Full Pull Willow

Hello friends. Today we celebrate the belated one-year anniversary of our supple, complex 2013 Full Pull & Friends Merlot from Red Willow Vineyard. We were not able to source this juice in 2014 nor in 2015, so it will be years before we see another vintage. If ever.

2013 Full Pull & Friends Merlot Red Willow Vineyard (FPF-15)

Originally offered in October 2015. Excerpts from the original:

Washington often does Merlot right. You could argue that no region in the United States, and maybe even in the entire new world, grows better Merlot than certain pockets of the Columbia Valley. I’ve been fortunate enough to taste a lot of Washington Merlot over the years, and the bottles that have been especially profound are the older ones. Late ‘90s Merlots from Seven Hills, from Andrew Will, from Woodward Canyon: breathtaking. And so our not-entirely-economically-rational quest continues: to serve as Washington Merlot’s hype man until the winds of fashion again blow in this particular direction.

Mike Sauer planted his first vines at Red Willow in 1973, and for many years, his vineyard was deeply tied to the fate of Columbia Winery, and especially its talented winemaker, the late David Lake MW. This particular Merlot block was planted in 1991. According to our partner winemaker: Mike Sauer says it was always David Lake’s favorite block and is one of the first things to be picked at the vineyard every year. It has a gentle south to southeast slope to get the morning sun (and a little less of that late afternoon heat blast). Soil is the typical nutrient poor silty loam with good drainage.

Our winery partner here is outstanding, with a wonderful, skilled winemaker at the helm, and our shared goal with this bottling is the expression of Red Willow terroir through the prism of Merlot. This spent just shy of two years in French oak, 50% new, and it clocks in at 14.9% listed alc. One funny note: after writing my own tasting notes on this one, I asked our partner winemaker what he likes about Red Willow Merlot. He specifically mentioned “the savory complexity of the old vines at Red Willow,” and then I looked down to my note, which begins with “real sense of savory character.”

I think we are both so delighted because savory complexity is not necessarily associated with Merlot. Red-fruited fleshiness is, and that’s here too, but it’s so much lovelier as a supporting actor than it is playing the lead role. For me, the savory character is a mix between roasting meat (almost like demi-glace) and smoky peat. Mix that with strawberry and brambly raspberry and cocoa powder, top it off with cherry-blossom florals, and you have a glorious, complex Merlot nose. This winemaker is a master of texture, and that’s on fine display here. This is palate-staining Merlot, seamless and charming. It doesn’t have the Klipsun bottling’s brawny tannins; instead the tannins are present and polished, supple and delicious. This is for certain another Merlot to put in the cellar and watch unfurl into its truest beauty, but in the meantime, it’s plenty generous if you’re in an immediate-gratification state of mind.

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.

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