Pickup Appointment Reminder: A quick reminder, as we get into our busiest pickup season of the year, that we greatly appreciate pickup appointments on Thursdays (via an e-mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org). We’ll always facilitate walk-ins without appointments, but if you can give our team advance notice (24 hours is great, but even 24 minutes helps enormously), it makes our Thursdays more manageable, and it allows us to have your wines packed up and ready to go when you arrive.
Hello friends. We have reorder opportunities today on three of our most popular wines of 2014. These are all getting on towards “last call” status, with dwindling quantities unlikely to survive the remainder of the year. Before they’re gone for good, I want our list members to have the chance to stock up for any and all of our end-of-year needs.
2012 For A Song Syrah
When I inquired about the remaining inventory of this one, I was told there are 2750 bottles still kicking around Seattle. “Okay, wine slinger,” you may be thinking. “2750 bottles hardly constitutes last call.” For most wines, you’d be correct, but For A Song is a whole different phenomenon.
This 2012 Syrah is on restaurant glass pour lists up and down the Salish Sea, and what glass pours do is they deplete the hell out of inventory. Add that to the fact that every time we offer this wine, we sell multiple hundreds of bottles, and I begin to hear distant alarm bells ringing when I see inventory drop below 3K. Paranoid? Maybe. But I’d rather jump in too early than too late.
We first offered this on November 20, 2013 and then reoffered on April 6 of this year. Excerpts from those two offers:
For A Song grew like a sapling out of the ashes of the dearly-departed Olsen Estates winery. The Olsen family had been growing grapes in the Yakima Valley for 40 years when, in 2006, they decided to launch a winery to feature their fruit and build the brand of the vineyard. That winery, which crushed grapes only through the 2009 harvest, was terrific, and the wines produced never lacked for positive reviews. The problem was never with grapegrowing or winemaking; it was always with selling. Entering a competitive market, in a recession, without a distributor, proved too great a challenge to overcome.
When Olsen Estates went out of business, all their juice, in bottle and barrel, was purchased by their distributor (Vinum), who created the For A Song label as a house brand to find happy homes for all that quality juice. Since then, the project has been such a runaway success that Vinum has kept the band together. They have Kyle Johnson, the former winemaker at Olsen Estates, making the wines. Because of that connection, they still source beautiful Olsen Vineyard fruit (while the winery went out of business, the vineyard operations have continued uninterrupted, and there’s no denying that the winery project did indeed raise the profile of the vineyard, which sells fruit to Gramercy, Betz, and Maison Bleue, just to name a few).
This is 100% Syrah, a blend of about a quarter from Olsen, the remainder from Weinbau Vineyard (a terrific Sagemoor site). It spent about a year in barrel, of which 20% were second-fill and 80% third-fill. So no new oak, but not exactly neutral oak either. Aromatically, this did remind me of the 09 vintage, and the sensory marker for me was the lovely white-flower topnotes above a core of good Yakima Valley blueberry and boysenberry fruit. In the mouth, this has a strong palate-staining character for the tariff, the intense fruit lifted by floral notes and complemented by lashings of espresso and insistent mineral streaks.
Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: **** (Excellent).”
Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18.5/20pts.”
2012 Torremoron Ribera del Duero (Tempranillo)
I was shocked to learn that this little lovely was still available. It was our third offer of 2014, hitting your inboxes on January 12, two days after the birth of my first child. Let me just say that I don’t remember a whole heckuva lot about hitting send on that one. The baby fog was thick for most of January (and February, and March, and…).
But this turned into a surprise hit, moving a lot of bottles on initial order and then via a steady stream of reorders throughout the year. Here are excerpts from that original offer:
One of the most exciting import portfolios coming out of Spain right now is that of Patrick Mata and his Ole/Peninsula Imports. Robert Parker himself hardly reviews any Spanish wines anymore, but he makes exceptions for Mata’s book. Here’s what he has said about the project:
Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “When Olé Imports began in 1999, there were only three wines in their portfolio, and one of the two founders, Patrick Mata (the other founder being Alberto Orte), was not even old enough to consume alcohol! A great success story, this tiny boutique company searches out, as they put it, ‘unique terroir-driven wines of extraordinary value.’ Often such sayings are hyperbole, but not in the case of Olé Imports… While none of their wines are household names, readers should seek them out as they represent sensational values from viticultural regions throughout Spain.”
Fortunately, we have a tight connection to this importer, which allows us to pluck some of the cherries from his book. And that connection is none other than John House. Along with his Ovum winery project, John also handles west coast sales for Ole and Peninsula. Torremoron is one of those Ole cherries, a value-priced wine from a region not particularly known for value.
Ribera is probably the second best-known region in Spain after Rioja. It sits here, in Spain’s northern plateau. The Duero river eventually flows into Portugal, where it is called the Douro, the famous river of the Port houses, that eventually drains into the Atlantic in the city of Porto. Ribera is one of the twin hearts of Tempranillo in Spain, and although there is frequently a little Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon blended in, today’s wine from Torremoron is 100% Tempranillo.
Here’s Mata’s description of the estate: “Torremorón, made in the small town of Quintanamanvirgo, is a great example of an artisanal, handcrafted wine rather than a commercial wine with no personality or soul. Just west of the villages of Anguix and La Horra and north of Pedrosa de Duero and Roa, Quintanamanvirgo is well situated in the north central area of Ribera. Many of Ribera’s top bodegas farm vineyards here in the alluvial, sandy and clay-heavy soils in vineyard sites that are optimally located at high altitude. Torremorón is crafted in this small village (population: 94) whose people are very proud of their common wine heritage; everyone in town works for the winery. Quintanamanvirgo has two businesses: the bar and the winery. If you ever want to experience and taste the authentic personality of Ribera del Duero, head directly for this town and ask for Fernando de la Cal. When you meet him, ask him to show you his vineyards and his family cave where wine was made in the 1800’s. Made with 1908-1930 year old vines, Torremorón is a genuine wine, one of the most pure expressions of Tempranillo that you’ll come across.”
Just incredible to think that we’re dealing with vines ranging in age from 84 to 106 years, especially at this tariff. There’s no new oak used here, so it really is the fruit character that shines through. Released while that fruit is still young, fierce, and juicy, this begins with a terrific nose mixing earth (soil and porcini mushroom) and fruit (black cherry, pomegranate). The palate sees more of the same, retaining a lovely earthiness and savory fungal quality to pair with the black black fruit. Dark, intense, and generous, this made me want to run out to The Spanish Table and buy as much dried chorizo as possible.
2011 Seven Hills Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Seven Hills Vineyard
Okay, so I’ll admit that the sleep deprivation that comes with having an infant at home has possibly led some of this year’s Full Pull offers to have a surrealist edge, and this one might take the cake. I’m not going to reprint the whole thing here (it’s just too bizarre, involving slapping someone with a white glove), but here’s the archive for those of you who want to glory in the madness of early parenthood.
Anyway, it was originally offered on May 28. I just had a chance to re-taste it, and it’s better than ever. During that re-tasting, I learned that Seattle is down to its last handful of cases, so this is a perfect time to reoffer.
My original notes: A vintage like 2011 plays directly into Casey’s house style. This bottling is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from the old (1980s-planted) blocks at Seven Hills, the queen of the Walla Walla Valley. It spent about two years in French oak, 40% new, and clocks in at 13.7% listed alc. Casey McClellan has been working with these grapes for many years, and that comfort level shows. This Cabernet revels in the pretty side of the grape, offering soaring high-toned violet and lilac notes above a core of beautiful cassis and cherry fruit. The palate is a marvel of purity and elegance, with loads of inner mouth perfume, and plenty of structure in the form of both blood-orange acids and cherry-pit tannins. Wines like this from Casey have proven to be immortal agers, with all components in perfect harmony, evolving together. There’s intensity to burn, with nary a shred of excess weight. Wonderful.
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ***** (Exceptional).”
Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19.5/20pts.”
First come first served up to 144 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.