Hello friends. Today we have the sophomore vintage of one of the most popular debutantes of 2015:
When we offered the 2013 Pundit (in early September 2015), I predicted that it would end up on Wine Spectator’s year-end Top 100, and sure enough, the crystal ball performed within its operating specs that day. A few months later the wine landed the #34 spot on the list. And proceeded to sell out instantly.
No review yet from Spectator for the 2014 (last year’s wasn’t officially published until the Oct 15 issue), but the single reviewer that has evaluated the wine has already given another strong review, matching Spectator’s 92 from a year ago:
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”
And then Sean Sullivan just published a brief review in his Wines of the Month feature for July in Washington Wine Report, presaging a strong review to come in Wine Enthusiast down the line. Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD].” [Note: and Sean is referring to the wine’s release price of $25; I wonder what he would think of our $19 TPU tag today.]
Tenet is a collaborative project between Bob Berthau (Chateau Ste Michelle’s lead winemaker) and two Rhone Valley partners: winemaker Michel Gassier and enologist Phillipe Cambie. It’s a little like the Long Shadows projects, and we know how well those have worked out. In this case, the three men share the belief (or tenet) that Washington can grow some of the finest Syrah in the world, and they’re setting out to prove their point.
Here’s their stated stylistic goal: The goal with these wines is to exhibit the growing regions by letting the opulence and vibrancy of the varieties shine through while maintaining finesse and balance. Rhône Valley techniques for managing vine canopy and cluster size in the vineyard, and minimal use of new oak, delicate and precise handling of the fruit, fermentation with stems and extended maceration in the winery all help to accomplish this goal.
Pretty much all the techniques mentioned in that paragraph are used for this 2014. Minimal use of new oak (12%, for 13 months); fermentation with stems (22% whole cluster); extended maceration (20%). Listed alc is 14.5%, which seems just right for the warm 2014 vintage. This pours into the glass inky black-purple, and aromas come roaring right back out: huckleberry and smoky charcoal and salty black olive. Rich and intense, this lights up every palate receptor and taste bud available with its sea salt-dusted berry goodness and slatey minerals, rolling into a long, rich, satisfying finish. As I tasted this, I thought to myself that these Rhone guys must be having so much fun with this project. A warm vintage in Washington is something completely different than they would ever see in the northern Rhone, and it allows them to craft this great conveyor of pleasure
What a glorious autumn braising wine this would be! Pour one bottle into the pot with your pot roast or short ribs or oxtails; pour another into your glass and the glasses of your appreciative friends and family. First come first served up to 60 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.