Hello friends. I was figuring on today’s Tranche offer for a few weeks down the road, but after seeing the pending reviews in July’s Wine Enthusiast, I think it would be foolish to wait until into July to hit send. So a reshuffle is in order, and this moves up to today, so that I can advocate for as large a parcel as our list members like before the power of the positive review makes its way through Seattle’s traditional channels.
Now, a quick reminder on Tranche, for those of you not already familiar: Originally intended as a sister winery to Corliss Estates that would focus on white wines, it has since evolved into a compelling exploration of the Corliss family of estate vineyards (and some carefully chosen purchased fruit) through the prisms of a number of different varieties. It also seems like a place where winemakers Andrew Trio and Griffin Frey are allowed to riff a little, to be a little more experimental. If Corliss is the straight-laced older sibling (three wines released each year, like clockwork), Tranche is the exuberant youngster, and a precocious kid at that.
While there is overlap in the ownership of the two wineries, they are indeed separate entities, with separate winemaking facilities. One aspect the two wineries share is a determination to release their wines after a considerable amount of barrel and bottle age. To wit, both reds today come from the 2009 vintage (this would be a library release for some wineries!), and the white comes from 2011:
2011 Tranche Slice of Pape Blanc
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”
This one already had a strong review from Sean Sullivan as well: Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ****/***** (Excellent/Exceptional).”
The blend here is 50% Roussanne, 30% Viognier, and 20% Marsanne, and while I used to consider this more of a red-drinker’s white in previous vintages, the move to some concrete and the decision to pick earlier now render this as a tweener, a medium/medium+ bodied Rhone white that possesses plenty of lemony/pineapple acids and a good crushed rock character to balance the fatter, creamier fruits (nectarine, honeydew). It’s drinking great now, and I’d expect it to continue doing so for the next three to five years.
2009 Tranche Slice of Pape
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
The blend here is 32% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 25% Cinsault and 11% Mourvedre, aged in large foudre for two and a half years before spending another two and a half years in bottle. The 2009 vintage was warm, and the Tranche gang went with it, producing a ripe-and-rich Chateauneuf ringer (the 15.1% listed alc certainly wouldn’t be out of place in modern CdP). This is a real mouthfiller, a hedonist’s delight, filled with brambly berry fruit, provencal herbs and rose petals, and hot-rock minerality. With complexity and concentration galore, this is a wine true to a warm Washington vintage, an easy bringer of pleasure.
2009 Tranche Cabernet Sauvignon Estate
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
The estate Blue Mountain Vineyard has become the core vineyard for the Tranche label. Those of you with long memories might recall that this used to be Neuffer Estate Vineyard when Nicholas Cole Cellars was still alive and kicking. The vineyard was subsequently sold to Tranche and renamed Blue Mountain Vineyard, an apt name. As you can see on our vineyard map, the site sits on a bluff at the exact spot where the Blue Mountains run into the city of Walla Walla. I’ve walked this vineyard, and the view is great, looking west across the greater part of WW. The wines coming off this site have also been spectacular. It was always a terrific source for Nicholas Cole’s Cabernet-heavy wines, and that has only continued at Tranche. I occasionally hear whispers from trade folks who quietly submit that Tranche Cabernet at $40 is the equal of Corliss Cabernet at $75. I’m not touching that one; they are very different wines, and each has its unique charms.
The charm in this wine (again from a warm vintage; 14.9% listed alc) is in the densely layered fruit, which hits some of the buttons you’d expect from Cabernet (blackcurrant, blackberry), and then roams into smoky cherries, and peaches, and mangos, and some savory goodies like rhubarb and beetroot. All of that is framed by warming mocha barrel notes (60% new French oak) and lifted by violet topnotes. With a rich attack and mid-palate, you could be forgiven for expecting a full-on fruit bomb, but the finish brushes that concept away with some serious toothsome tannic heft. You’re left knowing for certain that you have a Cabernet in your mouth, and wondering where your New York Strip Steak is. Only 206 cases produced; I predict this will be the first to sell out, and reorder opportunities are hazy at best.
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.