2012 Gramercy Cellars Syrah Lagniappe

Hello friends. The last of Gramercy’s outrageous 2012 Syrahs to be released has just hit Seattle. I had the chance to taste it in Walla Walla a few weeks ago, and it is a swoon-worthy knee buckler. In what has proven to be an incredibly successful vintage for team Gramercy, this might be the very belle of the ball.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95-97pts.”

So that review is a barrel sample. When Jeb’s bottle review comes out later this summer, it’s going to cause quite a stir if he ends up at the top end of that range. Before any of that happens, let’s get in, get out, and be gone with our stash.

Now then, I’ll remind you what Greg Harrington had to say about his 2012s: Brandon and I have been particularly excited about the 2012 vintage. You have to love when everything goes right. It gets scary when everything is going right. We just stand around the winery waiting for something to happen – a sudden freeze that we didn’t expect, the truck to break – so many things can go wrong. We feel it’s a bit easier to deal with the tougher vintages like 2010 or 2011. We tend to stay on our game all day. In 2012, we just kinda sit around and drink beer while interns process perfect fruit. Put it in the fermenter, its ferments steady and clean, and put it in a barrel. Winemakers end up feeling totally useless. But that is the story of 2012. It’s a fantastic vintage a la 2007… I feel this is an incredible release and a fantastic way to introduce you to the spectacular 2012 vintage.

Each vintage of Lagniappe also allows me to quote Mark Twain, which is an altogether too rare opportunity in the wine writing biz. The word is Cajun for “a little something extra.” Here’s Twain: We picked up one excellent word — a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word — ‘lagniappe.’ They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish — so they said. We discovered it at the head of a column of odds and ends in the Picayune, the first day; heard twenty people use it the second; inquired what it meant the third; adopted it and got facility in swinging it the fourth. It has a restricted meaning, but I think the people spread it out a little when they choose. It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a ‘baker’s dozen.’ It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure. The custom originated in the Spanish quarter of the city. When a child or a servant buys something in a shop — or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I know — he finishes the operation by saying — ‘Give me something for lagniappe.’ The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root, gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the governor — I don’t know what he gives the governor; support, likely. When you are invited to drink, and this does occur now and then in New Orleans — and you say, ‘What, again? — no, I’ve had enough;’ the other party says, ‘But just this one time more — this is for lagniappe.’ When the beau perceives that he is stacking his compliments a trifle too high, and sees by the young lady’s countenance that the edifice would have been better with the top compliment left off, he puts his ‘I beg pardon — no harm intended,’ into the briefer form of ‘Oh, that’s for lagniappe.’

Greg doubtless picked it up during his stint working as Emeril Lagasse’s Wine Director in New Orleans, and he has used it to represent his Syrah that picks up fruit from all sorts of interesting places. But none have been as interesting as the place Greg picked up in 2010 and has continued to use since: Red Willow Vineyard. In 2012 this stellar site makes up a full two thirds of the blend, rounded out with fruit from Minnick (cooler Yakima Valley, orange-peel subtleties) and Oldfield (an Efeste estate site contiguous with Boushey Vineyard and managed by mister Dick Boushey himself; pay attention to this young vineyard). It was done with 80% whole clusters (stems and all) and spent 18 months in a mix of older puncheons.

The best Yakima Valley Syrahs (and all three of these sites are in the Yak) display an insistent, ribald, fecund earthiness that just cannot be replicated anywhere else in Washington. This is a fine example, pouring out of the glass with notes of soil and mixed mushrooms over red and black cherry fruit. My palate note starts the same way: “terrific core of earthiness.” That core is shaded by notes of red fruit and smoky bacon fat and mineral. All of those flavors are carried on a silky, seamless texture. The mouthfeel almost makes this one too easy to drink. It is classy, polished, the tannins combed to a fine sheen. This one is going to unfurl in fascinating directions, and it’s not going to take long.

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in the next week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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