2 from Domaine du Colombier

January 30, 2015

Hello friends. Last February, we grabbed as much wine from Domaine du Colombier as possible. It wasn’t enough. I believe we limited order requests to 4 bottles of Crozes Hermitage and 2 bottles of Hermitage, and our actual max allocations ended up being 2 Crozes/1 Herm. The new vintages of Colombier just landed in Seattle, so we’re turning this offer around as quickly as possible in hopes of avoiding last year’s allocation bloodbath.

2012 Domaine du Colombier Crozes-Hermitage

Up until last year, it had been several years since these lovely wines had been in the Seattle market. Colombier was founded in 1929, and for most of their existence sold their fruit to negociants. Their biggest customer was none other than Guigal. Then in 1992, the family decided to begin estate-bottling their own wines, and since then, they’ve risen to become one of the great under-the-radar estates of the region.

Well, mostly under the radar. Here’s Robert Parker himself introducing the estate in late 2012: Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “[TEXT WITHHELD].”

As you can see on the map, Crozes-Hermitage is an area in the crook of the neck made by the confluence of the Rhone and Isere rivers. While up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne are allowed in red Crozes, this is 100% Syrah, done whole-cluster and foot-stomped, and given long, cool fermentations. The result is a smoky, earthy, meaty marvel. This is a Syrah with plenty of funky character, with aromas somewhere between peat and roasting marrow bones. It’s a total palate-stainer, with loads of complexity and expressiveness. The insistent saltiness on the palate is wonderful, and the structure here (mostly bright acidity, but some sneaky tannin as well) suggests a wine that is only going to improve in bottle. Like last year, the woodsmoke elements suggest new oak, but this is done almost entirely in concrete and big old demi-muids, so I think it’s actually just autumnal varietal character.

Our parcel of this is only slightly larger than last year, and I expect we’ll only have one shot at this wine.

2011 Domaine du Colombier Hermitage

Hermitage is one of the true beating hearts of Syrah in the world. A tiny AOC (345 acres) contained on a single hill (location here), it produces wines that are as difficult to source as they are hauntingly beautiful.

The speed of the go/no-go decision precluded me from tasting this vintage, but last year’s was fantastic, and this vintage already has an excellent review from Wine Advocate:

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

Since we’re getting in a touch earlier this year, I’m going to up the max order requests slightly, but allocations still may fall below these limits. Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of Crozes and 3 bottles of Hermitage, 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.

2 WA Rhone Reoffers

January 28, 2015

Award UPDATE: I’m pleased to announce that Full Pull was awarded Retailer of the Year at the Washington Wine Commission’s 2015 Washington State Wine Awards ceremony on Monday night. This follows on the heels of winning Independent Retailer of the Year last year, and is a wonderful honor for our Full Pull team, our list members, and all our partners in the winery/distributor/importer world. The Retailer of the Year category encompasses all types of wine retail. The previous two winners were a grocery chain (Metropolitan Market) and a national wine store chain (Total Wine), so this is a category where we’re competing with the big boys. I was (very pleasantly) shocked to hear our name called at the end of the night, and we’ll be basking in the afterglow of this one for at least a couple of weeks. Here is our official press release, and here is the release from the Washington Wine Commission.
Hello friends. This is the latest in our ongoing series of Friday reoffers, featuring some of 2014’s most popular wines and offering one more chance to access these beauties before they sell out. Wait, what? It’s not Friday. Okay, I know, and I’m sorry, but I’m getting antsy about these Washington 2012s, and I don’t want us to miss out on anything. So Wednesday’s planned offer is now pushed to Friday, and Friday’s planned offer is today.

Today’s group continues the focus on the glorious 2012 vintage in Washington, a welcome return to a normal year after the successive cool vintages of 2010 and 2011. One of the themes of last year was wave after wave of wonderful 2012s crashing onto our shore, and there are a number of the 2012s that have been massively popular as reorder targets. Last week we focused on Bordeaux varieties and blends; today it’s the Rhones. Let’s dive in.

2012 Gramercy Cellars Southern Blend “Lower East”

Originally offered September 17, 2014, this is year two of the extension of the Lower East brand into a Southern Rhone blend. Excerpts from the original:

I’ve called Lower East wines the gateway drugs to the Gramercy Cellars portfolio. I’ve called them wine ghosts. You won’t find Lower East wines on Gramercy’s website. You won’t find them in Gramercy’s tasting room. You will rarely find them sold outside the Pac-NW. Lower East is a gift, from Greg Harrington to his local supporters. Most of it goes to restaurants, a reflection of Greg’s sommelier history. But some gets allocated to retail channels, especially to long-term supporters of the Gramercy portfolio.

This sophomore effort for the Lower East Southern is a thing of beauty. The blend is 40/40/20 Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre, and it comes from several of the stars of Gramercy’s vineyard stable: SJR, Upland, Minick, Olsen. It also contains fruit from a newer site called Oldfield, an Efeste estate site about which they say the following: “Oldfield Vineyard is planted next to Dick Boushey’s vines on a southwest slope over 1300 feet in elevation. This elevation puts it well over the height of the Missoula flood table which means that these soils are truly ancient.” Cool!

Done entirely in neutral French oak, this clocks in at 14.2% listed alc, which seems right for Gramercy’s style and for the down-the-middle 2012 vintage.  And friends, this is a knee-buckler. I found it gorgeous from first sniff to last swallow, and it speaks to Greg Harrington and Brandon Moss’ quality at points across the price spectrum. Beginning with a gorgeous, appetizing nose mixing red and blue fruits with beautiful briny castelvetrano olives and insistent, lovely garrgiue notes of dried herb and lavender, this moves into a silky, complex palate, a swirling stew of notes fruity and salty, smoky and meaty. If this is baby Third Man, this is one beautiful baby indeed. A harbinger of wonderful things to come from Gramercy’s 2012 Rhone lineup.

2012 Proper Syrah

Originally offered on October 1, 2014, and a frequent target of reorders ever since, this was the return of estate-bottled juice from a winery that I called “baby Cayuse” in their inaugural vintage. Excerpts from the original:

What a roller coaster ride for the folks behind Proper. Great admirers of Christophe Baron’s work, they jumped at the chance to purchase a cherry orchard around the corner from Cayuse Vineyards. In 2007, the cherries went out, and the vines went in (all Syrah). They built great momentum with outstanding harvests in 2009 (mostly a friends and family wine) and 2010 (the first Proper Syrah we offered), and then came trouble. The Thanksgiving freeze of 2010 knocked out their entire vineyard for the 2011 vintage. To keep the brand alive, they used purchased fruit from a neighboring rocks vineyard and did a small 2011-vintage release. That 2011 was lovely, but I think all of us who fell in love with the 2010 were eagerly anticipating our next chance to watch this evocative vineyard evolve.

It’s Sean Boyd from Rotie Cellars who is behind this wine. A notorious Rhone freak and lover of earthy, ethereal Syrahs, Sean has crafted a crystalline expression of funky Walla Walla Rocks terroir that is rare to see outside the domains of Cayuse and Reynvaan. And of course, unlike Cayuse and Reynvaan, this Syrah is actually available without a multi-year stay on a waiting list! Someday I’m sure this wine will command prices commensurate with the best Syrahs in the state, but for now, it remains a fine value for lovers of funky rocks Syrah.

The nose contains lovely streaks of pure marionberry and boysenberry fruit, but you’re not here to hear about fruit, are you? Okay, so the savories (and they are legion): there’s a great brackish marine kelpy umami note. There is a whole host of briny green olives. There is a full plate of smoky salumi. It’s a funky, smoky, earthy nose, lifted by notes of wild flowers and herbs to keep things fresh. Just lovely. So alluring. The palate continues the mix of rich fruit and naughty savories, all on a pillowy silky frame that hits the back of your throat before you realize what’s happened. There’s nothing else to do but take another sniff, take another sip.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.” [Note: the only Syrahs to receive stronger reviews from Jeb this year come from an all-star list of wineries: Cayuse/No Girls/Horsepower, K Vintners, Reynvaan, Gramercy, Betz, Corliss; heady company!]

Please order what you like, without restriction, 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.

2010 Veglio Barbaresco

January 26, 2015

Hello friends. This was not today’s originally-scheduled blast, but we’ve been offered a great – and very time-limited – deal on a well-reviewed Barbaresco, so that’s forcing a calendar reshuffle. I suspect this deal is being presented to us because of all the support we’ve thrown to value Barbaresco in the past (especially Tintero). Regardless, it remains exceedingly rare to see sub-$25 Barbaresco, especially from a classic Piedmont vintage like 2010, so let’s not waste any time.

First, the logistics. We have to place our order tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, so please try to get order requests in by the end of the day. We might be able to build in a small buffer for late orders, but no guarantees.

Second, the review, which was just published in Wine Enthusiast’s year-end issue: Wine Enthusiast (Kerin O’Keefe): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

This wine is kind of a ghost. It looks like it’s sold regularly in Italy and Poland and the Netherlands, but very rarely in the United States. I was able to grab a quick taste, so my notes aren’t the most extensive I’ve ever written. My impression was of a good honest Nebbiolo nose from a cooler year, with lots of chamomile and red cherry along with streaks of menthol and tar. The palate was full of earthy notes and tea leaves, and as usual with Nebbiolo, this will shine with a good meal much more so than as a cocktail wine. The structure seemed quite accessible for Nebbiolo, the tannins softer and more approachable than usual for this category. All that to say: this isn’t a wine you’d need to sit on for years and years; it brings plenty of pleasure, plenty of immediate gratification.

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.

2013 Bila-Haut (Chapoutier) Occultum Lapidem

January 26, 2015

Hello friends. A new vintage of an old list member favorite just hit the ground in Seattle. There’s huge interest in this wine around town, because last April it received a crazy barrel sample review in Wine Advocate. Fortunately, our list members have offered long, steady support to this winery over the past few years, so we’re being offered dibs on a solid chunk of a limited parcel:

Okay, first the barrel sample review. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94-97pts.”

It’s of course the top end of the range that got everyone’s attention. Let’s be optimistic for a moment and imagine that, in a few months’ time when Jeb Dunnuck publishes his review of the finished wine, he chooses the top end of the spectrum and bestows a 97pt review on Occultum. A 97pt review for a sub-$30 wine?!? Close to unheard of. When the time comes, and the review is published, I don’t want our list members scrambling to find bottles. I want us all smiling knowingly, secure in the knowledge that our bottles are tucked safely away. I want us to get in, grab our wine, and get out without anyone knowing. I want Ocean’s Eleven style.

Now, some reminders on this project: first off, the Cotes du Roussillon is a region that has for some time exported massive quantities of forgettable plonk, but has in recent years begun to develop a reputation as a fine source of French value. At the vanguard of the quality movement was none other than Michel Chapoutier, he of the multiple 100pt (Robert Parker) wines from the northern Rhone. I’ll reprint the excerpt from one of Parker’s introductions to Chapoutier in Wine Advocate:


High praise indeed, and when Chapoutier expanded his operations to the Roussillon in the early ‘90s, it was a big deal for the region. He makes a series of wines from the region, and Occultum Lapidem is essentially a reserve wine, coming from his best Roussillon vineyards, on gneiss and schist and Kimmeridgian limestone. The blend is typically about 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 20% Carignan, and this vintage presents a wow nose wild in its complexity, with flowers and red raspberry fruit, sea salt and smoked sausage. The aromas go on and on, and they do so right on pop-and-pour. No need to age or decant endlessly; this beauty is ready right now. The pillowy soft texture, the mix of wild fruit and savories, the lingering salinity and sanguine minerality on the finish: this really delivers the goods, and I’m not surprised at all that Dunnuck was so gaga for it.

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.

4 BDX Reoffers

January 23, 2015

Hello friends. As I mentioned last week, something we like to do early in the year is reoffer some of our most popular wines of the previous year, one more chance to access these beauties before they sell out.

Today’s group focuses on the glorious 2012 vintage in Washington, a welcome return to a normal year after the successive cool vintages of 2010 and 2011. One of the themes of last year was wave after wave of wonderful 2012s crashing onto our shore, and there are a number of the 2012s that have been massively popular as reorder targets. Today we’re focusing on Bordeaux varieties and blends; we’ll save the Rhones for a future reoffer Friday. Let’s dive in.

2012 OS Winery Red Wine

Originally offered August 17, 2014, under the subject Full Pull (Still) Underpriced. Excerpts from that original offer: This has become a true list darling. Strong even in questionable value vintages like 2010 and 2011, it is exceptional in down-the-middle vintages like 2012. When this bottling is on, it is for my money some of the best value juice in Washington. And in 2012 it is most certainly on. Our list members went crazy for the 2011 vintage, which disappeared fairly quickly after Paul Gregutt’s 90pt Enthusiast review called it “a splendid wine for the price, one to buy by the case.” The OS Red Wine is made from declassified barrels from the higher-end OS Bordeaux blends (e.g. R3, BSH, Ulysses), and in 2012 it’s 44% Cabernet Franc, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot. The winery doesn’t release specific vineyard sources for the Red, but it doesn’t take much sleuthing to figure the likely suspects from the roster of OS vineyards. Potential candidates include such luminaries as Sheridan, Klipsun, Champoux, Ciel de Cheval, Dineen, Two Blondes, Elephant Mountain.

What we do know: average vine age is 19 years (unusual; wines at this tariff usually come from considerably younger vines), and the wine spent about two years in French oak, one-third new. Listed alc is 13.9%. The nose is an alluring mix of kirsch, Kahlua, and smoky peaty earth tones. In the mouth, the Cabernet Franc asserts itself first, with that mix of flowers and earth that only Franc can pull off. There’s red cherry fruit, a savory kick of mole poblano, and a finishing lick of cherry-pit bitters. We’re all used to seeing jammy fruit bombs in this price range, but as usual, the OS Red transcends the category. This is earthier, more elegant, and certainly more structured than we have any right to expect. Or, to put it more simply, this is underpriced.

2012 Saviah “The Jack” Cabernet Sauvignon

Originally offered June 16, 2014, and it only got better and better as the year progressed. Excerpts from our original offer:

Look at the vineyards and elevage here and tell me this is a $15 wine. Sites like Bacchus, Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills, Stillwater Creek – you may recognize those from Cabernet bottles that retail at $40, $50, $60 and up. And then they go into French oak barrels (30% new) for fifteen months. At which point they’re bottled and released. For $15. Madness.

“I know these aromas,” I thought to myself when tasting this last week. “This smells like expensive Washington Cabernet.” There’s the purity of the cassis and black cherry fruit, and then there’s the complexities: of flower (violet); of barrel (espresso); of earth and herb (soil and tarragon). In the mouth, this continues to impress, both with its purity of fruit and its palate-coating intensity. I just found none of the holes you usually see in Cabernet at this price. The mid-palate is fleshy and wonderful, and it rolls into a very Cabernet finish, awash in fine-grained black-tea tannins. This is a Cab that for me punches well above its price class, delivering delicious drinking now (at 14.3% listed alc) and the potential for a 10-year aging window. Congrats to Rich Funk; this is as impressive a Jack Cabernet as I can remember.

2012 Cadence Coda

Originally offered October 29, 2014, this has inspired rapturous praise from our list members ever since. Excerpts from the original blast: Why is Coda such an incredible value year in and year out? Well, Ben Smith makes exactly four single-vineyard wines for Cadence, all from Red Mountain. Two come from the estate Cara Mia Vineyard, one from Ciel du Cheval, and one from Tapteil. And that’s it. Ben carefully crafts the blends for those high-end ($45-$60) wines, and then whatever barrels aren’t included during those blending trials end up in Coda.  What that means for Coda is that it’s always a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot, always a blend of Cara Mia, Ciel du Cheval, and Tapteil, and always barrels that were raised with the exact same care as the higher-end bottles. And we get all of that for a tariff that is about half the single-vineyard wines.

I was totally smitten when I tasted this wine. To give you the temperature of my notes, the first line says “oh wow baby Bel Canto!” which of course refers to one of Ben’s beautiful blends from his estate Cara Mia Vineyard. And my oh my, if this is a sneak preview of what is to come in a year or so when Ben releases 2012 Bel Canto and Camerata and Ciel and Tapteil, batten down the hatches. But for now we can revel in this marvelous vintage of Coda, a 33/29/29/9 blend of Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot that comes soaring up out of the glass with a gorgeous high-toned flower garden of cherry blossoms, roses, and lilacs, overlaying beautiful spiced black cherry and redcurrant fruit and terrific soil-driven earth tones. This really nails the earth-and-flower aspect of Cabernet Franc that can be so exotic, so haunting when done well. At 14.4%, this is positively rich by Ben standards but of course retains Cadence’s signature elegance of texture, briskness of mouthfeel. It’s a remarkable wine, a clarion call for the grace, power, and incipient class of Washington’s 2012 vintage.

In that original offer, I said “Tanzer reviews should be released any day now, and if I were a betting man, I would bet on a strong review for this wine.” That would have been a good bet, as a 91pt review for a $20 Washington wine is just about unheard of from Tanzer. Vinous/IWC (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

2012 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Lower East

Originally offered July 27 and a frequent reorder throughout the second half of last year. Excerpts from that July offer: This was a bottle where I was stunned by the quality right up until I saw the vineyard sources, and then everything made sense. In 2012, Lower East comes from an all-star foursome, three from the Walla Walla Valley (Gramercy Estate, Octave, and Pepper Bridge), plus the outstanding Phinny Hill in Horse Heaven. The blend includes 24% Merlot, and the whole thing was raised entirely in French oak, 40% new.

What Lower East does beautifully, year in and year out, is to establish itself as a true four-corners Cab, with fruit (black cherry, blackberry), earth, savory/herbal (beetroot, rhubarb, mint), and barrel (mocha) notes in fine balance. Here we see winemakers who strive for elegance in a year that wanted to be a little fleshier. The result: a balanced beauty, at 14.2% listed alc containing just the right amount of generosity to the laser-pure fruit, and of course plenty of balancing structure, in both the form of blood-orange acids and toothsome black-tea tannins. If you’re looking to build a cellar of sturdy, ageworthy wines under $30, this would be an awfully nice place to start. Like every vintage of Lower East so far, it is polished, classy, and punches well above its price class.

Please order what you like, without restriction, 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.

2 from Bedrock Wine Co.

January 21, 2015

Hello friends. Today is another step in our continuing monitoring of The New California. One of the most pleasant surprises of 2014 was the success of our inaugural New Cali offer back in April, and I intend to (slowly) continue our explorations of this burgeoning movement.

The movement is probably best captured in San Francisco Chronicle wine critic Jon Bonné’s recent book The New California Wine. Bonne focuses there on wineries moving away from high-alc, high-oak, overly-manipulated monsters. It’s a grass-roots movement for now (and will be as long as there’s so much cash to be made from cult Napa Cabernet), but it’s well worth tracking.

Last year we began with Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Shebang label. Those bottles were warmly received by our list members and became frequent reorder targets. Today we’re going to stick with Morgan but focus instead on his main Bedrock label. Both of today’s wines feature some of the oldest American vines still in production, and both are (as you can see) sold out at the winery.

2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Old Vine Zinfandel

Morgan is a second generation Cali winemaker, the son of Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson (the family sold Ravenswood in 2001). He founded Bedrock Wine Company in 2007, after first trying to escape his winemaking roots (he’s notorious for making the Vino Bambino Pinot Noir as a five-year-old) by studying history and American studies at Vassar and then at Columbia, and then accepting the gravitational pull of winemaking, returning to California in 2005. I try not to hold it against him that he is both a) younger than me; and b) further along in his Master of Wine studies.

The heart of Morgan’s winery is Bedrock Vineyard, a site planted in 1854 (!) that then had to be replanted in 1888 post-phylloxera, and that is one of the three Sonoma sites forming the core of this old vine Zin (average vine age: 80+ years, which may not be so crazy in Spain or Australia but is rare indeed in the United States). Monte Rosso and Casa Santinamaria are the other two Sonoma sites, and then there are another six vineyards that contribute dollops, from sites in the Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, and Lodi. As far as varieties go, I’ll turn to Morgan: Though it is legally a Zinfandel, and labeled as such, it is also a Bedrock wine so you can be sure it has its full quotient of the wacky, weird and wonderful in it as well—nearly 23% Carignane, Mourvedre, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Abouriou, Aubun, and assorted mixed white varieties.

Robert Parker himself makes it a point to review these wines. Here is his screed on the ’13 OV Zin:

Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

I think that review nails the aroma/flavor profile, a mix of brambly berries, herbaceous/forest floor, and savory tomato paste. The 14.5% listed alc is totally reasonable, especially for Cali Zin, and I thought this had a gorgeous sense of purity and intensity. There was almost no new oak used here, and there is some sense of fine-grained tannin on the finish, but truly, this is all about the fruit, unapologetically lush and delicious.

2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Bedrock Heritage

This is one of those rare bottles that lights up the left and right sides of the brain, the intellectual and sensual receptors alike. Let’s begin with the intellect. Bedrock Heritage comes entirely from Bedrock Vineyard, and specifically the blocks that were replanted after phylloxera between 1888 and 1895. Which means, by the 2013 vintage, we were looking at vine ages from 118 to 125 years old. By any standards, anywhere in the world, those are oooooooooooooold vines, and it’s a wild vineyard (seriously; check out this ridiculous picture), a mix of a full 22 different interplanted varieties. The finished wine is mainly Zinfandel (55%) and Carignan (30%), but after that, there another 20 varieties that make up the final 15%.

Now the sensual side. My notes focus almost entirely on texture, as you’d expect from vines this old. Phrases like “dense,” “intense,” “depth of character,” “perfect palate weight” dot the landscape of my tasting note. This sees 40% new French oak and shows considerably more structure (acid and tannin) than the OV Zin. Flavors are black cherry, roasted herb, and an attractive smokiness that just won’t quit. The lingering finish is all cherry tea, and the entire package is a marvel of old-vine electricity.

Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

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 a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2 from Bunchgrass

January 20, 2015

Hello friends. It’s Bunchgrass day! Which means our offering begins with a Robert Sund poem:

“Friends Make Us Fuller”
Friends make us fuller.
When friends leave, their light stays behind.
It is like the blue sea
that supports the white breakers
that come and go.

No matter how far I go,
I long to return and be with friends.
It is never the same fire I left,
but beneath it are the ashes
of all our meetings that have gone before.
Robert Sund

The history, for list newbies: Roger Cockerline helped to establish a grape-grower’s society in Walla Walla in the 1980s and then founded Bunchgrass as the eleventh winery in the Walla Walla Valley. Roger’s fruit is present in some of the early Leonetti bottles, helped perhaps by the fact that Chris Figgins was a student in Roger’s 8th Grade Social Studies Course (no pigeonholing in the WWV; Roger was a farmer *and* a teacher).

Roger named the winery after Bunch Grass, a book of poetry by his friend, the northwest poet Robert Sund (1929-2001). Learning about the origin of the winery name led me to Sund’s poetry, which has been one of my happiest accidents associated with Full Pull, and now, whenever we offer Bunchgrass wines, we include a Sund poem. I’d like to thank the board of the Robert Sund Poet’s House Trust (holders of copyrights to Sund’s work) for permission to share his poetry with our list members. For more information on the life and work of Robert Sund, and to order books, please visit the Trust’s web site.

Bunchgrass was never the splashiest winery in the valley, but it was well-loved by its dedicated followers. So well-loved, in fact, that when Roger Cockerline started moving towards retirement, he was approached by several people interested in keeping the winery alive. One of those people was Tom Olander, who had served as the lead wine buyer for Whitehouse-Crawford Restaurant (a Walla Walla institution) and had been a great admirer of Bunchgrass wines over the years. Tom has been making Bunchgrass wines since the 2009 vintage, and the releases have been an unbroken series of beauties.

Despite the long history in the valley, these remain insider gems, well-priced, and as delicious as they are difficult to source west of the mountains. In other words, perfect for the Full Pull model.

2011 Bunchgrass Triolet

The first thing to note about this vintage of Triolet is its tiny production: just 103 cases. Always a fine value, I expect this to move quickly with such a small amount produced. As usual, it’s about a two-thirds, one-third blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, with a splash of Petit Verdot. Main vineyard sources are Windrow (the oldest commercial Cabernet Sauvignon in the Walla Walla Valley), Dwelley (a terrific site in the Blue Mountain foothills), and Frazier Bluff.

Despite its smaller proportion, the Cabernet Franc is prominent on the nose, adding lovely tea-leafy subtleties and earthy soil notes to a core of redcurrant and red plum fruit. The palate has deep earth tones shaded by plush fruit. The generosity of that fruit belies the cool 2011 vintage, as does the 14.4% listed alc. I love how this picks up steam across the mid-palate and rolls into a long, espresso-laden finish. And I especially love the insistent earthy character on the nose and the palate. As usual, this is classy juice indeed for the tariff.

2011 Bunchgrass Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley

If Triolet is small production, this is microscopic. Just 66 cases produced, and 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, from a trio of wonderful valley Cab sites: Windrow, Dwelley, and Yellow Bird (that last one has been the source of many a well-loved bottle from Tulpen Cellars).

It clocks in at 14.3% listed alc and offers a lovely Cabernet nose: blackcurrant fruit, smoky chile pepper, bay leaf, and coffee bean. It really ticks all the aroma boxes. The palate is tightly wound, exhibiting impressive depth with not a shred of excess weight. The mix of fruit and earth elements is outstanding, and there are some exotic characteristics to the palate (dust, eucalyptus) that I found deeply compelling. A marvelous Walla Walla Valley Cabernet.

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 a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.