Full Pull Cru Selection

Hello friends. Sophomore vintage today of a value Syrah whose debut 2013 turned into a serious hit with our list members last spring, a private-label wine for our friends at Cru Selections. This wine was so popular last year that I felt comfortable committing to a pretty serious quantity of the outstanding new 2014, and that allows us to push our price point down a tick from last year’s [TEXT WITHHELD].

2014 Nathan Gray Syrah Den Hoed Vineyard
As I said last year, some of the best values we have offered over the years have been distributor private labels. Oldhead Full Pullers might remember Brand Cabernet Sauvignon and NW Vine Project Red Splendor from the early days. More recently, we’ve offered plenty of For A Song wines.

Why are these projects so compelling? Because, as a general rule, our local distributors a) have connections to excellent local winemakers; and b) know what sells, especially via on-premise (restaurant) channels. Pretty much all of these wines are designed as glass pour options at restaurants: $9 or $10 or $11 by the glass. But just because these wines are designed for restaurants doesn’t preclude a savvy retailer from swooping in and grabbing some, especially when the winemaker and fruit sourcing are so damned good.

Fruit sourcing first, since it is right there on the label. The Den Hoed brothers are outstanding farmers. We’ve written about them a number of times, especially with regards to Wallula Vineyard. They also farm this eponymous site north of Sunnyside in the Yakima Valley, at elevations ranging from 1300-1400’. Now the winemaking. The winemaker for this project is… drum roll… our neighbor, Mr. Ryan Crane of Kerloo Cellars. Long time Full Pull list members know how much I admire Ryan’s winemaking for Kerloo, so I consider this a serious score, having Ryan work on a single vineyard Syrah at this price point.

And despite the modest tag, Ryan shows this Syrah plenty of love. A 3% Viognier coferment, for one example. A full 35% whole-cluster fermentation (stems and all) for another. It’s aged entirely in neutral barrel for about a year, clocks in at 14% listed alc, and pours into the glass inky black-purple. The nose is lovely, combining sappy blue and purple fruits (blueberry, plum, huckleberry) with earthy/tarry streaks and lovely grace notes of white flowers (thank you Viognier coferment!) The sense of sap and fruit extract continues on the palate, which is pillowy-supple in texture, offering an easy glide path from attack to mid-palate to finish. The evocative inner-mouth perfume, the I-want-to-taste-that-again complexity, the sneaky sauvage/wild character: all suggest a carefully-coddled single-vineyard wine; all suggest Syrahs at considerably higher price points.

First come first served up to 24 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.

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