Three Limited Wines

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.

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