Full Pull Secret Squirrel

Hello friends. What is an honest wine slinger to do when he loves a wine whose branding and packaging seems clearly geared to attract an audience half his age?

The answer, I think: ignore the sizzle, and focus on the steak. Tell the story of what’s inside the bottle, not outside.

2012 Secret Squirrel Cabernet Sauvignon
Secret Squirrel is a new project for the Corliss family of wineries (Corliss Estates, Tranche). The name is obviously pretty playful, as is the packaging, which features, as best I can make out, a horny squirrel getting ready to attend an Eyes Wide Shut-themed party. I’m sure the millennials will love it. All the lulz, as the kids say. Rekt it.

The disconnect, for me, is that the juice inside is deadly serious. I mean, really serious, really high quality, really bottle aged juice. So let’s focus on that.

This new label is mostly a result of Corliss’ Red Mountain estate vineyards coming online. With Corliss Estates making otherworldly wines at the high end of the spectrum, and with Tranche focusing squarely on their Blue Mountain Estate Vineyard, they needed a home for all the excellent Red Mountain juice that didn’t make sense for the Corliss wines. Enter the squirrel.

What I love about this project is that it shares the Corliss/Tranche ethos of extended ageing, but it does so at pricing about half that of the Tranche reds, and one-third to one-quarter of Corliss reds (note: this is normally a $25 Cabernet; we had to commit to a sturdy volume to push our price under $20, but I’m quite sure we’ll sell through that stash and end up needing more).

This Cabernet is a blend of three Corliss Estate sites: Red Mountain Vineyard, Blue Mountain Vineyard in Walla Walla, and Blackrock Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. It was aged for 28 months in 70% new French oak (pause and let that sink in: $20 new world wines are not aged for more than two years in majority expensive French wood). It clocks in at 14.5% listed alc and comes roaring up out of the glass with notes of blackcurrant and black olive, tarragon and espresso, rich loamy soil. This is a complex, maturing, attractive nose. In the mouth, we find a foursquare Cab, with elements of fruit and soil and leaf and barrel in fine balance. After a plump mid-palate, this moves onto a noticeably grippy finish, the tannic structure very true to Red Mountain Cabernet and beautifully redolent of Irish breakfast tea. What a wonderful, well-priced window into Andrew Trio’s outstanding winemaking!

First come first served up to 60 bottles, and the wine should arrive next week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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