Two 2012s from Kevin White

Hello friends. My word, do Kevin White’s wines cut through the clutter.

My schedule is a little wacky these days (yes, those of you who mentioned that having a baby would impact the parental schedules pretty much nailed it), with nearly all our tastings compressed to Thursdays. That can end up meaning trying about 30-40 wines over the course of the day (woe is me, I know). On a particular recent Thursday, Kevin came down to the warehouse to pour his new releases, and his was the final appointment of the day.

It didn’t matter.  (And no, I wasn’t drunk. At least… I don’t think I was).

This is commercial release number three for Kevin, and something special is happening here. If one strong vintage is a coincidence and two is a trend, what is three? A winery in the ascendancy?

Who knows how long Kevin will keep the prices of these wines in the $20s? The quality at play here certainly merits higher tags, but Kevin seems determined to offer exceptional value as he builds his brand, and I’m thrilled that our list members can continue to be the recipients of his efforts in that direction.

And of course the reason we get competitive allocations of these scarce wines at all is that Kevin himself was a long-time Full Pull list member. I remember way back in 2010, we talked about his potential winery project, and when he mentioned mentors like Jon Meuret (Maison Bleue), Hugh Shiels (DuBrul Vineyard), and Leroy Radford (Baer / Flying Dreams), I knew this was a project with a serious chance of success.

Kevin’s stated goal for the winery is “crafting traditional old-world style wines with complexity and balance that pair extraordinarily well with food,” and Kevin’s favorite wines come from Cote Rotie and Barolo, so that should give you a sense of the style and texture he’s after. If you’re looking for greater depth of detail about the winery, Sean Sullivan penned a terrific writeup in 2012.

Logistics-wise, we’re likely to only get one shot at these. They’re small production (279 cases and 196 cases), and I’m already getting pressure to place our order and release the leftovers to the gathering hordes. If possible, I’ll over-buy so that we have some availability for reorder, but I’d say the odds of that are less than 50/50.

Now each of our previous Kevin White offers included Sean Sullivan reviews. Unfortunately, the timing isn’t going to work out this year, but I actually had the pleasure of tasting Kevin’s wines with Mr. S., and to judge his body language, I’d say it’s safe to assume some strong reviews are forthcoming. But for now, you’ll have to trust my impressions alone:

2012 Kevin White Winery “La Fraternite”

This is a blend of 41% Grenache (Upland Vineyard), 40% Mourvedre (Olsen), and 19% Syrah (Olsen and Wallula), and Kevin expects the Frat to hew close to those 40/40/20 proportions going forward. It was raised in 20% new French oak for just shy of a year and clocks in at 14.5% listed alc.

After seeing the cool 2010 and 2011 vintages as his first two, it’s encouraging to see Kevin take a more middle-of-the-road vintage like 2012 and knock it out of the park. This begins with a seriously expressive nose, soaring florals (lilac, magnolia) lofted above a core of raspberry pastille. The nose is all springtime. And then the palate, a rich mouthful of brambly berry fruit mixed with savory notes of braised beef and roasted herb. A total palate-coater, this doesn’t lack for richness at all in this warmer vintage, and yet still manages to convey a live-wire sense of energy and a sneaky sense of wildness (the Mourvedre perhaps). Balanced, polished, expressive.

2012 Kevin White Winery “En Hommage”

En Hommage is going to be Kevin’s Syrah-based wine, here at 82% of the blend (Olsen, Wallula), rounded out with 15% Upland Grenache and 3% Olsen Mourvedre. Similar to the Frat, this sees 10 months in 20% new French oak, and this too clocks in at 14.5% listed alc.

No surprise, given the varietal breakdown, that this is the deeper, darker, more brooding of the two, offering aromas of boysenberry and blueberry fruit, violet, and silty earth. Texturally gorgeous, this is again a complete stainer of the palate, coating every nook and cranny with its violet-and-mineral goodness. There’s a prettiness in the mouth that you wouldn’t expect from the nose, a dark beauty. The overall package hangs together with impressive grace, especially at this price point. Classy, classy juice.

Last year we set request limits at 12 Frat/6 Homm, and max allocations ended up being (gulp) 4 Frat/2 Homm. That said, production is up a little from 2011, so let’s dance with this bear one more time. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of La Fraternite and 6 bottles of En Hommage, 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.

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