Hello friends. I’m not sure there is a hotter winery among our list members than Southard.
[Note: I’ve made the mistake on several occasions of saying that it was the glowing prose in Paul Gregutt’s blog that first introduced me to Southard, but the truth is, one of our list members (B.B. – you know who you are) had brought a bottle of Southard Riesling into the old warehouse months before that blog post.]
Now that we’ve corrected the record on that front, let me say that it’s no surprise that this winery has become so popular. Start with the fruit material, much of which comes from Lawrence Vineyard, a terrific Royal Slope site farmed by Scott Southard’s cousins. Then add lots of old school winemaking (foot-stomping, whole cluster). And finally tack on the tariffs, which are pretty damned low for the quality of the juice inside.
We’ve helped the Southard folks rapidly deplete both their 2010 Red Wine and their 2010 Syrah. Now that those are sold out, Scott is rolling into his 2011 Red, which we have today. And in addition, we’ve been offered a bonus parcel: the last little bit of a bottle-aged Roussanne that is going to make white wine lovers on our list swoon with delight.
2011 Southard Red Wine Columbia Valley
This has just been released and hit Seattle, and we don’t want to waste any time, because the production of this year’s Red is exceptionally low (150 cases). With all the restaurants that glass poured the 2010 likely looking to move into the 2011, I suspect sales pressures are going to be high on this one.
This 72/28 blend of Syrah and Zinfandel is a tale of two vineyards, a tale of two slopes. The first is the Royal Slope, not yet an AVA (although I expect that to happen soon) and one of the hottest (in terms of buzz) areas for Syrah in Washington right now. It is the home to Lawrence Vineyard (location here), which comprises about half of the Syrah in the 2011 Red. First planted out in 2003, Lawrence is a high-elevation site, ranging from 1400’-1600’, and Syrah from there has been really well-received (including the 09 Southard Lawrence Vineyard Syrah; $25 and 93pts Paul Gregutt in Wine Enthusiast).
Down one slope is the Wahluke, a more established area and already an AVA of its own. At the top of the Wahluke Slope we find Stonetree Vineyard (location here), the source of the remaining Syrah and all the Zinfandel in this bottle, and one of the hottest (in terms of temperature) sites in Washington, important in a cool vintage like 2011. It’s a poorly-held secret that Stonetree was the source for most of the Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that was #1 on Wine Spectator’s 2009 Top 100 list. It’s a special vineyard, becoming more important with each passing vintage, and it’s one of only a handful of sites in Washington that can successfully ripen a thermophilic variety like Zinfandel.
The combination is marvelous, with the Zin adding welcome richness and heft to a lean year like 2011. The nose begins with fig, black cherry, mocha, and a lovely leafy/smoky peat note. In the mouth, there is plenty of Zinfandel character despite its low percentage, with its trademark brambly fruit and tomato paste notes. In the mouth this is plump, generous, a near perfect balance of salty savories and rich fruits that coats the palate. The finish goes on and on, impressive indeed for a wine at this tariff. Scott Southard has seemed really dialed in these past few vintages, and this is another effort that is going to impress.
2009 Southard Roussanne Lawrence Vineyard
We bought out the entire remaining parcel of this in western Washington, so it’s already in our warehouse, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Oh what a treat to taste a Washington white with some bottle age, and Roussanne is a grape that responds well to a little extended time in bottle. Those of you who jumped on Maison Bleue’s 09 Roussanne that we’ve previously offered will know what I mean, but that one was $28.99 ($25.99 TPU). Southard’s version comes entirely from Lawrence Vineyard, and Rand Sealey gave it a nice review way back in summer 2011:
Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “($20); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18.5/20pts.”
The wine has doubtless evolved a bit since then, but the review still speaks to the quality. I was really seduced by this one, which was done half in stainless steel, half in neutral barrel. The nose combines nectarine and melon fruit, fennel frond, and the lovely nuttiness that Roussanne takes on with some time in bottle (my notes say almond and nougat). Full bodied, this is a total palate-stainer of a white, offering a delightful mix of nut and mineral and lemon oil and apricot. It’s plump for certain, as Roussanne in a warm year will be, but vibrant too. Drinking beautifully right now, I’d guess this still has several years of fascinating life ahead.
No clue on reorder prospects for the Red, so let’s open that one up to first come first served with no upper limit, and that one should arrive in about a week. Our stash of Roussanne is already in the warehouse, and for that one, let’s please limit order requests to 6 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. Once the Red arrives, both wines will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.