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:

[TEXT WITHHELD].

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.

Regards,
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.
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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.
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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.
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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:

[TEXT WITHHELD]

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.