Hello friends. This is only the third year in a row we’ve offered Ryan Crane’s spring releases for Kerloo Cellars, but it already feels like a rite of spring. His blink-and-it’s-gone rosé and attractively-priced Majestic have already grown hugely popular among our list members, and now we’re adding a third wine to the mix, continuing the Rhone theme.
My overall impression, having tasted this lineup (tastings are a helluva lot easier now that Ryan is a neighbor!): this is a winemaker operating near the peak of his powers, with a stubborn (in a good way) point of view that translates into a well-defined (and glorious) house style. Anyone following Washington wine (especially Rhone varieties and blends) would do well to pay close attention to Ryan’s wines, and these spring releases come at prices that make it all too easy to pay attention.
2013 Kerloo Cellars Grenache Majestic
Ryan’s wines have always been exceptional values, but Majestic has taken it to a whole other level (I’d put it in the conversation for finest Rhone value in Washington). Prior to 2013, Kerloo had only one release each year, in the autumn, and those wines typically sold out no later than February of the next year. Releasing Majestic in the springtime, then, plays a dual role: 1) it allows Ryan to have wine available throughout the spring and summer; and 2) it allows us a sneak-preview of the next vintage to be released in the fall.
In 2013, there’s enough Grenache in the blend (78%) to put the variety on the label, and Ryan does so, blending that Grenache (from Upland and Angiolina) with 22% Mourvedre from StoneTree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. The nose mixes plum and strawberry fruit with rocky notes, dried herbs, and smoky-gamey Mourvedre subtleties. The palate clocks in at 14% listed alc and is immediately noticeable for its velvety texture. True to the warmer vintage, this is a generous charmer, offering plenty of friendly come-hither character. I was especially seduced by the salty-mineral piquancy on the finish, which seemed to invite the next sip or the next bite of ribs smoked on the grill. This has also seen a production drop, down to 207 cases (versus 276 last year), and this is also unlikely to be around for long.
2013 Kerloo Cellars Mourvedre Art Den Hoed Vineyard
This is a rare treat: a chance to taste varietal Mourvedre. Outside of Bandol in France and Jumilla in Spain, Mourvedre is more often than not used for blending. But man, a bottling like this makes you wonder why that’s so.
It’s well priced, single vineyard, and tiny production (115 cases), and it offers fantastic varietal character: wild plummy/grapefruit fruit, brambles, and roasted gamey notes. There’s also this lovely high-toned floral note (lilac?) that keeps things so fresh and expressive, and an emerging note of leather spice. Each sniff seemed to lead to another aromatic note; the overall complexity is thrilling. The palate continues the theme for Kerloo: vibrancy, energy, lift. This is yet another transparent wine, chock full of honesty and purity.
First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.