Three 2009 Reserves from Tamarack

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.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: