WSET Progress UPDATE: Matt and I learned yesterday that we both passed the WSET Level 4 Diploma Unit 5 Sparkling Wine exam that we took in San Francisco back in November (yes, it takes two months for results to come back from London). Please congratulate Matt next time you see him behind the tasting bar and ask him his opinion about Sparkling Shiraz and/or Franciacorta. I’ve updated the WSET Progress Tracker on our website. As you can see, I have just one more unit remaining for the Diploma, a June exam on the small topic of “Wines of the World.”
Special thanks go to Bryan Maletis of Fat Cork for helping us immensely with Champagne tasting practice. As it turned out, all three of the blind wines on the exams were Champagne, and Matt and I were well schooled on those thanks to Bryan.
Hello friends. 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. I know many of you opened a lot of bottles over the holidays, so hopefully you now have personal impressions to supplement our own notes.
We’ll begin with a pair of wines from a winery that received about as much positive feedback as we heard in 2014 (via reorder requests, e-mails, personal anecdotes, carrier pigeons, etc): Result of a Crush.
Here is a quick reminder about the winery from the Reynvaan family, in case we have some list newbies who haven’t yet taken the plunge: Since 2011, sisters Amanda Reynvaan and Angela Reynvaan Garratt have been producing approachable red blends and Rosés from elite vineyards throughout the Walla Walla Valley and Columbia Valley in conjunction with their brother and consulting winemaker, Matt Reynvaan. The family started out in the wine business in 2004, launching Reynvaan Family Vineyards in Walla Walla, which quickly developed into a Washington State cult winery. With the Result of a Crush project the family aims to produce wines that are distinctive, affordable, consistent in quality and showcase the owners’ sometimes whimsical attitude toward wine.
Originally offered June 11, 2014. Excerpts from original offer:
Reynvaan is as buzzy as a winery gets in Washington State, and if you’re not already on the waiting list, I’d recommend getting on there now. Allocations for the main label have become more and more competitive over the years, especially after Harvey Steiman’s series of glowing reviews of the 2010 vintage last June, including a 98pt review for Stonessence, the highest score Spectator has bestowed on any Washington wine. Ever. Yowsah. All that to say: sourcing main-label Reynvaan wine is as difficult as ever these days. Which only makes the Result of a Crush label that much more appealing. This is the gateway drug into the gloriously funky world of Reynvaan, and I apologize in advance if tasting this leads you to spend way too much money on auction sites trying to track down the main label. Here is what we know about the 2011:
1. Unlike the previous two bottlings, this is single vintage, coming from 2011.
2. It still has the smooching lips label that belies the seriousness of the juice inside.
3. It is mostly Syrah and Viognier, with some Cabernet Sauvignon.
This has immediate rocks Syrah character on the nose, with super umami notes, sanguine/bloody character, briny green olives, smoked meat, smoky charcoal, and loads of huckleberry fruit. The palate continues the wonderful balance of savory elements and richly fruited elements, all carried along by the lively acid of the cool 2011 vintage. I can’t imagine that there’s very much Cab in this – maybe just a little bit to buff up the texture – because it really drinks like a lovely Syrah/Viognier coferment from the rocks, all funky goodness.
Originally offered November 2, 2014, and we have access to the last (small) parcel remaining in Seattle. It’s all sold out at the winery. And yes, there’s a Christmas tree right there on the label, but something tells me the label could have a picture of the Loch Ness Monster giving the finger to Oscar The Grouch and our list members would still buy this in droves; the juice inside is just that stellar. Here are excerpts from the original blast:
What is inside this bottle? Well, we have two sources from the VNoWS™ (Vast Network of Wine Spies), and their information differs slightly. I’m going to go with the source closest to the winery, who says this a cofermented blend of 93% Syrah and a full 7% Viognier. Better yet, it is all declassified Reynvaan juice, 60% from the 2013 vintage, 40% from 2012. After smelling this (tasting isn’t even necessary; the nose alone is a dead ringer), I have little doubt about the accuracy of that info. In fact, I came away from my tasting thinking to myself: if this declass juice is as good as it is, how wildly good are the top-end bottles at this point? The only thing I can think is that Matt Reynvaan is growing more and more selective with what juice makes it into the top tier (hence the string of 95pt-98pt reviews in Wine Spectator), allowing higher and higher quality juice to make it into his sisters’ wines.
For those of us who love Rocks funk, this is a ridiculous value. The packaging is whimsical; the juice inside is killer. You can smell the rocks from several feet away from your glass: bloody sanguine notes, minerals, loads of olives, and a wonderful kelpy marine funk. There are white flowers (thank you Viognier); there is layer upon layer of fruit, from blueberry to peach to guava; there is the mixed tray of charcuterie and dried sausages. The list goes on. It’s a complex marvel aromatically, and then the palate conveys real richness and silkiness that belie the 13.3% listed alc. I don’t think this is one to hold for ten years. I think this is one to drink young for its open savory allure, its smoky funky naughtiness.
Please order what you like, without restriction, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. Both 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.