Three 2008s from Saint Laurent

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.

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