Hello friends. We launched Full Pull in autumn 2009. And before we did, I took a long eastern Washington road trip. The purpose: research, tasting, buying. I just looked back at my notes from that trip, and of the dozen or two wineries I visited, there is exactly one whose wines we have never offered. Until today.
It was entirely a matter of timing. I *loved* the wines I tasted at Isenhower seven (!!!) years ago and fully intended to offer them. But just as Full Pull was getting up and running, Brett and Denise Isenhower were scaling back. In 2010, they pulled all of their wines out of distribution and decided to move to a 100% direct-to-consumer model.
In the subsequent six years, I didn’t really check in on the wines. My time in Walla Walla is always limited, and it just didn’t make sense to allocate bandwidth to a winery whose wines I could never write about. But recently, the Isenhowers moved their wines back into distribution, and the Seattle market was one of the first places where the wines have shown up. I scheduled a tasting with their representatives here in Seattle, and I’ll admit: I had fairly high expectations going in, driven by my memories of an excellent lineup of wines, and maybe also driven by a little nostalgia for Full Pull’s early days.
Well, let me say: high expectations? Warranted. What was clear to me after tasting a trio of Isenhower wines is that Brett and Denise have spent the past six years taking an already-strong lineup and moving it into the real upper echelon of Washington producers. All this while seemingly keeping their pricing the same as I remember it in 2009. What was also clear was that I was going to offer all three wines (two reds and one white).
If Isenhower was a new winery and these were debut vintages, I’d be talking about them as the most exciting Washington debutantes of 2016. The reality is more complicated than that, but the fact remains: these are indeed debutante wines for our list members, and indeed some of the most exciting “new” Washington wines I’ve tasted this year:
It begins with a nose of blackberry and huckleberry fruit, complicated by threads of smoke and olive. In the mouth, this is a marvel, truly palate-staining, coating every nook and cranny with dark intensity. There’s a textural thickness here that reminded me of some of the high-end K Vintners Syrahs (like the ones that go for $50-$100). The weight and opulence of the warm 2013 vintage are balanced beautifully by a sturdy acid spine, and the complexity just continues to unfurl with every extra hour the bottle is open. Everything about this wine – intensity, complexity, polish – suggests a wine that costs twice as much.
The nose is all glorious Cabernet: redcurrant and red plum fruit; mint and violet topnotes; bass notes of cocoa powder and asphalt. To me, this doesn’t just drink like expensive Cab; it drinks like old-school Washington Cab, like mid-‘90s Woodward Canyon bottlings, the kind that are absolutely otherworldly when you open them today (twenty years later). There is beautiful emphasis here on structure; a real scaffolding of ripe, earthy tannin. It’s the perfect foil to the lush fruit of the vintage, and the entire package just drinks balanced and so very classy. Ultra-impressive, with a clear vein of outstanding old-vine fruit involved.
First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.