Full Pull Ring Out (Final Offer of 2015)

Hello friends. This is our final offer of 2015. We’ll plan to stay out of your inboxes until about January 8 or so, when you can expect our first offer of 2016. In the meantime, we are CLOSED for pickups for the next few weeks, and our first TPU pickup day in 2016 will be Thursday January 14.

Today’s offer will mostly be about reflections on a wonderful 2015. At the end of the offer we’ll include reorder links for the Full Pull & Friends we offered this year, all with strong recent reviews from Rand Sealey. And at the beginning we’ll do what we’ve done every year since 2009: excerpt Tennyson’s In Memoriam.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

I love these stanzas, because they speak to the cleansing grace of the end of a year, the power of first remembering and then letting go.

And what a year it has been. Soon after the birth of my first child nearly two years ago, I adopted a personal mantra that has served me well since:

Embrace the chaos.

There’s no fighting it. Trying to raise a child, trying to do meaningful work, trying to be a loving family member and a loyal friend, trying to, you know, sleep from time to time, maybe read a David Mitchell novel; it all adds up to a stiff pour of chaos. And so why fight it? Might as well embrace it.

Here are some reflections on a happily chaotic year gone by:

A huge highlight of 2015 was getting to offer Elizabeth Bourcier’s 2012 La Rata, which allowed me the first chance to write at length about the incomparable Cayuse Vineyards. And a happy late-in-the-year surprise was getting to write about and offer a Quilceda Creek wine for the first time. We debuted three wines from our new Block Wines project, which is almost like having a winery inside Full Pull. In addition to our list members enjoying those wines, they’re also being poured at Purple Café (Semillon), SkyCity at the Space Needle (Chenin Blanc), and Hitchcock (Extra Brut Rose, Chenin Blanc). We offered wines at $9.99 and $179.99 and all points in between, always with a goal of offering extraordinary value at any price paid. Our team tasted a scary amount of wine this year, and we offered less than 5% of all the wines we tasted. I hope that sense of strict curation shines through in all of our wines.

It was also a good year for PR. It began in January, when Full Pull was awarded Retailer of the Year at the Washington Wine Commission’s 2015 Washington State Wine Awards ceremony. We were then written up in Jameson Fink’s Wine Without Worry, in Great Northwest Wine, and in Seattle Magazine.

It really was a fabulous year for Washington wines. We continued to see a number of exquisite releases from the exceptional 2012 vintage. The charming, early-drinking 2013s began to hit the market, and we even began to see some 2014 reds, which show real promise.

While Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah remain far and away the most popular varieties among our list members, there is undeniable momentum building for Grenache and GSM blends. Grenache makes growers in Washington crazy, because it’s a delicate finicky flower indeed, but winemakers love it, and so too do our list members. When we release our first Block Wines red later this year, it’s no mistake that it will be a Grenache. I’m not sure any variety has more growth potential in our state. Finally – and this could be wishful thinking – I felt like I began to see the stirrings of a Merlot revival. I hope it’s true. Outside of Bordeaux’s right bank, there is no place on planet Earth making more compelling Merlot than Washington.

The major change we saw this year in Team FP was losing Matt Tessler to his beloved home state of Texas in April, and hiring RhiAnnon Kaspar as our new List Member Services Manager. I think any of you who have interacted with RhiAnnon, virtually or in-person, will agree that we made a very good hire.

And then there’s Pat Malloy and Dennis Felipe and Nick Peyton, who put in another wonderful, hard-working year. Thanks to our entire team! And I include in that all the wineries and distributors and importers that we count as partners. Seattle has a vibrant, committed wine trade, and we’re lucky to be a part of it.

I was thrilled to spend another year as Seattle Magazine’s wine writer, and I want to thank Rachel Hart for her graceful editing. Another big highlight of the year for me was finally passing all units of the WSET Level 4 Diploma, the precursor to the Master of Wine program. That accomplishment was such a team effort, involving so many friends and family and colleagues, that I’m not even going to try to call out everyone who helped. You know who you are, and hopefully I’ve thanked you all individually many times over.

A few of you have asked me if I’m going to jump right into the MW program. The answer is no, and it’s no for a very happy reason. My wife and I are expecting another child, due in late February, so 2016 ought to present an unparalleled opportunity to test that “embrace the chaos” mantra.

It’s comforting going into next year knowing that we have such a capable team in place, and also knowing how wonderful and supportive our list members are. You folks are the power that cranks this virtuous cycle. None of this fun happens without your support, and you can bet that we don’t forget it.

Many thanks to all of you for another year of supporting this little venture that somehow got out of control, in the happiest of manners. Thank you for being willing to slow down over an e-mail, to slow down over a special bottle of wine, to care about something deeply. Y’all are a special group.

Now then, let’s do what we do. Let’s offer a few wines (in this case, the five FP&F wines released in 2015, each with a positive recently-published review from the inimitable Rand Sealey), and then let’s close the door on 2015:

2013 Full Pull & Friends Syrah Angelas Vyd (FPF-12)  

Originally offered July 29, 2015. Angela’s is a site on Red Mountain owned by Efeste Winery, and it was planted in 2008 by none other than Dick Boushey, who continues to manage it. This is 100% Clone 383 Syrah which, according to our winemaker, “is a great clone on red mountain, emphasizing the meatier side of the grape.” To keep the focus on that meaty fruit, this is done entirely with native yeasts and aged entirely in neutral French oak for 18 months. As you’d expect from a warm region (Red Mountain) in a warmish vintage, this is a powerhouse, perhaps the richest/most openly delicious wine we’ve put under the FP&F label.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18.5+/20pts.”

2011 Full Pull & Friends Chardonnay (FPF-13) 

Originally offered August 16, 2015. It has been a good year for accessing maturing Chardonnay, and this private-label bottling may be the best of them. It comes from two vineyards, one of which is a prominent Columbia Gorge vineyard, the other an excellent Chardonnay site in the greater Columbia Valley. The nose is immediately appealing: apple and lemon fruit, leesy brioche, chalky minerality, and lovely maturing hazelnut notes. Loads of complexity; suggestions of maturity. It will be a joy to watch its savory tertiary notes (hazelnut and corncob) evolve from subtleties and gain prominence.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18.5/20pts.”

2013 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Franc Bacchus Vyd (FPF-14)  

Originally offered September 7, 2015. The second vintage of one of our most popular FP&F wines. Bacchus is probably best known for Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s also a stellar site for Franc. The Franc block was planted in 1997 on sandy/silty loam with pockets of clay. Good Washington Franc offers a middle ground between super-vegetal, 12.2%-alc, Loire Valley Chinon and Cabernet Francs allowed to get so ripe that they express themselves only as half-assed Cabernet Sauvignon. That middle ground is fascinating, because it can lead to aromas and flavors that are both ripe and green. I’m thinking of poblano pepper. Brambles. Spicy greens like arugula or watercress. Really delicious flavors that are completely unique to Franc.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].  19/20pts.”

2013 Full Pull & Friends Merlot Red Willow Vineyard (FPF-15)  

Originally offered October 7, 2015. Mike Sauer planted his first vines at Red Willow in 1973, and for many years, his vineyard was deeply tied to the fate of Columbia Winery, and especially its talented winemaker, the late David Lake MW. This particular Merlot block was planted in 1991. According to our partner winemaker: “Mike Sauer says it was always David Lake’s favorite block and is one of the first things to be picked at the vineyard every year. It has a gentle south to southeast slope to get the morning sun (and a little less of that late afternoon heat blast).” After writing my own tasting notes on this one, I asked our partner winemaker what he likes about this vineyard’s Merlot. He specifically mentioned “the savory complexity of the old vines at Red Willow,” and then I looked down to my note, which begins with “real sense of savory character.” For me, the savory character is a mix between roasting meat (almost like demi-glace) and smoky peat, lovely and unusual for Merlot.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 19/20pts.”

2009 Full Pull & Friends Cabernet Sauvignon (FPF-16)  

Originally offered November 16, 2015. It comes from two of the brilliant sites managed by Kent Waliser and Lacey Lybeck under the Sagemoor group – Dionysus and Weinbau – along with a bit of fruit from Stillwater Creek, and it is a little marvel at six years past vintage. I think this compares favorably with some $50+ Washington Cabernets on the market. The fact that it’s a chance to access the rarely-seen-anymore 2009 vintage is just the icing.

Review of Washington Wines (Rand Sealey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 18.5+/20pts.”

Please give us your requests, with no upper limits, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. These wines are all in the warehouse and available for pickup from today on, or for shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

The end of another year is always a reminder to me that it’s a dream job, this: writing about wine for people who care. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to do so, and my holiday wish is the same as ever: that our wines bring the same happiness to you that this endeavor brings to me. Here’s to a year light on sorrows and heavy on joys. On behalf of the whole merry Full Pull family: happy holidays, happy new year, and onwards to 2016.

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