Three from Two Vintners

June 30, 2014

Hello friends. I both love it and hate it when great wineries go from under-the-radar to properly appreciated. Love it because the universe seems just when good things happen to deserving people. And hate it because our list has to share our treasured gems with the general public.

I’m afraid Two Vintners is no longer under the radar. To wit, winemaker Morgan Lee let me know that, for all three of the wines offered today, we get one shot. There will be no reoffers, there will be no reorders. And the reason is: these wines are hot! Morgan’s Columbia Valley Syrah is now glass-poured all over town, and his white wines have their serious devotees as well.

Better one shot than no shot, though, right? Let’s dive in:

2012 Two Vintners Syrah

The Columbia Valley Syrah has been the foundation, in my opinion, for Two Vintners burgeoning reputation. Morgan’s Syrahs in general have just been stunning over the past few years. Last November we offered the 2011 vintage of this one (you may remember it as YakFunks meets RocksFunk), and then we followed it up with his single-vineyard Stoney Vines Syrah in February (Funkystunning). Both were well-loved. Both are long gone.

Three of the five vineyards that made up the 2011 are back in 2012: Stoney Vine (Walla Walla Valley Rocks), Olsen (Yakima Valley), and Discovery (Horse Heaven Hills). Then we add Klipsun (Red Mountain) and Stonetree (Wahluke Slope). Five vineyards, five AVAs; this is a true pan-Washington Syrah. It also includes a 2% Roussanne coferment (Olsen), and it was raised in large French puncheons, only 10% new. Listed alc in the warmer 2012 vintage is 14.5%.

The nose begins with black cherry fruit, a big kick of espresso, and threads of smoke and roasted nut. On the palate, the rocks rears its head with earthy and briny notes, but they’re subtleties in the 2012, which has a more soil-y sense of earthiness, likely from the nearly one-third Klipsun Vineyard fruit. This Red Mountain stalwart also adds its signature dark exoticism, with notes of star anise and guava to ramp up the complexity. This is rich and powerful, and it avoids fruit-bomb status because of that insistent earthiness, a lick of smoky bacon fat, and espressoey tannins that just won’t quit. The flavor profile differs from 2011, but the quality for the tariff remains. I’m not surprised at all that restaurants are choosing to glass pour this, but would you rather pay $12 for a glass in a restaurant or grab the bottle for a few bucks more?

2013 Two Vintners Grenache Blanc

All Boushey Vineyard fruit, this contains 7% Roussanne to add a bit of flesh. Dick Boushey’s vineyards are in the cooler part of the Yakima Valley, and it shows here, with a listed alc of just 12.2% in a warm vintage like 2013. You can practically smell the fresh acid in this, citrusy notes of lemon and pineapple to complement chalky mineral and eucalyptus topnotes. In the mouth, the Roussanne adds mid-palate weight and finishing nuttiness to the core of fresh, honeydew melon fruit. Complex and delicious, Grenache Blanc really provides its own unique flavor profile, difficult to compare to other whites.

We offered the 2011 vintage in summer 2012, which was well-received and then eventually received a nice review from Paul Gregutt in Wine Enthusiast, by which point it was sold out. I waited too long and missed out on the 2012 (oops), and I don’t intend to make the same mistake this year.

2013 Two Vintners Roussanne

Here’s one we’ve never offered before, and it’s tiny production. Just 50 cases produced, so you can imagine our allocation is quite a bit smaller than that. Of the three wines, this is the likeliest to be under-allocated. It is all Olsen Vineyard fruit, 100% Roussanne, and it clocks in at 13.6% listed alc. The nose offers a fascinating mix of aromatics: raw almond, mixed stone fruits (peaches and nectarines), and a terrifically appetizing green note, something like celery salt. Drinking ripe and rich, this has enough glycerin weight that I suspect a few percentage points of residual sugar were left here (not enough for any overt sweetness). That richness – in the form of peach preserves and marzipan – is well-balanced by a sturdy mineral-acid spine. This is among the more compelling varietal Roussannes I’ve tasted from Washington.

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), 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.


Two from GD Vajra

June 29, 2014

Hello friends. The main thrust of today’s offer is going to be the new vintage of a well-loved Langhe Rosso from GD Vajra, but at the bottom we’ll also include a chance to dip into Vajra’s summertime delight of a Moscato d’Asti.

Now then, one of the surprise hits of last summer was GD Vajra’s dazzling little 2010 Langhe Rosso. That one has been sold out for some time now, and today we’re onto the new vintage:

2011 G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso

We’ve previously published this piece of praise from Antonio Galloni (Vinous): “I am sure one day the Vajras will receive the broader recognition they so richly deserve. In the meantime, savvy readers know the exceptional quality these wines deliver for what remain very modest prices.”

More recently (Jan 2014), Galloni added the following, saying that the current crop of Vajra wines “easily confirm Vajra’s position in the top echelon of Barolo producers today. I can’t say enough about the Vajra family and all they have accomplished, especially over the last decade. When I stopped by on a late Saturday afternoon, the tasting room was occupied by a large group. How many world-class wineries can you visit on a Saturday afternoon with a group? The answer is not many. In a world that is increasingly about noise and hype, the Vajras work out of a very functional, simple winery just outside Barolo, driven by the values of family, faith and the strong work ethic that is at the heart of the Piedmontese culture.”

Vajra had disappeared from the Seattle market for several years but returned in 2013 courtesy of our direct-import partners (that direct-import model also allows us to shave a little off the normal release price of $16). This Langhe Rosso is a gateway drug into the greater Vajra lineup, and more generally into the red wines of the Piedmont.

Langhe Rosso as a category is fantastic if you can pry them away from the Italian countryside. As I’ve mentioned previously, these are not wines that show up too frequently outside of the Langhe itself. We get plenty of exports of Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto, bottled varietally. But the declassified blends of the three grapes, the ones that are vinified unfussily and well-loved by the locals for their food-friendly rusticity and early-drinking character and easy-on-the-wallet price? Those stay home. Mostly.

Because we’re smack in the middle of a World Cup, I have to include Isidoro Vajra’s own tasting note, which is heavy with soccer references: “The most exciting soccer game is when every player contributes, with their own skills and talents. This is why I think of a soccer team when I think of Langhe Rosso! Nebbiolo, like the captain, stands out for its structure and persuasive elegance. Barbera (left wing) brings freshness and personality to the blend, while Dolcetto supports the team on the defence, with its reliable structure. Freisa, like the striker, never gives up and always makes his statement on the the field. Finally we have Albarossa, the goalkeeper, who sometimes goes unnoticed but is one we couldn’t do without. And then the Pinot, attacking midfielder: agile and quick, the true expert of dribbling, brings the adrenaline to the game with class. Together they form the perfect blend.”

Love it! And yes, this blend is extra exciting, extra complex, because in addition to containing the big three of the Piedmont (Neb, Barb, and Dolc), there are also small amounts of more obscure Piemontese varieties like Freisa and Albarossa, and even a little Pinot Noir. The whole thing is aged in a combination of neutral barrels and stainless steel for about a year and a half before bottling, and it just comes soaring out of the glass: rose petals, kirsch, black cherry, smoky peat notes, citrus pith; wildly complex. On the palate, the ripeness of the fruit and suppleness of the texture surprise for this category, which can often offer hard-edged, Nebbiolo-dominated blends. There’s a terrific spine of blood-orange acids, and just the right dash of grown-up bitters. The tannins are fine-grained and tea-leafy, someplace between rustic and polished. It’s such a glorious food wine, especially for all manner of Italian cuisine.

Like last year’s version, this is a joyful concoction, a killer summer-into-autumn wine, an approachable weekday-evening choice. First come first served up to 36 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.

2012 G.D. Vajra Moscato d’Asti

Summertime in a glass, with just 5.5% alc (plenty an IPA headier than that) and plenty of residual sugar balanced by bright, bright acid and scrubbing bubbles. This has all the tropical fruit and floral notes we look for in good Moscato – pineapple and grapefruit and mango and lily – and then a lovely herbal minty-ness to add lift and complexity. Clean on entry, creamy in the middle, and sweetly kissed on the finish, this is one to chill to tooth-rattling temps and glug straight from the bottle.


Three 2009 Reserves from Tamarack

June 27, 2014

Hello friends. Ron Coleman’s single-vineyard reserve wines for Tamarack Cellars are among the most consistently outstanding wines produced in Washington. Likely the only things keeping them from being considered cult wines in Washington is a) price (cult wines need to be more expensive!); and b) the fact that Tamarack is best known for its sub-$20 Firehouse Red, a 15,000-case monster that is always an exceptional value.

And you know what: it’s hard to imagine Ron, Danny Gordon, and the Tamarack crew as a cult winery anyway. The vibe there is way too friendly, down-to-earth, comfortable-in-their-own-skin for all that silliness.

But still, the quality is there, which our list members have known for a long time. Our first Tamarack single-vineyard reserve offer was in March 2010, and it was for the 2006 DuBrul Reserve. We’ve offered every DuBrul since then, and I’m sad to say that the 2009 offered today will be the last vintage of this wine. A pity, as Tamarack’s expression of DuBrul has been a special wine over the years.

DuBrul is but one in a series of these outstanding single-vineyard reserves, which stayed mostly under the radar until David Schildknecht’s single year reviewing Washington for Wine Advocate, when he heaped a ton of praise on Tamarack and reserved some of his strongest reviews for the single-vineyard reserves (you’ll see two such reviews below).

So, the cat is out of the bag, production levels are as small as ever, and the result of that combination is going to be competitive allocations, and a low probability of accessing these wines on reorder. But for today, Ron has sent parcels of each wine across the mountains, and our list members have dibs. Let’s jump in.

2009 Tamarack Cellars Reserve Seven Hills Vineyard

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ***** (Exceptional).”

I tasted this almost a year ago, and it was already open, expressive, and beautiful; a star in the making. That’s another underappreciated aspect of this reserve program: Ron holds these wines back long enough that they’re generally ready to drink or close to it right upon release. All three of these spent about two years in barrel and another two-plus in bottle before their release.

This one starts with gorgeous, high-toned aromatics: violet and lavender above cassis fruit, tobacco leaf, and cedar. In the mouth, this has a dense core of rocky mineral, and all the other elements (fruit, leaf, barrel) swirl around that core. Texturally, this starts silky and then transitions into a powerful back end, the long, chewy finish redolent of early gray tea. Balanced, pure, and classy; not easy in a vintage that wanted to produce fruit bombs. Oh, and a mere 84 cases. Yikes.

2009 Tamarack Cellars Reserve Ciel du Cheval Vineyard

Wine Advocate (David Schildknecht): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

Man, reading a tasting note like that does make me wish Schildknecht had been given a few more years on the Washington beat. He was reticent with the points, which I know led to resentment from some producers, but his effusive descriptions were just remarkable. And accurate! This wine nails the best of Red Mountain’s iron-tinged minerality, its subtleties of cocoa powder and orange peel to go with red cherry and redcurrant fruit. With power and structure to spare, this should easily age for a decade or more if you can resist its considerable youthful charm. Only 132 cases of Ciel this year.

2009 Tamarack Cellars Reserve DuBrul Vineyard

Wine Advocate (David Schildknecht): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

And finally the extra-poignant one: the final vintage of DuBrul. The best versions of this vineyard capture a certain smoky exoticism that I have previously called incense on occasion, but that I think is better described here by Schildknecht as “peat-like smokiness.” There is a suggestion of a good Islay scotch on the nose, and it ain’t from the barrels either; it’s DuBrul terroir talking (and what it’s saying is “drink me”). There’s lovely density to the layers of fruit here: berry and cherry yes, but also stone fruit (peach, plum), citrus, and tropical (mango, papaya). The fruit is swaddled in espressoey barrel notes, and the structure here is perfect, with acid and tannin in fine balance, and those tannins combed to a fine sheen, impressively fine-grained. Man, I’m going to miss this wine.

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of each wine, 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.


2012 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Franc Bacchus Vineyard

June 25, 2014

Hello friends. Today we have the latest in our ongoing series of Full Pull & Friends negociant bottles, and it’s a beauty: a varietal bottling of a grape that in my opinion is not bottled on its own enough in Washington:

In many ways, a bottling like this perfectly matches the original vision for Full Pull & Friends, which was to pluck one or two barrels of single-vineyard, single-varietal juice that would have otherwise never seen the light of day.

There’s a lot to be excited about here. First, Cabernet Franc does great in Washington, landing somewhere between the Loire Valley and its brisk, vegetal (in a good way!) versions and versions from warmer climes, which can often drink almost exactly like Cabernet Sauvignon.

Second, the vineyard. The majority of single-vineyard Francs in the state seem to come from Weinbau Vineyard, and they can be outstanding. It’s fascinating, however, to taste terroir-expressive versions from other vineyards as well (Tranche’s Franc from Blue Mountain Vineyard, for example, has been extremely well-received by our list members). Our version today comes entirely from Bacchus Vineyard, a site (location here) probably best known for providing the backbone to some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignons in the state (Abeja Reserve comes to mind). But it’s also a stellar site for Franc. The Franc block was planted in 1997 on sandy/silty loam with pockets of clay. It’s managed by Kent Waliser and Derek Way (both long time Full Pull list members, as it happens). Derek mentioned that he enjoys working with winemakers who want Cab Franc to taste like Cab Franc: “If we choose certain rows, and intentionally leave a certain crop load and fruit exposure, we can maintain those characteristic intrinsic to Cab Franc.”

One such winemaker is our partner today. This is our second FP&F bottle to come from Chris Peterson of Avennia, and his classy winemaking is perfectly suited to coax terroir expressiveness out of this Franc. When we tasted these Franc barrels back in December, we tried a new barrel and a neutral barrel. I preferred the neutral barrel both aesthetically (I felt like it allowed the fruit to shine brighter) and because it keeps the price a few ticks lower.

Six months later, I’m pleased with that decision. This begins with a nose with a core of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit that gets serious lift from minty/eucalyptus tones. Franc’s unique subtleties of flower and earth turn up as well. In the mouth, this is a palate-stainer, coating the nooks and crannies with earthy Franc goodness. The plump mid-palate rolls into a finish with plenty of heft, the fine-grained tannins redolent of chamomile. That powerful, leafy finish is reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon, but the flavor profile is so uniquely, wonderfully Franc.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Ticket to Merroir-Terroir Tasting (July 12 3:00-5:30pm)

June 24, 2014

Hello friends. As promised, today we have tickets to our first event at Full Pull in more than three years:

As I mentioned last week, wine is not the only product that reflects the place where it is grown. One of the great joys of living in the Pacific Northwest is access to some of the freshest, most “merroir”-expressive oysters in the world. Our July event will feature such oysters from three of the oyster farms run by Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF), whose mission is to restore marine habitat, water quality, and native species in Puget Sound through tangible, on-the-ground projects. I’ve been a member of one such project – PSRF’s Port Madison Community Shellfish Farm – for a couple years now (if you care to read about my personal experience, last summer’s article in Hogsalt pretty well covers it). The oysters are fresh and delicious, the organization is well worth supporting, and all proceeds from the event will go directly to PSRF.

When I started to think about which winery should pour at this event, it really didn’t take long. The first time I ever tasted Ovum wines, John House asked to meet at Taylor Shellfish in Melrose Market so that we could sample his wines with oysters. One of his wines has a giant freaking oyster front and center on the label. It was kind of a no-brainer, and I’m just happy that John said yes. Now then, let’s dive into the specific details:

WHEN & WHERE
Saturday July 12, 3:00-5:30pm; Full Pull Warehouse

WHAT
Our friends at PSRF will bring ultra-fresh oysters (harvested that weekend) from each of their three farms: Port Madison (Bainbridge Island), Drayton Harbor (Blaine), and Henderson Inlet (Olympia). We should have enough oysters for everyone to sample about nine oysters total (three oysters from each of the three farms).

[Quick oyster geek note: all PSRF oysters are “triploids,” which means they cannot reproduce. I won’t say any more about the reproductive habits of these particular shellfish; suffice it to say that this type of oyster does not get “milky” or “spawny” during summertime and is hence perfect for warm-weather slurping.]

John House from Ovum will come up from Portland with his exceedingly oyster-friendly bottles, including sneak previews of as-yet unreleased wines. And then we’ll have some compelling bonus wines open: some that are oyster appropriate (I’ve got some old German Rieslings kicking around that need to be consumed before they begin their long descent) and some that are not (think Washington, think hard-to-come-by).

Finally, TPU members attending the event can pick up their available wines if they so desire.

WHO
This event is open to TPU members and their invited guests (TPU members can purchase as many tickets as they like at the lower price). It will be first come first served with no upper limit. We are constrained by the number of oysters that can be harvested that weekend (damned nature!), so if we hit that threshold, we’ll close ticket sales. But for now, sales are open, so have at it! We’ll look forward to seeing many of you on July 12.


Three from Waters

June 23, 2014

Hello friends. A lot has changed for Waters Winery during the past few years. But one thing has remained the same: Jamie Brown knows how to make killer, vineyard-expressive Syrah.

Five years ago, it was practically revolutionary in Washington to have three single-vineyard Syrahs in your portfolio. Cayuse was doing it, and K Vintners, and then there was Jamie, with Forgotten Hills, Loess, and Pepper Bridge, each an honest, earthy expression of the vineyard as seen through the prism of Syrah.

It’s not quite as uncommon these days to have multiple single-vineyard Syrahs in a winery lineup, but it is certainly uncommon to have three as compelling as the trio I recently tasted when Jamie visited the warehouse. One is from the cooler 2011 vintage (and has a nice review), and two are from the down-the-middle 2012 vintage (just released; no reviews yet), a year with enough heat units to herald the return of a real list favorite – Forgotten Hills Syrah – not seen since the 2009 vintage. None of these see much in the way of new oak; no more than 20-25% in any of them. The fruit is the star here, in all its earthy glory.

2011 Waters Syrah Loess Vineyard

This comes from Leonetti’s estate Loess Vineyard, and to the best of my knowledge, the Figgins family doesn’t sell Syrah to anyone except for Jamie Brown. It is aged entirely in neutral barrels and gets a 4% Viognier coferment. Super fragrant, it comes pouring out of the glass with cherry blossom, lavender, orange peel, and red cherry fruit. This is a vintage made for Jamie Brown’s style, and he knocks it out of the park, crafting a tense, nervy Syrah with boundless energy and no excess weight. It’s a mineral-inflected live-wire, humming along the palate with its crushed rock and citrus-tinged cherry fruit.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19.5/20pts.”

2012 Waters Syrah Old Stones Vineyard

I once wrote someplace (maybe an old Full Pull offer, maybe even in the blog that pre-dated Full Pull) that it would be an interesting experiment to have Christophe Baron of Cayuse make a barrel of Forgotten Hills Syrah and to have Jamie Brown make a barrel of Syrah from The Rocks. My fascination came from the fact that those two gentlemen seemed to have a knack for evoking the savory side of Syrah, from different parts of the Walla Walla Valley. Well, we have half the equation solved here (now we just need to find a way to convince Christophe that what his lineup needs is *another* Syrah).

Old Stones was an estate vineyard for Waters, but my understanding is that the vineyard was not purchased by Tero Estates as part of the Waters deal, and so I believe this is going to be a one-off bottling, and that we won’t see future vintages of Waters Old Stones. Perhaps that only adds to the appeal of this one, which has a nose that begins with boysenberry fruit and high-pitched white flower notes, then adds savory rocks subtleties of smoky bacon and briny green olive. In the mouth, the balance is marvelous: both of rocks richness with Jamie’s signature acid spine, and of fruit elements with earthy-savory goodness.

2012 Waters Syrah Forgotten Hills Vineyard

A special wine whenever it’s produced, we’ve offered both of the vintages that have been released in Full Pull’s existence: 2007 and 2009. They’re among the best-loved wines we have ever offered. The only drawback to Forgotten Hills is how much it’s on the climatic cusp for ripening. It’s tough to build a business plan around a vineyard that only makes a wine in three out of six vintages, but for those of us who don’t have to stare at that particular balance sheet, it’s an awfully easy wine to love.

As usual with this vineyard, the meaty aromas dominate: salumi, smoked sausage, bacon fat; it’s all there, paired with marionberry fruit and floral notes. The palate is meaty, spicy, laden with bacon and olive and all manner of salty goodies. Yes, there’s blue fruit, but in Forgotten Hills, it plays a supporting role, with the savories taking the lead. I have lots of 07 bottles in the cellar, and a bottle opened recently was drinking great. The structure here in the 2012 (bright, beautiful acid mostly) suggests that this will evolve in similar directions, so I’ll be stashing some away again.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of each wine, 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.


Three from Antonio Sasa

June 22, 2014

Hello friends. We have three wonderful regional Italian wines today, the result of our burgeoning relationship with Antonio Sasa. You may remember our first Sasa offer: it was a terrific value; a $25 Barbaresco from the outstanding 2010 vintage, offered back in March.

Since then, I had the chance to meet Tony when he visited Seattle in May and dropped by the warehouse to sample us on several wines from his broad export portfolio. Chatting with Tony only deepened the feeling I already had when tasting wines from his portfolio: that this is someone with his finger on the pulse of Italian winemaking, and someone who knows value when he sees it.

As a reminder, Tony Sasa runs an influential Italian retail operation out of his Enoteca Pontevecchio in Florence. Many of the producers he works with through the Enoteca don’t have export/import licenses for their wines; they’re consumed entirely within the borders of Italy. For these producers, Tony can put their wines under his label, which gives those wineries instant access to markets like the United States.

Tony and his northwest import partner (Boutique Wines) are importing these wines directly out of Italy and selling them without a distributor. Cutting one layer out of the process means that we can buy (and sell) these wines at seriously competitive pricing for the quality of the juice inside. I have seen this portfolio snapped up much more by restaurants than retail so far, but we shouldn’t let Seattle’s Italian restaurant somms have all the fun, should we?

2012 Antonio Sasa Rosso di Toscana

The majority of this is Tuscan Sangiovese, with splashes of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot rounding out the blend. It spent six months in large neutral oak, so it’s the Sangiovese fruit that’s really on display here, beginning with a great honest Sangio nose of sour cherry, soil, and Campari. More darkly-fruited in the mouth (more like black cherry), this seduces with its insistent earthiness, its appealing rusticity. This is just dying to sit in the middle of a dinner table; that’s where it belongs, complementing all manner of dinners.

2011 Antonio Sasa Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore

We’ve only ever offered one wine from Valpolicella, and that was an $80 Amarone. Today’s wine has a considerably more accessible price point. Also, you can see that in other parts of the US, this is more like a $25 wine. I suspect we’re getting extra-fabulous pricing in part because Seattle is a new market for Tony.

Now, let’s first get oriented. Valpolicella is here, in the province of Verona, tucked between Lake Garda and the Adriatic Sea. The red varieties grown here are Corvina, Molinara, and Rondinella. Winemaking in this region has a long history, but the Ripasso style is a fairly recent innovation. It’s an attempt to bridge the gap between basic Valpolicella (which can drink an awful lot like Beaujolais: fresh and fruity, light in body and color) and Amarone, which sees the grapes dried out to raisins post-harvest, making for intensely concentrated, headily alcoholic wines.

Ripasso sees the leftover pomace (grape skins) from fermentation of Amarone and sweet Recioto wines added to the fermentations of the basic Valpolicella wines and allowed to macerate. This adds structure, body, color, and flavor, and the results can be lovely, as they are here. No lie: this smells something like a Syrah from the rocks in the Walla Walla Valley. It has that funky/savory marine element to balance its plummy fruit and insistent smoky notes. The palate is a swirling mass of black fruit, meat, and brine. There’s a real lipsmacking saline edge here. It’s a bridge wine, with old-world earthiness paired to new-world ripeness and flesh.

2012 Antonio Sasa Lacrima di Morro D’Alba

Lacrima is a beautiful category of wine that we’ve never previously offered. I’ve been hunting for an appropriately strong value, and Tony has one. Lacrima is the grape, an ancient variety indigenous to the Marche (location here), and particularly to Morro d’Alba, and rarely seen elsewhere.

There’s nothing quite like the aromatics of a good Lacrima, which are so deeply, pungently floral that you’d swear you were smelling a white wine. The nose has more in common with Moscato d’Asti than with Cabernet Sauvignon. This one is inky purple in the glass, and the aromas come screaming up out of it. There’s lily and lavender and violet florals, and there are layers of fruit: strawberry and peach, passionfruit and guava. In the mouth, what can I say: this is total joy juice, an exuberant, lifted mouthful of fresh fruit that rolls into a finish with sneaky rustic chew and good length. This is the flower garden of the Marche, unlike any other red wine in the world.

First come first served up to 24 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.