Full Pull Wind Our Watches

Hello friends. One of the quiet joys of Full Pull surviving into its seventh (!) spring is that there are offers we can wind our watches to: markers of the season at hand. In mid-springtime, that means two single-vineyard marvels from Soos Creek: Champoux and Ciel.

These are among the strongest values that come out of Washington. As word of their quality has spread, from insiders to message-board geeks to the general public, they have sold out faster and faster each year. The trick is to get in post-release and pre-review, because once the reviews for these wines come out (usually late summer/early autumn), they tend to disappear immediately.

Dave Larsen is one of the great success stories of the Boeing Winemaking Club. He began making wine in 1987, moved from amateur to commercial winemaking in 1989, and kept both gigs (Boeing and Soos Creek) until 2004, when he retired from Boeing to pursue winemaking full time. Despite all those years in the business, Soos Creek is very much a boutique winery, with total production still under 2000 cases.

Because Dave has grown Soos Creek conservatively, the winery was well-positioned for difficult economic times. As other wineries dropped out of older blocks at Ciel du Cheval and Champoux Vineyards, Dave moved in. So the fruit quality, and the resulting wine, have continued to get better and better with each passing vintage. And the prices have remained stubbornly low.

2013 Soos Creek Champoux Vineyard
Attentive list members will recall the multi-year saga of Dave’s Champoux bottling. No 2011 Champoux was produced, so we had nothing to offer two years ago in 2014 (here’s what we said then: The Thanksgiving freeze of 2010 blasted Champoux such that there was no 2011 produced. Dave only received 40% of a normal Champoux yield in 2012, so that release next year is going to be miniscule; fear not – we’ll be all over it.) Well, we were all over it, offering the 2012 Champoux the minute it arrived in Seattle. And still. Allocations were ugly. Like demand-outstripping-supply-by-more-than-a-2-to-1-margin ugly. Like max-allocations-of-1-bottle-and-dozens-of-list-members-shut-out-entirely ugly.

The 2013 situation is better, but only marginally so. Production in a normal vintage is generally in the 300-400 case range. Production in 2013 was… 150 cases. More than half of that production has already been snapped up by Dave’s mailing list. And it’s not like Seattle is the only market where Soos Creek is distributed. So, you can see this pie getting cut into smaller and smaller slices. Which means we better eat quickly! The good news is: we’re right on top of this wine, offering it almost immediately upon its release. I’m going to optimistically set order limits at 6 bottles. Max allocations might not end up that high, but nor should they be the 1-bottle-max disaster of last year. Probably someplace in the middle. I should also mention pricing. This is the lowest price we’ve had for Soos Champoux in more than four years. This vintage contains more younger-vine Champoux fruit than usual, and I’m guessing that’s why Dave has taken a few bucks off the tag (note: most wineries don’t do this; most wineries would plow ahead with normal pricing).

Okay, logistics and pricing spiels over. The blend in 2013 is 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Cabernet Franc. It clocks in at 14.1% listed alc and begins with a lovely nose combining cassis and black plum fruit, violet, and some Franc complications of earth and flower. The earthiness mixed Champoux’s traditional graphite notes with tones of good clean soil. Very attractive. In the mouth, this is an intense palate-stainer, a wonderful piece of proof that site is often as important as vine age. This really is an evocative rendition of Champoux, combining young-vine energy/elegance with old-vine depth and structure. As with pretty much all of Dave Larsen’s wines, this is texturally classy and conveys a real sense of balance. Marvelous to have proper access to Soos Champoux for the first time since spring of 2013!

2013 Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
On November 11, 2009, barely a month after launching Full Pull, we offered the 2006 vintage of Soos Creek’s Ciel du Cheval, and we haven’t looked back since, offering the ‘07, ‘08, ‘09, ‘10, ‘11, and ‘12 during each successive spring. It’s practically a rite of spring for our list members, hugely popular, I suspect, because it offers such ringing-bell clarity of Ciel du Cheval character at such a competitive tag. It’s rare to see the queen of Red Mountain bottled in the $30s, but Dave Larsen has done it consistently, and consistently well.

The 2013 is a 60/29/11 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. It clocks in at 14.1% listed alc and offers a classic Ciel nose: red cherry and orange peel, ferrous minerality, and lovely spice notes of cocoa and anise. This is true to site, and true to house style. Again, intensity is the watchword on the palate. This just lights up all the sensory receptors and coats the entire palate with Red Mountain goodness. It’s a dynamo, with character and energy to spare, and as usual, it is a supremely well-priced expression of a Grand Cru Washington vineyard.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of each wine, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. 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.

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