3 from Leonetti

February 18, 2015

Hello friends. Today we have one of our annual Full Pull rites: our offering of Leonetti’s new releases. Deep in the grey-black gloom of February, it’s a bud pushing through cold earth: a clear indication that spring is on the ascendancy. It’s one of my favorite offerings to write each year, but this year – with two of the three wines (alas, no Sangiovese allocation this year) coming from the heralded 2012 vintage – there is an extra spark in the air, an extra hum of electricity.

[On that note, a quick aside to mention that early indications are that allocations are indeed going to be competitive for these spring releases of 2012-vintage wines. Our first data point was Avennia, and they’re reporting that they’re already completely sold out of their new Valery wine (don’t worry; we still have an allocation coming), and that they also sold through big chunks of Gravura and Sestina at their release party.]

It isn’t every day that you get to write about the grand dame of the Walla Walla Valley, the founding winery in that AVA that quickly became one of Washington’s few cult producers. Founded in 1978 by Gary Figgins, Leonetti rapidly established a reputation as one of Washington’s top Cabernet and Merlot producers, helped along by their 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon being recognized as best in nation in a Wine & Spirits Magazine blind tasting. Brisk mailing list sales followed, and soon thereafter, the mailing list closed and the waiting list opened.

Currently it’s the second generation helming the winery, in the form of Chris Figgins. Chris has subtly shifted the emphasis of the winery towards its estate vineyards in the past few years, and the results have been outstanding. I have also been lucky enough to taste vintages of Leonetti wines from the ‘80s and ‘90s, as well as plenty of more recent vintages. These are wines that can age in profoundly beautiful directions (if you can resist their youthful charms). The transition to Leonetti’s second generation is just about complete, and the future for this Mt. Rushmore-level Washington winery looks bright indeed.

Now, a quick logistics reminder: This is a pre-release offering, where we’re sending the offer before we know our allocations. Using this model allows us to advocate on behalf of our list for allocations that most accurately reflect our overall demand. The flip side is: some pre-release offerings turn out to be mirage wines: wines where we end up receiving smaller-than-expected allocations and then need to under-allocate.

As far as timing goes, we should be able to send out allocation notices in about a month (orders will remain Pending until then), and the wines should arrive at the warehouse in late March. Now let’s dig into them:

2013 Leonetti Merlot

First produced in 1981, this Merlot (with 8% Cab Franc) now comes entirely from Leonetti’s estate sites: Mill Creek Upland, Loess, and Old Block Vineyards. No reviews yet for the 2013, but the 2008 received 96pts Paul Gregutt (Wine Enthusiast), the 2009 94pts Gregutt, the 2010 95pts Gregutt, the 2011 93pts Gregutt, and the 2012 94pts Gregutt and 94pts Jeb Dunnuck (Wine Advocate).

Winery tasting notes: [TEXT WITHHELD].

2012 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon

First produced in Leonetti’s inaugural vintage – 1978 – this 2012 marks the 35th consecutive vintage of Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon. This comes from Mill Creek Upland Estate Vineyard, Loess Estate Vineyard, Leonetti Estate Vineyard old block, and Seven Hills Vineyard old block. The blend includes 6% Merlot, 3% Cab Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. No reviews yet for the 2012, but the 2008 received 98pts Gregutt (and the #3 position on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 of 2011), the 2009 97pts Gregutt, the 2010 97+pts Dunnuck and 95(+?)pts Stephen Tanzer (Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar), and the 2011 95(+?)pts Tanzer.

Winery tasting notes: [TEXT WITHHELD].

2012 Leonetti Reserve

While they had produced Reserve Cabernets before 2000, it was at the millennial turn that Leonetti dropped the varietal designation on their Reserve, freeing them to create a Bordeaux blend in whatever proportions would craft the finest wine possible. In 2012, the blend is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, rounded out with 10% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot, and 6% Merlot. Vineyards again include Mill Creek Upland, Loess, and Leonetti Old Block, along with Serra Pedace. No reviews yet for the 2012 (Dunnuck did rate a barrel sample at 95-97pts), but the 2008 received 97pts Jay Miller (Wine Advocate) and 96pts Gregutt (also a spot on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2011), the 2009 95pts David Schildknecht (Wine Adovcate) and 94pts Gregutt and Tanzer, the 2010 a game-changing/eye-popping 100pts Jeb Dunnuck (Wine Adovcate), as well as 95pts Gregutt, and the 2011 a 94+ Tanzer.

Winery tasting notes: [TEXT WITHHELD].

Please limit order requests to 12 Cabernet, 6 Merlot, and 6 Reserve, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. I want to emphasize again that we have no guaranteed allocations on these wines but will certainly do our best to secure parcels that reflect the overall demand of our list. If all goes according to schedule, the wines should arrive at the warehouse in late March, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

2013 Zorzal Malbec Terroir Unico

February 18, 2015

Hello friends. Back in 2012, an Argentine winery called Zorzal appeared on my radar after the excellent critic Neal Martin wrote the following in Wine Advocate: [TEXT WITHHELD].

Then last spring we received some inquiries about Zorzal after Luis Gutierrez penned a small novella in the April 2014 Wine Advocate, heaping no small amount of praise on this up-and-coming Tupungato producer (we’ll include an excerpt below). Since then, we’ve kept our eyes out for opportunities to offer Zorzal. Unfortunately, we haven’t been the only ones. The drawback of today’s offer is the potential for low allocations (we’re capping requests at 12 bottles; actual allocations might be closer to 3 or 4), but with a winery like this, it’s a good idea to get our collective feet in the door if we want to see our allocations grow in the future.

Wine Advocate (Luis Gutierrez): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

A wine like this is pretty much the exact reason why we offer Washington Malbecs so rarely. In the right hands, Argentine Malbecs just kill it, and at price points that seem impossible. This one, grown at vineyards at 4500’ elevation (4500 feet!) in Gualtallary (which looks like this; amazing) is chock full of minerals, beautifully balanced by a core of pollen-dusted plum and marionberry fruit. It’s a delicious, intense, perfectly weighted palate-coater, and it lingers (and lingers) with captivating fruit intensity.

Now then, for the busy among us, feel free to click on the order link or (gasp!) delete/archive this e-mail. But if you’re a dirty no-good work procrastinator who wants to learn a little more about this project, here is an excerpt from Gutierrez’s April ’14 writeup: [TEXT WITHHELD].

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, 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.

3 from Corvidae

February 18, 2015

Hello friends. I recently had a chance to taste through the entire lineup of Corvidae, which is Owen Roe’s sister label focused on value price points. What an impressive lineup! It underscored for me what a fabulous job David O’Reilly and his team are doing, producing outstanding wines across a broad spectrum of tariffs. Corvidae is a family of birds that most famously includes crows and ravens, the trickster geniuses of the Pacific Northwest. It’s a good fit for the Owen Roe family: intelligent, mischievous, and vaguely gothic.

Narrowing down the list of which Corviade wines to write up today was no easy task. In the end, we’re going to focus today on the glorious Syrah, which offers plenty of stuffing at a modest tag, and then down below we’ll also include a bonus white and a bonus red.

2013 Corvidae Syrah Lenore

My oh my. I’m racking my brain trying to come up with a Syrah that we’ve offered at this tariff or below. Most of what I think of as our best value Syrahs (Southard, For A Song, Saviah Jack, McKinley Springs) have been a tick or two higher than this one. “Smells like baby Ex Umbris” is the first line of my note, and maybe I should just stop there and start taking order requests. Really though, this immediately enters the conversation of the best value Syrahs in Washington. The quality for price is excellent.

There’s not a ton of information about vineyard breakdowns for these Corvidae wines, which is no surprise at this price point. What Owen Roe says here: not much: “The hillside vines in Yakima contribute fragrance, texture, and purity of fruit flavors. The depth of flavor belies the paltry price-point.” Well, I certainly agree with that second sentence, and the first sentence (“hillside vines in Yakima”) give us a pretty good clue that much of the fruit here could be similar to what goes into the Owen Roe wines. As for the name, it’s a stretch, but I suspect we’re referring to the Raven member of the Corvidae family, and specifically to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, which mentions Lenore a full eight times, including here:

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

Here’s the bottle shot, and this clocks in at 14.1% listed alc and offers a nose of smoky blueberry and marionberry fruit, olive brine, and fresh herb (mint leaf, tarragon). That smokiness is what caused me to jot “baby Umbris” a second time. Rich, ripe, and openly delicious, this is a long, palate-coating, easy-drinking beauty, the tannins soft and fine-grained and openly inviting. Charming and generous enough to open for folks who don’t really care about wine, and sneakily complex and savory enough to open for folks who do.

2013 Corvidae Chardonnay Mirth

Again, we can surmise that a lot of the fruit is the same as Owen Roe’s, which likely means a surfeit of Yakima Valley Chardonnay here. It’s done entirely in stainless steel and clocks in at 13% listed alc. What I like especially is how unfussy it is. It’s honest, drinkable, fruit-driven Washington Chardonnay. It opens with a nose of tree fruits (bosc pears, apples), plantain, and nice chalky subtleties. The palate has some richness of texture despite the wholesale absence of oak (perhaps some lees stirring?), and lovely layers of delicious fruit. ’13 was a warm year, but based on the listed alc and the balanced acidity, this must come at least partially from some cooler sites. It’s also a beautiful bottle to look at, expressing the Owen Roe aesthetic with aplomb.

2012 Corvidae Cabernet Franc The Keeper

Sub-$20 Washington Cabernet Franc? That’s a rare bird (a rare crow?) indeed. Here’s the label, and again, there’s very little info about the vineyard sourcing. What we do know: the production level here is miniscule, just 100 cases, and the listed alc is 14.1%, an honest representation of the 2012 vintage. The nose combines blackberry fruit with lovely Franc nuances of poblano pepper, roasted walnut, and exotic star anise; the combined effect is that of a Oaxacan mole. Yum. A rich, balanced palate delivers blue/black fruits mixed with earthy/green savories, and it rolls into a powerful finish with serious leafy chew. This one lingers and lingers, offering real density and finishing depth for the price point. I’d love to know where this fruit is from.

First come first served up to 72 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and 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.

3 from Avennia

February 18, 2015

Hello friends. Nothing gets the heart racing quite like another spring release season. Yes, I’ll admit that calling February wines “spring releases” is, ahem, optimistic here in cloud-choked Seattle, but every bit of silver lining helps. This period, which runs from now through May, contains some of the most beautiful northwest wines released each year.

Beautiful and scarce. This is the season of allocated wines, and that’s especially so in 2015, since so many of the releases will be from the heralded 2012 vintage. Which means it’s as good a time as any to review our allocation policy: Our allocations favor breadth over depth, so that everyone gets one bottle before anyone gets two. And our formula for prioritizing allocations includes overall orders, frequency of orders, recency of orders, and list tenure, among other factors; it’s like the BCS formula, only less scrutable.

Kicking off the 2015 spring release season is Avennia, a winery that launched with loads of buzz and whose star has only risen since. You may remember some of the praise during their initial set of releases back in 2012: From Stephen Tanzer (Tanzer’s IWC): [TEXT WITHHELD]. Then from David Schildknecht (Wine Advocate): [TEXT WITHHELD].

Soon after, I had the chance to write about Avennia for my Seattle Magazine gig, and since they’ve launched, I believe we’ve offered every wine presented to us by Chris Peterson and Marty Taucher. Chris’ winemaking is deeply compelling. The house style retains the character of Washington’s terroir and yet presents this sense of ribald, euro-styled earthiness that is a bit more unusual in these climes. These are beautiful, ageworthy wines in just about any vintage. But in a year like 2012…

Please note that the Jeb Dunnuck reviews below are barrel samples. The Tanzer reviews are from bottle, and as usual with the point-reticent Tanzer, I’d suggest focusing most on the (eerily accurate) tasting notes.

2012 Avennia Gravura

A right bank blend, and specifically an homage to Graves, this comes from an impeccable list of vineyards: Cabernet Sauvigon from Red Willow, Bacchus, and Angela’s; Merlot from Red Willow, Klipsun, and Boushey; Cab Franc from Champoux and Bacchus. That is a lot of classy old-vine material for the tariff, and it shows, in the pitch-perfect palate weight, the beautiful density of flavors (violets, dark earth notes, blackcurrant fruit). The texture is seamless, exuding class through every inch of the seamless palate and rolling into a chewy finish, the tannins redolent of high-cacao chocolate.

Tanzer’s IWC/Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

2012 Avennia Valery

A new wine for Avennia. Chris was looking to make an earthy, rocky, Saint Emilion ringer, and when Dick Boushey offered a block of 1986-planted Merlot on a soil base that is essentially a large Yakima Valley rock-pile, he pounced. That fruit comprises 80% of this blend, the remainder Champoux Cab Franc. At a total production of just 125 cases, there is very little to go around; it’s the most likely of the three where we’ll be under-allocated. And it is indeed an earthy beauty, just chock full of rock and soil and mineral tones. Practically unrecognizable as new-world Merlot, this floats across the palate, all elegance and grace.

Tanzer’s IWC/Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. (92-94)pts.”

2012 Avennia Sestina

The high end of Jeb’s barrel review range below has already put serious sales pressure on this vintage of Sestina. Wise collectors also realize that this is a prime candidate for aging. Both Tanzer (“this should age splendidly”), and Dunnuck (“Drink 2014-2034.”) noticed the same thing I did: that this wine has the balance and stuffing to bring untold pleasures over the years. It’s a black-hearted brooder for now, offering palate-coating dark earthy/mineral notes surrounding a piercing core of cassis fruit. The tannins are seriously toothsome, all earl grey beauty. I know I get pushback any time I call a $60 wine a great value, but compared to its peer group of Washington elites, this is very fairly priced. The vine age is ridiculous, with fruit from Dionysus 1973, Red Willow 1985, and Bacchus 1972 playing starring roles.

Tanzer’s IWC/Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93(+?)pts.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. (94-96)pts.”

Please limit order requests to 18 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.

3 Oregon Pinot Noirs (+ Bonus Chardonnay)

February 18, 2015

Phenol55 REMINDER: Full Pull has partnered with Chris Abbott and Phenol55 for *optional* storage services for our list members. P55 is a full-service wine cellar less than ten minutes from our warehouse, in the subterranean basement of the Malt House in the heart of Georgetown. See here for more details, and then contact Chris if you’re interested in signing up.


Hello friends. Today marks our first Oregon Pinot offer of the year, and it is a classic, with a trio of Noirs all from venerable Willamette Valley producers (along with one bonus hard-to-find Chardonnay):

2013 Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Reserve

We offered three of Patty Green’s higher-end, single-vineyard, limited Pinots back in November (that offer contains plenty of good background on the winery). Today we have access to their entry-level bottling, which they (oddly) call their Reserve. Here are Jim Anderson’s notes: [TEXT WITHHELD].

We’re just getting into the 2013s from Oregon, so a note on the vintage is probably in order. For a detailed report, it’s tough to beat the Oregon Wine Board’s Harvest Report. The short version is: a solid, warmer-than-average vintage was interrupted by a huge rainstorm in late September, which turned October into a challenge in the vineyards to manage mildew and rot pressures while waiting for sugars to accumulate. Fortunately, October was unusually warm and dry, and the results – at least in the Pinots I’ve tasted so far – have been charming. It strikes me as a nice vintage for early drinking while we continue to wait for the 2008s and 2012s to evolve; not as overt and fleshy as, say 2009, but pretty close.

Patty’s version is a fine introduction to the 2013s. It saw 10% new French oak and clocks in at 13% listed alc. The nose combines high-toned fruit (cherry blossom, red cherry flesh) with lovely complexities of marine sedimentary earthiness. The palate had me scribbling in my notebook that this is a “come-hither wine,” ripe and charming, with rich fruit, salty-mineral tang, and a healthy dose of overt deliciousness. Jim uses the word “succulent” to describe the fruit, and that’s about as good an adjective as I can imagine for this wine. It’s a very easy drink to love.

2013 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir

One of the great thrills of attending Oregon Pinot Camp back in 2012 was meeting Veronique Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin Oregon (see picture, taken from the top of DDO’s vineyards; Veronique is front and center with the purple name-tag; I’m the shaggy-haired dude looming behind her). Her home base these days is in Beaune, but she is in Oregon on a regular basis, especially around harvest time. Veronique mentioned that her father also still comes to Oregon during harvest time on a regular basis. It’s clear that the family has a deeply-rooted connection to the Willamette Valley. It’s a second home to them, and many of the other long-time winemakers in the valley seem like extended Drouhin family members.

I won’t rehash the entire story of DDO here (see our inaugural DDO offer for those details), but suffice it to say that making wine in Oregon was still a pretty risky proposition in 1987, and for the young Veronique to eschew the clear path leading to a career in Burgundy, and to instead farm wine grapes on a converted Christmas tree orchard in the Dundee Hills, well, that should give you a sense of the woman’s character.

This is DDO’s entry-level bottling, now coming entirely from their estate vineyards in the Dundee Hills, and it is a total charmer, with loads of beautiful floral notes, cherry blossom to lift and pair with fleshy red cherry fruit and good jory earth notes. Elegant and graceful, lithe and balanced, this is a wonderfully accessible vintage of DDO. Yes, you *can* age it, but you don’t necessarily have to; it really brings terrific pleasure in its youth, right now. One of a handful of true classics in Oregon Pinot Noir.

Here is what Veronique has to say: [TEXT WITHHELD].

2012 Penner-Ash Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

This is our first offer for one of Lynn Penner-Ash’s wines, and it is a beauty, coming as it does from the memorable 2012 vintage. Lynn has been making wine in Oregon since 1988, the year she started a long tenure at Rex Hill Winery (finishing as that winery’s President and COO). She launched her eponymous winery in 1998, and perhaps no bottle better shows her broad experience in the Willamette Valley than this one, which comes from a full seventeen different valley vineyards, none of which make up more than 20% of the blend.

It saw about a year in 27% new French oak, 25% one year-old French oak, 19% two year-old French oak and 29% neutral French oak, and it clocks in at 14.2% listed alc. Many of the Oregon Pinots we offer fall on the leaner side of the spectrum, but that is not how I think of the Penner-Ash house style, which is more muscular, more powerful. This vintage is a fine example of that style, offering a nose of deep dark fruit, smoky minerals, and exotic spice. In the mouth, this is palate-staining, powerful Pinot, coating every inch with pure berry fruit. In the mid-palate, right as you’re thinking this is a total pleasure-bomb, the sneaky minty/forest topnotes emerge, the sneaky fine-grained tannins emerge, and you realize this is something altogether more compelling.

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

Team Full Pull

2013 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Chardonnay Arthur

Bonus Chardonnay! This is not an easy bottle to come by, and in fact this is only the second time we’ve been able to offer Arthur.

The first Pinot Noir vines went into the ground at DDO in 1988, and it didn’t take long for Chardonnay to follow, just four years later. Those 1992-planted vines were 100% Dijon-clone, making them some of the oldest Dijon-clone Chardonnay planted in the new world. 1996 was the first vintage with usable fruit, so the release of the 2013 marks the 18th vintage. As the vines enter their adolescence, recent vintages of Arthur have displayed more depth of character, more wet-stone minerality, and more complexity. All that, and the price has barely risen since the 2005 vintage. It’s a fine bridge wine between old-world and new, with Veronique melding Burgundian sensibility to the joyous exuberance of Oregon fruit.

This too comes entirely from the DDO estate, and it clocks in at 13.9% listed alc. There is a beautiful base of layered tree (apple, pear) and stone (peach, nectarine) fruits, but it’s the subtle complexities that really get the heart racing here: flowers, spices, stony minerals, creamy lactic notes: all flit in and out. The balance is pinpoint across multiple axes – flesh and acidity, fruit and oak – and the overall impression is of a characterful, complex Chardonnay.

3 Reoffers: Imports 2011

February 18, 2015

Open Saturdays UPDATE: We’ve set our calendar for 2015 bonus open Saturdays for TPU members. We’ll be open from 10am-2pm on each of the following Saturdays:

March 14, 2015
June 20, 2015
Sept 12, 2015
Nov 21, 2015
Dec 19, 2015

This information will be available for future reference on our main website, as well as at the bottom of future offers.
Hello friends. This is the latest in our ongoing series of Jan/Feb Friday reoffers, featuring some of 2014’s most popular wines and offering one more chance to access these beauties before they sell out. Today’s group focuses on a trio of import wines from the 2011 vintage. Now four years past vintage, each of these is entering a lovely drinking window.

2011 Montepeloso A Quo Toscana IGT

Most of our Tuscan offers to date have been focused on the interior regions – Chianti, Montalcino, Montepulciano – but today let’s drive west until we hit the coast, within spitting distance of Napoleon’s island exile Elba. Today let’s drive until we reach the town of Suvereto, and the hillside vineyards of Montepeloso (located here).

Here is Galloni, writing recently about this producer: Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[TEXT WITHHELD].”

And here is his review of this specific wine, a fine review from an exacting critic: Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

I think Galloni’s drinking window is spot-on, too. This puppy is in the early stages of its peak and should continue to drink beautifully for the next five years. It’s earthy and savory, full of spicy tomato paste and raspberry, angostura bitters and brewed coffee. The 14.5% listed alc is just about right for a warm region in a warm year, and this does have plenty of plush fruit, but terrific balancing acidity to keep things vibrant. It’s a blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Marselan, Alicante Bouschet, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and it is a hearty, seductive winter red.

2011 Olivares Monastrell Altos de la Hoya

Originally offered January 20, 2014, more than a year ago, this was the subject of regular reorder requests throughout the rest of the year. Depending on importer stock, sometimes we were able to fill them, sometimes not. But now that importer has given heads up that they’re down to their final parcel of the ’11. Last call!

Excerpts from the original: In Europe, there are twin beating hearts of varietal Mourvedre production. One is Bandol, in the Provencal region of France. The other is Jumilla, Spanish capital of Mourvedre, (or Monastrell as they call it there), and this is a Jumilla wine that is a good value in an average vintage and an exceptional value in a good vintage like this. Olivares, in Jumilla, has a single vineyard (Finca Hoya de Santa Ana), with vines as old as 80 years, growing in a sandy moonscape (see pictures one, two, and three) that has never caught a whiff of phylloxera. Unlike much of Jumilla, this site sits at considerable elevation (2700ft), allowing for large diurnal shifts and excellent acid retention.

It’s matured entirely in neutral barrels (some small, some large), allowing the old-vine fruit material to shine bright. The nose is an alluring mix of flowers, exotic spices, and brambly blackberries. On the palate, it’s the live-wire intensity you notice first, completely belying the price point. There’s a real palate-coating quality here, and depth, and mineral tone, and lovely inner mouth perfume. The list goes on. Priced like a mid-week wine, this would not be out of place for a special occasion in the least. Its quality has not escaped the critical eye of Tanzer’s IWC. Never known for heaping praise (or points) lightly, this is an incredibly strong review from IWC for a wine at this tariff: Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Josh Raynolds): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

2011 D. de la Renjarde Cotes du Rhone Villages Massif d’Uchaux

We first offered this one on May 5, 2014 and then reoffered it on August 18. It was – and continues to be – one of the most popular import wines we’ve ever offered. Excerpts from previous offers:

This one was already popular from the previous 2010 vintage as a baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape for $19.99. And then the winery dropped the price further, such that our TPU for the 2011 was $14.99. Yikes.

One of the most recently added villages to the eighteen allowed in Cotes-du-Rhone Villages is Massif d’Uchaux, and it’s also one of the most compelling. Why? Because it’s as close a named village as we have to Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Renjarde has its roots in Chataeuneuf. It is owned by the Richard family, proprietors of the outstanding Chateauneuf producer Chateau La Nerthe, as well as Prieure de Montezargues in Tavel. The vineyard is more than 40 years old, majority Grenache rounded out with Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan. In 2011, the blend is 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, and 5% each Mourvedre and Carignan, and it was fermented and aged in a combination of concrete and stainless steel, so there’s no oak influence here whatsoever.

The wine is a great ringer to slip into a Cheateauneuf du Pape tasting. It has the wonderful Provencal scent: the brushy garrigue, the floral lavender and cherry blossom, the resinous mint, all framing a core of pure black raspberry and rocky mineral. What I especially like about this is that it’s a ringer not for modern (over-rich, over-alc’d) CdP, but for classic CdP. Alcohol is right around 14%, and the whole package is balanced, classy, with a great cooling mineral tone to balance Grenache’s fleshy fruit. There’s sneaky back-end chew, loads of complexity, and terrific palate-weight. “Ultra impressive” says my note, and at sub-$15, it’s a house wine candidate.

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.

2008 Full Pull & Friends WWBDX (FPF-10)

February 18, 2015

Hello friends. Today we celebrate our first Full Pull & Friends negociant offer of the year, and it’s something of a milestone, as it’s FPF-10, our tenth such bottling overall:

It’s also a milestone because of where the fruit comes from. Of the first nine FPF bottles, six have been from Columbia Valley, two from Red Mountain, and one from the Horse Heaven Hills. Today is our first FPF bottle to feature exclusively Walla Walla Valley fruit.

And, in fact, it goes further than that. This is actually entirely from a single vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley, but we were not permitted to print that vineyard on the bottle nor to publish it here. The most our winery partner is comfortable with us sharing: that it is “a high elevation vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley.” Any detail beyond that would threaten the winery’s anonymity beyond their comfort level (we cannot disclose their name as part of our agreement, since our price is considerably lower than anything in their portfolio), and that’s fine with me. A little mystery never hurt anyone. I should also note, however, that this is a longtime winery partner for Full Pull (since early 2010), and we’ve offered a grand total of 39 of their wines over the years.

This is the fourth time we’ve partnered with this particular winery for an FPF wine. They’re also responsible for FPF-1: 2007 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Sauvignon (sold out), FPF-4: 2007 Full Pull & Friends CVBDX (11% remaining and will be sold out within the next few months given our current run rate; if you’re interested in this one, just reply to this e-mail with the number of bottles, and we’ll allocate as long as there’s wine available), and FPF-6: 2008 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Sauvignon (sold out).

I’m going to stop republishing the full history/availability/explanation of Full Pull & Friends with each of these offers, but we now have a page on our website displaying all that info. If you see any other wines on the still-available list that pique your interest, again please just respond to this with the wine and the number of bottles you’re looking for, and we’ll enter those manually in the order in which they’re received.

Now then, back to today’s wine. It’s a five-variety Bordeaux blend – 48% Cabernet Franc, 35% Petit Verdot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 2% Malbec – aged in a combination of new and used French oak for 28 months. So that means about two-and-a-half years in barrel, followed by another three-and-a-half years in bottle. We’re now a full seven years past vintage, and what a beautiful vintage it was. 2008 is a criminally overlooked vintage in Washington due to the hype of the 2007s. It was a marginally cooler year than 2007, but still well within the band of a normal vintage (the last one you could call normal for several years, with warm/fleshy 2009 and cool/lean 2010 and 2011 to follow). I’ve heard plenty of folks suggest that the 08s will age in more compelling directions than the 07s. In my experience, it depends on the winery, but ultimately, 2008 is a lovely, lovely vintage, and its character is on fine display in this bottle.

The wine hits the glass with a deep ruby-black color, and it is throwing some sediment, so pour carefully or decant. The nose combines woodsmoke, grilled bread, dried black cherry, and fresh cassis. There are lovely maturing subtleties of leather spice and leafy Franc notes, and the wine only gets earthier with time and oxygen exposure. On the palate, the first thing you notice is the beautiful structure from that healthy whack of Petit Verdot, both mouthwatering acidity and toothsome tannins. That structure combines with espressoey barrel notes to swaddle a core of creamy berry fruit. It rolls through a plump mid-palate and onto a finishing lick of continuing espresso and silty mineral, inviting the next sip.

I’d say this is just now entering the early stages of peak drinking. The combination of dried and fresh fruit; the emerging crepuscular tertiary notes: both suggest a wine walking the line of youth and maturity. It’s a lovely time to access the wine, which should bring plenty of pleasure over the course of the next decade. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.