Full Pull Syncline

Hello friends. Without question I consider James and Poppie Mantone’s Syncline to be in the upper echelon of Washington wineries. They’ve proven it vintage after vintage with consistent expressions of freshness, purity, and transparency. If others overlook them in discussions of best Washington wineries, I can only chalk that up to Syncline’s out-of-the-way location in the Columbia Gorge.

They’ve been flying the flag for this special appellation (for my money, the most breathtakingly beautiful region in the northwest for wine touring) for years now, and today’s offer is going to focus on a pair of new releases that come predominantly from the Gorge. And more specifically, from the southern flanks of extinct volcano Underwood Mountain, one of the most exciting places to grow grapes in Washington.

[Note: we will also include two reorder opportunities: one for a popular, well-priced Rhone blend; the other last call on a killer rosé.]

2015 Syncline Gruner Veltliner
The great, savory white grape of Austria has found a home in Washington. The first Gruner vines in the Gorge came online for production in Syncline’s 2008 vintage, and we have offered every vintage since. When David Schildknecht, the great lover of Austrian wines, first got his hands on Syncline’s Gruner (the 2011 vintage), he called it “as good as any I have witnessed from a North American Gruner Veltliner.” High praise from a man not prone to it.

On the vineyard front, there is some sad news and some happy news this year. The sad news is that the Gruner vines have been pulled out at Celilo Vineyard, so this will be Syncline’s final Gruner vintage containing Celilo fruit. The good news: a new Gruner Vineyard came online with the 2015 vintage. Here is what James and Poppie have to say: At 1,000′ in elevation, Bloxom Vineyard lies East of Yakima and North of the Rattlesnake Hills. This cooler site with loess soils is an exciting new planting of Gruner Veltliner. 2015 was the vineyard’s first crop, and we are thrilled to be part of this new venture.

The overall vineyard mix for the 2015 is 38% each Bloxom and Underwood Mountain Vineyards, and 24% Celilo. Ageing took place in a wide variety of vessels: concrete eggs, neutral oak, stainless steel, and acacia barrels. Nifty! Total production in 2015 was 440 cases, and listed alc is 13.7%. The nose kicks off with wonderful savory notes of green lentil and sweet corn, paired to a core of peach fruit. The palate is dry, potent, and *very* earthy/savory. The evolution of this bottling has been dazzling to watch, and it has now reached the point where you could legitimately confuse it for one of its Austrian brethren. I love Gruners like this because they are such outstanding food-pairing wines. Because of their savory side, they pair with tough-to-complement foods like artichokes and asparagus. They’re also beautiful oyster wines, for those of you so inclined.

2014 Syncline Pinot Noir Celilo Vineyard
Would it be damning with faint praise to say that this is always among Washington’s finest Pinot Noirs? Yeah, I know: not exactly a variety our state is known for, but if you’re going to grow it, Celilo is probably the place. This limited bottling (250 cases) comes from 1973-planted vines on dry-farmed, volcanic soils. James fermented with 20% whole clusters (stems and all). Listed alc is 13.9%.

This beauty begins with an extremely fragrant nose, with lifted rose-petal notes covering a core of tarry black cherry fruit and loads of crushed-rock mineral character. Truly a very appetizing nose. The palate dazzles with its depth and intensity, all on a moderately-weighted frame, and especially with its inner-mouth perfume. Stylistically, I’d put this somewhere on the spectrum between Cote des Nuits and Oregon. It’s a singular Washington Pinot Noir, nakedly expressive of the special place where it’s grown.

2015 Syncline Rose
Originally offered May 1, this is official last call for this enormously popular pink, as Syncline’s local representatives are down to their last handful of cases. We have a hold on a small parcel, and that will be all she wrote. Excerpts from the original: There are certain wines you can set your clocks by as Full Pull list members, and Syncline’s rosé is one of them. It has historical significance, as it was the first rosé ever offered by Full Pull, way back in summer 2010 (that was the 2009 vintage). We haven’t missed a year since, and for good reason: this is as consistently excellent as rosé gets in Washington. It’s also one of those pinks that never seems to survive the summer. And isn’t it the transitory nature of rosé that makes it so beautiful? The ache of the fleeting experience only serves to heighten the pleasure, doesn’t it?

No surprise that these Rhone specialists would produce a rosé that is a blend of 39% Cinsault, 36% Carignan, and 25% Grenache. One change this year: the bottling gets a single-vineyard designation, coming entirely from McKinley Springs in the Horse Heaven Hills. The grapes are picked specifically for rosé (13.9% alc), and produce a wine with lovely pale salmon color. The nose is fantastic, combining notes fruity (strawberry, kiwi, honeydew), green (cucumber, celery leaf), and mineral in turn. The palate offers a deftly balanced mix of supple fruit and juicy acidity, and the finishing lick of Aperol bitters adds complexity and an adult touch to a truly lovely rosé. One of Washington’s standard-bearers in this category, to be sure.

2014 Syncline Subduction Red
Originally offered February 19, 2016. Excerpts from the original: I think we can all agree that one of the best trends to come out of the past decade of Washington winegrowing and winemaking is the emergence of Rhone blends as a very strong category for the state. But price point has been a serious challenge. I guess how I’d put it is: we have our Chateauneufs and our Gigondas, but where are our Cotes du Rhone Villages? Fortunately, in recent years, we’ve seen some movement on that front. Ryan Crane’s Majestic for Kerloo (and more recently, Wingman for his Sodo Cellars label), Sean Boyd’s VdP for Rotie, Kevin White’s outrageous blends for his eponymous label, Jon Meuret’s Metis Rouge.

But before all of those: Syncline’s Subduction Red. We’ve been offering it since the 2009 vintage, but I think it had already been around for at least five years then. In 2014 it is a six-variety blend: 46% Syrah, 27% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, 8% Carignan, 3% Cinsault, 2% Counoise. It is fermented and aged in a combination of French oak (10% new) and concrete Nomblot cube tanks, bottled after just about a year to capture the freshness and vitality of the vintage. The nose is fresh, floral, high-toned, with red cherry and strawberry fruit complemented by lavender and licorice. Plump (14.4% listed alc), juicy, and complex, this shows a lot of Mourvedre character on the palate, all spicy plum and mineral. There is Syrah’s earthiness, Grenache’s fleshy fruit, Carignan’s wildness; each grape plays its role, and the overall result is a totally charming wine, one that seems at first glimpse to be an easy drinker but over time displays sneaky complexity. Sean Sullivan’s 92pt review of the 2013 vintage in Wine Enthusiast made that one disappear. Fortunately he has not yet weighed in on the ’14.

First come first served up to 48 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.

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