Full Pull Leonetti

February 28, 2017

Hello friends. Today we have one of our annual Full Pull rites: our offering of Leonetti’s new releases. Deep in the stubborn gloom of early March, it’s a bud pushing through cold earth: a clear indication that spring is on the ascendancy.

It’s one of my favorite offerings to write each year. After all, it isn’t every day that you get to write about the grand dame of the Walla Walla Valley, the founding winery in that AVA that quickly became one of Washington’s few cult producers. Founded in 1978 by Gary Figgins, Leonetti rapidly established a reputation as one of Washington’s top Cabernet and Merlot producers, helped along by their 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon being recognized as best in nation in a Wine & Spirits Magazine blind tasting. Brisk mailing list sales followed, and soon thereafter, the mailing list closed and the waiting list opened.

Currently it’s the second generation helming the winery, in the form of Chris Figgins. Chris has subtly shifted the emphasis of the winery towards its estate vineyards in the past few years, and the results have been outstanding. I have also been lucky enough to taste vintages of Leonetti wines from the ‘80s and ‘90s, as well as plenty of more recent vintages. These are wines that can age in profoundly beautiful directions (if you can resist their youthful charms). The transition to Leonetti’s second generation is just about complete, and the future for this Mt. Rushmore-level Washington winery looks bright indeed.

Now, a quick logistics reminder: This is a pre-release offering, where we’re sending the offer before we know our allocations. Using this model allows us to advocate on behalf of our list for allocations that most accurately reflect our overall demand. The flip side is: some pre-release offerings turn out to be mirage wines: wines where we end up receiving smaller-than-expected allocations and then need to under-allocate. Apologies in advance if that’s the case here.

As far as timing goes, we should be able to send out allocation notices in 2-3 weeks (orders will remain Pending until then), and the wines should arrive before the end of March. Now let’s dig into them:

2015 Leonetti Merlot

First produced in 1981, this Merlot (this year 100% varietal) now comes entirely from Leonetti’s estate sites: Leonetti Old Block and Loess. No reviews yet for the 2015, but the 2008 received 96pts Paul Gregutt (Wine Enthusiast), the 2009 94pts Gregutt, the 2010 95pts Gregutt, the 2011 93pts Gregutt, the 2012 94pts Gregutt and 94pts Jeb Dunnuck (Wine Advocate), the 2013 94pts Dunnuck, and the 2014 95pts Owen Bargreen (International Wine Report).

Winery tasting notes: This 100% Merlot pours inky into the glass.  The nose is deep and intricate with top note florals lifting it higher as it opens. Tightly focused, the wine saturates the palate with dense blue and black fruits that linger endlessly. An immensely pleasurable wine, it possesses all the attributes that make Walla Walla one of the world’s premier places to grow Merlot.

2014 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon

First produced in Leonetti’s inaugural vintage – 1978 – this 2014 marks the 37th consecutive vintage of Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon. This comes from four Leonetti Estate sites (Mill Creek Upland, Loess, Leonetti Old Block, and Serra Pedace), as well as the old block at Seven Hills Vineyard. The blend includes 11% Petit Verdot and 8% Merlot. No reviews yet for the 2014, but the 2008 received 98pts Gregutt (and the #3 position on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 of 2011), the 2009 97pts Gregutt, the 2010 97+pts Dunnuck and 95(+?)pts Stephen Tanzer (Vinous), the 2011 95(+?)pts Tanzer, the 2012 96pts Dunnuck, and the 2013 96pts Dunnuck.

Winery tasting notes: Impenetrably dark. An explosive nose of coffee, red and black fruits, Russian sage, and garden herbs. Lesser notes follow of crème cassis, currant, and black olive. On the palate, the wine is dense, sweet, and broodingly dark. Simply perfect fine-grained tannins melded with laser-focused acidity deliver impressive length that lingers on the palate.

2014 Leonetti Reserve

While they had produced Reserve Cabernets before 2000, it was at the millennial turn that Leonetti dropped the varietal designation on their Reserve, freeing them to create a Bordeaux blend in whatever proportions would craft the finest wine possible. In 2014, the blend is 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, rounded out with 13% Malbec and 8% Petit Verdot. Vineyards again include Mill Creek Upland, Loess, Serra Pedace, and Seven Hills. No reviews yet for the 2014, but the 2008 received 97pts Jay Miller (Wine Advocate) and 96pts Gregutt (also a spot on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2011), the 2009 95pts David Schildknecht (Wine Adovcate), the 2010 a game-changing/eye-popping 100pts Dunnuck (Wine Advocate), the 2011 94+pts Tanzer, the 2012 98pts Dunnuck, and the 2013 97pts Bargreen (IWR).

Winery tasting notes: Always our finest effort and the flagship of Leonetti. The 2014 pours into the glass dark and foreboding. The nose instantly delivers jasmine and white flowers. A second smell and taste reveal tar, asphalt, cassis, bramble fruit, white fir, and dried florals. The palate is seamless with impressive length, polish, and a plush, delicious finish. I’m incredibly proud of this Reserve vintage.

Please limit order requests to 12 Cabernet, 6 Merlot, and 6 Reserve, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. I want to emphasize again that we have no guaranteed allocations on these wines but will certainly do our best to secure parcels that reflect the overall demand of our list. If all goes according to schedule, the wines should arrive at the warehouse in late March, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Full Pull Idilico

February 28, 2017

Hello friends. Two new wines today (and two reoffers) from one of the most consistently-thrilling lineups in Washington right now: the wonderful Spanish varieties from Javier Alfonso’s Idilico. We have new-release Albarino and Tempranillo, as well as bonus reoffers of his delicious 2013 Garnacha and Monastrell.

As a reminder, Javier developed Idilico as a sister label (his main label is Pomum Cellars) to highlight Spanish varieties grown in Washington. These wines are rarely reviewed, but even without the critics weighing in, the label has developed serious buzz, spurred on by the sommelier set and other insider types who know value when they see it. The sales focus for Idilico is mostly restaurant wine lists, and the wines are priced accordingly. That makes them terrific values at retail.

2015 Idilico Albarino

This is the sixth vintage of Albarino (we’ve offered all of the previous five) under the Idilico label. Quick primer on Albarino: it’s the main varietal grown and produced in Rias Baixas, along the northwest coast of Spain. Light-bodied and highly aromatic, with screaming acidity and generally low alcohols, these wines pair perfectly with the abundant shellfish and finfish of the region. To the best of my knowledge, there are no more than a handful of Albarino vineyards in Washington. Javier’s comes from Dutchman Vineyard, a DenHoed-planted site in the cooler part of the Yakima Valley, north of Prosser.

The wine moves from those vines to bottle with little intervention: stainless steel fermentation and aging; moderate lees contact; no malolactic fermentation. It’s pure Albarino, 12.5% alc and awash in mineral-soaked stone fruits and citrusy lemon-lime goodness. The verve and energy here are wonderful; this positively hums across the palate on a live-wire of fresh acidity, finishing salty and refreshing. I’ve said it before: I’m not sure there is another Washington white more evocative of our long northern-latitude summer days, with those blue twilights that last for hours.

2013 Idilico Tempranillo

In a small field of Washington Tempranillos, this is always a standout, offering terrific value for the tag. It’s a sign of the grape’s recent success that Javier can now source from sites across our state, including Snipes Mountain (Upland Vineyard), Horse Heaven Hills (Elerding), and the greater Yakima Valley.

Aged all in neutral French oak for a year, this begins with a nose of black cherry and blackberry fruit, complemented by threads of smoke and tobacco leaf, and star anise spice notes. The palate displays a beefier side, both in flavor (where beef stock subtleties enhance a core of cherry fruit) and in texture, where this is pleasingly rustic, with wonderful toothsome tannins framing delicious Tempranillo fruit. Idilico’s Tempranillo has become a standard-bearer for the grape in Washington, especially at a value tag, and this vintage is a fine example of why.

2013 Idilico Garnacha

Originally offered May 25, 2016. Excerpts from the original: This is the fifth vintage of Garnacha (aka Grenache) for Idilico, and we’ve offered all of them. At this price point, the wine tends to get snapped up by restaurants looking for exciting glass-pour options. It’s a blend of two vineyards: Elerding in the Yakima Valley and Upland on Snipes Mountain (evidence continues to mount that Upland is the finest site in the state for Grenache). Aged entirely in neutral puncheon, it clocks in at 14.7% listed alc. The nose has a deep, expressive core of brambly blackberry and raspberry fruit, with complexities both meaty (beef broth) and herbal (herbes de provence). The palate offers a lovely, supple, polished mouthfeel, carrying fresh berry notes and crushed-rock minerality on a fresh, vibrant frame. This is such a characterful rendition of Washington Grenache, and it always offers so much charm for such a reasonable tag.

2013 Idilico Monastrell

Originally offered May 25, 2016. Excerpts from the original: Always a rarity, both because of its tiny production (usually less than 100 cases) and the overall rarity of single-vineyard Washington Mourvedre (the French synonym for Spanish Monastrell) at a sub-$20 tag. This may be restaurant-only outside of Full Pull. I think Javier is doing us a favor because of our list’s long support of Idilico. Like the first two vintages, this comes entirely from Upland Vineyard, and it comes blasting up out of the glass with a super-expressive nose: spicy plums, leather, pepper-dusted game. This is positively electric in the mouth, humming along with beautiful nervous energy. Bright, spicy, and chockful of character, this dazzles with its mix of rich (14.3% listed alc) plummy fruit and continuing smoky/meaty notes. Javier is really bullish on Monastrell/Mourvedre’s prospects in Washington, and I can see why

First come first served up to 48 bottles total, and the wines should arrive at the warehouse in a week or two, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Full Pull Subduction

February 28, 2017

Hello friends. Syncline is perhaps Washington’s most quietly thrilling winery. Quiet only because of their location (the Columbia Gorge, where they’re the flagship winery; an amazing region that any serious student of northwest wine would do well to visit), and because James and Poppie Mantone are such unassuming, salt of the earth types.

James and Poppie have been part of the Washington vanguard since they launched their winery. They were early adopters of Rhone varietals, are one of the few producers able to coax something lovely out of Washington Pinot Noir, and in recent years have pushed the boundaries of white varieties and sparkling wines in the state. For freshness, for purity, for transparency, Syncline is tough to beat. Not to mention consistency. There’s a reason we’ve offered a whopping 53 wines from Syncline in Full Pull’s history; there never seems to be a dud in the bunch.

Today our focus will be on the new vintage of Syncline’s outstanding value Rhone blend, Subduction. We’ll also include a pair of whites: a new offer for their Boushey Vineyard Picpoul, and a reoffer for their outstanding Gruner Veltliner.

2015 Syncline Subduction Red

I think we can all agree that one of the best trends to come out of the past decade of Washington winegrowing and winemaking is the emergence of Rhone blends as a very strong category for the state. But price point has been a serious challenge. I guess how I’d put it is: we have our Chateauneufs and our Gigondas, but where are our Cotes du Rhones? Fortunately, in recent years, we’ve seen some movement on that front. Ryan Crane’s Majestic for Kerloo (and more recently, Wingman for his Sodo Cellars label), Sean Boyd’s VdP for Rotie, Kevin White’s outrageous blends for his eponymous label, Jon Meuret’s Metis Rouge.

But before all of those: Syncline’s Subduction Red. We’ve been offering it since the 2009 vintage, but I think it had already been around for at least five years then. In 2015 it is a six-variety blend: 52% Syrah, 21% Mourvedre, 11% Grenache, 10% Cinsault, 4% Carignan, 2% Counoise. It is fermented and aged in a combination of French oak (10% new) and concrete Nomblot cube tanks, bottled after just about a year to capture the freshness and vitality of the vintage. It clocks in at 14.2% listed alc and begins with a fresh, expressive nose: blueberry and espresso, sagebrush and rose petals; just lovely. What a brilliant wine this is for youthful drinking. It is chockful of character, of pleasure, offering supple, open-knit texture and a plush mix of fruit and earth tones. For a winter-into-spring house red, it’s tough to beat Subduction.

Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92pts. [Sullivan context note: of the 107 Rhone reds reviewed by Mr. S. for Enthusiast, only ten have earned stronger reviews (two 94pt reviews; eight 93s), and those ten range in price from $30 to $85, with an average price of $52.50.]

2015 Syncline Picpoul Boushey Vineyard

The name for this variety essentially translates to “lipsmacker” or “lip-stinger”, a reference to the grape’s copious natural acidity. All from Boushey Vineyard and done entirely in concrete egg, this is micro-production at 178 cases and is rarely seen at retail. It clocks in at 14.2%, and this particular lip-stinger is wonderfully intense and saline, mixing melon and passionfruit with salty mineral tones. It’s medium-bodied, with good fleshy fruit to balance all that bright acid. The one (memorable) time I had dinner at Dick Boushey’s house, a Picpoul (from McCrea, I believe) was the one bottle from his own vineyard that he chose to serve. Make of that what you will.

2015 Syncline Gruner Veltliner

Originally offered June 22, 2016. Excerpts from the original: The first Gruner vines in the Gorge came online for production in Syncline’s 2008 vintage, and we have offered every vintage since. When David Schildknecht, the great lover of Austrian wines, first got his hands on Syncline’s Gruner (the 2011 vintage), he called it “as good as any I have witnessed from a North American Gruner Veltliner.” High praise from a man not prone to it. On the vineyard front, there is some sad news and some happy news this year. The sad news is that the Gruner vines have been pulled out at Celilo Vineyard, so this will be Syncline’s final Gruner vintage containing Celilo fruit. The good news: a new Gruner Vineyard came online with the 2015 vintage. Here is what James and Poppie have to say: At 1,000′ in elevation, Bloxom Vineyard lies East of Yakima and North of the Rattlesnake Hills. This cooler site with loess soils is an exciting new planting of Gruner Veltliner. 2015 was the vineyard’s first crop, and we are thrilled to be part of this new venture.

The overall vineyard mix for the 2015 is 38% each Bloxom and Underwood Mountain Vineyards, and 24% Celilo. Ageing took place in a wide variety of vessels: concrete eggs, neutral oak, stainless steel, and acacia barrels. Nifty! Total production in 2015 was 440 cases, and listed alc is 13.7%. The nose kicks off with wonderful savory notes of green lentil and sweet corn, paired to a core of peach fruit. The palate is dry, potent, and *very* earthy/savory. The evolution of this bottling has been dazzling to watch, and it has now reached the point where you could legitimately confuse it for one of its Austrian brethren. I love Gruners like this because they are such outstanding food-pairing wines. Because of their savory side, they pair with tough-to-complement foods like artichokes and asparagus. They’re also beautiful oyster wines, for those of you so inclined.

First come first served up to 36 bottles total, and the wines should arrive at the warehouse in a week or two, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Full Pull Cabernet Value

February 27, 2017

Hello friends. Today we have outstanding pricing (down from an $18 release) on one of the best value Cabernet projects to emerge out of Washington in the past few years:

2014 Balancing Act Cabernet Sauvignon

(Note: the main thrust of this offer will be the Cabernet Sauvignon, but Balancing Act also has an outstanding Chardonnay, and we’ll offer that below.)

This is vintage number two for Balancing Act. I wanted to offer the debut vintage, but I slept on it a little too long, Wine Spectator published a 90pt review, and that was all she wrote. I don’t want to make the same mistake this year, and I just learned that the March issue of Wine Enthusiast is going to contain the following review from Sean Sullivan:

Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEST WITHHELD]. 90pts.” [Sullivan context note: in his time with Wine Enthusiast, Sean has published 121 reviews of Cabernets at $20 and below. Only a single wine (2012 Goose Ridge g3) wine has earned a higher mark (91pts). All that to say: a 90pt review for a Cabernet at this price point is a fine review indeed from Mr. Sullivan.]

The most important thing to know about Balancing Act are the folks behind the project: Ron Coleman and Danny Gordon of Tamarack Cellars. For years, they have been producing their Firehouse Red, consistently among the finest values in Washington. Now they’re applying their considerable talents to producing similar value in Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The intention with the Cabernet is that it’s a blend of Tamarack-vinified house juice and carefully-selected purchased juice. Ron has been making wine in Walla Walla for a long time. He knows everyone, and that means access to very good juice indeed.

But in 2014, I actually wonder how much purchased juice the winery needed. After all, this is the high-quality/high-yield vintage in the northwest that led to the “grand cascade effect” (thanks again to Erica Landon of Walter Scott for this pitch-perfect term). The deal with the grand cascade: let’s say a winery normally gets enough fruit to make 100 cases of their expensive single vineyard Cabernet. But in a year like 2014, they get enough fruit to make 150 cases. One option, of course, is to just produce 150 cases of expensive wine and hope the market can bear it. Another option: “cascade” those extra 50-cases worth of single-vineyard juice into a lower-priced label, and make it that much better.

This drinks very much like expensive fruit given the careful coddling typical for everything that comes out of Tamarack. It clocks in at 14.2% listed alc and offers a wonderfully expressive Cabernet nose: crème de cassis and black plum paired to smoky/earthy peat moss tones and savory beetroot. The palate is rich, inviting, downright luxurious, and that’s not an adjective I find myself tossing around much for fifteen-dollar Cabs. There is a core of dense, layered fruit, swaddled in smoky/spicy barrel tones. The finish, awash in fine-grained Cabernet chew, leaves an impression of cocoa powder, a lengthy final note confirming a wine that punches well above its price class, drinking like many Cabernets in the $20s or $30s. What fun to have a Cabernet priced for Tuesday night that drinks like Saturday night!

2015 Balancing Act Chardonnay
This too has an upcoming Enthusiast review in the March issue: Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 89pts.” [Sullivan context note: in his time with Wine Enthusiast, Sean has published 87 reviews of Chardonnays at $15 and below. None have earned better than an 89pt mark, and in fact only three others share that 89pt score.]

This one clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and offers a nose of honeycrisp apple, citrusy pineapple, and crème fraiche. A real fruit yumball on the palate, with nary a shred of barrel influence, but with plenty of fruit intensity. The fruit is rich and layered: tree fruits, stone fruits, even a little tropical character. We haven’t offered many ten-dollar Washington Chardonnays, and there’s a reason for that. Most of them are anonymous at best, technically flawed and/or oak-powdered into oblivion at worst. This is a rare exception: clean, fruit-driven, and appealing.

Party and wedding planners, take note. Your guests will like you if you serve these wines. First come first served up to 120 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and 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 Exclusive Cabernet

February 27, 2017

Hello friends. Because of our list’s ongoing support for Michael Savage’s wines, we’ve been offered a treat today: exclusive access to a new wine in the Savage Grace portfolio, a killer Cabernet from one of the finest vineyards in Washington.

2014 Savage Grace Cabernet Sauvignon Red Willow Vineyard
First, a note on how this exclusive will work. A small parcel of this wine just landed in Seattle, and we basically have one months’ worth of dibs. For the next month, Full Pull is the only account that can touch this wine. After that, it’s open season. If there’s anything left.

The reason I think we might end up snagging the entire parcel? Well, it’s a combination of factors:

FACTOR 1: THE WINEMAKER
Michael Savage is about as buzzy as a winemaker gets in Washington circles these days, and that buzz turned into a roar last summer when Savage Grace was named Best Emerging Winery in Seattle Magazine’s annual awards. Here’s an excerpt of what I’ve written about Michael previously:

[TEXT WITHHELD].

FACTOR 2: THE VINEYARD
Red Willow Vineyard is one of Washington’s most important sites; the defining vineyard, in my opinion, of the far western Yakima Valley. It was originally planted by Mike Sauer in 1973, and for many years, the preponderance of the fruit went to Columbia Winery. In recent years, as Columbia contracts have loosened and as boutique, sterling-reputation wineries like Betz and Owen Roe and Gramercy (and Savage Grace!) have begun working with the fruit, the reputation of Red Willow has only grown and grown.

This Cabernet comes from the first usable harvest (third leaf) from a 2012 block planted on the Marcoux side of the vineyard. I reached out to Michael to ask him about working with Red Willow fruit, and here is his (excerpted) response: I started getting excited about the possibility of working with [Red Willow Cabernet] fruit and finding a way to express it in a style that matched the winery philosophy of making more restrained, old-world, balanced and terror-driven wines. Also, I thought of some of the older David Lake cabs that I’d tasted that were balanced and much lighter-bodied, lower alcohol. So this gave me a place to start to approach the fruit.

One of the main goals of the winery is to make balanced wines that speak of place and I feel like this is one of the truly great vineyards in the state, one where terroir really shows through in the wines. And I want people to know when they are drinking wine from this vineyard, how much the Sauer family respects their vineyard and what great people they are to work with. The terroir here is so unique. The aromas and flavors that show up in the wines are so specific to Red Willow and I feel like it shows across all varietals. Kind of a smoky, gamey, minerality, with brine and brilliant fruit.

2014 was a very warm year and I typically pick earlier, looking for more varietal character, lower-Brix, less “winemaking” needed, etc., so we discussed how early we could pick to get the right balance for that style. Leaner-bodied but balanced. So this was the first pick from that cab block, about 1-week earlier than the next pick that year. The 2014 Cab Sauv was picked on Sept. 25, berries were small, and it was fermented using a combination of destemmed, lightly-crushed, along with some whole-berry, for tannin management. Mostly punch-downs were used. Knowing that the cabs from that vineyard do not generally suffer from lack of tannins, it was aged in 18% new French Oak, which is rare for us to use, and the rest 1st and 2nd-use barrels. It was bottled after 1-year.

FACTOR 3: THE VARIETY
We’ve offered a lot of Michael’s wines over the years – Chardonnay and Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec and Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc – but never a Savage Grace Cabernet Sauvignon. This is as approachable a Cab as I can remember tasting from Michael; hell, maybe as approachable a Savage Grace wine, period.

It clocks in at 14% and has a nose that caused me to pause and jot a note to myself that “Michael has a real gift when it comes to purity.” Purity is the watchword for Savage Grace wines, and this is a fine example. The nose is a precise, expressive mix of black cherry fruit, cherry blossom, and loamy earthy notes. With time and air, lovely subtleties of cedar and tobacco emerge, like a Washington-Pauillac cross And then on the palate, it’s a marvel of intensity with nary a shred of excess weight. The sense of balance is impeccable, and the components (fruit, earth, exotic spice liked smoked paprika) coexist seamlessly. Acidity is bright and vibrant, tannins polished and supple, the entire package compelling as can be. It is really difficult to believe that this is third-leaf fruit, but that combination of skillful grower and gifted winemaker can make magic, even with youthful vines.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. 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 Kevin White

February 27, 2017

Hello friends. For the first four years that we offered his wines (2012-2015), Kevin White had one release per year. We’d offer his ridiculously excellent La Fraternite and En Hommage, immediately sell out, and set the clock 365 days forward.

Fortunately for us, beginning in 2016 Kevin inaugurated a second release, with one well-priced gateway-drug wine and one rare single-vineyard gem. Last year we had to scramble a little, and offered them separately: the red wine in March and the DuBrul in April. As usual when it comes to Kevin’s wines, both sold out instantly, and I recall DuBrul allocations being especially rough.

This year we’re better prepared. Both wines are scheduled to be released March 1, and we’re offering the pair of them together today so that I know exactly what our list’s desires are when it comes to Mr. White’s wines. That will allow me to advocate as forcefully as I can for as much of these gorgeous wines as possible.

2015 Kevin White Winery Red Wine

Most winemakers, when they’re as trendy/buzzy as Kevin, find ways to *raise* prices, not introduce wines at lower tags. Just one of many reasons to admire what Kevin is doing with this winery, which has to be viewed as one of the most exciting to launch in Washington in the past decade.

This is commercial vintage number six for Kevin, and I’m pretty sure we’ve offered every single wine he has ever released to retail. His pricing is ridiculous, his bottles easily competing with wines at twice the tag. Kevin seems determined to offer exceptional value as he builds his brand, and I’m thrilled that our list members can continue to be the recipients of his efforts in that direction. The reason we continue to get competitive allocations of these scarce wines is in part due to the fact that Kevin himself was a long-time Full Pull list member (we first talked about this potential winery project way back in 2010).

As far as logistics go with this particular wine, the first thing I should say is that we’re likely to only get one shot. Unlike Kevin’s higher-end wines, which are carefully allocated and doled out, this red is being offered in open inventory. The good news: we can ask for whatever amount our list members want; the bad: so can every other account in town. And that includes restaurants, because this wine comes in at a price point that allows for glass-pours (always scary when it comes to depletion pressure).

Probably the most important thing to know about the wine itself is that it comes entirely from Kevin-vinified juice. He’s not purchasing any bulk juice to fluff this wine up. And while he’s not revealing the exact vineyards or breakdown involved (wisely, so as not to aggravate the excellent growers he’s working with, who might not be so crazy about seeing their grapes end up in a sub-$20 bottle), we can intuit the suspects: Upland and Olsen, Boushey and Elephant Mountain: fantastic sites for Rhone varieties in Washington.

And this is indeed a Rhone blend: 44% Syrah, 31% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre. It clocks in at 14.9% listed alc and begins with an exuberant nose, all fresh youthful goodness. Blackberry fruit, berry flower blossoms, and emerging threads of olive and mineral. This is the most openly delicious wine I can remember tasting from Kevin. It still possesses his trademark textural elegance, but here it’s paired to fruit character squarely in line with warm-vintage generosity. The overall package is one of the strongest sub-$20 Rhone blends I can remember tasting from Washington, punching well above its price class, and another data point arguing that this is a real growth category for our state going forward. Pair with a sausage and white bean stew for transcendence.

2014 Kevin White Winery Heritage DuBrul Vineyard

Heritage is an unusual wine for this Rhone specialist, as it is a squarely Bordeaux blend of Merlot (53%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (47%), raised in 40% new French oak for about two years. I suspect Kevin could not resist the siren call of DuBrul Vineyard, one of the finest sites in the state. After all, a bottle of wine from DuBrul and an eventual visit to the vineyard are parts of the winery’s origin story, as richly recounted by Sean Sullivan in an old posting on Washington Wine Report.

You may also remember what Mr. Sullivan wrote about last year’s debut (2013) vintage in Seattle Met Magazine: [TEXT WITHHELD].

I think Sean is right. As DuBrul’s reputation has grown, so too have prices, and it has become more and more difficult to source wines from this outstanding vineyard. The only other DuBrul wine we offer with any regularity is Rasa’s Creative Impulse, and that one generally goes for about a hundred bucks. As you can imagine, DuBrul fruit plus buzzy winemaker plus moderate pricing plus small parcel equals, ahem, allocation challenges. Hence the need to get in and stake our claim nice and early.

This vintage immediately blasts out of the glass with signature DuBrul exoticism: anise and smoldering Indian spice, orange peel and smoky grilled bread. All that over a core of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. It’s a thrill-ride nose, deeply complex and attractive. In the mouth, the silky, polished texture provides just-right framing for those continuing exotic notes, as well as a spicy note on the finish that reminded me of jalapeno. This is complicated, pleasurable wine; a fine introduction to an important, difficult-to-source Washington vineyard

Please limit order request 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 Blanco Tinto Inexpensivo

February 27, 2017

Hello friends. One of our biggest hits of last summer was a $20 3L Bag-in-Box from La Nevera in Rioja. I recently had the chance to try the other two wines in the lineup, and I just found myself shaking my head and chuckling. These are ridiculous values, and I’m convinced this packaging is going to own the future.

So today we head back to La Nevera, with a chance to access the Blanco and the Tinto:

2015 La Nevera Blanco (3L BAG IN BOX, Pickup Only)

Olé Imports has been a source of many incredible values for us, but perhaps none better than these boxes. You may recall from the Rosdao offer last year that Olé chooses not to put Rioja on the labels because “not showing the name Rioja on the label allows La Nevera to pay a lesser tax making these wines greater values than they otherwise would be.”

Nevertheless, this is indeed from Rioja, and more specifically from a single vineyard in Rioja Alta planted in 1973 and farmed organically at more than 2000 feet. Soils are clay and limestone, and the vineyard looks like this. Those grapes: 100% Viura, the great white of Rioja. After crush, the grapes get five hours of skin contact before pressing into stainless steel, where they age for a whopping two months before going into box.

Listed alc is 12.5%, and this kicks off with a fresh nose of lime and tangerine fruit complicated by salty sea-air. It’s like Viura-meets-Albarino on the nose. And then on the palate it almost drinks like Vinho Verde: clean, green, and pristine. There’s loads of zippy acid, and a lingering, salty, mouthwatering finish that really is more than we have any right to expect out of a twenty-buck box. What a refreshing treat for springtime picnics or road trips, or just to stash away in your fridge for weeks on end. Not to mention one hell of a seared scallop pairing.

2015 La Nevera Tinto (3L BAG IN BOX, Pickup Only)

What we get for those extra fifty cents: a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano and Viura from another organically farmed vineyard, this one planted in 1978 at 1800 feet in Rioja Alta (here’s a pic). Soils, as you can see from that picture, are sandy clay.

Treatment for the Tinto resembles the Blanco: just two months in stainless steel before “boxing.” (Although this one sees a full five-day cold soak and then ten days of post-fermentation extended skin maceration). Listed alc here is also 12.5%. The nose is pure and lovely, offering red cherry, earth, and wonderful leafy tones of eucalyptus and tobacco leaf. It’s a clean, complex nose at this price point. “I love subsidized winemaking!” was the first comment from La Nevera’s Seattle rep when we tasted this wine. And it’s true: it seems impossible to imagine this level of quality at this price without some friendly government intervention. For me, this drinks like totally honest young Rioja, like good Joven. It has that familiar leafy/dusty cherry fruit, and brings plenty of pleasure and palate-weight at such a moderate alcohol. I want to put a slight chill on this and order some legit Mexican takeout.

Please limit order request to 6 boxes 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.