Hello friends. The main focus of today’s offer is the 2010 Red for Corliss. Unfortunately, we were allocated no 2010 Corliss Cabernet (and not very much of the Red; we’re maxing order requests at 6 bottles, but allocations might be closer to 2-3 bottles). I tried for the same Cabernet trick as last year (where we ended up scoring magnums of the 2009 since there were no 750s to go around), but apparently that was a one-trick pony. As I’ve said on many occasions when offering Corliss wines, the best way to guarantee yourself access to these going forward is to get on their mailing list. The wines are becoming more and more difficult to source at retail.
At the bottom of the offer, we will also have a pair of bonus wines from Tranche (Corliss’ sister winery), one a Cabernet Sauvignon to help offset the loss of the Corliss Cab, the other a new vintage of a popular Chardonnay.
I’ve written about Corliss at length in the past. For today, let’s offer the condensed version: Corliss only releases three wines outside the winery: a Syrah each spring, and a Cabernet and BDX Blend in the autumn. They’re noteworthy because they hold their wines about as long as anyone in the state before release. So while most Cabernets on the market right now are 2012s and 2013s (along with a handful of 2014s), Corliss is just getting ready to release their 2010s, a cool year that needed just this kind of extra time in bottle to develop. With nearly three years in barrel and another two in bottle, Corliss wines are usually much further along the path towards integration and complexity than their peer releases, and that’s certainly the case here.
This is typically dominated by Red Mountain, with much of the fruit coming from Corliss’ estate Red Mountain Vineyard. The 2010 is driven by a healthy dose of Cabernet Franc (45%), rounded out with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. It clocks in at 14.9% listed alc despite the cool year, and it kicks off with a nose of mocha and kirsch, cherry cordial and good clean soil. This is always a delicious little truffle of a wine, but the 2010 also possesses cool-vintage verve and vigor, with bright zippy acids and burly tannins that take over on the mid-palate and just won’t quit. Suavely textured already, I’d say it still needs a lengthy decant if you’re opening it any time in the next two or three years. Like the best ‘99s from Washington, I expect this to have a successful twenty-year evolution in bottle. Jeb’s review puts the drinking window at 2018-2038, and I’d say that’s just about spot on.
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94+pts.”
The estate Blue Mountain Vineyard has become the core vineyard for the Tranche label. Those of you with long memories might recall that this used to be Neuffer Estate Vineyard when Nicholas Cole Cellars was still alive and kicking. The vineyard was subsequently sold to Tranche and renamed Blue Mountain Vineyard, an apt name. The site sits on a bluff at the exact spot where the Blue Mountains run into the city of Walla Walla. I’ve walked this vineyard, and the view is great, looking west across the greater part of WW. The wines coming off this site have also been spectacular. It was always a terrific source for Nicholas Cole’s Cabernet-heavy wines, and that has only continued at Tranche.
With the main-label Corliss Cab pushing $90, the question becomes: would you rather have one bottle of that, or two bottles of Tranche? No easy answer. Each has its unique charms. The charm here comes from the wonderful dark mineral core, complemented by crème de cassis fruit, espresso barrel notes, and lovely minty/floral top-notes. Loads of aromatic complexity, and all of it oh so honestly Cabernet. I love this wine right now because it is a window into the aging curve of the better 2010s from Washington. It is just now beginning to take on some earthy tertiary notes, to take on some dried-fruit character, but there are still loads of fresh primary fruit and minerality. The finishing impression is one of classy, polished, fine-grained tannins, and what stays with you after the sip is just how dusty and earthy and graphitic this is. I’d love to see this as a ringer in a Pauillac lineup.
One of the big wine stories of 2015 in Washington was Corliss’ purchase of the historically important Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge AVA (after it had been widely suspected that Charles Smith was going to be the buyer). The Corliss winemaking team has great familiarity with the site, as they have been making this fantastic Chardonnay from Celilo for several years now.
One of the truly wonderful aspects of the Corliss/Tranche family of wineries is their willingness to hold their wines before release. I mean, who else is currently releasing 2012 whites? Chardonnay especially tends to benefit from a few years of bottle age. It’s why people get obsessed with collecting old white burgundies.
This one was raised in a combination of new and neutral French oak, as well as concrete, for 18 months, and it has now seen nearly another two years in bottle. It clocks in at 13.8% listed alc and begins with a nose of peach and mango fruit, lactic crème fraiche notes, and nutty/spicy maturing oak. In the mouth, the texture is outstanding, a wonderful balance of plush fruit and bright lemony acid. Intensity is the watchword here; you can practically hear the electricity buzzing as this hums across the palate. What a fantastic expression of Celilo! I think this vineyard has landed in very good hands.
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of Corliss Red and 12 bottles each of the two Tranche wines, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.