Full Pull Majestic

Hello friends. If I had to peg one category of Washington wine that will be considerably more important in ten years than it is today, it would be Grenache-dominant Rhone blends. Growers and winemakers seem to keep putting out better and better versions, and prices seem to keep decreasing. That’s a fine convergence of factors, and it is displayed perfectly by today’s wine:

2014 Kerloo Cellars Majestic
This is Ryan Crane’s fourth vintage of Majestic. To my palate, it’s also his most successful to date. And whereas the first three vintages all retailed at $26, this 2014 comes in at a significantly lower price. This kind of pricing is important on the restaurant side, where it is now priced low enough to show up as a $14 or $15 glass-pour, and on the retail side as well. $20 can be a real magic number in wine retail, and I suspect many of you who put a hard ceiling of $20 on your wine purchases will be sampling Majestic for the first time.

Expect to be dazzled. This comes screaming up out of the glass with savory goodies: bacon fat and olive brine, smoky earth and seaweed. Yes, there’s marionberry fruit, but you barely notice it amidst all the umami tones. A series of floral topnotes puts the finishing touch on a complex, deeply attractive nose. And the palate continues the theme, with loads of savory funky meaty tones and sanguine minerality balanced by the plump, delicious fruit of a warm vintage. It’s outrageously good for its price, one of my favorite bottlings of 2016 to date.

This is also one where I tasted first, loved it, and only afterwards learned the vineyard sourcing. Once I learned the sites involved, the quality started to make a lot of sense. This is 54% Upland Vineyard Grenache (arguably the best site in the state for Grenache), 38% Boushey Mourvedre, and 8% Blue Mountain Syrah; top-tier sites all. Ryan used 20% whole clusters, aged this entirely in neutral barrels, and the result is a deeply charming bottle of wine.

Production is not huge here (312 cases), but we’re getting in just after release. I didn’t want to waste any time, because this would be an outstanding wedding or party wine. Let’s open it up: first come first served up to 120 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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