Hello friends. The main focus of today’s offer is the new vintage of a hugely popular wine among our list members: Morgan Lee’s funkystunning Syrah from Stoney Vine Vineyard. But we’ll also have a pair of bonus wines: Morgan’s other single-vineyard Syrah that completes the John Denver lyric, as well as his wackadoodle Orange Gewurztraminer/Original Gangster.
This is just about to be released at the winery, so we’re not wasting any time. The past few years, the entire production run has sold out in the first month or two after release. We offer the wine once, and all subsequent reorder requests are (sadly) zeroed out. Considering the small production level again (just 150 cases), I expect a similar pattern this year.
There is also more excitement than ever about wines from “the rocks” area of the Walla Walla Valley, or as I should be writing from now on, “The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater,” which was approved as a new AVA in February of last year. It’s a sub-AVA of the Walla Walla Valley, and I wrote about The Rocks for one of last year’s issues of Seattle Magazine. This is a special place in northwest wine, and it deserves to have its geographical name on the label.
Among Rocks Syrahs, is there a better value than Two Vintners? I’m hard pressed to think of one. It comes entirely from 2007-planted Stoney Vine Vineyard, an estate site for Dusted Valley that looks like this. Morgan fermented with all native yeasts and 35% whole cluster, and then this went into barrel (all French, 15% new 500L puncheon) for 18 months. It clocks in at 14.7% listed alc and comes roaring out of the glass with all the savory funkiness you’d expect. Huckleberry fruit, yes, but then green olive and a sanguine meaty minerality that reminded me of nothing so much as morcilla, the wonderful Spanish blood sausage. Rich and meaty in the mouth but balanced by juicy acids, this is a meal in a glass. Morgan’s mastery of this vineyard continues to impress and delight.
The treatment here is nearly identical to Stones, and the vintage is the same, but the vineyard is entirely different, this time Discovery Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. Discovery is a site with a burgeoning (and deserved) reputation for Cabernet Sauvignon, but this bottling shows its credibility with Syrah as well. It begins with a nose of deep black cherry, espresso, and orange peel, moving to a palate with fresh berry fruit and notes of brewed coffee. The earthiness here is completely different than the Stones bottling. With Diamonds it’s more like dusty broken sagebrush; very eastern Washington. Drink the two side by side for a showcase of the stylistic breadth of Syrah in Washington State. A mere 80 cases produced.
By far the weirdest wine in Morgan’s lineup and among the weirdest produced in Washington, this is an “orange wine” style. What that means is that white grapes (in this case, all Gewurztraminer from Olsen Vineyard) are left to macerate on the skins for weeks at a time (in this case six weeks) before pressing, imparting a bit of color pigment (between that pigment and the oxidation that takes place, the wine turns a bit orange), considerable textural weight, and usually a bit of tannin to the juice. There are similarities aromatically to some of the older white Riojas (made with Viura) I’ve had; that oddly alluring, slightly oxidized character of fruitcake spice and caramel. Here those notes mix with exotic fruit (lychee especially), floral notes, and dustings of nutmeg. At 14.3% listed alc, this is rich, long, and fascinating. Fly your geek flag proudly if you purchase this one. Just 60 cases produced.
I’m going to set the upper allocation limit high, since I suspect like in previous years we’ll only get one shot at the Stones. Because of the low production level of the Diamonds and OG, those are likely one-and-done also. So, please limit order requests to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), 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.