Full Pull Anniversary Week #5: Hidden Rocks

Hello friends. I love the “red wine” category. Why? Because it rewards homework, and we’re good at homework here at Full Pull. Some red wine is plonk: cast-off, declassified dreck that would have been better off poured down a drain.

But some red wine is 70% Rocks Syrah from a single vineyard, and from an outstanding vintage:

2012 Ardor Cellars Red Wine

I barely even had to taste this one. The nose alone was so wonderfully Rocks-funky that I was already mentally negotiating a parcel before the wine was in my mouth. In the end, the remaining available parcel was a little on the large side, but I decided to go long and just buy out the entire vintage. The wine is fabulous; I know our list members respond to wines with this funky profile; and purchasing the entire lot allows us to offer this one for considerably less than the $28 release price.

Ardor Cellars is a new winery from Brandon Kubrock, with Aryn Morell as consulting winemaker. I have a soft spot for Brandon because he gave me one of my best tasting experiences ever when he was the tasting room manager at L’Ecole 41, pulling a number of exquisite library bottles from deep in the L’Ecole caves, including an unforgettable Semillon from the ‘90s that exploded my entire concept of what that grape was capable of.

Brandon has been working in Walla Walla since he was 18 years old, and he has good connections all over the valley. I’m sure it was those connections that allowed him to source Syrah fruit from Stoney Vine Vineyard for his inaugural 2012 vintage. He bottled most of that Stoney Vine fruit as a $50 single-vineyard wine, one that turned a lot of heads (and immediately sold out), when it turned up in the #1 spot in the Top Syrah section of Sean Sullivan’s Top 100 list for Seattle Met Magazine (note: it’s also set to receive a 94pt review from Mr. Sullivan in the November Wine Enthusiast).

But a portion of that excellent Stoney Vine Syrah also went into this “red wine” bottling, where it was blended with 30% Grenache from Art den Hoed Vineyard. While the Grenache plumps up the texture of the wine, it doesn’t really touch the aromatics, which are all funky Rocks Syrah, helped along by a full 50% whole clusters in the fermentation. Stephen Tanzer, in reviewing Brandon’s single-vineyard Stoney Vine bottling, called the wine “a bit funky in the style of a Cornas from the 1980s.”

I (unfortunately) haven’t consumed as many 1980s Cornas bottles as Mr. Tanzer, but this wine very much reminded me of the mega-funky wines coming out of the Rocks in the mid-2000s. It’s a throwback, to be sure, unapologetically funky and savory, with a real sense of wild fecundity to the aromatics: earth, smoky charcoal, a full plate of charcuterie, sweet pea, and a fantastic sense of naughty green-olive brackishness. There is plenty of rich supple fruit here (blueberry, marionberry), but it is a supporting player to the loads of olive and smoky bacon fat and other umami goodies. For those of us who love this savory Rocks profile, this is a bottle not to be missed.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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