Three from Waitsburg

Hello friends. We’re back today with the second vintage of Paul Gregutt’s collaboration with Precept: the charming wines of Waitsburg Cellars. This is a winery that came out of the gates strong, with a well-received lineup that moved quickly, especially after Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator came out with a series of positive reviews for the lineup.

Many of you know PaulG from his wonderful wine writing and reviewing over the years. Jumping into wine production is a newer venture, and it came about after the principals at Precept offered Paul a tantalizing proposal: the chance to design and create a series of wines, using the vineyard and production resources of Precept? That’s pretty close to a dream gig for any of us who taste wine and write about it for a living, so it’s no surprise that Paul has pursued it with vigor.

I had the opportunity to write about Waitsburg Cellars for Seattle Magazine last July, and that article delves a little deeper into the winery background, for those interested. And then (no surprise) Paul himself has penned a terrific, detailed accounting of the Waitsburg Cellars story, and that can be found here.

Onto the wines!

2013 Waitsburg Cellars Chenin Blanc Cheninieres

PaulG mentioned for that Seattle Mag article that an old Hogue Chenin Blanc was a fond memory in his early realization that Washington was a special place for winegrowing. No surprise, then, that he heard the siren call of Chenin when he began Waitsburg Cellars. There are two Chenins in the lineup, and as you probably sussed out from the name, this one is an homage to Savennieres, one of Chenin’s ancestral homes in the Loire Valley. An interesting note is that both of Paul’s Chenins are harvested from the same vineyard (Upland, on Snipes Mountain) on the same day. The difference takes place on the sorting table, where the greener berries go into stainless steel and eventually became the Cheninieres, and the yellower into neutral oak for the Chevray.

This clocks in at 13% listed alc and 0.7% RS, so it drinks quite dry. The nose is a lovely Chenin mix of apple and pear, malt powder and oatmeal. This has the body, the lightly waxy texture, the savory character that makes good Savennieres so appealing. The 2013 vintage was not shy on the fruit, and this has plush tree fruit in spades, plenty of flesh supported by a terrific acid spine. Last year I suggested pairing this with a crab-and-corn chowder, and reading that made my stomach rumble.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18.5/20pts.”

2013 Waitsburg Cellars Three White

New for the 2013 vintage, and what an addition to the Waitsburg lineup. All Boushey Vineyard fruit, it’s a blend of 53% Grenache Blanc, 40% Marsanne, and 7% Picpoul. Geeky white Rhone varieties grown by Dick Boushey? Yes please.

It spent a half year in neutral oak and clocks in at 12% listed alc. The nose contains a lovely core of peach and lemon fruit and terrific complexities of nut (raw almond) and exotic spice (cardamom). That almond note seems to come through in most Boushey Marsanne bottlings, and it is just lovely here. The palate combines alpine, acid-drenched fruit with good mineral tone, such that the overall impression is ricola refreshing. I love the way this hums across the palate, all vibrant nervy energy, and I love the little saline kiss on the finish, which is mouthwatering and invites the next sip.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD. 18.5/20pts.”

2012 Waitsburg Cellars Three Red

Like the inaugural 2011 vintage, this wine combines three Ms rarely seen together. As PaulG says: “Merlot is the muscle, Malbec brings the magic, and Mourvedre adds a touch of mystery.” This vintage has even more Merlot than last year, at 73% of the blend. The remainder is 20% Malbec and 7% Mourvedre, and the vineyard sources are Canoe Ridge, Alder Ridge, and Doval.

Unlike the inaugural vintage, this comes from a warmer year, the vaunted 2012, and it shows. The nose is a lovely mix of ripe Merlot cherry fruit, tinged with Malbec’s boysenberry and ferrous minerality. The Mourvedre shows up more on the palate, adding a sense of wildness and complexities of leather and spice to a fleshy, red-fruit-driven palate. Like many good Washington Merlots, this possesses enough finishing structure that the idea of holding some bottles for a decade is not a bad idea at all. But it’s lovely right now, with loads of generous up-front fruit from a terrific vintage. No reviews yet for this one, but I’m sure they’re coming, and I’m guessing they’ll be positive.

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First come first served up to 36 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.

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