Hello friends. Each year when the calendar ticks over to January, I seem to make the same resolution with regards to Full Pull. Stop. Pre. Buying.
Because pre-buying is not the model Full Pull was built on. We were built on a model of low- or no-excess inventory. It’s challenging, because as we grow, the wines and the deals offered to us only get better and more compelling. But still. That’s not how we operate. Mostly.
And so each January I resolve to get back to basics and try to keep the pre-offer purchasing to a minimum. This particular January, I have been especially reminded of the futility of this resolution, because already, less than four weeks into the year, we’ve received deliveries of three pre-purchased parcels. Yes, I made two of the three deals in December, but still, the fact remains: this is not auspicious.
The good news for our list members, however: all three parcels are secure in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup. And all three are deeply compelling wines (or else I wouldn’t have been seduced!) for one reason or another. Let’s dive into them.
Pre-buying this parcel allowed us to secure pricing that is as good as I can see nationwide, so there’s that. Perrusset is also, to the best of my knowledge, the only Macon producer imported by the outstanding Kermit Lynch. Here is how they introduce the winery:
A few decades ago, in a small, local vigneron hangout in the Beaujolais, Kermit and Henri Perrusset met rather serendipitously. There weren’t enough tables in the restaurant and the hostess seated Kermit with Henri, who was just finishing up his meal. Their conversation blossomed, and Henri invited Kermit to visit and taste his first vintage. We have been buying these delicious, distinctive Chardonnays ever since. For decades, the Mâconnais has been dominated by the banal bottlings of cooperative cellars; not the sort of quality that leads novices to explore the wines of the region. But at the same time, Henri Perrusset has been working his vineyards by hand, reducing his yields to improve grape quality, all while offering us very reasonable prices.
Henri Perrusset’s vineyards and home are located in the small town of Farges-les-Mâcon, on the northernmost spur of the limestone subsoil that characterizes the appellation of Mâcon. Farges is not far away from the village named (believe it or not) Chardonnay. The limestone in Farges is more marly than the compact limestone farther south in Pouilly-Fuissé. It is hard and intensely white, but breaks apart into small pieces and it is loaded with quartz and marine fossils as well. This type of soil is easier to work despite all the stones, provides great drainage for the vines, and gives the wines their grainy minerality. Our Mâcon-Farges bottling comes uniquely from a parcel of old vines, while the Mâcon-Villages is a custom blend of all his other holdings around Farges. These are Chardonnays with the ripeness and intensity level of a Pouilly-Fuissé or even a Saint-Aubin, with the particular goût de terroir of Henri’s corner of Mâcon.
I didn’t know any of that when I tasted the wine. I just knew this was a Chardonnay showing honest Burgundian character and emerging tertiary notes for like fifteen bucks. That was good enough for me. From 15-30 year old vineyards and aged entirely in stainless steel, this clocks in at 12.5% listed alc and begins with an alluring nose: peach and apple, hay and sweet corn. The developing palate offers a mix of rich fruit, minerals, and earthy savories. It’s in a real sweet spot right now, offering the kind of complexity that makes ageing Chardonnay for a few years so appealing. Drink up any time in the next five years and you’ll find plenty of pleasure and intellectual stimulation.
We offered the debut 2014 vintage last February and quickly sold out our entire allocation. Expect more of the same this year. Both vintages would have had their own solo offers if the available quantity had been greater. The wine is great, the story is great; perfect for a Full Pull offer. Except… our total allocation is a few handfuls of cases.
Chris Dowsett’s Gewurztraminer is consistently one of the finest white wines made in Washington, and I have to believe it’s one of the finest new-world Gewurzs period (I recently opened a 2010 vintage of Gewurz, and it showed beautifully). No surprise: Chris makes a damned good Riesling as well. When I told him I liked the name of the vineyard, too, his response: that’s literally my Aunt Diane. So yeah, Aunt Diane inherited this semi-abandoned, 1980s-planted vineyard in the Columbia Gorge, and Chris and his aunt have been rehabbing it since. They got 5 gallons of juice in 2013; 37 cases of the 2014; and like 50 cases in 2015. It’s a wild, fecund place that grows not just grapes, but apparently also strawberries and morel mushrooms in between the rows (here’s a pic of morels picked from between the vines in spring 2014).
This 2015 clocks in at 13.2% and can’t have much more than a half-percent of residual sugar; it drinks dry and lean and oh so racy. But first the nose, which seduces with its mix of fruit and flower (peaches and peach blossoms), mineral and petrol. Dry and intense, this conveys a real sense of dry extract and an inherent minerality that just won’t quit. This is clean, pure wine that drinks like it was chiseled straight out of Columbia Gorge rock. It’s a singular Washington Riesling, and a real rarity.
When we offered Thivin’s rosé as part of our Thanksgiving-themed offer last year, I mentioned that I was disappointed we couldn’t offer the red Cote de Brouilly, which we had offered as part of the previous two Thanksgivings. Well, now we have it, but barely enough to warrant an offer, and it’s all thanks to the 2015-vintage hype train I referenced in our Bila Haut offer last week. I never thought I’d see the day where Thivin was allocated and pre-sold, but 2015 has that kind of power.
Thivin’s Cote de Brouilly is a glorious wine, one of my favorites in this big diverse wine world. It’s a wine I collect personally and drink young and old; a mood-lifter wine: one that I open at the end of a lousy day because it’s way harder to be grouchy after a glass of this than before. Cote de Brouilly is one of ten “Cru” sub-regions in Beaujolais, and it’s a tiny Cru encompassing the slopes of Mont Brouilly. More specifically, here is where Thivin is located, on the southwestern slope of the mountain, a slope with a 48% grade (note: here is what 50 year old Gamay Noir vines on a 48% slope look like).
Kermit Lynch, who has been importing Thivin since 1979, describes the wine as “…a country squire who is not afraid to get his boots muddy. Handsome, virile, earthy, and an aristocrat.” Well said. For me, Thivin represents an unparalleled translation of earth into wine, an ethereal mix of volcanic minerals and the brightest mountain berry fruits.
Wine Advocate (Neal Martin): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
Please limit order requests to 12 bottles each of the two white wines and 3 bottles of the Thivin (that’s optimistic; actual allocations are likely to be closer to 1-2 bottles), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines are in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.