Full Pull Andrew Will 2012s: Last Call

November 4, 2016

Hello friends. Our friends at Andrew Will are coming down to the end of their supply of the epic 2012 vintage, and they’ve offered us a last-call opportunity, perfectly timed for holiday drinking or gift-giving:

2012 Andrew Will Two Blondes Vineyard

I’ve always been especially fond of Andrew Will’s Two Blondes bottling. It’s the only estate fruit in the portfolio, from a 30-acre Yakima Valley site planted in 2000 and tended carefully by vineyard manager Chris Hoon. Here is the vineyard map, and much of this wine comes from the Angle Block. Two Blondes has this aromatic signature, which the San Francisco Chronicle writer Jon Bonne has called “sanguine and pimenton” and which for me is this alluring musky sweet chile pepper note. Just lovely.

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

2012 Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard

While the Sorella bottling (also from Champoux, from slightly older vines) is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, this Champoux bottling is predominantly Cabernet Franc (64%) and Merlot (22%), a lovely right bank ringer.

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

Wine & Spirits (Patrick Comiskey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

2012 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Vineyard

Originally offered March 13, 2016. Excerpts from the original: Chris Camarda has been working with Ciel fruit since the early 1990s, and the length of the relationship is important in two ways. First, Chris has developed a comfort level with the vineyard; comfort that allows him to produce a Ciel bottling each year that is the truest expression possible of this Grand Cru Red Mountain site. And second, he gets the good stuff: some of the oldest vines in the vineyard; Cabernet Sauvignon from the 1982 block and Merlot from the 1976 block.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”

2012 Andrew Will Sorella

Originally offered March 13, 2016. I’ll excerpt from the original, and then I’ll also include a strong new review from Wine & Spirits:

Sorella, as it always does, comes only from the oldest sections of Champoux Vineyard, and the average vine age is 33 years, ancient by Washington standards. The elevage is the same as the Ciel: 35% new French oak for a year and a half. The blend, however, differs: this is much more Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant, at 67% of the blend. Jeb’s review plots out a drinking window three decades long, and I doubt that’s an exaggeration. This winemaker, this fruit, this vintage: it all adds up to a wine likely to evolve glacially, and beautifully.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”

Wine & Spirits (Patrick Comiskey): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”

Please limit order requests to 48 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.


Full Pull Tranche

November 4, 2016

Hello friends. Originally intended as a sister winery to Corliss Estates that would focus on white wines, Tranche Cellars has since evolved into a compelling exploration of the Corliss family of estate vineyards (and some carefully chosen purchased fruit) through the prisms of a number of different varieties.  It also seems like a place where winemaker Andrew Trio is allowed to riff a little, to be a little more experimental. If Corliss is the straight-laced older sibling (three wines released each year, like clockwork), Tranche is the exuberant youngster, and a precocious kid at that.

While there is overlap in the ownership of the two wineries, they are indeed separate entities, with separate winemaking facilities. One aspect the two wineries share is a determination to release their wines after a considerable amount of barrel and bottle age. To wit, both reds today come from the 2011 vintage (this would be a library release for some wineries!), and the white (a reoffer) comes from 2012.

Tranche also has some terrific holiday pricing in place for those of us willing to go deep on volume. You’ll see that special pricing reflected in our TPU tags:

2012 Tranche Chardonnay Celilo Vineyard

Originally offered January 24, 2016. Excerpts from the original: One of the truly wonderful aspects of the Corliss/Tranche family of wineries is their willingness to hold their wines before release. I mean, who else is currently releasing 2012 whites? Chardonnay especially tends to benefit from a few years of bottle age. It’s why people get obsessed with collecting old white burgundies.

This one was raised in a combination of new and neutral French oak, as well as concrete, for 18 months, and it has now seen nearly another two years in bottle. It clocks in at 13.8% listed alc and begins with a nose of peach and mango fruit, lactic crème fraiche notes, and nutty/spicy maturing oak. In the mouth, the texture is outstanding, a wonderful balance of plush fruit and bright lemony acid. Intensity is the watchword here; you can practically hear the electricity buzzing as this hums across the palate. What a fantastic expression of Celilo! I think this vineyard has landed in very good hands.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”

2011 Tranche Cabernet Franc Estate

The estate Blue Mountain Vineyard has become the core vineyard for the Tranche label. BMV sits next to Leonetti’s Loess Vineyard, in the deep silt-loam of the eastern Walla Walla Valley. Those of you with long memories might recall that this used to be Neuffer Estate Vineyard when Nicholas Cole Cellars was still alive and kicking. The vineyard was subsequently sold to Tranche and renamed Blue Mountain Vineyard, an apt name. The site sits on a bluff at the exact spot where the Blue Mountains run into the city of Walla Walla. I’ve walked this vineyard, and the view is great, looking west across the greater part of WW. The wines coming off this site have also been spectacular. It was always a terrific source for Nicholas Cole’s Cabernet-heavy wines, and that has only continued at Tranche.

We’ve sold three previous vintages of this Franc, and that’s no mistake; the site is developing a terrific track record with this variety. It clocks in at 14.2% listed alc and offers a mix of peppery mole poblano and black fruit and wild green notes of cress. The 2011 vintage is on fine display here, with its energy and vitality; its lovely acidity and inner mouth perfume. Here’s what Tanzer had to say, and as usual with this points-reticent reviewer, I’d encourage focusing on the tasting note:

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD. 91+?pts.”

2011 Tranche Cabernet Sauvignon Estate

Cabernets from the successive cool vintages in Washington (2010, 2011) are really beginning to unfurl into something beautiful these days, and I find them especially appealing because after those two cool years, we’ve then had five vintages in a row warmer than historical average.

Blue Mountain Vineyard produced outstanding Cabernet. It did back in the Nicholas Cole days; it does now. What I love about the site is that it allows for four-corners Cab: fruit (black plum, cassis), earth (good clean soil), savory/herbal (eucalyptus, beetroot), and oak (espresso). A vintage like this makes for a beautifully structured Cabernet, too. The cool year provides plenty of brisk acid; the site and the grape provide beautiful burly tannin, redolent of black tea and perfectly chewy. This drinks like a wine at the start of a lovely window; one with years of fascinating evolution left in the tank.

No reviews yet for this one, but previous vintages have done well with a number of reviewers, including 92+? From Tanzer and 94pts from Paul Gregutt.

Please limit order requests to 36 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.


Full Pull Best of Both Worlds

November 4, 2016

Hello friends. Last year about this time, we wrote about the wines of Walter Scott. Here’s what I said in the intro: Despite our neighborly status, Washington has a not-uncomplicated relationship with Oregon wines. Many of the better Oregon Pinot producers send just a tiny amount over the border into Washington, and those wines can be extremely difficult to source, with allocations based on long-time historical relationships.

I used Cameron as an example: a terrific producer, one that I love and would love to write about more, but one whose Seattle allocation generally gets gobbled up by their long-term retail relationships. And then I explained that I see my current role with Oregon as trying to identify the *next* crop of outstanding Oregon producers, and to get in on the ground floor. A great example, I said – a name that comes up again and again in conversations about outstanding young producers – is Walter Scott.

Well this year, we get the best of both worlds, all in one offer. Thanks to the efforts of one of Cameron’s dedicated Seattle representatives (thank you Jen!), and to winemaker John Paul’s generosity, we have access to a precious, tiny little parcel of Clos Electrique.

Not quite enough for its own offer, but perfect to roll together with new Walter Scott releases. Today we get to have our cake and eat it too: excellent old-school Oregon and excellent new-school Oregon.

2014 Cameron Pinot Noir Clos Electrique

When we’ve offered Cameron Pinot previously (and it has only been a handful of times, most recently in December 2014), we’ve offered Abbey Ridge and Arley’s Leap and Dundee Hills. Never their estate vineyard, Clos Electrique, until today.

When writing about Cameron, I always like to point to this 12-minute video chronicling the 2012 vintage at Cameron, from January through harvest. That paints a picture of Cameron far more detailed than my words can, but I’ll try anyway: Founded in 1984 by marine-biologist-turned-winemaker John Paul, who worked stints in New Zealand, California, and Oregon before launching Cameron, the winery is totally focused on sustainable dry-land farming. They produce Pinot Noirs frequently confused with Burgundy when served blind, and they’ve developed a culty reputation, such that most of the small production never makes it out of Oregon.

Here are some excerpts of how John Paul describes the vineyard: The estate vineyard at Cameron Winery consists of approximately 3 acres of Pinot noir, 2 acres of Chardonnay, 0.5 acre of Italian white grape varieties and 1 acre of Nebbiolo. Each block of vines is planted to multiple clones. This technique increases the complexity of the resulting wines as well as giving the vineyard great resilience in the face of various of climatic and biological impediments. The original Pinot noir clones were planted on their own roots in 1984 and over the years, we have added new vines grafted onto American root stock.  Most of the Chardonnay clones were planted in 1987 with the addition of some Pinot blanc more recently in an attempt to more truly emulate a classic Burgundian white vineyard.

Clos Electrique is farmed organically which means that we use elemental sulfur during the growing season to prevent growth of powdery mildew and use copper hydroxide and leaf removal in the vicinity of grape clusters to inhibit botrytis. Insect pests are generally kept in check by cultivation of predatory insects with integrated cover crops. This is one of the warmer vineyard sites in the Red Hills of Dundee and usually is harvested during the second half of September. Yields of the “rouge” average 1.5 tons per acre. Our vineyard was the very first certified Salmon-Safe vineyard in Oregon, which reflects our long term commitment to riparian protection, water management and conservation of native biodiversity.

The available parcel size isn’t large enough to support a sample, but I can say, based on previous vintages, to expect a wine with ethereal aromatics, flavors that run the gamut from red fruit to savory mineral and underbrush tones, and a texture that offers palate-staining character and impressive sap at a moderate weight. Cameron Pinots are must-try wines for Oregon lovers, and I feel fortunate that we’re able to offer this special bottle today.

2015 Walter Scott Pinot Noir La Combe Verte

Walter Scott is the winery of husband and wife team Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon, and they’re as buzzy as a winery gets in Oregon right now. Ken and Erica have tons of industry experience, he on the winemaking/sales side (stints at St. Innocent, Patty Green, Evening Land), she on the restaurant/somm side. The winery began in 2009, but it’s only in the past few years that the wines have escaped the clutches of the winery mailing list and the state of Oregon, and they still turn up more frequently in restaurants than at retail. A lot of the early buzz came from positive press from exacting publications like Tanzer’s IWC and Burghound. Then the excellent wine writer Neal Martin arrived in 2015 to write about Oregon for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, and the buzz turned into a roar, thanks to these (excerpted) notes:

[TEXT WITHHELD]

In my communications with Ken and Erica, one of my favorite quotes comes from Erica: “Becky Wasserman was once quoted in spectator saying that you can always tell a great domain by their Bourgogne.  These are words we LIVE by.  We put the same care and attention to detail in these two wines as our single vineyard selections.  It is our reputation and our life.”

Hell. Yes. Erica is quoting the great Burgundy importer Becky Wasserman, who was saying that a great Burg domain can (should) be judged by their entry-level Bourgogne Rouge. The equivalent in Oregon is a Willamette Valley Pinot, and Erica is intimating that she and Ken are comfortable being judged on the merits of their WV Pinot (now called La Combe Verte). Perhaps especially so in vintages like 2014 and 2015, which allowed for both high yields and high quality.

This Pinot comes from five excellent vineyards: Eola Springs, Vojtilla, Freedom Hill, Temperance Hill, and Sojouner. Average vine age is 25 years; that’s pretty damned old by northwest standards, and especially for Pinot at this price point. All that good fruit was native-yeast fermented, and then aged in 30% new French oak for about a year. It clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and offers an attractive nose: black cherry and figgy fruit married to earthy notes of peat moss and pine resin. In the mouth, this is balanced and achingly pure, with a pinpoint mix of fruit and mineral tones. It’s honest, nakedly expressive Pinot, with loads of depth and complexity at a mid-$20s tag. Density without excess weight is a neat trick in Oregon Pinot, a trick Ken and Erica pull off here.

2015 Walter Scott Chardonnay La Combe Verte

And a bonus Chardonnay to boot, even rarer than the Pinot. Here’s Erica: We ferment with ambient yeast, in barrel (mostly puncheon) and stir the lees as little as possible, only to stir them into suspension to assist them with fermentation. Once finished they are not stirred again. Malolactic is 100%, surprising given the acidity of the finished wine. The wine aged in barrel for 10 months, then blended and bottled. There is roughly 25% new oak on this wine.

Listed alc is 13.0%, and this begins with a piercing nose of lemon oil, crème fraiche, nectarine, and chalky mineral. You notice the palate-coating intensity right away. This is fresh, bright, insistently nervy. The acidity really pops here, carrying waves of citric-mineral goodness across the palate. The lemon-drop finish invites another sip, or, better yet, another bite of your crab bisque.

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of Cameron and 12 bottles each of the Walter Scott wines, 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.


Full Pull Wine of Substance

November 4, 2016

Hello friends. Last week’s announcement that Constellation Brands has agreed to purchase the “core five” Charles Smith Wines (Kung Fu Girl, Eve, Boom Boom, Velvet Devil, Chateau Smith) has sent shockwaves through our local trade. The sale price – $120 million – is simply staggering, and has to be seen as a vote of confidence in Washington’s winemaking future.

Of course, those core five wines are not the only value plays Charles has up his sleeve. He recently purchased Wines of Substance, a clever brand based on the periodic table of elements that had hit a rough patch. He and Brennon Leighton have set about to rehab the label, and the flagship wine is “Cs” Cabernet Sauvignon. They relaunched Wines of Substance with the 2013 vintage of Cs, and after it received matching 90pt reviews from Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate, the wine disappeared. Now the sophomore vintage has arrived, with an even better review attached:

2014 Wines of Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “($17); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

This is indeed 100% Cab, and the backbone comes from Goose Ridge Vineyard. Here is how Charles’ team describes the site: With a first harvest in 1999, Goose Ridge’s 2,200 acre vineyard receives less than 8 inches of rainfall annually. It is a gently sloped, south-facing site adjacent to Red Mountain. Long, warm summer days and cool nights produce grapes noted for their ripe, rich character. South to North row orientation for maximum solar exposure, drip irrigation, managed crop loads, and canopy adjustments consistently yield fruit of exceptional character and complexity.

This really gets the luxury treatment too, especially for the price point: all native yeast fermented, 42 days on skins, 50% new French oak for a year. It clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and begins with a nose of blueberry and blackberry fruit and a lovely thread of pencil-lead minerality. The palate possesses this wonderful sense of leafiness, an excellent counterpoint to the rich Cabernet fruit. Medium-grained, green-tea-flavored tannins define an attractively rustic finish, and the overall package offers charm and personality to spare.

This would be a great winter house wine or party/wedding wine, so let’s open it up: first come first served up to 120 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.


Full Pull Long Shadows

November 4, 2016

Hello friends. Long Shadows continues to be on fire, ripping through vintages and selling out immediately upon release. So hot, in fact, that they’ve basically moved entirely to a pre-sell model for the Seattle market. Here’s an excerpt of the e-mail I just received from Long Shadows’ Seattle representatives:

It’s been a long time coming (slightly more than a year, to be exact), but the release of the three most popular Long Shadows wines is upon us! Pirouette, Pedestal, and Feather are about to arrive!
 
Created by Augustin Huneeus and Philippe Melka, Pirouette is the quintessential Bordeaux blend. While the lead varietal is Cabernet Sauvignon, there are elements of Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc to complete the equation. The smallest production of the three wines, Pirouette will continue to evolve and grow in the cellar for 15 or more years. Pedestal, the creation of legendary winemaker Michel Rolland, is a sterling example of the varietal that put Washington on the map, Merlot. Consistently the highest scoring of all Long Shadows wines, Pedestal has the gravitas to transform even the most dyed-in-wool Cabernet drinker over to the Right Bank. Finally, the single most requested wine from the Long Shadows portfolio, Feather, is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain icon Randy Dunn. An ethereal expression of Cabernet, it features intense dark fruit with silky tannins and a beautifully polished finish.
 
Production on these wines continues to be well below demand. Therefore, we are asking for your MAXIMUM REQUEST of each wine so that we can allocate accordingly. Please submit these requests no later than Friday, October 28. The wines themselves will arrive the first week of November and will ship immediately upon arrival.

That is a quick deadline for allocation requests, and that explains why we’re turning around this offer as quickly as possible. I won’t be able to provide any tasting notes for these wines, but at this point, the pedigree and year-after-year consistency of the project speaks for itself. Please submit all order requests no later than end-of-day on Thursday, October 27, so that we can send our overall request on Friday.

2014 Long Shadows Pirouette
A Bordeaux blend made in conjunction with Californians Philippe Melka and Agustin Huneeus, in 2014 it is 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petit Verdot, 17% Merlot, and 7% Cabernet Franc. The Cab comes predominantly from Red Mountain; the Merlot and Franc from Weinbau; the PV from Dionysus. It was aged for two years in 75% new French oak. No reviews yet, but this one has consistently strong press over the years (including a show-stopping 98pt review from Paul Gregutt in Wine Enthusiast for the 2008 vintage).

2014 Long Shadows Pedestal

Pedestal is Long Shadows’ Merlot-dominant wine, made in conjunction with Bordeaux-based Michel Rolland, who is probably the most famous consulting winemaker in the world. The 2014 is 81% Merlot (from Conner Lee, Candy Mountain, Weinbau, and Dionysus), the remainder 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from Tapteil on Red Mountain, as well as small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot. It spent two years in 85% new French oak. No reviews yet, but to give you a sense of the consistent excellence, this has received 94pt reviews from Wine Advocate (Pierre Rovani, then Jay Miller, then Jeb Dunnuck) in eight of eleven vintages from 2003 to 2013, as well as a 95pt review from Dunnuck for the 2012.

2014 Long Shadows Feather

The outstanding Randy Dunn of Dunn Vineyards (Howell Mountain, Napa Valley) makes this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon for Long Shadows. It comes from The Benches at Wallula (Horse Heaven Hills), old-block Dionysus, and Pepper Bridge in the Walla Walla Valley. The 2014 was aged for two years in 90% new French oak, the same Vicard barrels Randy uses for Dunn Vineyards. This one has received fabulous reviews over the years from a broad range of critics. Paul Gregutt, Stephen Tanzer, Jeb Dunnuck (including a 95pt review for the 2012); all have heaped praise on Feather.

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in early November, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.