Full Pull Rosé Spring Cleaning

March 30, 2017

Hello friends, There are a lot of myths about rosé—myths that we have been trying to bust for years here at Full Pull. You can only drink rosé in the summer. Have you ever tried it on your Thanksgiving table? It’s breathtaking. The only good rosé comes from France. Washington, Spain, and Italy are just the tip of the rebuttal iceberg. Rosés are always sweet. Yes, Sutter Home may have ruined a generation for drinking delicious pink juice, but the typical rosé profile is racy, acidic, lively. You should only drink current vintage rosé. This one really gets my goat, because it is unequivocally untrue. While you may not want to cellar a Provençal rose for twenty years, there is something to be said about giving rosé a year or two in bottle to improve. There is nothing wrong with drinking ‘14 and ‘15 rosés this year—some of your favorites from the last few summers might even show better than ever in the coming months.

So, to help end these horrible rosé rumors once and for all, we’ve got three amazing deals on rosé. All 2015 vintage. All $9.99. If you’re looking to stock up on some international treasures without breaking the bank for a summer full of pink, this is the place for you.

2015 Chateau Teulon Costieres De Nimes Rose

This is a juicy, bright, medium bodied Grenache and Syrah rosé that a year in bottle has done wonders for. Upfront, it’s got a healthy dose of fresh strawberries, wet stone minerality, and garrigue (which is the low-growing vegetation that climbs across the limestone hills of the Mediterranean coastline. Think freshly plucked juniper, thyme, rosemary, and lavender). The finish is full, yet dry—making it the perfect rosé for a spring or summer picnic of light finger foods, meats, and cheeses.

Chateau Teulon may be newer to the US market, but the family itself has been farming vineyards since the early 1700s. The estate lives in Saint Gilles, just south of Nimes in southern Rhône, and has been certified organic since 2012.

2015 Otella RosesRoses

As previously mentioned, Italian rosés are the perfect rebuttal wines to any disparaging about non-French specimens. This light rosé from Otella, one of the oldest estates in Lugana DOC of northern Italy, shows finesse, clear minerality, and downright zippy acidity.

The grapes are all Italian: Corvina Veronese, Lagrein, and Rondinella. It leads with a nose of white peach, which feels incredibly inviting on a sunny, spring day, and the palate follows suit with stone fruit, strawberry, and citrus. This wine would be perfect with all things seafood, especially from the Pacific Northwest. Without food, it would be an ideal aperitif or afternoon patio sipper.

2015 Guild Winemakers Rose Willamette Valley

Guild is a little collective of PNW winemakers that’s been buzzing since 2010. The winemakers include John Grochau of Grochau Cellars, Anne Hubatch of Helioterra Wines and Whoa Nelly!, and Vincent Fritzsche of Vincent Wine Company. The goal of this collaboration? To make wines of exceptional value for the masses. This rosé definitely fits the bill; it’s a wild deal for under 10 dollars. It’s an unusual mixture—mostly Melon de Bourgogne with a little bit of Pinot Noir to provide structure and color.

Melon de Bourgogne has one major growing region, the Loire Valley, and a few other niche regions, like the Pacific Northwest. While there have been some plantings in California, many of them have been incorrectly labeled as Pinot Blanc. It’s really Oregon that holds down the fort when it comes to United States plantings of Melon de Bourgogne—and boy, are we all lucky they do. This rosé shows off a lot of typical characteristic from this light, acidic grape, such as green apple, pear, citrus, and a sea-water minerality. The pinot noir adds in aromas of watermelon and strawberries, and pumps up the acidity even more. This wine is Pacific Northwest summer in a glass—made for eating crab you caught yourself on a peninsula beach somewhere west of Seattle.

First come first served for all of these rosés. 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 Our Old Friend Cadence

March 29, 2017

Hello friends. There’s nothing quite like a reunion. Seeing an old friend again, no matter how sporadically, can be a special occasion filled with fun, excitement, and remembrance. With a true friend, it can be as if no time has passed at all—you pick up right where you left off. You know who they are, and they know you. There are few things as reassuring in life as an old friends and the consistently wonderful times you can have together.

Here at Full Pull, that’s pretty much how we feel about Cadence. We have been offering these wines in one way or another since 2009—and have always loved the style, grace, and power of Ben Smith’s winemaking. Vintage after vintage, Ben is consistent. He has a house style, Red Mountain vineyards that he sources from regularly, and a way with Bordeaux blends that is truly rare. It finally feels as if the rest of the world has caught up to what our list members have known for a while now—Cadence is the real deal.

We’ve included this lil’ excerpt from Stephen Tanzer in previous offers, but if it’s new to you, take note:

In recent vintages, Ben Smith has taken his Cadence wines to the top echelon in Washington. And with the vines he and his wife Gaye McNutt planted in their Cara Mia vineyard in 2004 on the verge of entering their teen years, the best is yet to come. The Cadence wines always had energy, but recent vintages have brought denser, sweeter wines with any loss of vibrancy. Smith is routinely an early picker, and he noted that the harvest of 2013, the second warmest vintage to that point behind 2003, was a bit rushed for him, as he wanted to bring in the fruit before potential alcohol levels skyrocketed. Still, he emphasized, the 2013s “exhibit drive and thrust that can only be compared to 2011, but with richer, more forward fruit than that of 2012.” He went on: “The ‘13s have the structure and acidity to appeal to the Euro crowd. The ‘13s, along with the ‘11s, are my favorite vintages of the past ten years.”

Today we’ve got a stellar lineup of red beauties for you. Two new vintages of some of our old favorites grace this page—along with two bonus reoffers from earlier this year.

2013 Cadence Ciel du Cheval Vineyard

Ciel du Cheval needs no introduction to our list members. Located in the heart of Red Mountain, Ciel has nearly 40 years of vintages under its belt. It’s hard to look left and then right in Washington and not see something coming from Ciel du Cheval—and with good reason. Wines from this vineyard are consistently terrific, intensely charactered, and elegantly supple.

The ‘13 Cadence is textbook Ciel—it’s opulent and robust, with an overarching energy throughout. The nose opens with a touch of old world funk—that lovely and complex mixture of fruit, dried flower stems, graphite, and bitterroot—and gives way to a big, structured wine that warms your belly as you drink it. There is fruit here—it is Red Mountain after all—but there is so much more than just fruit, like savory earth and black licorice. This is a wine that deserves a few years of cellaring or a good, old fashioned decant.

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

2013 Cadence Tapteil Vineyard

Though Tapteil is a bit lesser known on Red Mountain than sites like Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun, it is a stunning vineyard that boasts the oldest vines Cadence works with. The high winds on the mountain force the Cabernet berries that grow at Tapteil to build up thicker-than-usual skins, leading to increased tannin structure. As we’ve said before, with many winemakers, this might be a scary prospect. However, with Ben Smith at the helm, you can pretty much guarantee a beautifully handled wine with toothsome grip, awesome minerality, and deep blue and black fruit.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 94pts”

2013 Cadence Bel Canto Cara Mia Vineyard

Those of us who love Bel Canto love it, I think, for its profound Cabernet Franc character. Here Franc is 75% of the blend (the remainder Merlot), and the grape dazzles with its savory green and floral complexities, contributing poblano and arugula and dried flowers to a core of red and black fruits. Texturally, this is as classy as ever; clearly there is a confident hand and a clear point of view at work here.

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 93pts.” [Tanzer context note: out of 634 reviews published in last week’s annual Vinous blast, only 19 wines earned stronger marks (two @ 96pts, six @ 95pts, eleven @ 94pts); mostly the folks you’d expect: Quilceda Creek and Cayuse, Leonetti and Corliss and Betz, etc.]

To order this wine, click here

2013 Cadence Camerata Cara Mia Vineyard

Normally Camerata has a very high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2013 it still makes up the preponderance of the blend, but only barely, at 40% (the remainder is 30% Franc and 20% Merlot and 10% PV). Side note: that probably means there was a healthy chunk of Cara Mia Cabernet Sauvignon in the 2013 Coda, which helps explain why that particular wine was so damned good. This version of Camerata still possesses plenty of Cabernet character, with cassis and black plum fruit overlain with a lovely minty-fresh eucalyptus topnote. Graphitic minerality and star anise spice emerge with time and air, only upping the ante of complexity. This is exotic, elegant, and clearly structured for long-term evolution.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[TEXT REVIEW WITHHELD] 94pts.”
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 a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull Southern Hinterlands of the Pacific Northwest

March 28, 2017

Hello friends. Several of the most thrilling PacNW wines I’ve sampled over the past few years have come from the waaaaaay southern hinterlands of our region. Like parts of the PacNW that are within spitting distance of California. I’m talking about the Rogue Valley AVA, and its sub-appellation, the Applegate Valley AVA.

These wines always get me to thinking about the relationship between geography and destiny. Like if the Rogue Valley was more like the Walla Walla Valley or the Willamette Valley or the Napa Valley, or anyplace reasonably close to a major population center, I wonder whether these wines would be less under-the-radar gems and more the stuff of closed mailing lists, breathless anticipation of new releases, cult wineries, etc etc.

Today we have a pair of wines firmly rooted in the southern reaches of our home region, both of which have dazzled me recently.

2015 Leah Jorgensen Cellars Tour Rain

I have loved everything I’ve tasted from Leah Jorgensen Cellars so far and have been itching for an opportunity to write about Leah’s wines. It is rare to see a winery hit the scene with such a fully-formed sense of house style. But there it is, right there on the winery website – Making pretty wines in the Pacific Northwest… 100% inspiré par les vins de Loire! – and there it is in bottle. Every single bottle I’ve had has been a) pretty; and b) clearly inspired by the Loire Valley. Leah cut her teeth in the trade repping Joe Dressner’s portfolio for Louis Dressner Imports, and I’m not sure I can think of better experience to hone a Loire-focused palate.

This idea of “Loiregon” has been quietly gaining momentum in recent years, a bit of pushback against the Oregon=Burgundy Pinotocracy. That momentum became somewhat less quiet last year Jon Bonné wrote a terrific article entitled “Is Oregon Wine’s True Soulmate the Loire Valley?”

There’s certainly an argument to be made, and Leah’s wines are part of the vanguard making it. One such wine is her “Tour Rain,” more Loire-related wordplay, this time a riff on the lovely, thirst-quenching Touraine Rouge of the Loire Valley. It is a 60/40 blend of Cabernet Franc and Gamay Noir, a blend you’d otherwise never see outside the confines of the Loire Valley. The Gamay comes from a cool site called Havlin Vineyard in the windy Van Duzer corridor, the Franc from the southern end of the Applegate Valley, a site called Mae’s Vineyard, owned and farmed by Herb Quady of Quady North fame. All of it was aged entirely in neutral French oak.

It clocks in at 13.4% listed alc and comes roaring up out of the glass with a nose so expressive, outgoing, and pure it could almost move a jaded wine retailer to tears. Violets, minerals, huckleberry fruit, Cab Francian braising greens. All there in spades. My first palate note: “outrageous purity.” Sense a theme? There is a real palate-staining intensity here, despite the moderate alc, and so much freshness to the fruit that you almost expect the berries to crunch. That fruit is beautifully balanced by crushed rock notes and peppery greens, the whole package offering complexity and grace.

One more quick anecdote to underscore my fondness for this winery. So, two kids at home, one just turned 3, the other 1. We don’t get many dinners out. And a recent dinner out had us scrambling out the door, so much so that I didn’t have time to grab a bottle of wine and had to put my faith in the restaurant’s list, always a dicey proposition in greater Kitsap County. We got to the restaurant, I quickly scanned the wine list, and my worst fears were confirmed with a desultory group of bottles… right up until I spotted a well-priced Leah Jorgensen wine. Again, my instinct was to shed a tear of relief and happiness. Because of course the wine was excellent, totally complementary to every bite of food we ordered, and a complete pleasure-bringer, from first sip to last. Lovers of PacNW wines: you owe it to yourself to check out Leah Jorgensen Cellars. This is a star in the making.

2013 Cowhorn Syrah 21

We offered the 2012 vintage of this last year, and it was a surprise hit. I’m thrilled that we have access to another vintage.

To put into context how remote Barbara and Bill Steele’s Cowhorn is, it is closer to San Francisco (six hours) than Seattle (seven hours). Even if you get to Portland, you still need to go another four and a half hours to make it to Cowhorn. It’s out there.

The winery first flashed onto my radar when David Schildknecht wrote about Cowhorn in back-to-back years covering Oregon for Wine Advocate. Here he is in 2013: Bill and Barbara Steele’s Applegate Valley vineyard has been known for some years as Southern Oregon’s viticultural star (even if I personally came late to discovering them). But it’s clear to me from the recent releases tasted with them in July – not to mention from re-tasting their 2010 Syrah 58 – that their renditions of Rhone varieties need no longer shy from comparison with any in the world, even those whose authors are named Alban, Baron or Clape. Given quality this amazing – combined with a climate undeniably daunting, not to mention the assiduous pursuit of biodynamic viticulture – the prices that Steeles are asking are almost alarmingly low. If the potential achievable with Rhone cepages interests you – but perhaps just as much, if you have become jaded by the wealth of outstanding examples from multiple continents – do not put off any longer experiencing Cowhorn’s wines!

That is a whole lot of strong praise from a critic not prone to it, and especially not prone to it for new world wines (I know many a Washington winery relieved that Schildknecht’s tenure covering our home state only lasted a single year). So yeah, I was intrigued, but until recently, it was difficult to source the wines in any meaningful quantity here in Washington. Fortunately, we now have a solid importer/distributor bringing the wines in, and we’re on a multi-year run of more regular access.

Much of the Steele’s 16-acre (Demeter-certified biodynamic) vineyard is planted on top of small stones from an ancient riverbed (where the Applegate used to flow, thousands of years ago). The climate in their little corner of Oregon also closely resembles the Northern Rhone, which is why they planted a lot of Syrah (also Grenache and a number of Rhone Whites). This Syrah comes from two vineyard blocks (1 and 5), harvested on October 23. It was fermented with native yeasts and then spent nine months in 40% new French oak. It clocks in at 13.4% and begins with a nose of earthy/smoky peat moss, ferrous mineral, and boysenberry. There’s an attractive fecund quality to the nose, like walking into a happy greenhouse. The palate is more tightly wound than I remember the 2012 but just as lovely, with pinpoint balance of fruit and earth elements.

I already mentioned one exacting critic (Schildknecht) who is pretty much a Cowhorn fanboy. Now that Neal Martin is covering Oregon, we have another tough critic with an old-world palate. Surprise, surprise: he too has deep admiration for this winery. Martin is a tough grader; I’d recommend focusing less on the number than on the text of the review:

Wine Advocate (Neal Martin): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92+pts.

First come first served up to 24 bottles total, 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 Pul Maison Bleue Bargain

March 24, 2017

Hello friends. Today we have what I believe is our lowest price ever on a red wine from Maison Bleue. Lower than last year’s 2012 Metis (26.99 TPU); lower than the 2011 Jaja (also 26.99 TPU); lower even than the 2010 Jaja (24.99 TPU). It required a significant volume commitment to hit this tariff, but when it comes to Jon Meuret’s winemaking, that was never going to be a difficult decision.

2013 Maison Bleue Metis Rouge

A Rhone blend from Jon Meuret for two sawbucks. Maybe I should just stop the offer there and hit send… or maybe not.

I looked back at last year’s offer, in which I encouraged folks who usually limit their purchases to the $20-and-below set to consider a splurge. This year, I don’t even have to encourage the splurge; it’s a have-our-cake-and-eat-it kind of day.

Jon Meuret built Maison Bleue’s stellar reputation for quality on the backs of his Grenaches and Syrahs. The man is simply a savant when it comes to Rhone varieties and blends. Metis is his GSM blend, and this year the proportions are 45% Grenache, 37% Syrah and 18% Mourvedre. The vineyard sourcing is outstanding as well: Boushey, Olsen, Pepper Bridge, and Minick. All that good juice spent about a year in a mix of French oak barrels and puncheons, all neutral.

This clocks in at 14.3% listed alc and begins with a nose possessing real clarity; it’s just a ringing bell of Grenache especially, with its holy trinity of red fruit, mineral, and garrigue studded with wildflowers. What an expressive, alluring nose this is; an aromatic signature that immediately displays why so many of us are so fond of Jon’s winemaking, his ability to coax such piercing purity out of these Rhone varieties. The balanced, beautiful palate continues the theme. There’s a great sense of wild brambliness to the fruit, and that rich fruit is balanced by cooling mineral tones and sneaky, supple finishing tannins. This is a red chockful of character and charm, offering the kind of complexity and quality that make it an easy buy at $30 and a veritable slam dunk at today’s tag.

First come first served up to 36 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 Betz

March 23, 2017

Hello friends. It remains one of my great professional thrills to get to work with the wines of Betz Family Winery. I’ll repeat what I have said before: Bob Betz’s face would doubtless be chiseled on a Mt. Rushmore of Washington winemakers. He is the only Master of Wine making wine in Washington, having achieved that honor back in 1998. After a 28-year career at Chateau Ste Michelle he launched his eponymous winery in 1997, crushing 150 cases worth of wine in the Woodinville warehouse district.

Since then, production has grown to 3500 cases total, but acclaim has grown more quickly than that, forcing the family to close their mailing list in 2008 and establishing them as one of Washington’s cult wineries. Steve and Bridgit Griessel came on board as managing owners in 2011, and the winery is open to its list members on just two weekends each year: once in the fall, for the release of its Rhone portfolio, and once in the spring, for the release of these Bordeaux-styled wines (that spring release just happened two weeks ago).

The challenge, as usual, is allocations. (As a reminder, our allocation scheme favors breadth over depth, so that everyone gets one bottle before anyone gets two. And our formula for prioritizing allocations includes overall orders, frequency of orders, recency of orders, and list tenure, among other factors.) Just like every spring, these are painfully limited wines, but trust that we’ll do our best to source as much as possible for our list members.

2014 Betz Family Winery Clos de Betz

Clos de Betz is a blend of 71% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Petit Verdot, raised in 100% new French oak. In my experience, Clos is a glorious wine, at its best 8-12 years past vintage, and an exemplar of the power and grace of Washington Merlot.

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “Bright, dark red-ruby. Alluring floral lift to the aromas of blackberry, cassis, Bing cherry, sweet spices and anise. Sweet, plush wine with great sex appeal to its intense, pliant flavors of amarena cherry, flint and spicy oak. Really remarkable–and not at all stewed–for Merlot from a hot year; Betz noted that he picked these vines early, ‘with tension and vitality.’ Finishes very long and smooth, with suave, perfectly supported tannins dusting the front teeth. A great, velvety Merlot-based wine from Washington. Betz adds some Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot to wine ‘to provide more structure, nuance and color.’ Drink 2018-2026. 94pts.” [Note: this is the strongest review Tanzer has ever bestowed upon Clos de Betz, besting the 93+pt reviews earned by the 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2012 vintages. For Tanzer to view this as the finest Clos yet is high praise indeed.]

Here is what Bob Betz has to say about this vintage of Clos: The quality and character of the 2014 Clos de Betz reflects the success we had with the merlot variety in this vintage. Following an August with consistently warm temperatures, the night time temperatures in the vineyard began to fall rapidly during the first full week of September. The first Merlot of the season was picked on September 8th, which included 3 individual blocks at Ciel du Cheval, and 1 block at Klipsun.

This first flush of Merlot provided a picture of what would continue for the remainder of the Season: Remarkably clean, intensely flavored grapes that easily stained our hands and palates. The character of each block was clearly on display- Ciel du Cheval expressing not only the different planting years (including the 1976 planting of Merlot), but the 3 individual clones that are planted here (181,348,3).

Over the following 10 days, four additional blocks of Merlot were harvested including Red Willow, Elephant Mountain, Seven Hills, and Dubrul Vineyard. The trend of compelling Merlot continued, reaching its summit with the Dubrul Vineyard Merlot. The berry size came in smaller than any Cabernet Sauvignon of the season, and the grape skins quickly stained our sorting table a deep shade of maroon. This deeply colored lot aided Clos de Betz reach a new level of density and complexity.

In 2014, Clos de Betz could be mistaken for Père de Famille if judged by appearance only: A vibrant magenta hue on the edge of the glass, leads to an opaque core. Intense aromatics of lavender and thyme share the stage with layers of Black cherry, red currant, pomegranate fruit. In line with our other 2014 Bordeaux wines, Clos de Betz offers weight and richness on the palate, softening the tannic impression, and has a long sweet finish.

2014 Betz Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Pere de Famille

Pere is always Cabernet dominant, this year at 85% of the blend, the remainder Merlot and Petit Verdot, all aged in 100% new French oak. My experience with Pere is that it is one of Washington’s most age-worthy wines, emerging from its shell at about a decade past vintage and drinking beautifully for years after that.

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “(bottled in June): Bright ruby-red. Discreet, very pure aromas of cassis and black cherry complicated by mineral, spice and floral nuances. Highly concentrated and savory, conveying a 3-D texture as well as terrific definition to its flavors of black cherry, saline minerality and dried herbs. Wonderfully elegant, energetic, flavorful wine with real éclat. Really saturates the palate with flavor without leaving any impression of weight. Finishes with substantial dusty but fine-grained tannins and outstanding lingering fruit. This will need time in bottle to unwind. Drink 2019-2029. 95pts.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 94-97pts.

Here is what Bob Betz had to say about this vintage of Pere: Reviewing our cellar tasting notes of the 2014 vintage reveals a record number of vineyard sites that achieved a quality level we will likely hold as reference points for years to come. Looking back at the 2014 harvest, we ask ourselves which factors during the growing season led to such success, in so many different varieties, in so many different vineyard sites across the Columbia Valley. Several factors are at play.

The early start to the growing season, from bud break, through flowering, and through to veraison meant that grape clusters enjoyed a greater number of days to reach maturity. The unbroken warm weather in 2014 resulted in a record number of growing days that “counted” toward grape maturity. Looser than average grape clusters, particularly in Cabernet Sauvignon, allowed a greater degree of light penetration to each individual berry. And lastly, the cool temperatures during the early mornings of harvest (when the grapes are picked) meant that the grapes were still cool by the time they reached the winery.

The vibrant shades of purple magenta are the first clue that 2014 is a special vintage of Père de Famille. The aromas follow suite, with a penetrating array of fruits and spices: Black currant, boysenberry, and black cherry lead the charge, with subtle nuances of bay leaf, rosemary, and cedar spice. The palate impression is one of great density and plushness, mirroring the aromatics, with anise and dark chocolate expressed in the lingering finish.

As expected, our allocations are quite limited on both wines. Please limit order requests to 3 bottles of Clos and 2 bottles of Pere, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests (I wouldn’t be surprised if allocations end up closer to 1 bottle). We will aim to allocate the wines Tuesday morning, so please try to place all order requests by the end of Monday. 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 San Felice

March 20, 2017

Hello friends. Our list was responsible for consuming oceans of San Felice’s entry-level Chianti Classico last fall. Now, with the coming of spring, we’ve been given advance notice that a parcel of their Chianti on the next rung up the quality ladder is about to hit the Port of Seattle.

2012 San Felice Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio

This one comes with a strong review from Galloni, too, so we’d be wise to stake our claim before this wine hits the general market. Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “($26); San Felice’s 2012 Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio is rich, powerful and explosive, with real depth and intensity to the fruit. Dark cherry, plum, tobacco, menthol and licorice give the 2012 its spherical shape and texture. Drink this bold, upfront Riserva over the next 7-10 years. This is a strong showing from San Felice. 92pts.”

I continue to be thrilled with the way our list members have embraced Chianti over the past few years. It is a terrific value-hunter’s category, but it requires legwork, a lot of frog-kissing to find the princes. And that’s the Full Pull model: we kiss the frogs so you don’t have to. Chianti’s fortunes are improving in the US market, but it’s still walking the line between fashionable and unfashionable, still burdened by the days of swill-in-straw-baskets. But no matter. We know better. Fashion or no, we know that Chianti remains one of the world’s beating hearts of Sangiovese, and that the good bottles are really, really good.

As our list members have discovered over the past few years, San Felice is really, really good. The winery sits in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga (located here), at an altitude of about 1300ft. Their grounds encompass 650 hectares of grapes, 17,000 olive trees (!), and an agritourismo (!!). (Yes, we should all visit soon.)

There are a number of differences between the Classico we offered last autumn and the Classico Riserva we’re offering today. First, this is a selection of some of San Felice’s oldest/best vineyard sites. Second, it’s 100% Sangiovese (the Classico includes some blenders). And finally, it gets twice as long (24 months) in the traditional Slavonian botti (and a small portion goes into smaller barrel). All of that adds up to a very different wine indeed. The general rule of thumb: whereas the Classico is usually nervy and elegant, Grigio is usually rich and generous. And indeed, this vintage of Grigio presents a wonderful, rich mix of black cherry fruit, earthy/leafy tones, star anise exotics, and cherry pit bitters. With time and air, the earthy cremini mushroom notes only increased. Wonderful, and so appetizing. Il Grigio always puts me in mind of richer dishes. If you start involving Italian sausage, or maybe braising some short ribs and putting them on top of polenta, this is a fine wine to turn to.

First come first served up to 12 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 Into The Tranches

March 18, 2017

Hello friends. Did you hear the news? As of the beginning of March, we’d only had three sunny, mild days in Seattle since October 11th, 2016. Count them—October 11th, November 8th, and February 13th were the only three days that had both moderate temperatures and less than 30% cloud coverage in over four months. That’s approximately 30 hours and 51 minutes of warm, daylight sunshine in a total of over 3,000 hours. Do you know what that means? It means that the sneaking depression you’ve been feeling—the one that encourages you to stay in bed, only eat carbs, and wash your sorrows away with big, beefy reds—it’s real. And you’re not alone.

Collectively, we are suffering from a significant lack of vitamin D. Thankfully, daylight savings has hit and things are on the up and up. (Hell, the “sunset” jumped all the way to after 7:00 pm this week!) Though the rain and gloom seem to be socked in for the moment, those perfect Pacific Northwest 75 degree days and 10:00 pm sunsets can’t be too far off. This type of good news can only mean one thing—it’s time to stock up on those perfect PNW rosés to match those pink evening skies.

2016 Tranche Rose Pink Pape

**In case you’ve missed the Tranche train in years past, here’s a quick recap for you. 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 estate vineyards (and some carefully chosen purchased fruit). Tranche also seems to act as 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, artistic youngster, and a precocious kid at that.**

Cue the sounds of hearts breaking across the state of Washington. Tranche’s super succulent Pink Pape Rosé is a wine we have had to sharply allocate in several previous vintages. .

This single-vineyard provençal rosé blends three traditional grapes of Châteaunuef-du-Pape—Grenache, Counoise, and Cinsault. All of the grapes come from Blackrock Estate Vineyard in Yakima Valley, which is a stone’s throw from Red Mountain. Hand harvested and whole cluster pressed, a gentle and rapid press cycle leads to the alluring, nearly translucent salmon-pink color of this wine.

The nose is delicate with strawberry, wildflowers, and citrus—orange blossom, lemon peel, and pink grapefruit. The palate has wild acidity, the kind you want in a summer afternoon wine, that gets rounded out with white peach, red-blushed nectarines, and a hint of something tropical—Guava perhaps? Crushed river rock minerality and acid take this wine to the finish line and as you swallow your first taste, one word comes to mind: yum.

Now, even though summer is coming, that doesn’t mean it’s here yet. If you’re not in the mood to start on the pink juice quite this early, Tranche has plenty of excellent, well-reviewed reds to keep you warm until Seattle feels the sun once again. One of the most exciting things about the current lineup of reds from Tranche is that they are all from 2012, a stellar vintage for Washington wines. Smack-dab between a couple years of cold, cold vintages and a few burning hot ones, ‘12 wines are an homage to classic Evergreen state wine making. They are all incredibly balanced wines that are drinking well now and will continue to grow into their fruit, acidity, and tannins for decades.

The other highlight of both wines offered below is that they come from the estate Blue Mountain Vineyard. The core vineyard for the Tranche label, BMV sits next to Leonetti’s Loess Vineyard in the eastern Walla Walla Valley and is named for it’s location—along a bluff at the exact spot where the Blue Mountains run into the city. Many of you might remember that this planting ground used to be Neuffer Estate Vineyard when Nicholas Cole Cellars was still alive and kicking—and that it is known for making spectacular wines.

2012 Tranche Cabernet Franc Estate – $39.99 (TPU $31.99)

[Note: Tranche has some terrific spring pricing in place on their reds for those of us willing to go deep on volume. You’ll see that special pricing reflected in our TPU tags today.]

Tranche’s Cab Franc is a remarkable example of this variety being grown in Washington. The nose covers floral delicacy, red fruit, and savory herbs. It’s got that slight touch of old world funk which makes Cab Franc so enticing—my tasting notes literally read, this smells like a library where a fruit fight just happened. The palate moves further into the worlds of fruit and savor, showcasing raspberry, leather, and fresh roasting herbs. This wine is textured and strong, yet surprisingly crisp for 14.8% alcohol, with striking acidity and tannins that match equally hefty fruit.

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

To order this wine, click here

2012 Tranche Syrah Estate

Washington Syrahs can be easily separated into two categories—the funk and the fruit. Tranche’s ‘12 Syrah is a beautiful example of the fruit. Though this wine is all about Eastern Walla Walla, the nose feels true to the grape as well—it is pure fresh ground pepper and enticing as all get-out. Leading with that sneezy tickle, the nose continues with bold, juicy notes of black raspberry and currant and dried herbs. The palate is centered around plush tannins with a bit of grip and pure fruit, with solid acidity and texture. It clocks in at 14.9% alcohol and was basically made to be drank during the dark, wet days of Seattle’s seemingly neverending winter.

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

Please limit order requests to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like) and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. All 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.