2007 Rasa Vineyards QED

November 28, 2014

Hello friends. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! To kick off the run-in to the end of 2014, we have a very exciting offer today: from Rasa’s cellars, a stash of the first Rasa wine we ever offered, and a wine that we haven’t offered since March 2011:

Let’s begin with the litany of positive press this wine received after its release:

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

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

This was the wine that established Billo Naravane’s bona fides, and the Naravane brothers haven’t looked back since. They remain one of Washington’s buzziest wineries, and it’s thrilling to step into the DeLorean for a trip back in time. Here are my own original notes on this wine: “This is the real deal; a stunning debut… One of Billo’s focal points with Rasa is tannin management, and it shows beautifully here. The tannins have presence enough to guarantee that this wine will age in a compelling direction, but they are fine-grained in a way that leads to a luscious, suave mouthfeel. The judicious use of new French oak (just under 20%; the rest neutral French) is perfectly complementary to Les Collines fruit, adding a sense of light roastedness to the terroir-specific aromas and flavors of truffle, pine nut, bread, and meat. This is an absolute palate-stainer; rich, bright, deep, and concentrated.”

I pulled a bottle from my own personal stash recently, and oh what a beauty. Harvey put the peak drinking window at 2012-2017 in his Spectator review above, and that would put us mid-peak, which seems just about right. The savories and tertiaries have increased a bit, the primary fruit diminished and dried out a bit, and what little rough edges were there to begin with have been completely sanded away by extra bottle age. What a treat, to taste Washington Syrah from a beautiful vintage at going-on eight years past that vintage.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2012 Nicolas Perrin Syrah Viognier

November 26, 2014

Hello friends. I’ve always been particularly susceptible to the charms of super-groups. Yes, they can be crap. But they can also be sublime. Cream, CSN&Y, Traveling Wilburys, Broken Social Scene, The Postal Service, Monsters of Folk, Empire of the Sun, Broken Bells, Golden Smog. I’m sure I’m leaving others out. At their best, they produce records that are more compelling than any of the members could have done with their own main projects.

I think wine supergroups are more rare, but I ran into one recently, and it’s a doozy. Maison Nicolas Perrin is a collaboration between the Perrin family of Chateau Beaucastel in the Southern Rhone, and Nicolas Jaboulet in the Northern Rhone. They produce a series of stylish AOC wines from the Northern Rhone (a Cote Rotie, a Saint Joseph, a Cornas, a Crozes). But dollar for dollar, the star of the show is their humble Vin de France:

Here is Robert Parker, introducing the project in Wine Advocate a few years ago:


Even just looking at the bottle design, you get a sense of the class involved in this operation. Inside the bottle, this gets the VdF desgination because – in addition to juice from Northern Rhone appellations – this also gets Vin de Pays fruit from areas just outside the Northern Rhone proper: Collines Rhodaniennes, Coteaux de l’Ardèche and Drôme. It is a blend of Syrah cofermented with Viognier. The Maison itself says the Viognier component is 8%, although I’ve seen other references to 6% and 3%. Regardless, there’s somewhere between a smidge and a dash of Viognier in the mix.

What I loved about this right away is that it is decidedly old school. This is hardly two ancient Rhone families trying to move into modernity. And bravo to that! If we want delicious new-world Syrah, we have plenty of that in Washington. If we’re going to drink Syrah from the Northern Rhone and environs, let’s have it taste like it comes from that place. And so it does, beginning with a nose of olive tapenade, smoked meats, earth, cracked black pepper, and black cherry fruit (flesh and pit). The smoky savories continue on the brisk (12.5% listed alc) palate, with terrific inner-mouth lift from floral Viognier. More complexity than you’d expect at this tag, and a wonderful autumnal character that had me sorting through my books for good stew recipes.

As you’d imagine, this has been a hugely popular wine for restaurants looking for a $10 Syrah glass pour, and it has been difficult to secure a large enough parcel to support an offer. But we have one now, smack in the middle of prime Syrah season. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. 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.

Six from Cadence Library

November 24, 2014

Hello friends. We had a crazy, busy, fun Saturday pickup day over the weekend. Thanks to Ben Smith and Heather Jeter for pouring so many beautiful Cadence library wines. They were also kind enough to leave us with small stashes of each wine poured, so here’s a chance to access these wines for anyone who couldn’t be there in person:

2006 Cadence Ciel du Cheval Vineyard (BDX Blend)

36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, all from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard.

2009 Cadence Ciel du Cheval Vineyard (BDX Blend)

41% Cabernet Franc, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petit Verdot, 6% Merlot, all from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard.

2006 Cadence “Bel Canto” Cara Mia Vineyard

52% Cabernet Franc, 48% Merlot, all from Cadence’s Estate Cara Mia Vineyard.

2007 Cadence “Bel Canto” Cara Mia Vineyard

62% Cabernet Franc, 31% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, all from Cadence’s Estate Cara Mia Vineyard.

2006 Cadence “Camerata” Cara Mia Vineyard

94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, all from Cadence’s Estate Cara Mia Vineyard.

2007 Cadence “Camerata” Cara Mia Vineyard

85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% each Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, all from Cadence’s Estate Cara Mia Vineyard.

Please request what you’d like, and if we exceed what we already have in the warehouse, we’ll beg Ben for more. The wines are in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Three from Saviah

November 24, 2014

Hello friends. For many years, our list members have been the beneficiaries of Rich Funk’s kindness. His tradition had been to retail his Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for $30 for the majority of the year, and then offer a significant price drop for November and December.

Those price drops seemed to always coincide with Wine Spectator releasing strong reviews for the wine, which, in previous years, resulted in a holiday-season feeding frenzy. We’ve offered four previous vintages of this wine, and each one has been snapped up en masse and enjoyed throughout the holidays and then the rest of the year.

In 2013 and 2014, however, Rich essentially stopped the end-of-year discounts. Except…

Except for a very few accounts who have been consistent supporters of Saviah over the years. I’m pleased/proud/relieved that Full Pull, and our list members, are counted among those supporters. Yes, the price is a few ticks higher than previous vintages, but it had to happen! It hadn’t budged in five vintages. Even at $30, this is a strong buy, but at our TPU price, it still represents exceptional value for Walla Walla Valley Cabernet.

[Note: this offer contains two bonus Saviah wines. See the bottom for details.]

2012 Saviah Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley

I should also mention that our allocation this year is just 54% of last year’s parcel, so this could be a bit of an allocation bloodbath. Apologies in advance if that’s the case.

But even with the additional hurdles this year, there was never a question of not offering this wine. It’s a total list favorite in an average vintage, and I think you all know by now that I think 2012 is anything but average. Why has it become such a hit, you ask? Three reasons I can think of:

1) It is becoming ever more rare to see Walla Walla Valley Cabernet at a sub-$25 tariff.

2) Year in and year out, this is a Cabernet that most of us would be happy to pay $30 for. At a lower tag, it way over-delivers.

3) It comes from unusual vineyards. So many times when we see Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon it comes from either the king (Pepper Bridge Vineyard) or the queen (Seven Hills Vineyard). There’s nothing wrong with those two vineyards. In fact, they’re among the standard-bearers for the valley. But… it’s a big valley, full of micro-terroirs, and those of us who care about such things get a little extra intellectual jolt from tasting other sites.

The backbone of this wine comes from McClellan (you might remember that one from our recent Seven Hills offer) and Anna Marie Vineyards. Both sites are converted orchards farmed by the Brown family of Watermill Winery. Rich Funk (Saviah’s winemaker) was Watermill’s consulting winemaking during their early days, so he still gets access to this lovely fruit.

The nose is a wonderful expression of valley Cab, offering blackcurrant and plum fruit, violets, good clean dirt, and dustings of cocoa powder and espresso (oak regimen was 17 months in 40% new French). “Lights out” is my first palate note from my tasting sheet. This is perfectly balanced, the just-right ripeness (14.4% listed alc) married to bright acid, the rich fruit married to deep earthy tones. As this was rolling along into its powerful, chewy, oh-so-Cabernet finish, awash in green-tea tannins, I was wondering: will this be the last vintage where we get any kind of discount on this wine? I mean, there’s really no need to discount this wine. It has just been so damned consistently good over the years. Thanks, Rich; each year this really does feel like a holiday gift, and if this is the last year, we’re going out on a high note.

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles (and probably set expectations at closer to 2-3 bottles). We’ll do our best to fulfill all requests, 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.

Team Full Pull

Bonus wines:

2013 Saviah The Jack White Wine

Some of the most successful white wines made in Washington are Bordeaux blends of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Buty’s SSM, Cadaretta’s SBS, Rich’s own Star Meadows; gorgeous. What is considerably more rare is seeing these blends at ten bucks. But Rich works magic with his Jack label, and this is a beauty (baby Star Meadows?), with 45% Semillon taking the lead in the aroma/flavor department (figgy and limey, waxy and leesy), and 40% Sauvignon Blanc adding its lifting notes of bright green acid (the remainder is Marsanne). The supple texture reflects the warmer vintage, and this strikes me as a wonderful winter-into-spring white. Listed alc is 13.8%, and this was aged in a combo of neutral barrels and stainless steel. Just 200 cases produced, which is miniscule by Jack standards.

2011 Saviah Cellars Syrah The Stones Speak Funk Estate Vineyard

Yet another entry in one of the best stories going in northwest winemaking right now: the democratization of the rocks. Rich’s 2007-planetd estate vineyard down in the rocks has been online since the 2009 vintage, and this 2011 is an exquisite expression of his particular patch of terroir. Funky and smoky (ham hock, cabbage), briny as hell (olives, nori), this is a total umami-bomb, the lovely fruit (marioberry, blueberry) and floral notes relegated to supporting roles as the funk rules the day. For anyone on Cayuse’s or Reynvaan’s waiting lists, this is a fine introduction to this singular section of the Walla Walla Valley. Rich only made 123 cases, and I suspect this is going to get big press when folks taste it, so let’s jump in while it’s still available.

Three from San Felice

November 21, 2014

Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We will have bonus pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday November 22, from 10am-2pm. As an extra treat, Ben Smith will be joining us to pour Cadence wines, and I have a quick correction: there will be *no* current release wines Cadence wines; only library wines. Exciting! List members and their invited guests are welcome, but please note: we expect it to be a *very* busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
Hello friends. I have been thrilled with the way our list members have embraced Chianti over the past few years. It is a terrific value-hunter’s category, but it requires legwork, a lot of frog-kissing to find the princes. And that’s the Full Pull model: we kiss the frogs so you don’t have to (we should probably put that on a staff t-shirt; Full Pull Wines: We Kiss Frogs).

Chianti’s fortunes are improving in the US market, but it’s still walking the line between fashionable and unfashionable, still burdened by the days of swill-in-straw-baskets. But no matter. We know better. Fashion or no, we know that Chianti remains one of the world’s beating hearts of Sangiovese, and that the good bottles are really, really good.

A Chianti producer that our list has gone crazy for is San Felice, which is in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga (located here), at an altitude of about 1300ft. Their grounds encompass 650 hectares of grapes, 17,000 olive trees (!), and an agritourismo (let’s visit!). Today we have three San Felice Chiantis, one a new vintage of an old favorite, one an entirely new category of wine in Chianti, and the last a reoffer of a wine that’s getting down towards end of vintage.

This summer, reviewers from both Wine Enthusiast and Wine Advocate weighed in very favorably on San Felice, so sales pressures could be a little higher than usual as we enter Sangiovese-drinking season. Fortunately we have an import partner in Seattle who DIs (direct-imports) these wines right into town, so we’re always able to access decent parcels, and always able to offer strong tariffs compared to their release prices.

2010 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio

Wine Enthusiast (Kerin O’Keefe): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Wine Advocate (Monica Larner): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Il Grigio is 100% Sangiovese, from a selection of San Felice’s oldest/best vineyard sites. It sees 24 months in the traditional Slavonian botti (large neutral puncheon), with a small portion going into smaller barrel. Very dark and brooding, it offers blackberry fruit, shitake notes, and dark floral topnotes (violet). Of the two 2010s, this is the wilder, the more rustic, with toothsome black-tea tannins that linger well after a swallow. There’s lovely chewy charm here.

2010 San Felice Chianti Classico Il Grigio Gran Selezione

The “Gran Selezione” is a new category for Chianti, introduced by the Consorzio last year. Bruce Sanderson wrote a fine article about it (featuring San Felice, as it happens) for Wine Spectator. The upshot is: these are supposed to be the highest quality Chiantis produced. They must be entirely estate-grown, must be aged for 30 months, and must be at least 80% Sangiovese, the remainder other approved varieties.

That “other approved varieties” is where San Felice gets to have fun, because they have something on site called their “Vitiarium.” Started in 1980, it houses more than 200 obscure indigenous varieties, several of which go into this 2010 (Abrusco, Pugnitello, Malvasia Nera, Ciliegiolo, Mazzese). The wine sees 24 months in a mix of large Slavonian botti and small French barrique, then another 8 months in bottle before release. It is a beautiful inauguration of a new Chianti category, offering wonderful earthy/savory character, with mushroom and tomato paste and a fat tarry streak to pair with black fruit. Stylish, rich, and just absolutely delicious, this made me want to find the biggest bowl of pasta and crack open a bottle.

Wine Enthusiast (Kerin O’Keefe): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

Wine Advocate (Monica Larner): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

2008 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Poggio Rosso

Originally offered March 30, 2014. Excerpts from original offer: Poggio Rosso is San Felice’s single-vineyard gem (they call it “the true aristocrat of Chianti Classico”), and it blends 80% Sangiovese with 10% each of the considerably more rare Colorino and Pugnitello. It comes from the calcareous marl soils of Castelnuovo Berardenga in the foothills outside of Siena, and it is aged for 20 months in large Slavonian oak botti, followed by another 15 months in bottle, before release. That means this was likely released in early 2012, so we get the benefit of an extra three years of bottle age, taking it right up against the beginning of peak drinking. Sweet.

Wine Advocate (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Great tasting note, as usual from Galloni. I agree that this is a big, ripe, deep wine, a total palate-stainer that somehow pulls off the trick of also conveying a lively sense of inner-mouth perfume and energy. The mix of loamy earth, dried cherry fruit, high-cacao chocolate, and citrus-pith bitters is fabulous. This is just going to keep getting better and better. The fine sense of balance suggests that it will offer untold rewards during each successive step in its evolution.

Please limit order requests to 36 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 Waters

November 20, 2014

Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We will have bonus pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday November 22, from 10am-2pm. As an extra treat, Ben Smith will be joining us to pour Cadence wines, a combination of current release and (woohoo!) library wines. List members and their invited guests are welcome, but please note: we expect it to be a *very* busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
Hello friends. No, not those ludes! Those ludes are for use as a sedative, a muscle relaxant, a treatment for insomnia, whereas obviously the wines we offer are… erm…

Okay let’s just pretend that first paragraph never happened. The “ludes” to which our subject refers (that is, if this e-mail survived your work’s anti-drug spam filters) are Jamie Brown’s Interlude and Prelude for Waters, two rarely-discounted wines that are discounted for OND (Oct-Nov-Dec), which makes this the perfect time to offer them.

2011 Waters Interlude

I actually got a few inquiries about this wine after it turned up as a “Value Pick” in Sean Sullivan’s Top 100 list for Seattle Met Magazine. But that was when the wine was still listed at $28, and I had heard rumors of an impending discount, so I decided to wait. Here’s what Sean had to say:

Seattle Met Magazine (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

The blend is 61% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, and 11% Petit Verdot, and the cool 2011 vintage plays right into the hands of the kind of earthy, acid-driven wines Jamie loves to make. This begins with a nose of sour cherry, brewed coffee, and terrific leafy notes. It has a serious, polished, elegant palate that easily belies the price point. Fans of Cadence Coda should pay attention here: this is another effort in that vein, and at the exact same price once the discount is applied. The continuing notes of earth and leaf are just lovely; the Merlot and Cabernet tannins are fine-grained and delicious; and the 2011 acidity provides the kind of frame that can support serious aging potential. The overall package offers real textural class for its tag.

2013 Waters Prelude

In 2013, Prelude is a blend of 68% Alder Ridge Roussanne and 32% Antoine Creek Viognier (a buzzy vineyard just outside of Lake Chelan), done half in steel and half in neutral barrel. The nose combines orange-peach creamsicle, honeysuckle, raw almond, and a squeeze of fresh ginger, with both the Roussanne and Viognier showing up aromatically. The palate perfectly balances Viognier perfume with Roussanne generosity. It’s all nuts and flowers, peaches and pears. At 13.5% listed alc, it has just the right amount of fleshy fruit and citrusy acidity.

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.

Three from Force Majeure

November 19, 2014

Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We will have bonus pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday November 22, from 10am-2pm. As an extra treat, Ben Smith will be joining us to pour Cadence wines, a combination of current release and (woohoo!) library wines. List members and their invited guests are welcome, but please note: we expect it to be a *very* busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
Hello friends. Force Majeure made some big headlines over the summer when they announced the hiring of Todd Alexander as their new head winemaker and general manager. Todd was formerly winemaker at Bryant Family Vineyard, one of California’s cult wineries with Cabernets that command upwards of $500 at auction. Of course it will be many years before Todd’s influence on the winery becomes clear, but in the meantime, the Force Majeure lineup has never been better. Here’s Jeb Dunnuck’s introduction from this summer’s Wine Advocate:


Today we have FM’s three autumn releases. As usual, I expect allocations to be competitive (especially with strong press already published), but we’ll advocate for as much as we can.

2011 Force Majeure Collaboration Series I

Collaboration Series I is a Cabernet-dominant Bordeaux blend, and the winemaker is Ben Smith from Cadence, who knows a thing or two about Red Mountain fruit (his entire lineup for Cadence comes from Red Mountain). He’s working with some of the oldest (1975 and 1982-planted) blocks of Ciel du Cheval fruit here. Interesting that – by score, anyway – this was Jeb’s least favorite of the three, since I’m pretty sure it was the most compelling of the three for me. I’m just a big fan of Ben Smith’s style, and this is a great example of that style, full of elegance, finesse, class. Aromas and flavors combine cassis fruit with insistent earthy soil tones and lovely floral rosewater notes. Serious, intense, and full of character and Cabernet chew, this is a fine expression of Red Mountain. Just 200 cases produced.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

2011 Force Majeure Collaboration Series III

Collaboration Series III is 100% Syrah, 220 cases produced, and the winemakers are Mike Macmorran and Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery. This is just lovely in the cooler 2011 vintage, which provides a beautiful cool-year acid spine to support a riot of delicious fruit and earth tones. Smoky peaty earth, boysenberry fruit, pretty violet topnotes; just lovely. It’s intense and silky-soft texturally, with just the right amount of spiciness; like a dash of cayenne on a delicious dish. What an easy wine to love!

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”

2011 Force Majeure Collaboration Series V

Collaboration Series V is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 170 cases produced, and the winemaker is Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery. This is an incredible example of old-vine Red Mountain Cab, offering all four Cabernet corners: fruit (crème de cassis), earth/herb (mint and beetroot), flower (violet), and barrel (espresso). The vine age really shines through on the palate, which somehow retains a sense of grace despite its overt power. There are huge, delicious, chewy earl-gray tannins here, coddling a core of smoky black fruit and minerals. The degree of stuffing here is just remarkable, and I’m inclined to agree with Jeb’s drinking window or maybe even beyond. Structure, balance, and concentration; this has all the ingredients to evolve positively for a very long time.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of CS I, 3 bottles of CS III, and 3 bottles of CS V, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2005 Frontaura Toro Crianza (Tempranillo)

November 17, 2014

Saturday Pickup REMINDER: We will have bonus pickup hours for TPU members on Saturday November 22, from 10am-2pm. As an extra treat, Ben Smith will be joining us to pour Cadence wines, a combination of current release and (woohoo!) library wines. List members and their invited guests are welcome, but please note: we expect it to be a *very* busy day, so please do e-mail us if you’re planning to come in.
Hello friends. The fourth quarter of the year is a crazy time in the wine trade. The deals fly fast and furious, and I’m doing my best to keep up with them, taste a bunch of wine, and select the best values on behalf of our list members.

Spanish wines tend to be pretty strong values to begin with, and so when there are deals to be made in Spain, I pay very close attention. Last week, we were offered a terrific tariff on a Spanish Tempranillo that’s a decade past vintage, one that began its life at a $40 price point. The deal was: if we took the entire remaining parcel in Seattle, we could offer it at a TPU price well off that release tag, and a good bit below the lowest published price nationally:

Toro has a long history of winemaking (dating back to the 11th century) but has only been a DO (Denominación de Origen) since 1987. The region has been seeing a ton of investment by Rioja and Ribera del Duero wineries, as land prices are considerably lower than in those two well-established regions. It’s not so different from all the California money currently flowing into Washington.

Luis Gutierrez had a terrific write-up of the region for Wine Advocate this summer, and his pictures were even better. This one shows perfectly how Toro is right in the middle of a change towards modernity, with old head-pruned bush vines on the left, and modern trellised vines on the right. And this one shows how remarkably rocky some of the soils of the region are. Frontaura’s vineyards sit on rocky alluvial soils, at more than 2000’ elevation, and they’re planted almost entirely to Tempranillo.

It seems like every region in Spain has its own name for Tempranillo, and that’s the case in Toro, where it’s called (creatively) Tinta de Toro. This bottling from Frontaura is Crianza. In Toro that means it has to be aged for at least 24 months, of which 6 months must be in barrel. Frontaura has gone well beyond that, keeping it in barrel for 15 months, and then of course it has been in bottle for years and years. And more years.

The nose shows off all that bottle age, with a wonderful mix of primary and tertiary aromas. There is cedar and mushroom, smoky cherry and tobacco leaf, and subtle spice notes (the winery uses all French oak, not the American used traditionally in Rioja, so you’ll find no dill or coconut notes here). On the palate, this is in a lovely drinking window right now, rich and savory, leafy and crepuscular. While the tannins are integrating nicely, this still possesses a certain rustic charm, a finishing chew that makes me think it still has years of life ahead of it. The balance of earth and fruit is just right, and this is a bottle to remind us that there is just no place in the world like Spain for tasting mature wines in the peak of their drinking windows, especially at such accessible price points.

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.

Two from Corliss & Two from Tranche

November 16, 2014

Hello friends. Autumn release season is winding down, and one of the latest to release their wines each year is Corliss Estates. No surprise, I suppose, since the winery has built their reputation on long-term bottle aging and the release of wines considerably closer to maturity than many others on the market.

The main focus of today’s offer is the new release of the 2009 Red and Cabernet Sauvignon for Corliss, and there is a serious twist to the tale of the Cabernet. At the bottom of the offer, we will also have a pair of bonus wines from Tranche (Corliss’ sister winery), one that was poured at our anniversary celebration, the other a last call on a popular Chardonnay.

I’ve written about Corliss at length in the past. For today, let’s offer the condensed version: Corliss only releases three wines outside the winery: a Syrah each spring, and a Cabernet and BDX Blend in the autumn. They’re noteworthy because they hold their wines about as long as anyone in the state before release. So while most Cabernets on the market right now are 2011s and 2012s (along with a handful of 2013s), Corliss is just getting ready to release their 2009s, a warm year known for rich, early-drinking generosity (I’d drink these 09s while waiting for the 07s and 08s to develop). With nearly three years in barrel and another two in bottle, the wines are usually much further along the path towards integration and complexity than their peer releases, and that’s certainly the case here.

As it seems to go every vintage, the Cab is the slight favorite for the professional reviewers (recall also, when reading the Tanzer reviews, that he is notoriously reticent with points, so these are impressive reviews indeed). I tend towards more of a split decision. I love the blend for its earlier-drinking character and its liquid-silk texture, the Cab for its dark brooding allure and its ability to age endlessly. The good news, of course, is that there’s no need to choose one or the other; we can try both.

2009 Corliss Estates Red Wine

This is typically the more Red Mountain-dominant of the two, with much of the fruit coming from Corliss’ estate Red Mountain Vineyard, and it shows in the loamy soil notes, the pillowy-textured mouthfeel. The 2009 sees Cabernet Franc in the ascendancy, and it’s a long, rich, truffle of a wine, with sultry barrel notes of smoky cocoa and dark chocolate and nougat framing a core of blackberry and plum and deep soil. The Red is so texturally polished, with such silky fine-grained tannins. It’s a beautiful aesthetic experience drinking this wine.

International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

2009 Corliss Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5L MAGNUM

This went from a very sad story to a very happy one very quickly. With huge press already lined up behind this wine (a pair of 95pt reviews from Jeb Dunnnuck and Stephen Tanzer, and it’s worth noting that the 96pt 2008 and 2010 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignons are the only Washington Cabs to ever achieve a stronger review from Tanzer), the winery has had terrific success selling the new Cab directly through their mailing list, leaving meager allocations for retail and restaurant. Ours was small enough that I had decided to pass on the allocation entirely.

But then I remembered visiting the winery a few years ago. And I remembered that the Corliss folks have a real affinity for large format bottles. And I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask the question. And so I did: “What about magnums?” And to my surprise and delight, the answer was yes.

I’m not sure if Corliss Cab magnums have ever been offered at retail before, but we have them today, and it’s a great opportunity to access a beautiful, ageworthy wine in a beautiful, ageworthy format. As usual, the Cabernet is the brooder of two, offering deep earthy graphitic minerals, blackcurrant fruit, smoky espresso-bean barrel notes, and topnotes of violet and mint. The palate is a powerhouse, offering impressive tannic structure for a vintage that had tendencies towards flesh. The overall package is beautiful, balanced, and evocative.

International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].95pts.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of the Red and 6 Magnums of the Cabernet, 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.

Team Full Pull

2010 Tranche Barbera

Rob Griswold poured this wine at our anniversary celebration, and it was really well-received. The folks at Tranche have offered us a nice discount from this wine’s normal $25 price point. It’s 100% Barbera, raised entirely in neutral wood, and it’s a beautiful expression of the rippin’ acidity and bright sour cherry fruit the grape is known for. There are cherry blossom and soil notes as well, but it’s really the mouthwatering texture you notice most of all. The richness of the fruit is perfectly balanced by that sturdy Barberic (new word alert!) spine of citrusy acid. A glorious wine with Italian food.

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

2011 Tranche Chardonnay

Originally offered March 19 and popular on reorder, this one is getting low in the inventory department. It’s all Celilo fruit, among the finest Chardonnay sites in Washington.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

Four from Idilico

November 14, 2014

Hello friends. Like I mentioned in our Cadence Coda offer a few weeks ago, 2012 is shaping up to be such a beautiful vintage in Washington that it causes me to eagerly anticipate the release of certain mainstay wines for our list members. Javier Alfonso’s Idilico wines fit the bill. They’ve become exceedingly popular with our list members over the past few years, and I’ve been salivating over seeing Javier’s 2012s. Today we have three such releases, as well as a reorder opportunity on Idilico Albarino, which would be a beauty for Thanksgiving.

As a reminder, Javier developed Idilico as a sister label (his main label is Pomum Cellars) to highlight Spanish varietals grown in Washington. These wines are rarely reviewed, but even without the critics weighing in, the label has developed serious buzz, spurred on by the sommelier set and other insider types who know value when they see it. The sales focus for Idilico is mostly restaurant wine lists, and the wines are priced accordingly. That makes them terrific values at retail.

2012 Idilico Garnacha

This is the fourth vintage of Garnacha (aka Grenache) for Idilico, and we’ve offered all of them. At this price point, the wine tends to get snapped up by restaurants looking for exciting glass-pour options (and with only 225 cases made in 2012, this will likely move fast). It’s a 50/50 split of two vineyards: Elerding in the Yakima Valley and Upland on Snipes Mountain (evidence continues to mount that Upland is the finest site in the state for Grenache).

Aged entirely in neutral puncheon, this clocks in at 14.3% and offers a lovely nose melding bright floral rose petal notes with brambly raspberry, black cherry, and the dusty wild herbs the French call garrigue and the Spanish call… well… I don’t know; I’ll have to ask Javier next time I see him. In the mouth, it carries all the palate-coating qualities of a beautiful vintage like ’12, with depth and density to burn. It has a real sense of weight and presence through the mid-palate, and a supple fine-grained tannin finish. What a charmer, and certainly one of the finest values in the burgeoning category of Washington Grenache.

2012 Idilico Monastrell

Move it along… Nothing to see here… In truth, I feel lucky that we have access to this one. The inaugural 2011 vintage saw an 80-case production run. For 2012 it’s all the way up to… 93 cases. That’s not very much, especially considering how rare it is to see single-vineyard Washington Mourvedre (the French synonym for Spanish Monastrell) at a sub-$20 tag. This may be restaurant-only outside of Full Pull. I think Javier is doing us a favor because of our list’s long support of Idilico.

Like last year, it comes entirely from Upland Vineyard, and it was done entirely in neutral oak for 15 months. It offers a nose of wild Mourvedre, with its mix of plum and cherry fruit, citrusy grapefruit tones, peppered game, and leathery spice. On the palate, it is a spicy, intense live wire, humming along all juicy and delicious. The end of my tasting note asks a question: is there any variety 2012 can’t do well?

2012 Idilico Graciano Riserva

This is Javier’s third vintage of varietal Graciano. He only has access to two acres of fruit (I’m guessing that’s the only Graciano planted in the state), acres specifically planted for him and farmed by Todd Newhouse of Upland Vineyards, and that ends up yielding approximately 100 cases per vintage. “The Petit Verdot of Rioja” is what Javier calls Graciano. Just as PV adds acid/tannin/color in small amounts in Bordeaux, Graciano adds the same in Rioja. And just as PV doesn’t generally get ripe enough to bottle varietally in Bordeaux, Graciano doesn’t ripen enough to be bottled on its own in Rioja very often. But here in the warm, sunny new world, anything is possible.

This is such a terrific Cabernet Sauvignon alternative, with much of the texture and structure we all love in good Cabs but with a completely different, and exotic, array of aromas and flavors. Star anise, slatey minerals, briar and raspberry, warming Indian spices like cardamom, and an insistent wildness all characterize the nose, one complex enough that it sent me back to the glass over and over again during the course of a few hours. Intensity is the watchword here. Everything is dialed up to 11. Big bright acid; big chewy green-tea tannin; big rich fruit that grabs the palate and won’t quit. It’s a memorable experience, drinking a glass of this wine.

2013 Idilico Albarino

Originally offered in May, this comes from one of only three Albarino sites planted in Washington: Dutchman Vineyard, a DenHoed-planted site in the cooler part of the Yakima Valley, north of Prosser. It moves from vine to bottle with little intervention: stainless steel fermentation and aging; moderate lees contact; no malolactic fermentation. It’s pure Albarino, awash in lemon-lime fruit and mineral, lifted by lovely floral topnotes. Bone-dry, ultra-vibrant (12.5% alc), this just pulses across the palate, all electric citrusy acids and crushed rock. It has turned into a Seattle summer staple on smart restaurant wine lists, and I’m thrilled that Javier has finally bumped production to a point where the wine will be available beyond Labor Day.

First come first served up to 48 bottles total (mix and match as you like, but please note there’s a chance the Mourvedre will end up being allocated), 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.