Hello friends. One of the most exciting additions to the Washington wine scene in the past few years has been Michael Savage’s Savage Grace Wines. The buzz around this winery (already substantial) reached new levels this summer when Savage Grace was named Best Emerging Winery by Seattle Magazine.
As many of you know, I do the wine writing for the Mag (as well as serving on the nominating committee for the annual wine awards), and here is what I wrote about Savage Grace:
At the risk of self-indulgence, I’m going to quote myself a second time, here writing in May as part of our offer for Brian McCormick’s Memaloose wines:[TEXT WITHHELD].
That Memaloose offer ended up being a surprise hit, and as I’ve listened to feedback throughout this year, I’m actually starting to believe that Brian and Michael are ahead of the curve. I get the sense that the direction a lot of palates are moving towards is one that favors lower alcohol, lower oak influence, fresher fruit. Something tells me that in five years, the list of Washington wineries emphasizing this style will be greater than two.
But for now, Michael is really pushing the envelope stylistically, and I’m happy to support what he’s doing. Because he’s such a Loire freak, I thought it would be fun today to offer his trio of Loire varieties: one white and two red.
Here’s Michael: Although Red Willow vineyard is mostly known for its red grapes of distinction, grower Mike Sauer has also been carefully cultivating a few white varieties in other areas of his vineyard, like this Sauvignon Blanc. In this case, he planted a couple rows with a “field-blend” of several Sauvignon Blanc clones not normally grown in Washington – such as the Sauvignon Musque clone from France’s Loire Valley. This version has some of the qualities I enjoy from wines of that region – refreshing acidity, clean citrus and mineral flavors, food-friendly – and at the same time has qualities unique to these Red Willow vineyard rows.
It’s amazing that Michael was able to produce this style of wine in this (hotter than hot) vintage. The harvest date gives you some indication of the challenge: August 20, which I believe is the earliest harvest date I have ever written in an offer for a Washington still wine. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, this was bottled after 7 months to emphasize freshness of fruit. It clocks in at 13% listed alc and offers an honest Sauvignon Blanc nose of citrus fruit (lime, grapefruit) complicated by honeysuckle florals and grapefruit-pith bitters. The palate beautifully balances the flesh of the warm vintage with a bright spine of citrusy acidity and minerality. This is the most limited of the three wines; apologies in advance if we have to under-allocate here.
Michael’s notes: This bright and light-bodied red wine was made from 100% Malbec grapes. It is reminiscent of some of the Malbec-based wines I’ve tasted from the cool-climate Loire Valley, where the grape is called Côt (pronounced ‘Coh’). Food-friendly and almost Pinot Noir-like. It shows aromas of red berries and spice. A truly unique spin on Malbec.
From Dineen Vineyard, high up in the Rattlesnake Hills of the Yakima Valley (elevation 1100’) comes this unique, juicy, low-alc (12%) version of Malbec. We offered a Loire Cot once (Pepiere’s version, way back in 2012), and the folks that liked it *really* liked it. This is very reminiscent of that wine, with its pure aromatics of crunchy berry fruit and berry skin. I love the ferrous mineral subtleties here as well. This is sneaky-complex, and texturally, it’s just as fresh and lovely as can be, with none of the blueberry pie issues that tend to plague over-ripe Washington Malbec. Aching purity. Real energy. A singular Washington Malbec.
Folks who dug Brian McCormick’s Memaloose Cab Franc from the Gorge should absolutely check out a bottle or two of this. The price points and stylistic goals are really similar, but the sourcing is quite different. Michael’s Franc comes from Copeland Vineyard, farmed by the Rawn brothers, part of a third-generation Yakima Valley farming valley doing remarkable work in this high-elevation part of the valley.
The Cab Franc sits at 1300’ elevation, and Michael harvested it on September 3; again, really early. That’s how you end up with 12.5% alc in a warm vintage. The wine opens with a nose full of green and earthy savory elements – arugula, watercress, beet – to go with a core of violet-inflected raspberry fruit. The palate continues the theme: it’s lithe and vibrant, nervy and lifted, full of evocative inner-mouth perfume. It’s a marvel of grace and intensity, all on a seemingly weightless frame, and it’s an easy pleasure to drink.
Michael’s notes: This was made in the style of some of my favorite red wines from the Loire Valley (Chinon) and Beaujolais Cru regions of France. The Cabernet Franc grapes from this particular vineyard have a wonderful red fruit character which the whole-berry fermentation and low-oak footprint help preserve, yet with a softer tannic structure than is typical of this grape. Together, these make it perfect for this style of early release, food-friendly red wine that will pair with a large variety of foods, as well as a great holiday dinner wine
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.