Full Pull Neighborly

Hello friends. There are real benefits to having a long-time winery partner as a neighbor. That was made ever so clear to me this week, when Ryan Crane stopped by to mention that his Wingman wine under his new Sodo Cellars label was depleting rapidly.

Ryan and I had tasted this wine on August 20, and I was immediately smitten with it. But we have, ya know, protocols and a schedule and such, so I had it slotted comfortably in for a Sept 14 offer. I mean, Ryan made 220 cases, and we were tasting the wine just after release, so no problem, right?


By the time this week rolled around, Ryan was down to 80 cases. That’s 64% depletion. In eleven days. So okay, forget the protocol and schedule and whatnot. Monday: Talk to Ryan. Tuesday: Write offer. Wednesday: Send offer.

2013 Sodo Cellars Wingman

I’m guessing those of you who looked at the price involved here understand why this one is moving quickly. Now let me tell you what’s in this wine, and you’ll really get it. It’s 60% StoneTree Vineyard Malbec (a bottle of StoneTree Malbec under the Kerloo main-label costs $40) and 40% Blue Mountain Vineyard Syrah (that one is also $40 when bottled single-vineyard). This isn’t Ryan buying in bulk juice and putting it under an entry-level label. This is top-end, Kerloo-vinified juice, but under a new label and sold for a silly tag.

I presume the goal of a project like this is twofold: 1) to reward Kerloo’s Calling Club members with a well-priced house wine (kind of like Sean Boyd’s VdP for Rotie); and 2) to give Ryan an outstanding option to present to restaurants as a $10 glass-pour option. One or both of those populations has obviously been active right from the beginning. Otherwise I’m not sure how you sell 140 cases of wine in less than two weeks.

The new label looks great, based on Smithsonian crane-skeleton drawings. And the juice inside is – no surprise – outstanding. Of course it’s an unusual blend. And no, I don’t expect to suddenly see a host of Syrah-Malbec blends pop up in Washington. But at this price point, the oddity of the blend is kind of beside the point when the juice tastes this good. That juice was raised with zero new wood, and it clocks in at 13.9% listed alc. It comes soaring out of the glass with a big fresh nose of boysenberry fruit, silty minerals, spicy peppercorns, and minty topnotes. All my initial palate notes are about texture: “juicy.” “Vibrant.” “Great energy.” You get the idea. This is a ripe, true-to-vintage, fruit-and-mineral driven wine, one that really lights up all the palate receptors.

Despite the total lack of new wood, there is a lovely creamy coffee note that hits on the mid-palate and continues through the finish; something like café au lait. I suspect that comes from the Blue Mountain Syrah, which is a fascinating patch of Walla Walla Valley terroir (it’s an estate site for the Corliss and Tranche family of wines). The overall package is a real charmer, punching well above its price class and offering a terrific option as an autumn house wine. The only drawback, of course, is that this will certainly be our only chance to access this wine. It’ll be sold out within the next few weeks for sure. But for now, let’s jump in and claim our share. Many thanks to Ryan for being so neighborly and giving us the opportunity!

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive whenever we can convince Ryan to wheel it over fifty feet, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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