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.
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.
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.
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.