Full Pull Range and Quality

Hello friends. We have a quartet of wines today from the Owen Roe family of labels, which together show the range and quality that David O’Reilly and his team are putting under bottle. We’ll begin with two new wines – one a well-priced Oregon Pinot, the other our first Washington red from the 2014 vintage – and then move onto reoffers for a pair of the most popular Syrahs we’ve offered in the past year.

2013 O’Reilly’s Pinot Noir

Most Oregon Pinot Noirs at a sub-$20 price point are a mishmash of a multitude of pan-Willamette Valley vineyards. Not so here. David’s value O’Reilly’s Pinot comes from declassified barrels of his higher-end Pinot Noirs. To wit: this vintage comes from exactly three sites. The first is Anna’s Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains (Owen Roe’s single-vineyard bottling from here goes for $42); the second Lenne Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton (this single-vineyard goes for $55); the third Merriman Vineyard, also in the Y-C and a major component in the Owen Roe’s Kilmore Pinot ($42).

All that to say: this is fine Pinot fruit indeed, and it shows. The airy aromas combine bright red cherry fruit, blood orange, and subtleties of fennel frond and pine. In the mouth, this drinks plush (despite the moderate 13% listed alc) and delicious. “Wonderful Pinot chugger” says one of my notes, and while I do generally recommend stemware for your wine consumption, if you happened to have a hankering for direct-from-bottle drinking, this would be a worthy candidate. As I lived with this wine over the course of a few hours, I was surprised to see it picking up both weight and complexity, adding savory mushroom notes to balance the rich red fruit. This over-delivers for the tag, both in complexity and stuffing, and that’s really not a surprise considering the lovely fruit involved here.

2014 Owen Roe Sinister Hand

It’s always a fun milestone to offer the first Washington red from a new vintage. And I’m not surprised to see Sinister Hand as the first across the finish line. Do you remember the 2013? Released in January of this year and sold entirely through a pre-sale, it was completely sold out by February. I’m actually impressed the folks at Owen Roe had the intestinal fortitude to wait this long for the release, as I’m sure many markets were crying out for more Hand.

Let’s talk production and expectations for the 2014. So, a typical production year for Sinister Hand historically has been 3000-4000 cases. The 2013 vintage was (gulp) 550 cases. The 2014 more than doubles that (1,388) but still falls well below normal. My best guess: the 2014 will be around for anywhere from two to four months, and then it will go away for another year.

For those of you unfamiliar with Sinister Hand (Owen Roe’s well-priced, Grenache-dominated Rhone blend), here’s the story, courtesy of the winery: [TEXT WITHHELD]

As I’ve said before: Gross story! Tasty wine!

A blend of 43% Grenache/27% Syrah/18% Mourvedre/13% Cinsault, it comes from three outstanding Yakima Valley vineyards: Union Gap, Outlook, and Olsen. It clocks in at 14.1% listed alc and comes roaring out of the glass with a wonderful complex nose: brambly red raspberry, briny Kalamata olive, smoky bacon fat, and beef stock. This is a *very* savory vintage of the Hand, offering real salty-sweet goodness on a richly-fruited frame. 2014 was an extremely warm vintage, and these thermophilic Rhone varieties seem to have thrived on the copious sunshine. If this is the vanguard of a characterful, early-drinking, openly delicious vintage, then I think we all have a lot to look forward to.

2013 Corvidae Syrah Lenore

Originally offered February 11, 2015. Excerpts from original offer: I’m racking my brain trying to come up with a Syrah that we’ve offered at this tariff or below. Most of what I think of as our best value Syrahs (Southard, For A Song, Saviah Jack, McKinley Springs) have been a tick or two higher than this one. Lenore immediately enters the conversation of the best value Syrahs in Washington. The quality for price is excellent.

There’s not a ton of information about vineyard breakdowns for these Corvidae wines, which is no surprise at this price point. What Owen Roe says here (not much): “The hillside vines in Yakima contribute fragrance, texture, and purity of fruit flavors. The depth of flavor belies the paltry price-point.” Well, I certainly agree with that second sentence, and the first sentence (“hillside vines in Yakima”) give us a pretty good clue that much of the fruit here could be similar to what goes into the Owen Roe wines.

This clocks in at 14.1% listed alc and offers a nose of smoky blueberry and marionberry fruit, olive brine, and fresh herb (mint leaf, tarragon). That smokiness is what caused me to jot “baby Umbris” a second time. Rich, ripe, and openly delicious, this is a long, palate-coating, easy-drinking beauty, the tannins soft and fine-grained and openly inviting. Charming and generous enough to open for folks who don’t really care about wine, and sneakily complex and savory enough to open for folks who do.

2012 Owen Roe Syrah Ex Umbris

Originally offered December 14, 2014. At the time, I was told this special pricing was for December only. But given the popularity of this wine at this price, we’ve been able to secure a continuation of the tariff throughout 2015, and it has been a frequent reorder target all year long.

Excerpts from original offer: I had a chance to taste the new vintage of Umbris a few days ago, and it’s true: this wine really is better than ever. It really hit its stride at about 2-3 hours open, at which point a beautiful nose emerged combining smoky dark chocolate and smoked ham, green olive and white flowers, purple plummy fruit and blackberries; complex and deeply attractive. It’s a rich palate-stainer in the mouth, true to the outstanding vintage. The texture is oh so supple, and it glides across the palate with class and panache. Always a strong value at its normal $28 price, this is ridiculous at the tag.

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 91pts.”

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 91(+?)pts.”

First come first served up to 120 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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