Full Pull Mill Creek

Hello friends. We have a pair of wines today from one of the most fervently-loved wineries we work with: Tulpen Cellars. Our first Tulpen offer was in May 2010, and we’ve offered just about every Tulpen bottle produced since. It’s one of Full Pull’s relationships I’m most proud of: a great winery with some of the best dollar-for-dollar wines in the Walla Walla Valley and genuine, generous folks at the helm. I’m pretty sure we’re the only source for these wines west of the mountains. Hell, we might be the only source for these wines outside of Kenny Hart’s back door.

Kenny Hart is one of the premier growers in the Walla Walla Valley (you may recall that he began Tulpen as a way to make his growing – which is his main gig – even better), and so it should come as no surprise that he’s among the vanguard of “dryland” (non-irrigated) farming. His focus is on the Mill Creek drainage, the area in the eastern part of the Walla Walla Valley where Mill Creek Road passes Abeja and continues climbing up into the foothills of the Blue Mountains. As the drainage gains elevation, the Blues start to wring moisture out of the atmosphere, so you also gain annual precipitation: just enough to support viticulture without added water. The progress of these dryland-farmed sites is fascinating, and there’s no better place to witness their development than through Tulpen:

2012 Tulpen Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Dryland
This is the third vintage of one of the most exciting Cabernet projects happening in Washington right now. It heavily features Tokar Vineyard Cabernet (80% of the blend), a tiny site planted in 2000, making it one of the oldest vineyards in this part of the Walla Walla Valley. The remaining 20% is Yellow Bird Vineyard, a 2007-planted site we’ll dig into below. Production is miniscule: just 125 cases.

This clocks in at 14.8% listed alc and offers what I’ve come to see as its signature notes of dust and smoked paprika. There’s a smoky/spicy earthiness to the nose that is really distinctive, attractive, and expressive of Mill Creek drainage terroir. For me it screams high-end Napa more than typical Washington. Redcurrant fruit and lovely cedar notes round out the complex, alluring nose, and the palate doesn’t disappoint. This is exquisite, precise, unique Cabernet to be sure. The balance of earth and fruit notes is outstanding; so too the balance of flesh and structure. That structure comes in the form of both juicy acidity and dusty fine-grained tannins, beautiful scaffolding to hold delicious Cabernet fruit. Lovers of Walla Walla Valley Cabernet should pay close attention here. This is a singular version, entirely different from old-guard sites like Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills, and worthy of exploration.

2012 Tulpen Cellars Cuvee Papa-Chan Yellow Bird Vineyard
This is Kenny’s wine dedicated to Yellow Bird Vineyard owners Greg and Darlene Chan (some of you know may know Greg and Darlene’s son Christopher, formerly of the Rainier Club, now heading up Coral Wines). Yellow Bird was planted in 2007, even further east, and even higher elevation, than Tokar. The Bird sits at 1450 feet on deep loam soils, and it gets 20 inches average rainfall each year. 2012 is the inaugural vintage for this Rhone-styled wine, which blends 53% Grenache with a coferment of 42% Syrah and 5% Viognier.

Listed alc is 14.1%, and this immediately conveys a sense of high-mountain sauvage that’s difficult to convey with the written word. There’s something brambly and briary here, a sense of wildness to the notes of raspberry and orange blossom and silty mineral. This hits the Grenache trinity of berry, garrigue, and stone, and it is texturally brilliant, so supple and pillowy and easy to drink. With time and air, the minerality moved even more to the fore, the fruit and herbs receding. This is a wine with a stubborn heart of stone, and a salty/savory finish that just goes on and on. What a fine debut!

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), 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.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: