2005 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva

December 19, 2014

Pickup Calendar Reminder: You’ll see from the schedule below that there are two remaining pickup days for TPU members in 2014 (and one of them is today). We expect them both to be busy, so please make an appointment if you’re planning to come in.

Thursday, Dec 18: OPEN 10am-7pm
Saturday, Dec 20: (with Champagnes and FP&F wines open for sample/sale) OPEN 10am-2pm
Thursday, Dec 25: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 1: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 8: OPEN 10am-7pm
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Hello friends. Quick offer today on what is always a difficult category to source: wines on Wine Spectator’s year-end Top 100 list. We’ve already brought in a small parcel of today’s wine (available for those of you picking wine up today or Saturday), and we have potential access to more if we act quickly (please try to get all order requests in by end of day Thursday):

Wine Spectator (Thomas Matthews): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].”

And then no less an authority than Jancis Robinson weighed in via the Financial Times in a Nov 28 article, highlighting twenty wine selections for the holidays: “[TEXT WITHHELD].”

Between the United States pressure of having the highest-placed Rioja on the Spectator list, and the Euro pressure of having a Jancis call-out, this is not an easy wine to come by. I suspect the only reason it was offered to us is our list’s long support of La Rioja Alta, including recent support of the Gran Reserva 904 we offered in September. Of course that one retailed in the $50s, so today’s wine presents a chance to experience the wonderful old-school La Rioja Alta house style at a more accessible tariff.

It is a bright, lively riot of cherry and tobacco leaf, citrusy acids, and bloody/sanguine/smoky minerality, all on a terrifically energetic frame. It has enough bottle age to drink and enjoy now, but all the structure and stuffing to suggest a continuing, beautiful evolution ahead. Transparent, honest Rioja like this is just so easy to love. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. A chunk of this wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup (as early as today or Saturday) or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


2010 Den Hoed Wine Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Andreas

December 17, 2014

Pickup Calendar Reminder: You’ll see from the schedule below that there are two remaining pickup days for TPU members in 2014. We expect them both to be busy, so please make an appointment if you’re planning to come in.

Thursday, Dec 18: OPEN 10am-7pm
Saturday, Dec 20: (with Champagnes and FP&F wines open for sample/sale) OPEN 10am-2pm
Thursday, Dec 25: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 1: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 8: OPEN 10am-7pm
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Hello friends. We have a new vintage today of a wonderful Cabernet that has become a list-member darling in its previous vintages, and it comes with a pair of strong already-published reviews. It’s also, in a weird coincidence, the second day in a row we’ve offered a Gilles Nicault wine, which only demonstrates, I believe, his ability to produce exceptional wines across a broad spectrum of price points.

Let’s begin with Sean Sullivan’s review for Wine Enthusiast. I’ve mentioned before that we’re going to have to apply something like our Tanzer curve to Mr. Sullivan, and this is a good example. To date, Sean has published 742 reviews for Wine Enthusiast, and this is as strong a review as he has written. Not a single wine has been rated higher (and only two other wines – an Andrew Will Sorella and a Maison Bleue Grenache – have earned the same 94pt rating): Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

This wine also received a positive review from Jeb Dunnuck this summer: Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

A quick note on logistics: I brought in a few pre-offer cases of this wine, so this will be available for pickup on our final two pickup days of the years for anyone looking for a terrific holiday gift or just something beautiful to drink over the holidays. And for the story behind this wine, I’ll excerpt from offerings of previous vintages of Andreas:

The first force of nature to get its hands on Wallula Vineyards was the Missoula floods. The second was the Den Hoed brothers. As to which was the more powerful, the more stubborn, well, that’s an open question.

Even today, Wallula looks like an impossible place for a vineyard. In much the same way we puzzle today about Stonehenge and the Easter Island statues, future historians might wonder if it took alien technology to blast a vineyard out of virgin terraced rock and sagebrush. As it happens, no aliens were required; just two Dutch brothers and more than two backhoes.

When the Wallula site came up for sale in 1997, Bill and Andy Den Hoed had already been growing wine grapes in Washington for 20 years. Their parents, Andreas and Marie, first-generation Dutch immigrants, began their Washington farming career in the Yakima Valley, where they grew mint, potatoes, and Concord grapes. In 1978, they were among the first farmers in the state to plant vinifera, and it wasn’t long before Chateau Ste Michelle was their biggest customer, and Bill and Andy were hooked into the family business.

Here are object facts about the site in 1997: Untouched sagelands bordering 7 miles of the Columbia River near the Wallula Gap, a Missoula Flood bottleneck. Steep slope, ranging from 350ft above the river at the bottom of the vineyard to 1400ft at the top. Intensely variegated soils, with soil depth ranging from 6 inches to 20 feet.

The difference between seeing difficulty and seeing opportunity is, I suppose, experience. The Den Hoed brothers had experience in spades, and they saw the opportunity to create a special vineyard. Wallula is a spectacular site. It’s difficult to capture in pictures, but let’s try anyway. Here is a wide shot , and here is a closer view to give a sense of the steep, terraced nature of some of these blocks. Remarkable.

As the vineyard came online and the vines gained some age, the better winery owners and winemakers in the state began to take notice. One of those was Allen Shoup, founder of Long Shadows. Recognizing the incredible potential of the vineyard, he put together an investment group that purchased a majority interest in Wallula Vineyard in 2008. Much of the vineyard was then renamed The Benches, but the Wallula name was retained for some of it, and the Den Hoeds continue to own a minority stake and to do all the farming and vineyard management.

But before any of that happened in 2008, Bill and Andy started a small label, with dual purposes: first, to showcase the exceptional nature of Wallula Vineyard; and second, to honor their mother and father. Their mother’s wine is Marie’s View, a multi-varietal blend made each year by Rob Newsom of Boudreaux Cellars. Their father’s wine, Andreas, is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon made by Gilles Nicault of Long Shadows.

Gilles controls every aspect of Andreas. The detail of the grape selection here is intense. It goes beyond block selection, beyond even row selection. In some instances, Gilles is choosing specific plants within a row that are appropriate for Andreas. Once the grapes are picked, all the winemaking is done at Long Shadows, so that Gilles can be intimately involved with the wine at all steps of its evolution. In short, this is lovingly cared-for, deeply coddled wine. And it shows. We can talk about flavors (classic Cabernet: blackcurrant and black cherry, cherry blossom, mineral tones, green tea tannins), but the coddling shows itself most clearly via texture, and that’s where my notes focus. A smattering of phrases I jotted down in my note: “seamless,” “perfect palate weight,” “pinpoint balance,” “sense of character and presence,” “sneaky chew,” “lingers endlessly,”; you get the idea. Gilles has apparently been calling this the “Frenchiest” of his Andreas bottlings, and for a Frenchman, that has to be high praise. Frenchy or not, this is knee-buckling good.

This wine is just getting released, and with the strong reviews already in place, I’m not sure what will be available to us. But like I said, we brought in a small stash for quick turnaround pickups. No upper order limit for now; request what you like, and we’ll do our best (we’ll allocate if needed, but I’m hoping we’re getting in early enough that it won’t be necessary). The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


2012 Nine Hats (Long Shadows) Red

December 16, 2014

Pickup Calendar Reminder: You’ll see from the schedule below that there are two remaining pickup days for TPU members in 2014. We expect them both to be busy, so please make an appointment if you’re planning to come in.

Thursday, Dec 18: OPEN 10am-7pm
Saturday, Dec 20: (with Champagnes and FP&F wines open for sample/sale) OPEN 10am-2pm
Thursday, Dec 25: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 1: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 8: OPEN 10am-7pm
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Hello friends. At Full Pull, we plan ahead. The wines our team tastes in December are for potential offers in January and February. That’s what I’ve been telling anyone who has poured for us over the past few weeks.

Apparently I’m a liar. Today’s wine has jumped the queue, for the simple reason that it’s just too damned good to wait. It has a strong review from Sean Sullivan, but otherwise there is very little about this wine online. This is one where you’ll just have to trust me and my Washington-wine-hardened palate; trust me when I say this is underpriced for the quality it represents; trust me when I tell those of you who generally put a hard cap of $20 on your wine purchases that this is among the best candidates of the year for a holiday splurge:

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

Nine Hats purportedly refers to the nine different winemakers involved in the Long Shadows project, but what I think of when I see it is the number of different hats Gilles Nicault has to wear as the resident winemaker for all the Long Shadows wines. The John Duvals and Michel Rollands of the world fly in and fly out, but it’s Gilles who remains behind and cares for their babies.

Since the 2007 vintage, Nine Hats has been one of the best value labels in Washington. Here’s what the winery says about the label: The nine renowned winemakers of Long Shadows’ signature wines discover after each harvest that a percentage of their resulting barrels are more than they require to achieve that perfect balance in their final blends. These extra barrels produce Nine Hats. For folks curious about wines like Feather, Pedestal, Pirouette, Sequel, Nine Hats presents an accessible entry point to Gilles Nicault’s polished, expressive winemaking. It has been a wonderful wine even in mediocre vintages. In a vintage like 2012, you’d expect it to be exceptional, and it does not disappoint.

Considering how terribly allocated the top-end bottlings from Long Shadows were for 2012 (our allocations of Feather and Pedestal in particular were bloodbaths), I think there’s going to be extra-keen interest in this particular vintage of Nine Hats. The blend is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (55%) and Merlot (21%), and by fruit from The Benches at Wallula and Weinbau Vineyards. It kicks off with a nose that smells like a bottle of expensive Cabernet: cassis fruit and violets notes swaddled in classy oak: smoke and coffee and sweet spice. The density and intensity are outrageous for a wine in the low-$20s. Smoky and sultry, classy as hell, wildly good; if this isn’t quite at the level of the top-tier Long Shadows wines, it’s awfully close.

First come first served up to 48 bottles, and the wine should arrive on Wednesday and be available for pickup as early as our final two pickup days of 2014, or for shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


2 from Maison Sichel

December 15, 2014

Pickup Calendar Reminder: You’ll see from the schedule below that there are two remaining pickup days for TPU members in 2014. We expect them both to be busy, so please make an appointment if you’re planning to come in.

Thursday, Dec 18: OPEN 10am-7pm
Saturday, Dec 20: (with Champagnes and FP&F wines open for sample/sale) OPEN 10am-2pm
Thursday, Dec 25: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 1: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 8: OPEN 10am-7pm
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Hello friends. Growing up in the Philly burbs, one of the dumbest games we’d play was “whisper down the lane.” I’ve since come to learn that most folks who didn’t grow up in the Philly burbs call this game “telephone,” but I think “whisper down the lane” is much more evocative, and the rest of the country is missing out. Anyway, it’s the game where you have a line of kids. First in line whispers a phrase to the second in line, who whispers to the third, and so on and so on, down the lane, until you get to the last person, who reveals the phrase, which of course bears passing resemblance at best to the original, and which almost certainly has been studded with references scatological (when we were pre-teens) or sexual (when we were teens).

When I started thinking about today’s offer, that ol’ game came immediately to mind, because our list members are essentially getting fifth-hand information, and even that info has to be redacted. Not exactly the height of journalistic integrity, I know, but the wine is so damned good that I’m inclined not to care.

So, here’s the geography of this particular lane:
1. At the spring 2014 Bordeaux En Primeur tastings, one of the Sichel brothers…
2. …told the owner of their Seattle import partner…
3. …who told the representative of that import partner who calls on Full Pull…
4. …who told me (Paul Z)…
5. …who is now telling you…

…that today’s two wines are declassified juice from world-class wineries Chateau [REDACTED] in Margaux and Chateau [REDACTED] in Sauternes.

2010 Maison Sichel Margaux

Could something have been lost in translation at some point along the lane? Certainly. But some cursory internet research sure seems to confirm the story that I’m hearing about this one, and the wine itself is phenomenal. Basically, to get access to this wine, I had to promise not to reveal any Chateau names, and that was a deal I was willing to make. These aren’t easy wines to find in the United States. Outside of some parcels floating around Oregon, I’m not sure anyone else in the country is selling this one.

Maison Sichel is now into its fifth generation in Bordeaux. They’ve done a little of everything over the years: negociant, distributor, merchant, exporter, owner of properties, winemaking. They’re woven into the fabric of Bordeaux, and they’re only going to put their family name on something they’re proud of. They have a few different partners in Margaux, and this bottle comes entirely from one of those partners. And it’s a damned good one. As in: a bottle will cost you multiple hundreds of dollars good.

The blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot (more clues!), and it comes roaring out of the gates with lovely earthy animal mushroom Bordeaux character paired to cherry and redcurrant fruit and cherry-blossom top-notes. In the mouth, it is terrific, honest Bordeaux, not overpolished but instead earthy, sultry, throwing the kind of come-hither glances that only top-notch BDX can. Tight and chewy now, this beauty’s best years are likely well ahead of it, and I plan to stash plenty of bottles away in the personal cellar. If the story on this one is true (and again, I’m in the camp of believing that it is), this is an outrageous value.

2010 Maison Sichel Sauternes 500ml

Similar story here, although this one makes my spidey senses tingle a little more. As in: I think maybe one of the whispers down the lane led to a bit of inaccuracy. Like, I’m wondering if instead of this being a declassified version of one of the greatest Sauternes in the world (which is what I was told), maybe what was actually said at the start was: this is a declassified wine from the next-door neighbor to one of the greatest Sauternes in the world.

Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding, and this is a pretty damned delicious bottle of pudding. An 80/20 blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc (yes, I know, the same as Chateau [REDACTED], but come on? really?), it starts with a nose of smoky vanilla bean and caramel on a ripe fruit core of pineapple, marmalade, papaya, and mango. Botrytis nuance of truffle adds to the appeal. In the mouth, we see rich, ripe fruit paired to mouthwatering acidity, and as it rolled into its figgy finish, I stopped trying to figure out exactly what it is and began making plans to find patés and gorgonzolas to eat with it.

Please limit order requests to 24 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.


2012 Owen Roe Syrah Ex Umbris

December 14, 2014

Pickup Calendar Reminder: You’ll see from the schedule below that there are two remaining pickup days for TPU members in 2014. We expect them both to be busy, so please make an appointment if you’re planning to come in.

Thursday, Dec 18: OPEN 10am-7pm
Saturday, Dec 20: (with Champagnes and FP&F wines open for sample/sale) OPEN 10am-2pm
Thursday, Dec 25: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 1:   CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 8:   OPEN 10am-7pm
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Hello friends. We’re down to the last seven or eight offers of the year, and they’re all going to be doozies, but perhaps none better than this, certainly one of the deals of the year. I’ll pass on the text as it was presented to me by Owen Roe’s Seattle representatives:

In a meeting with David O’Reilly from Owen Roe today we discussed offering special pricing on one wine for the holidays as a thank you and early xmas present, and since the 2012 Syrah Ex Umbris has just been released, and 2012 is a pretty special vintage, and this wine is tasting absolutely delicious right now, Ex Umbris quickly became the obvious choice.

No surprise: a vintage as nice as this one already has a pair of strong reviews, including the first review we’re quoting for Stephen Tanzer after the sale of International Wine Cellar to Antonio Galloni’s Vinous:

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91(+?)pts.”

Some important logistics notes here, as I have a feeling this is going to be a popular one (Umbris at $20 is a rare bird indeed):

1. This is a December deal. When we hit January, this pricing evaporates and we’re back to the normal $28 tag.

2. We’re going to place our one-and-only order on Tuesday morning, so all orders will need to be in by Monday midnight. Any orders placed after that will be zeroed out.

3. The wine will be delivered Wednesday and will be available for those of you picking up on Thursday Dec 18 and Saturday Dec 20.

4. This is such a special, time-limited deal that I’m not going to place any upper bounds on order requests. I’m happy to advocate for as much wine as our list members want.

Now then, the wine itself. I’ll turn it back over to Jon Marvin from Cavatappi, who represents Owen Roe locally and who penned the quote at the top of the offer, since he has a unique perspective on this wine, having worked at Pike & Western when the first vintage was released:

David was making some pretty cool Syrah back in the day, way before everyone and their grandmas were in the Syrah game in WA. In 2002 an incredible forest fire enveloped the vineyard where he was sourcing his Syrah, and the smoke and ash from the fire sunk into the valley and played a role in that vintage that we hadn’t really seen before. I remember when he came into Pike and Western to sell us the wine after it was bottled with a new label called “Ex Umbris” (from the shadows), and we all wondered what the hell we were going to do with this new release as it smelled like a camp fire on steroids. It sold like crazy and people kept coming back for more and more until it was all sold out.

The next year came along and of course everyone was clamoring for the next vintage of Ex Umbris, and many were disappointed that the intense smokey flavors and aromas weren’t there. It’s not like David wanted to create a fire around the vines to get that same effect, and none of us wanted that either. Fortunately over a few years time people realized that WA Syrah when done correctly often has smokey aromas naturally, and Ex Umbris has pretty much had a life of its own ever since. Of course David has fine tuned his craft even more over the last decade, he’s using vineyards that are more ideal for Syrah than what was available a dozen years ago, and his Syrah is better than ever.

I had a chance to taste the new vintage of Umbris a few days ago, and it’s true: this wine really is better than ever. It really hit its stride at about 2-3 hours open, at which point a beautiful nose emerged combining smoky dark chocolate and smoked ham, green olive and white flowers, purple plummy fruit and blackberries; complex and deeply attractive. It’s a rich palate-stainer in the mouth, true to the outstanding vintage. The texture is oh so supple, and it glides across the palate with class and panache. Always a strong value at its normal $28 price, this is ridiculous at the “holiday thank you,” “early xmas present” tag.

First come first served up with no upper limit, and the wine should arrive on Wednesday and be available for pickup as early as our final two pickup days of 2014, or for shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Two from Woodward Canyon

December 12, 2014

Pickup Calendar Reminder: You’ll see from the schedule below that there are two remaining pickup days for TPU members in 2014. We expect them both to be busy, so please make an appointment if you’re planning to come in.

Thursday, Dec 18: OPEN 10am-7pm
Saturday, Dec 20: (with Champagnes and FP&F wines open for sample/sale) OPEN 10am-2pm
Thursday, Dec 25: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 1: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 8: OPEN 10am-7pm
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Hello friends. Today we have two benchmark Washington wines, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a (reoffered) Chardonnay, both from venerable superstar Woodward Canyon:

2012 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon Artist Series

What makes this a benchmark for Washington Cabernet? I’d say three things: quality, consistency, and longevity. This is Artist Series #21 for Woodward Canyon (Artist Series has reached legal drinking age!). The program has been around since 1992, and it is such a wonderful, characterful wine, year in and year out. “What about Quilceda Creek Cab, Leonetti Cab, or even Woodward Canyon’s Old Vine Cab?” I can hear some of you asking. Fair enough, but those price points are around $140 and $90 and $100. Woody Artist Series isn’t exactly cheap, but neither is it priced in the stratosphere.

For the third vintage running, Artist Series sees a sizeable chunk of Champoux fruit (27%) that usually ends up in Old Vines, as well as a hearty portion of Woodward Estate fruit (36%). The remainder is an all-star cast of vineyards, including Discovery, Sagemoor, Summit View, and Les Collines. It begins with an overtly pretty, high-toned nose setting violet and lavender and mint above crème de cassis, rich soil, and espresso. Just lovely, and very Cabernet. The palate possesses real mouth-staining intensity, with a core of evocative Cabernet fruit (Rick Small has noted that, as the vine age for their main sources increases, they’ve been slowly dialing back the new wood and letting the fruit shine). Supple blackcurrant rules the day until the finish, where burly black-tea tannins take over and won’t let go. This is chewy, delicious Cabernet from an epic vintage, well worthy of the benchmark tag.

[Note: of all the 2012-vintage Washington Cabernets reviewed in Wine Enthusiast to date, only one – Sineann’s $72 Champoux Vineyard Block One – has received a stronger review than this Artist Series.]

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

2012 Woodward Canyon Chardonnay

Originally offered December 13, 2013. Excerpts from original offer: Woodward’s bottling comes from the yin-yang vineyards of cooler Celilo, in the Columbia Gorge, and Woodward’s warmer Estate Vineyard, in the northern part of the Walla Walla Valley. Much of Rick Small’s focus and interest in the last few years has been in the estate vineyards, and that has paid clear dividends in this Chardonnay, which contains a full 71% estate fruit. When I visited the site, all I saw was a small vineyard surrounded by a sea of wheat-fields in every direction; there aren’t many other vineyards in this area.

This is outstanding Chardonnay, luxuriating in a return to a normal vintage after the cooler 2010 and 2011. I love the full, rich, creamy texture, but the fruit is never overblown, displaying lovely restraint to the peach, plantain, and lemon curd flavors. Woodward’s Chardonnay consistently supplies mineral and leesy complexities to complement that fruit, and that’s certainly the case here. Long and powerful, this cries out for rich fare to complement. I had doodles of crabs and lobsters next to my tasting note, and those would match well with the full texture and the cleansing lemon-drop acids.

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

Since I mentioned crab and Sean Sullivan threatened crab-cake-related incarceration, it would be a misdemeanor not to include a crab-cake recipe. Here’s the one I like to use.

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.


NV Saint Cosme Little James” Basket Press

December 11, 2014

Pickup Calendar Reminder: You’ll see from the schedule below that there are three remaining pickup days for TPU members in 2014. We expect them all to be busy, so please make an appointment if you’re planning to come in.

Thursday, Dec 11: OPEN 10am-7pm
Thursday, Dec 18: OPEN 10am-7pm
Saturday, Dec 20: (with Champagnes and FP&F wines open for sample/sale) OPEN 10am-2pm
Thursday, Dec 25: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 1: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 8: OPEN 10am-7pm
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Hello friends. Some folks use calendars to mark the seasons. At Full Pull, we can just as easily use value Grenache. Our list members have come to expect Charles Bieler to get us through summer and autumn with Lou Ven Tou and Lou Bar Rou. And then, right around this time of year, the fine folks at Saint Cosme offer something to get us through winter and spring:

A reminder of what Little James is all about: Louis Barruol of Saint Cosme has (rightly) built his public reputation on wines from his home base of Gigondas. But among the wine-trade/insider/sommelier set, there may be even more affection for his least expensive wine.

Because it’s one thing to make a quality Grenache that retails for $30-$100; it’s something else to develop a Grenache that brings pleasure for ten bucks. Much more frequently spotted on restaurant glass-pour lists than on retail shelves, this is as perfect a winter house wine as there is, an easy choice for a drizzly Wednesday night.

Louis began this as a solera project in 1999. It’s a NV (non-vintage) bottling, and each bottle contains about 50% of the most recent vintage (in this case 2012), and 50% from the solera, which at this point contains juice from every vintage from 1999 to 2011. It gets the Vin de France designation, because it contains juice from the Cosme Grenache holdings in the Southern Rhone as well as the Languedoc.

As we all know, there is a surfeit of serious bottles in the wine world. This is not intended to be one of them. The label shows the playfulness at the heart of Little James, but what are we to do when a wine intended for playfulness turns out to sneakily contain a little seriousness?

I suppose the answer is to enjoy it however we want. Little James can be enjoyed for the sheer pleasure it brings, the lovely pure expression of briar-berry Grenache. But there is undeniable complexity here (having a small proportion of juice that is 15 years old doesn’t hurt), and if you want to take your time with this bottle and pay attention, you’ll be rewarded handsomely. It kicks off with a nose of dried raspberry, fresh plum, and figgy/tarry streaks. In the mouth, it’s charming, rich, and fruit-driven, but it possesses loads of complexity (thank you solera!) in the form of crushed rock minerality and dusty/floral garrigue. The density, intensity, and palate-weight are always captivating with Little James, always impressive for the tag.

Folks planning holiday parties or winter weddings should consider Little James as a strong option. First come first served up to 72 bottles, 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.