Hello friends. On October 5, 2009, we sent our first Full Pull offer, and it was for the 2004 vintage of Mountain Dome Brut. At the time, Mountain Dome (founded in the 1980s by the Manz family) was the only dedicated sparkling wine house in Washington, and it seemed like the perfect way to inaugurate a new venture.
Over the next year or so, we offered the full range of Mountain Dome bubblies, then reoffered them, then offered them some more. But then things went dark. Communication with the winery became spotty. There were rumors of a sale, and then confirmation that the winery had been sold to Townshend Cellar (a neighboring Spokane winery). And then I didn’t hear a thing about Mountain Dome for almost five years.
In May, a handful of bottles were presented to me by an old industry buddy (thanks Greg!), and soon after, an e-mail appeared in my inbox from Erik Manz: “I heard through the grapevine that you were interested in some bubbles.”
Um, yes. Yes I am. And especially if it means a chance to return to where it all began. To return to the Dome.
[Note: we’ll also offer the Brut Rosé below, but the thrust of today’s offer will be the vintage.]
Erik’s e-mail went on to say that Mountain Dome was indeed sold to Townshend in 2011, but that he now works for Townshend, mostly making reds, but also making sparkling wine under the Mountain Dome label. Here is a good article from the Spokane Spokesman-Review in 2012 detailing the partnership.
Of course, this 2006 is actually old enough to not only include Erik Manz in the story, but also his father Michael Manz. It was Michael (along with this wife Pat) who founded the Dome in the late ‘80s, and he was the force of nature behind the winery’s early success. In late 2006, soon after the harvest of the grapes that comprise this wine, Michael passed away unexpectedly. While the winemaking was secure (at that point Erik had already stepped into the head winemaker role), the finances – which had always depended in part on Michael’s day job as a child psychiastrist – were not secure, and that’s what eventually led to the necessity of a sale.
So this 2006 is a wine steeped in Mountain Dome (and Washington wine) history: the last vintage bubbly made as a partnership between father and son. And I’m pleased to report that – going on a decade past vintage – this is a bubbly very much alive and kicking. There is a core of fresh lemon and apple fruit and bready autolytic notes, but what’s interesting about bubbly as it ages is the more savory character it takes on. The outstanding critic David Schildknecht often refers to it as “chicken stock” and I think that’s a useful descriptor here. That and a robust note of hazelnuts. Altogether, the mix of those savory notes, the caramel-dipped apple fruit, the lemony acid, it’s all deeply compelling.
Texturally (12% listed alc), this is a mature blend of two-thirds Pinot Noir, one-third Chardonnay: full of fine, fleeting, ephemeral bubbles. It’s time to drink these up. I wouldn’t suggest holding these bottles for five years, but as an immediate gratification play, as a chance to taste wonderful mature Washington bubbly, and as a chance to experience a piece of Washington wine history, I highly recommend this vintage bubbly. The timing couldn’t have been better for me personally, either. We opened the last of the 2004 vintage Mountain Dome (that initial Full Pull offer), on Full Pull’s fifth anniversary last October. The 2006 arrives just in time.
For a younger, fresher, and yes, pinker version of the dome, we have the Brut Rosé, comprised of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. It is a lovely salmon color to behold in the glass, and it begins with a compelling nose of cherry fruit, brown bread, and almond paste. The palate is all clean fresh fruit, with good intensity, big fizz, and bready nuance. Vibrant and altogether lovely, this is a fine example to show that Erik Manz is still very much on top of his sparkling wine game.
First come first served up to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in the next few weeks, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.