Hello friends. It’s a great pleasure to taste wine with Tim Narby of :Nota Bene. He always pours a broad, diverse lineup of lovely wines, usually produced in microscopic quantities. And better yet, his ageing regimen – typically two years in barrel followed by another year in bottle – means that we access the wines at lovely points in their respective evolutions.
To wit: today we have three 2012s from the :Nota Bene lineup, all drinking beautifully. As a trio, they display the quality of Tim’s vineyard sourcing, the expressiveness of his winemaking, and the strength of the vintage.
Oh, and because we’ve long supported the winery and have committed to decent quantities of these wines, we have terrific pricing on all three.
Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.” [Note: Tanzer, as we well know, can be abstemious with points, but his tasting notes are always so good that I can’t help quoting him.]
Production was just 162 cases on this Syrah (with 15% Mourvedre and 8% Grenache in the mix), released at $25. The Syrah fruit comes from two Wahluke Slope Vineyards: Stonetree, up at the top of the slope, and Arianses, further south near Desert Aire. It spent 22 months in a mix of French and American oak, mostly neutral (17% new). The nose mixes smoky berries and plums and star anise. It’s a supple, easy-drinking Syrah texturally, with all components in fine balance. Tanzer calls it “stylish” and that’s spot on. This has class to spare at a $20 tag.
We have a terrific tariff on this wine, which was released at $35. Dineen is an outstanding Cabernet Vineyard, but we haven’t had many chances to offer Dineen Cabs over the years. I can think of Stevens XY Reserve, and that’s about it.
Tim pulls from Catherine’s Block, prime real estate in the vineyard. That block’s rows run over the crest of the Dineen hill, where the soil is extremely shallow and rocky, giving natural yields of tiny, concentrated berries. Perfect for Cabernet. The fruit was aged for 22 months in a mix of French and American oak, 25% new. Overall production: a mere 100 cases, and this clocks in at 14.0% listed alc. The nose is perfumed, fragrant, offering cherry blossoms and rose petals over a core of red plum and redcurrant fruit, with good soil-driven earth tones. The palate continues the theme, with lovely inner-mouth perfume and a seamless, perfectly-weighted texture. This has just enough sneaky back-end chew – the toothsome tannins redolent of green tea – to remind you that it’s Cabernet, and the mouthfeel overall speaks to polish and class, to excellent fruit sourcing, and to an experienced winemaker at the helm. This is a fine expression of a special piece of Yakima Valley terroir.
Seriously tiny production here (50 cases), with less than half of that remaining as available stock. I love this wine as a fascinating companion piece to the Full Pull & Friends Merlot we’ll offer from Klipsun Vineyard later in the month. If Klipsun is the king of Red Mountain, Ciel is the queen, always offering elegant graceful fruit, a counterpoint to Klipsun’s power. Tim ages that good Ciel fruit for 22 months in all French oak, 50% new. This clocks in at 14.1% listed alc and offers a nose of black cherry and blackberry fruit, kahlua, and minty top-notes. “Total adult Red Mountain Merlot” says my first note on the palate, and what I mean by that is that this has the kind of structure that belies Merlot’s wimpy reputation. The tannins are what many of us would associate with Cabernet, and they’re balanced by Merlot’s natural generosity and flesh and overall charming nature. Ciel Merlot is a rare bird indeed, and this is an evocative version from a great vintage.
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.