2011 Southard Lawrence Vineyard Red (Grenache Blend)

Hello friends. Serious showstopper today, from a producer that is rapidly becoming a member of the pantheon for our list members:

I first tasted this wine on March 31, at the Swedish Cultural Center on Dexter. Is that an odd place for an importer/wholesaler to have a tasting? Yes it is.

On that day, I was distracted by the photos of dead Scandinavian kings. I was distracted by meeting Scott Southard for the first time. And so I sort of didn’t trust my evaluation of this wine. The note on my tasting sheet said: “Funky! I haven’t had Grenache like this from anyone other than Christophe.”

God Only Knows Grenache from Cayuse. No Girls Grenache, also from Christophe Baron of Cayuse. The Boy Grenache from K Vintners when it was made from Armada Vineyard (Cayuse) fruit. Those are the only other examples of Grenache-heavy wines from Washington that I could recall bringing this level of funky goodness.

There was a part of me that wanted to turn around and offer the wine that day. But as many of you know, I’m a risk-averse entrepreneur, and I wanted to taste the wine again in a more controlled setting. So that’s what we did, on April 17, and the first word on my tasting note: “Confirmed.”

This is a blend of 72% Grenache and 28% Syrah (14.5% listed alc), all from Lawrence Vineyard, a site growing ever more important in Washington circles. First planted out in 2003, Lawrence is a high-elevation site, ranging from 1400’-1600’. It sits here on the Royal Slope, and it has been the source of some wildly good Rhone varieties and blends. The site is farmed by Scott Southard’s cousins (the Lawrence family), which helps explain his access to this pristine fruit.

This was done 100% whole cluster (stems and all), which might help to explain its overt wildness. Yes, there’s great red strawberry fruit, but that’s only the beginning. There are layers of unexpected stone fruits: peaches and apricots. Then we get into the funky/umami goodness: bacon fat, seaweed, olive brine. Just glorious. The mouthfeel is seamless, and it carries super savory/saline notes and smokey red fruits across the palate. The balance of fruit elements and non-fruit (earth, savory) elements is pinpoint, and the brackish personality is deeply appealing. This is dirty love.

Only 175 cases produced, and I suspect it’s going to go fast once more people taste this. So reorder prospects are spotty, but for now, let’s open it up: 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.

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