Hello friends. We’re rolling together a foursome of limited, low-quantity wines today; one a debut from a long-time Full Pull list member and three from our closest neighbor:
Bill Marriott has been a Full Pull list member for more than five years now: almost for our entire existence. He is a Microsoft Product Manager who has spent the better part of the past three-plus years based in Sydney, Australia. This has allowed him to start up a fascinating two-pronged winery, which will eventually release wines from both Washington State and New South Wales.
For now, it’s only the Washington wines that are available, and his first release includes this charming Yakima Valley Rosso, which is predominantly (about three quarters) Sangiovese (Elephant Mountain Vineyard) rounded out with Merlot from Chandler Reach. It spent 18 months in older French oak and now another two-plus years in bottle. It clocks in at 13.1% listed alc, and total production is a mere 64 cases, so I suspect we’ll only get one crack at this one. On the nose, you’d guess this was 100% Sangiovese. It has wonderful varietal character: dried cherry, star anise, cherry pit bitters, and pretty floral topnotes. The palate continues the theme of good honest Sangiovese, with bright acidity redolent of Campari bitters. But the Merlot does appear texturally, adding its soft, fleshy, red-cherry fruit to the mix. With terrific purity of fruit and a lingering cherry-tea finish, this is a fine debut indeed.
We have loved having Travis Scarborough as our next-door neighbor, and I’d encourage all of our list members to visit his tasting room. Recently, Travis did the neighborly good deed of letting us raid his library stash. We tasted wines as far back as 2005 (Travis’ third vintage but first serious one, after crushing a half-barrel’s worth in 2003 and 3 barrels in 2004), and they were consistently balanced and delicious, evolving beautifully along their aging curves. They all had the old O’Shea Scarborough labels of Travis’ old partnership with Darren O’Shea, and as you can imagine, he’s keen to sell through these wines and eliminate that particular source of brand confusion.
A few of the wines we liked had really miniscule amounts available, including three vintages of Champoux Vineyard Chardonnay. Those can be found on our warehouse extra shelves (or you can e-mail inquiries if you’re interested). But there were three wines with (barely) enough quantity to feature here. The first is this Cabernet Sauvignon from the wonderful 2007 vintage (the vintage of the century! at least until 2012). It comes entirely from Wallula Vineyard, and if you’re racking your brain about where you’ve seen Wallula Vineyard Cab, that would be Den Hoed’s Andreas bottling, which we’ve offered many times over, at price points that have reached as high as $85. This one clocks in at 14.3% listed alc and offers a compelling, maturing nose: dried cherry, cherry blossom, bay leaf, cocoa powder, and smoked paprika. It’s in a beautiful drinking window, offering a mix of fresh and dried fruits, integrating/softening tannins, and a long, rich, luscious finish.
The vineyard sourcing changed for this Cabernet in 2008, and the profile is completely different. In ’08 it was a mix of Boushey and Alder Ridge (14.2% listed alc), and the aromatic profile is earthier and funkier, with mushroom and savory beef stock notes to go with a core of black fruits (compared to the redder fruits of the ’07). The palate mix of rich, zesty, brambly fruit and earthy savory notes is balanced and compelling. Despite the major differences in profile, one common thread between the ’07 and ’08 is that both are somewhere close to peak drinking, both are immediate gratification plays.
I was easily seduced by this Syrah, which comes entirely from the venerable Lewis Vineyard. It was done entirely in neutral puncheons, so the profile is closer to the well-loved Bunchgrass Syrahs from Lewis Vineyards (which saw about 20% new wood) than the Dunham Cellars versions from the same site. I know many of our list members were crushed to see Bunchgrass stop bottling Lewis Syrah after the 2008 vintage, and for those folks, this should be a pretty cool shot to access that fruit one more time via a different producer. Again it’s the maturing mix of earth and fruit elements that makes this wine so attractive. There’s a core of blackberry and blue berry fruit, but the intrigue really gets ramped up with the notes of underbrush, truffle, black olive, and bouillon. This has the wonderful bright acidity of the ’08 vintage to keep things fresh and lively, and it drinks like a wine that still has several years of fascinating evolution ahead.
Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of Rosso and 3 bottles of each Scarborough wine, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The Scarboroughs are in the warehouse already, and the Rosso should arrive in the next week or two, at which point all the wines will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.