, this is *not* from the same winery as our first FP&F bottling. It is single vineyard, coming entirely from beautiful Phinny Hill in the Horse Heaven Hills (it won’t take much internet research to see that most Cabernets with Phinny fruit command a considerably higher tag), and it was aged for about a year in a combination of one- and two-year old French oak. I’ve already gone on record saying that 2012 is going to be a great vintage for Cabernet. After the cooler 2010 and 2011 vintages, where it was tough to ripen heat-loving Cabernet, it has been a real pleasure to taste 2012.

This begins with a nose combining blackcurrant and pomegranate fruit, violets, woodsmoke, and subtleties of Horse Heaven’s signature graphitic minerality. That minerality is more pronounced on the palate, where it marries nicely to the rich cassis fruit, exotic star anise, and espresso. Texturally, it picks up steam after a creamy mid-palate and rolls into chewy finish, the tannins redolent of black tea. The balance (plenty of 2012 ripeness, but no excess weight on a 14.1% alc frame) and the intensity were what first seduced me at the tariff offered to us, and then the intellectual thrill of tasting single-vineyard Cab from an up-and-coming vineyard sealed the deal.

It has the structure to age nicely for another decade, but like many Cabernets from 2012, it brings an awful lot of pleasure right now. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. We brought in a decent amount of this, so it *may* be available for reorder, but if the appetite for this resembles the first FP&F offer, perhaps not. Either way, the wine is in the warehouse now and is ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.