Full Pull Leap Day

February 29, 2016

Hello friends. It’s not too often that a wine slinger gets to send an offer on February 29. And I know that Feb 29 is not quite March, but it’s as close to March as a day can be without actually being in March. So I want to take advantage of this February day’s March-iness to embrace the onset of spring. Let’s do so with a six-pack of white wines (okay, technically five whites and a sparkling rosé; close enough!). Three new wines, three reoffers. With so many wines on offer today, I’ll try to keep the verbiage relatively short for each one:

2014 Dowsett Family Riesling Aunt Diane’s Vineyard
This wine would totally have had its own solo offer if the available quantity had been greater. The wine is great, the story is great; perfect for a Full Pull offer. Except… total production was 37 cases. I tasted the wine, and loved it for its dry style (0.4% RS; 13% alc), its austerely-fruited (light lychee and green papaya), mineral-driven core, its lean/racy/nervy texture. When I expressed interested in grabbing as much as possible, Chris Dowsett said: “I have [REDACTED; think small number] cases you can have if you would like.  It would be just you, my mailing list and a Massachusettes distributor who picked up 5 cases.”

Chris’ Gewurztraminer is consistently one of the finest white wines made in Washington, and I have to believe it’s one of the finest new-world Gewurzs period. No surprise: he makes a damned good Riesling as well. When I told him I liked the name of the vineyard, too, his response: yeah, that’s literally my Aunt Diane. So yeah, Aunt Diane inherited this semi-abandoned, 1980s-planted vineyard in the Columbia Gorge, and Chris and his aunt have been rehabbing it since. They got 5 gallons of juice in 2013; 37 cases of this 2014; and maybe 50-55 cases in 2015. It’s a wild, fecund place that grows not just grapes, but apparently also strawberries and morel mushrooms in between the rows (here’s a pic of morels picked from between the vines in spring 2014).

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

2014 Leth Gruner Veltliner Steinagrund

Wine Enthusiast (Anne Krebiehl): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

There has been a lot of interest in Gruner lately, spurred in part by some lovely bottlings coming out of Columbia Gorge vineyards from both Syncline and WT Vintners. So I’ve been keeping my eye out this year for a solid, classic, well-priced Gruner from its ancestral home of Austria. This bottling from Leth fits the bill. It clocks in at 12.5% listed alc and offers a nose of smoky lentils, peach, earth, and sweet corn. There’s such a wonderful sense of fullness and palate-weight here despite the judicious alcohol; the texture is marvelous. It’s a classic, savory, palate-staining Gruner.

2014 Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Gris

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

Jason Lett is managing the near-impossible dual feat of carrying on a family tradition (see our inaugural Eyrie offer for the full story) while carving out space for his own vision, and doing it with a preternatural sense of calm and equanimity. Now certainly, the Eyrie star has risen on the back of its Pinot Noirs, but Eyrie whites are wonderful little gems, perhaps none more so than their Pinot Gris. This too clocks in at a very reasonable 12.5% listed alc, and it offers a compelling, expressive nose: red pear and grapefruit, mineral and hay. This drinks quite dry and full, much more in keeping with Alsatian Pinot Gris than with Pinot Grigio from northern Italy. It offers impressive stuffing and complexity for its tag, and it should age in fascinating directions for another five years at least.

2014 Block Wines Chenin Blanc Block V10 Rothrock Vineyard
Originally offered last June and a frequent reorder target since, this is our exclusive old-vine Chenin made in partnership with winemaker Morgan Lee. Rothrock is a vineyard in the Yakima Valley that no one has really heard of, but that has these beautiful old Chenin vines. It was planted sometime between 1974 and 1978 (exact planting date lost to sands of time), so these are 40-year old vines, ancient by Washington standards (here is a picture of Morgan and me in front of a Rothrock Chenin vine; photo courtesy of Morgan’s son Oliver).

The Chenin fruit was harvested on September 10, then whole cluster pressed and fermented with native yeasts in two used French oak barrels, then aged for 7 months with weekly battonage and no malolactic conversion. Finished alcohol is 12.6%, and residual sugar was 0.6%, just a touch off-dry. The nose has a core of apple and pear fruit, dusted with a sweet-and-savory note unique to Chenin. It reminds me of malt powder (like the inside of a Whopper), but I’ve also heard it described as honeysuckle. That might be closer, since there is definitely something floral and apple-blossomy going on here. I like my Chenin just off-dry, and that’s how this one drinks, the residual sugar perfectly balanced by Chenin’s bright natural acidity. It broadens out in the mid-palate with rich fleshy fruit before finishing more austere and minerally/savory. There’s something deeply appetizing about this wine.

2011 Full Pull & Friends Chardonnay (FPF-13)

Originally offered August 16, and we’re down to just a handful of cases remaining. It’s likely last-call time for this one. The wine 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.

NV Block Wines Extra Brut Rose Marchant Vineyard

Originally offered on October 18, this was a frequent reorder target around the holidays and makes a glorious spring/Easter bubbly. The wine is an exclusive project partnering with the Griebs of Treveri Cellars to produce a sparkling rosé from 100% Washington Pinot Noir, from a single block of a cool Yakima Valley vineyard. Our low dosage allows Pinot’s mineral and savory complexities to play a major role here, balancing the delicious red fruits (strawberry, cherry) and stone fruits (peach, nectarine) and autolytic notes (bread, almond paste). Pale pink, delicate, charming: this is the starter of parties, loosener of lips, destroyer of worlds. It’s also a beautiful bottle to look at (here’s the front label).

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 that aren’t already in the warehouse should arrive in the next week or two, at which point they will all be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Full Pull Tulpen

February 29, 2016

Hello friends. We have a trio of wines today from one of the real insider gems of Washington: Tulpen Cellars. Kenny Hart’s wines have become hugely popular over the years among our list members. They always offer wonderful quality-for-price, they always come from meticulously-managed vineyards (we know they’re meticulously managed, because it’s Kenny himself doing the managing), and they’re always as distinctive as they are delicious.

A quick refresher for those new to the Tulpen story: Ken Hart is one of the premier growers in the Walla Walla Valley, a born farmer who also happens to be one of the most likeable gentlemen roaming that particular valley. He started Tulpen with Rick Trumbull (former Alaskan king crab fisherman, current sustainable vineyard/orchard consultant and king of compost tea) mostly because he figured taking on winemaking could only improve his winegrowing. But – no surprise – since Kenny is planting and growing some of the finest grapes in the valley, the wines turned out to be showstoppers.

Our first Tulpen offer was in May 2010, getting on six years ago, and we’ve offered just about every Tulpen bottle produced since. It’s one of Full Pull’s relationships I’m most proud of: a great winery with some of the best dollar-for-dollar wines in the Walla Walla Valley and genuine, generous folks at the helm. To the best of my knowledge, we’re the only current source for each of today’s wines west of the mountains.

2012 Tulpen Cellars Tempranillo Yellow Bird Vineyard

This Tempranillo comes from the first commercial dryland-farmed (no irrigation) vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley. Yellow Bird is up in the Mill Creek drainage, the area in the eastern Walla Walla Valley where Mill Creek Road passes Abeja and continues climbing up into the foothills of the Blue Mountains. As you gain elevation, you also gain annual precipitation. Yellow Bird Vineyard sits at 1450 feet and gets 20 inches average rainfall each year, enough to make it a rare Washington vineyard that does not require any irrigation. The combination of rain and deep-loam soils makes it such that the grapevines can grow without added water.

This 2012 is 100% Tempranillo, and only 100 cases were produced. It offers a lovely, expressive, varietally typical nose of black cherry, spicy tobacco leaf, and woodsmoke. Star anise subtleties complete a complex, compelling aromatic profile. In the mouth, the pitch-perfect palate weight is the first thing you notice. Listed alc is 13.2%, and the palate conveys density and a sappy palate-coating character with nary a shred of excess. It’s leafy in the best possible Tempranillo way, and full of spicy, wonderful new world fruit, all on an old-world, low-alc, high-energy frame. This is a fine 2012, and really a singular Washington Tempranillo.

2010 Tulpen Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Tokar Vineyard

Tokar is another dryland vineyard in the Mill Creek drainage. It’s a tiny site that Kenny has been managing for years, and I believe this is the first vintage where it has been bottled as a single-vineyard Cabernet. Cabs from this part of the valley display a wonderful dusty earthiness that I associate more with Napa Valley than Walla Walla. Those dusty notes here combine with redcurrant and black plum fruit, as well as herbal notes of mint and fennel frond. It’s a wonderful Cabernet nose. The palate has terrific brightness from cool-vintage acidity, and it is balanced by plenty of rich deliciousness (14.1% listed alc fruit). There is plenty of structure, not only from the good juicy acidity, but also from plenty of ripe Cabernet tannins, a lingering note of dusty earthiness to invite the next sip or next bite of food. This is fascinating, unique, terroir-driven Cabernet.

2012 Tulpen Cellars Vino Blanc Los Oidos Vineyard

Originally offered July 31, 2014. Excerpts from original offer: This is a blend of 45% Marsanne, 33% Roussanne, 11% Viognier, 9% Picpoul, and 2% Grenache Blanc. It’s essentially a field blend, as all the grapes were harvested from Los Oidos Vineyard on the same day and were then cofermented together and aged in 100% new French oak. Total production is 100 cases. Los Oidos is a newer vineyard, 15 acres planted in 2009 in the foothills of the Blue Mountains at 1100’, in between Les Collines and Morrison Lane (two outstanding vineyards). It’s mostly planted to red varieties, but it’ll be a few years before we see those wines. In the meantime, we have this lovely white, which begins with a nose of almond and walnut, nectarine and orange, and lovely Viognier floral/ginger topnotes. What you notice right away with this wine is the texture, conveying a real sense of glycerol fullness that is evocative of a silky red wine. The creaminess seems impossible given the moderate (12.5% listed) alcohol, but there you have it. For lovers of generous, fleshy whites (or of new vineyard projects), this is a must-try.

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

Please limit order requests to 24 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.


Full Pull Clearing The Hoard: 2016

February 27, 2016

Hello friends. Last February, we inaugurated something we called our Hoarders offer, where we cleared out the equivalent of the Full Pull hoard. These are essentially bin ends: wines where, for all manner of reasons, we’ve ended up with a small number of extra bottles (4 bottles on the low end; 49 on the high end). It turned out to be an enormously popular offer, so we’re bringing it back for year two.

There are 28 different wines available, so the length of the offer is going to get a little ugly. To help with navigation, we have this key, a PDF that succinctly lists the wine, # of bottles available, TPU price, and a link to the original offer if you want to read up on any of these. (Note: I will also try to update the key every hour or so with real-time availability).

The main reason why these are compelling: in most cases, they are wines that are sold out in the Seattle market, and these are our last remaining bottles. So it’s a last chance to reorder a wine you loved, or a last call on a wine you’ve been thinking about trying.

Allocation-wise, we’re going to handle this just like an Eliminator offer (in many ways, it’s a Mini-Eliminator, with more wines but with way fewer bottles of each wine): these will be first-come first-served, and the upper order limits will be the number of bottles available. So, if we have 8 bottles left, and you want all 8, and you’re the first to jump in, they’re yours. This does give slight advantage to longer-term list members. Our offers are throttled, and it takes about two hours to send offers to the entire list. So the old-heads will get a short head-start, but list newbies will be nipping at their heels!

Again, here’s one more link to that key. The wines (and order links) will be listed in the same order as what’s on the key. Happy treasure-hunting!

WHITE AND SPARKLING

NV Gruet “Sauvage” Zero Dosage Blanc de Blanc

8 bottles available.

2013 Coral Wines White Coral

4 bottles available.

2014 Ovum Riesling “Off The Grid” (Cedar Ranch Vineyard)

4 bottles available.

2012 Domaine Costal Chablis Les Truffieres

6 bottles available.

2012 Carter Lamour Chardonnay

5 bottles available.

2012 Tranche Slice of Pape Blanc

7 bottles available.

2012 Sixto Chardonnay Uncovered

12 bottles available.

2013 Crowley Chardonnay Four Winds Vineyard

24 bottles available.

 
 
OREGON PINOT NOIR
2012 Westrey Pinot Noir Oracle Vineyard

12 bottles available.

2013 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir Les Cousins

29 bottles available.

 
 
WASHINGTON SYRAH
 
2013 Kevin White Winery Syrah En Hommage

5 bottles available.

2012 Saviah Syrah Walla Walla Valley

4 bottles available.

2008 Scarborough Syrah “The Immortal”

6 bottles available.

2013 Avennia Syrah Arnaut Boushey Vineyard

4 bottles available.

2013 K Vintners Syrah The Beautiful

9 bottles available.

 
 
WASHINGTON OTHER
2013 Saviah Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley

20 bottles available.

2012 OS Winery “BSH” Cabernet Sauvignon

12 bottles available.

2011 Maison Bleue Grenache “La Montagnette” Upland Vineyard

4 bottles available.

 
 
FRANCE
2014 Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone

49 bottles available.

2010 Domaine des Rozets Grignan-les-Adhemar

13 bottles available.

2013 Piaugier Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet

11 bottles available.

2013 Bila-Haut (Chapoutier) Cotes du Roussillon Villages Rouge

4 bottles available.

2011 D. de la Renjarde Cotes du Rhone Villages Massif d”Uchaux

48 bottles available.

2010 Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas

11 bottles available

 
 
ITALY
2011 Tintero Barbaresco

12 bottles available.

2009 Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva

6 bottles available.

 
 
SPAIN
2013 Bodegas La Cartuja Priorat

8 bottles available.

2009 Aster Ribera del Duero Crianza

7 bottles available.

All these wines are in the warehouse and available for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Full Pull Doubleback

February 24, 2016

Hello friends. I just received confirmation that we will be receiving a parcel of today’s wine. The size of the parcel is still a little fuzzy, but I don’t want to waste any time turning this one around:

2013 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon

This is an extremely limited wine. Over the years since its launch with the 2008 vintage, it has received terrific press from a broad range of sources (massive reviews from Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, and Wine Advocate), and it has only grown more and more difficult to acquire.

So, then: a word about allocations and timing first. I’m going to set max orders at 6 bottles, but that may be optimistic. If our parcel turns out to be smaller than expected, I apologize in advance for under-allocation and sold-out notices. Now timing. Please try to get order requests in by the end of the day on Monday. We should hear final word fairly quickly, at which point we’ll send our allocation notices. And then the wine should arrive quickly too (probably next week).

Many of you already know about this project. For those who don’t, this is the rare Washington celebrity project, from the football-worn hands of one Drew Bledsoe. (Note: Drew deserves extra accolades. As of last year he helped to finally open up Massachusetts to direct shipping. I lived in MA from 1996 to 2004, and I wasn’t sure this day would ever come.) When launching the project, Drew chose about as strong a consultant as you can find in the Walla Walla Valley: Chris Figgins of Figgins Family Wine Estates/Leonetti Cellars (for the full scoop, check out Sean Sullivan’s Focus Report from April 2010). Last October, Doubleback announced that they were elevating Josh McDaniels to the head winemaker role. Josh had spent 2010-2014 as the Assistant Winemaker to Chris Figgins at Figgins Estate, so he had already worked extensively on Doubleback. I expect to see approximately zero stylistic changes to the wine.

This 2013 is now the seventh vintage for Doubleback, the fourth to contain fruit from Drew’s estate McQueen Vineyard (planted in 2007), and the third to contain fruit from his other estate site, Bob Healy Vineyard. The remainder comes from four Walla Walla Valley stalwarts: Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, Waliser, and Lefore, (a vineyard in the rocks; Chris Figgins has said of this site: “Cabernet Sauvignon from the LeFore vineyard, grown in gravels, builds complexity and adds a savory minerality to the finish of the wine.”) The wine spent 22 months in French oak, 75% new, the remainder second fill. No reviews yet for the 2013, but the press seems to keep getting stronger with each passing year, culminating with a 95+pt review from Jeb Dunnuck last year for the 2012. Of course, by the time that review was published, the wine was long-since sold out, and I expect the same pattern for the 2013.

Here are the winemaker notes on this vintage: [TEXT WITHHELD].

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in the next week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Full Pull Enduring Legacy

February 22, 2016

Hello friends. In the middle of last summer, we offered the 2009 Torre Oria Reserva. It went onto become one of our most popular import wines of all time. Looking back at our records, I see that we reordered the wine an additional ten times in subsequent months, as our list members tasted it and came back looking for more.

Today, we have the Gran Reserva from the same vintage. And for all that extra barrel age and care and attention, the GR costs, well, the exact same:

2009 Torre Oria Gran Reserva

Long time list members might remember that the Torre Oria story is one of our former FP team member Matt Tessler’s enduring legacies. Matt was a big fan of Torre Oria’s Cava. He sold it on our warehouse shelves. He drank it at home. I think we even slipped it into an offer once. So, when Torre Oria’s local importer asked if we were interested in tasting the winery’s red lineup, I was predisposed to say yes. And my oh my, there really is no place like Spain when it comes to value, no place that causes more “how does this cost this?” lines in my tasting notebook.

Compared to the Reserva, the GR has a bit higher proportion of Tempranillo. It’s a 70/30 split of Temp and Cabernet Sauvignon, compared to a 60/40 split for the Reserva. The wine comes from DO Utiel-Requena. U-R (located here) is near Valencia, and it occupies this wonderful transition zone between the Mediterranean climate of the coast and the continental climate of Central Spain. It’s a lovely place for grape-growing, but a lot of it is still planted to the traditional Bobal grape, which tends to produce less-than-thrilling wines. I’ve tasted my share of insipid Bobal from Utiel-Requena, which is why I may well have passed on even tasting this wine if it hadn’t been for the Matt-Torre-Oria connection.

Tasting the Reserva and then tasting this GR does make me think that Utiel-Requena has potential to be Spain’s Super Tuscan region (Super Valencia?) It obviously gets the heat units to ripen Bordelaise varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, and the affinity between Tempranillo and Cab is clear in a wine like this. I could see a future where they rip out some Bobal, replant with Cab and Merlot, blend with Tempranillo, slather with new wood, and charge $80/bottle. In the meantime, we’ll continue enjoying these wines in the $10-$15 range.

So yes, for about ten bucks we get a Temp-Cab blend now seven years past vintage, aged for two years in a mix of French and American barrels. It clocks in at 13% listed alc and offers a nose mixing Tempranillo elements (leafy tobacco, black cherry) with Cabernet subtleties (mint-tinged blackcurrant), all interwoven with smoky/spicy barrel threads. It’s a lovely bridge wine, with new-world flesh and jammy fruit paired to old-world wild earthiness and structure. This is a rustic, chewy, ultimately charming wine, with plenty of character.

First come first served up to 12 bottles, and the wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Full Pull Spring Release Season

February 22, 2016

Hello friends. Nothing gets the heart racing quite like spring release season. I know, I know; calling February offers “spring releases” is optimistic here in cloud-choked Seattle, but every bit of silver lining helps. This period, which runs from now through May, contains some of the most beautiful northwest wines released each year.

Beautiful and scarce. This is the season of allocated wines, which means it’s as good a time as any to review our allocation policy: Our allocations favor breadth over depth, so that everyone gets one bottle before anyone gets two. And our formula for prioritizing allocations includes overall orders, frequency of orders, recency of orders, and list tenure, among other factors; it’s like the BCS formula, only less scrutable.

Always among the earliest wineries to kick things off is Avennia, a winery that launched with loads of buzz and whose star has only risen since. You may remember some of the praise during their initial set of releases back in 2012: From Stephen Tanzer (Tanzer’s IWC): [TEXT WITHHELD]. Then from David Schildknecht (Wine Advocate): [TEXT WITHHELD].

Soon after, I had the chance to write about Avennia for my Seattle Magazine gig, and since they’ve launched, I believe we’ve offered every wine presented to us by Chris Peterson and Marty Taucher. Chris’ winemaking is deeply compelling. The house style retains the character of Washington’s terroir and yet presents this sense of ribald, euro-styled earthiness that is a bit more unusual in these climes. These are beautiful, ageworthy wines, year in and year out.

It is amazing to me that this is only the fourth vintage of Gravura and Sestina. Very quickly these wines have come to feel they’ve been around forever. Very quickly they’ve become indispensable.

2013 Avennia Gravura

We’ve offered the 2010, 2011, and 2012 vintages of this, all at [TEXT WITHHELD]. Even at $35, Gravura was an exceptional value. At $30, it’s outrageous.

I will say: the only way to get our pricing down to that level was to commit to a solid chunk of Gravura, but that was a commitment that was easy to make. For list members who usually max out at $20 or $25 per bottle, I’d heartily encourage a splurge here. Gravura seriously over-delivers its price point.

Gravura is an homage to Graves, and in 2013 the blend is 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, and 9% Cabernet Franc. It comes from an impeccable list of vineyards: Cabernet Sauvigon from Red Willow, Bacchus, and Dionysus; Merlot from Red Willow, Klipsun, and Boushey; Cab Franc from Bacchus. That is a lot of classy old-vine material for the tariff, and it shows, in the perfect palate weight, the flavor density and intensity. It kicks off with a nose of blackcurrant, soil, gravelly minerals, and barrel notes of cocoa and espresso (50% new French oak for 20 months). Elegant, complex, and above all else, balanced, this offers lovely interplay between the fruit and earth elements, something Chris seems to do easily, even in vintages like 2013 that want to be all fleshy fruit. The finishing note is all earl-grey tannin, with lovely toothsome chew and a kiss of fragrant bergamot.

2013 Avennia Sestina

I know I get pushback any time I call a wine in the $60s a great value, but compared to its peer group of Washington elites, Sestina is very fairly priced. The vine age is ridiculous, with fruit from Dionysus 1973, Red Willow 1985, and Bacchus 1972 making up a full 91% of the blend. In 2013 that blend is 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 9% Cab Franc. Sestina spent 21 months in 70% new French oak, and its case production is about half that of Gravura, so this one tends to disappear quickly.

It kicks off with a glorious, expressive (especially for this particular wine, which in previous vintages has tended to brood) nose: black plum and cassis, violet pastille, herbal notes of mint and thyme, woodsmoke. My note says “pillowy texture,” which is a sort of personal shorthand for a wine whose mouthfeel could not be more supple. The front and middle of this wine are all flesh and generosity. It’s only on the finish that it reveals its serious side, with crushed-rock minerality, mouthwatering acidity, and above all else burly black-tea flavored tannins. This is a wine structured for long-term evolution, and it has plenty of stuffing and complexity to unwind in fascinating directions in the years to come.

Please limit order requests to 12 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.


Full Pull Syncline

February 20, 2016

Hello friends. Syncline is perhaps Washington’s most quietly thrilling winery. Quiet only because of their location (the Columbia Gorge, where they’re the flagship winery; an amazing region that any serious student of northwest wine would do well to visit), and because James and Poppie Mantone are such unassuming, salt of the earth types.

James and Poppie have been part of the Washington vanguard since they launched their winery. They were early adopters of Rhone varietals, are one of the few producers able to coax something lovely out of Washington Pinot Noir, and in recent years have pushed the boundaries of white varieties and sparkling wines in the state. For freshness, for purity, for transparency, Syncline is tough to beat. Not to mention consistency. There’s a reason we’ve offered a whopping 43 wines from Syncline in Full Pull’s history; there never seems to be a dud in the bunch.

Today I’ll try to contain myself and only offer three wines:

2014 Syncline Subduction Red

I think we can all agree that one of the best trends to come out of the past decade of Washington winegrowing and winemaking is the emergence of Rhone blends as a very strong category for the state. But price point has been a serious challenge. I guess how I’d put it is: we have our Chateauneufs and our Gigondas, but where are our Cotes du Rhone Villages? Fortunately, in recent years, we’ve seen some movement on that front. Ryan Crane’s Majestic for Kerloo (and more recently, Wingman for his Sodo Cellars label), Sean Boyd’s VdP for Rotie, Kevin White’s outrageous blends for his eponymous label, Jon Meuret’s Metis Rouge.

But before all of those: Syncline’s Subduction Red. We’ve been offering it since the 2009 vintage, but I think it had already been around for at least five years then. In 2014 it is a six-variety blend: 46% Syrah, 27% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, 8% Carignan, 3% Cinsault, 2% Counoise. It is fermented and aged in a combination of French oak (10% new) and concrete Nomblot cube tanks, bottled after just about a year to capture the freshness and vitality of the vintage. The nose is fresh, floral, high-toned, with red cherry and strawberry fruit complemented by lavender and licorice. Plump (14.4% listed alc), juicy, and complex, this shows a lot of Mourvedre character on the palate, all spicy plum and mineral. There is Syrah’s earthiness, Grenache’s fleshy fruit, Carignan’s wildness; each grape plays its role, and the overall result is a totally charming wine, one that seems at first glimpse to be an easy drinker but over time displays sneaky complexity. Sean Sullivan’s 92pt review of the 2013 vintage in Wine Enthusiast made that one disappear. Fortunately he has not yet weighed in on the ’14.

2014 Syncline Gruner Veltliner

The great, savory white grape of Austria has found a home in Washington, on the southern slopes of the extinct volcano Underwood Mountain (home to both Celilo and Underwood Mountain Vineyards, the two sources of this Gruner). The vines first came online for production in 2008, and we have offered every vintage since. When David Schildknecht, the great lover of Austrian wines, first got his hands on Syncline’s Gruner (the 2011 vintage), he called it “as good as any I have witnessed from a North American Gruner Veltliner.” High praise from a man not prone to it.

Gruners are outstanding food-pairing wines. Because of their savory side, they pair with tough-to-complement foods like artichokes and asparagus. They’re also beautiful oyster wines, for those of you so inclined. Picked in mid-October and still only coming in at 13.1% alc, this was fermented in a combo of concrete egg, acacia barrel, and stainless steel tank. The nose is wonderful: grapefruit and mineral and then Gruner’s signature savory tones of green lentil and celery and hay. A total live-wire in the mouth, this is both intense and precise, offering enamel-stripping acidity that electrifies the Gruner fruit. This is mountain wine, to be sure.

2013 Syncline Syrah McKinley Springs Vineyard

We have offered this wine in two previous vintages. It comes from Block 11 at McKinley Springs Vineyard, fondly known as the Espresso Block for the lovely espresso/coffee/mocha character it imparts to its Syrahs. Here James includes 40% whole clusters (stems and all) and ferments mostly (80%) in concrete (Syncline is one of a handful of wineries in Washington to have concrete vessels on hand). It begins with a nose of pure blueberry fruit, crème fraiche, mineral, and (wait for it!) espresso. I love the beautiful earthy coffee ground notes on the palate, and the laser-like purity of blue fruit. This is achingly fresh and perfumed in the mouth, a gorgeous expression of a fine Horse Heaven Hills site.

I just learned this one is going to receive the following review in the March issue of Wine Enthusiast: Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

To put that review into context, Sean has bestowed 93pt reviews on 23 other Washington Syrahs during his time with Wine Enthusiast. They’ve ranged in price from $40-$85, with a median of $55. For the tough-but-fair Mr. Sullivan, a 93pt review for a wine at this price point is a strong review indeed.

First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and 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.