Full Pull No Black Swans

Hello friends. I’ve come to believe, over many years of wine tasting, that there are no black swans. No inexplicably excellent wines. Every excellent wine is excellent for a reason. Better yet, a number of reasons. Or better still, a number of perils avoided.

Winemaking is a Houdini escape act, with danger around every corner, and when someone pulls it off successfully, you can only give them the slow clap they deserve.

How this applies to my tasting for Full Pull: when I taste a wine that seems inexplicably outstanding, the job becomes clear. Research until I understand why the wine is as good as it is.

2013 Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon Washington State

To wit, today’s wine. I recently had a chance to sample Kiona’s Washington State Cab, and the scribbles in my notebook show baffled pleasure: “why is this wine $??!?!?”; “legit Red Mtn power; how much of this is estate juice?”; “black black black: blackcurrant and black plum and black olive; dark chocolate and loads of earthy soil”; “expensive oak swaddling?”; “real richness and power and generosity”; “serious toothsome finishing chew, fine dusty tannins – what the hell is going on here??!?”

So yeah, I was surprised in a majorly positive way. Not because it was Kiona of course; we’ve offered many a wonderful Kiona wine previously. Two main reasons: first, because you expect certain things of certain varieties at certain price points, and this exceeded just about every axis of evaluation. And second, because they labeled this Washington State, which made me assume it was a pan-Washington mix of some house-vinified fruit and a bunch of cheap bulk wine.

That assumption was wildly incorrect, as I discovered when I dug into the research for this wine. I can guess at Kiona’s reasons for labeling this Washington State (perhaps wanting to keep options open for future vintages, perhaps for ease of selling out of state), but the fact is, this is 100% Red Mountain fruit, and it’s 87% estate (split between 53% Kiona Estate and 34% Kiona Heart of the Hill). It saw some luxe treatment, too: an 80/20 split of French and American oak, 60% new, the remainder once-filled.

So let’s think about this. We’re essentially looking at estate-grown, estate-bottled, carefully-coddled Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, from folks who have been growing grapes and making wine on this mountain about as long as anyone. That the result is an outrageously good sub-$20 Cab no longer seems so shocking. The price itself remains a little shocking to me (release price was $25 – still too low for the quality – and our price is about as good as I can see nationally), but every winery has its reasons, and I’m sure as hell not going to recommend that anyone make the wines we offer *more* expensive! Instead I’ll just stop and say thanks to JJ and the whole Kiona gang for this little beauty.

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.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: