Hello friends. It has been sixteen days since we’ve last visited your inboxes. I hope you all had a restful, happy holiday season. I for one feel recharged and ready to hit the ground running in 2015. It should be an exciting year for Full Pull, with several new developments in the works, but all in good time…
One quick housekeeping note. I’m thrilled to report that our raffle sales in December did indeed help my friend Andre reach his fundraising goals for his Clay’s Pond documentary. Many thanks to all of our list members who purchased a ticket for this fine cause. Andre and I were both overwhelmed by the response. I did decide to postpone the raffle drawings until tomorrow (Thursday), so that we can do it in front of some objective witnesses. I don’t want any charges of FIFA-style corruption clouding the start to the new year. We’ll post results at the top of Friday’s offer.
Now then, I have a tendency to start each year with a quirky offer, and 2015 will prove no exception to that rule. When folks think of northwest wine, they generally think of Washington and Oregon. Maybe they think of British Columbia if they’re extra geeky, but we rarely see BC wines (a pity) due to the impossible pricing that results from the 100% import tariff. But there is a fourth area, the frontier, the wild wild east. There’s Idaho.
Today we offer Full Pull’s first-ever pair of Idaho wines, one red and one white, and they came to us via a circuitous route. Team Full Pull member Matt Tessler, who many of you know, has participated as a judge in both of the first two years of the Great Northwest Wine Invitational Wine Competition, a terrific new blind judging run by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue of Great Northwest Wine. The competition includes not only Washington and Oregon wines, but also wines from BC and Idaho. And this year Matt came back enthusiastic about a number of the Idaho wines he tasted.
We asked to have a sample of several of those wines shipped over to Full Pull so that we could all taste them, and Matt was right; many of them were damned good: delicious, compelling, and well-priced. At the top of the list were two wines from a winemaker with deep connections to the Washington winemaking scene, and a winery called Cinder:
Melanie Krause worked for Ste Michelle Wine Estates from 2001 until 2006, beginning as a vineyard technician and ending as Assistant Winemaker. During her tenure, she worked under a trio of head winemakers that will be familiar to many of our list members: Ron Bunnell (Bunnell Family Cellar, RiverAerie), Kendall Mix (Corliss, Goose Ridge, Cadaretta, Lawrelin), and Bob Bertheau (still head winemaker at Ste Michelle).
In 2006, Melanie moved home to Idaho (she grew up in Boise), and put her vineyard and winery skills to work as a consultant for the burgeoning Idaho wine industry. She also made small amounts of Syrah and Viognier that year, and the results were strong enough that she decided to launch her own winery. She named it Cinder, after the cinder cones that dot the volcano-influenced landscape of the Snake River Valley.
The Snake River Valley is Idaho’s first and only AVA, established in 2007. This map should help get us oriented. The boundaries of the AVA generally correspond to 3450’ of elevation, the level of Ancient Lake Idaho (which eventually drained out through Hells Canyon, leaving sediment-rich soil behind). Many of the vineyards sit above 2000’, so the diurnal temperature shifts can be huge here.
This particular Syrah comes from three vineyards: 47% Sawtooth (volcanic cinders intermixed with sandy-loam soil), 38% Skyline (rolling hills with silty-loam soils), and 15% Williamson (chalky sandy soils). It sees a 5% Viognier coferment and 10% whole cluster. Barrel regimen was 16 months in 30% new wood, and this has been in bottle for about a year now. It clocks in at 14.3% listed alc, and it offers up a lovely nose of marionberry fruit and white flowers (thank you Viognier) along with more savory tones of black olive and coffee. With time and air, a terrific meaty note emerged, something like caramelizing a smoked sausage and appetizing indeed. Notable for its intensity, its balance, and perhaps especially for its salty-mouthwatering finish, I found this to occupy a terrific middle ground between Washington and the Rhone.
This is the kind of wine that makes me want to travel over to Idaho to see what the hell is going on. Very, very promising juice!
Melanie also makes an off-dry Viognier; hence the word “Dry” in the name here. This comes from two of the vineyards mentioned above – Sawtooth and Williamson – and it’s all about freshness, done in stainless steel and bottled just a few months after harvest.
It clocks in at 14% listed alc and offers an honest Viognier nose of peach, orange blossom, honeysuckle, and ginger. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy, full and generous, but never ponderous, lifted both by Viognier’s natural perfume and by a sturdy spine of citrusy acid. It finishes long and spicy, and it should be a lovely winter-into-spring white wine option.
Please limit order requests to 24 total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. We’ll be receiving one shipment, direct from the winery, so I’m afraid reorder requests are unlikely to be fulfilled. 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.