Hello friends. Finally! This has been a tough wait for those of us who have come to love Kevin White’s wines. Kevin has traditionally released these in May, but this year decided to delay until an autumn release for a simple reason: the wines show better with a few more months in bottle. Which I totally respect, but still, there’s a part of me that all spring and summer wanted to respond the same way Homer Simpson did when told that Moe’s new deep fryer could flash fry an entire buffalo in forty seconds: “But I want it now!”
Well, the wait is over, and the buzz continues to build for Mr. White and his young winery. After being named Winemaker to Watch in Seattle Mag’s 2015 wine awards, he followed that up by winning a blind-tasting category in the 2016 awards (his 2013 La Fraternite took home the Red Blend, $20-$40 prize).
This is still only commercial release number five for Kevin, and I’m pretty sure we’ve offered every single wine he has ever released commercially. His pricing is ridiculous. These wines compete with bottles at twice the tag. Kevin seems determined to offer exceptional value as he builds his brand, and I’m really pleased that our list members can continue to be the recipients of his efforts in that direction.
Logistics-wise, we’re likely to only get one shot at these. They’re small production, and I’m already getting pressure to place our order and release any leftovers to the gathering hordes. If possible, I’ll over-buy so that we have some availability for reorder, but I’d say the odds of that are less than 50/50. The reason we get competitive allocations of these scarce wines at all is that Kevin himself was a long-time Full Pull list member. I remember talking about his potential winery project as far back as 2010, and it has been such a thrill to see Kevin’s winery thrive.
The backbone here is Upland Vineyard Grenache (60%), a site with a proven track record of producing some of the best Grenache in the state. The remainder is Mourvedre (32%) and Syrah (8%) from Boushey and Sugarloaf Vineyards. Aged in neutral French oak for 10 months, this clocks in at 14.8% listed alc and begins with an expressive, evocative nose: strawberry fruit, a full field’s worth of wildflowers and wild herbs, and lovely mineral tones. Those few extra months in bottle have really pumped up the aromatics here. The palate is supple, charming, and precisely balanced, so pillowy and seamless that it tends to belie the inherent complexity here. There is real inner-mouth perfume here, and this easily notches all three marks in the Grenache trinity: berry and rock and garrigue. The long, satisfying finish is awash in fine-grained dusty tannins. This remains one of the best values in Grenache-dominant blends coming out of Washington; hell, one of the best values coming out of Washington period.
For the second year running, En Hommage is 100% Syrah and says so on the label. It comes from the same vineyards as the 2013 as well: a 2000-planted block at Olsen, and 2002- and 2005-planted blocks at Elephant Mountain. Kevin used 20% whole clusters for this 2014 vintage and aged it in French oak (20% new) for 10 months. It clocks in at 14.1% and offers a wonderfully dark Syrah profile: tar and charcoal, black olive and huckleberry, smoky bacon fat. This is glorious Yakima Valley Syrah. The mix of dark fruit tones and briny/meaty savories continues on the palate, but there all that darkness is lifted and structured by a glowing spine of citrusy acid. There’s more density and complexity than we have any right to expect at a price tag in the $20s. This is a great bringer of pleasure, destroyer of worlds.
This is only the second time Kevin has released this wine outside the winery. I’ll try to keep the verbiage to a minimum, because there’s very little of it to go around. Kevin produced 97 cases of this (“a collection from 4 of our best barrels in the winery”), and only a quarter of that makes its way to Seattle. We get the majority of that quarter, but that’s barely enough to sate the hunger of our K-White-loving list. This year the blend is 50/38/12 Grenache/Mourvedre/Syrah, with a lot of Boushey Vineyard fruit in the mix (also Upland and Sugarloaf). The Grenache contributes wonderful brambly raspberry fruit, and the Mourvedre really shines through aromatically, with wild plum and wild game and leather-spice notes galore. The palate is super-intense, rich (14.4% listed alc), with Mourvedre clearly in the lead role, Grenache and Syrah as supporting actors. This is the darkest, chewiest, most toothsome of the lineup. The least immediately approachable, with the highest medium- to long-term upside. Oh, and the saltiest. I loved the saline finish of this, which made me want to pair it with crumbly cheeses and well-seasoned grilled meats.
Please limit order requests to 18 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.