Hello friends. I’ve never had to wait so long to offer a wine in my wine-offering life! Because of that, today feels like a major milestone.
On October 15, 2014, we harvested Grenache grapes from the glorious Boushey Vineyard for our winery-within-Full Pull, Block Wines. Today, nearly two years later, I finally have the chance to write about this wine, the first red to be released under the Block Wines label:
I know some of you already know about this Grenache, because we’ve received a few e-mails from astute Seattle Met Magazine subscribers who saw the wine turn up in Sean Sullivan’s Top 100, in the October issue that literally hit newsstands and subscribers yesterday. That is some seriously fortuitous timing.
Here is the review. Seattle Met Magazine (Sean Sullivan): “[TEXT WITHHELD].” That review likely presages a strong review in a future issue of Wine Enthusiast, as well.
I think we all know by now that Mr. Sullivan is like one of those tough-but-fair high school geometry teachers, the kind whose praise carries extra weight because he doesn’t give it out easily. So yeah, this is a gratifying review. When Sean calls a wine “shockingly delicious,” that’s a very, very good sign.
Before I jump into the details on this specific wine, I should probably stop and explain Block Wines, the reason it exists, and how it differs from some of our other private label projects. Broadly, you can lump our private label efforts into three buckets: 1. NEGOCIANT. These are our Full Pull & Friends wines, where we’re offered barrels of finished wine from some of our better partner wineries, and we bottle those barrels under our own label. 2. POP-UP. These are similar to our negociant labels, but they’re generally a little more experimental, a little more out there for one reason or another. Our recent Temporal Tempranillo is one example, and we’ll have another example coming down the pike during anniversary week in early October.
3. HOUSE WINERY. Block Wines is essentially a house winery for Full Pull. In partnership with Morgan Lee (with the exception of our sparkling wine; that one is done with Christian Grieb), we’re stewarding these wines from grape harvest to bottle. And the plan is to have a consistent lineup. So for example, today we’re offering the ’14 Boushey Grenache, and we already have the ’15 in puncheons, and we’ll be harvesting the ’16 in another few weeks (that one will be going into our newly-purchased concrete egg!)
The goal with Block Wines is two-fold. First, to offer truly terroir-expressive wines: single varieties, from single blocks within single vineyards. And second, it allows us to lock in vineyard-variety combinations that – over many years of offering Washington wine – I know our list members love.
Boushey Vineyard Grenache is a terrific example. Dick Boushey is one of Washington’s true grape-farming treasures, and a pioneer of Rhone varieties in the state. I remember a conversation with Dick years back where I expressed enthusiasm for his Grenache, and he just sort of shook his head ruefully. I’m paraphrasing here, but my memory is that he said something like: that grape is a true pain in the ass to grow, finicky as can be. I’d pull it all out if the results weren’t so darned good.
While he’s certainly best known for Syrah, Dick’s Grenache (planted in 2003) has been quietly outstanding for years now. Back in 2011 and 2012 and 2013, we offered Jon Meuret’s fantastic 2009 and 2010 and 2011 “Le Midi,” a Grenache from Boushey Vineyard. I loved it. Our list members loved it. But that wine hasn’t been part of the Maison Bleue lineup for years now, and I know (from experience) that our list members love well-made Boushey Grenache. So why not go out and make it ourselves? That way we can lock it in, year-in and year-out, and we can control pricing.
My hope, then, is that our list members feel a sense of ownership of the Block Wines winery. It’s your feedback (both via anecdote and via purchasing decisions) that informs the decisions of what grapes we pursue, and the style of the resulting wines. In this case, we harvested pristine Grenache from Dick Boushey’s Golden Block in mid-October. We fermented with native yeasts, and left 30% as whole-cluster (stems and all). We pressed into one large French puncheon and one French barrel (both neutral), and aged for 18 months with a single racking before bottling in April 2016.
We poured this during our September open Saturday, and it showed beautifully (the label looks gorgeous too). What I’ve always loved about Boushey Vineyard for Grenache is similar to what I love about the site for Syrah: it plays on the wild, savory side of the grape. So yes, there is the Grenache trinity of brambly berry fruit and hot-rock minerality and wild herbs, but there are also wonderful subtleties of charcuterie and olive. And those subtleties only become more prominent with time and oxygen exposure, which makes me optimistic for the future of this beauty. Texturally, it is honest Grenache to be sure – plump, rich, openly delicious – and Morgan has also built an acid backbone to balance all that supple fruit. The overall package is a balanced pleasure, with charm and generosity to spare.
Farmer: Dick Boushey
Winemaker: Morgan Lee
Woodblock Design: Kelli Larsen
Label Production Design: Nick Peyton
Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.