Full Pull Brunello

April 30, 2017

Hello friends. Because of our list’s long, steady support for San Felice, we have access today to one of the crown jewels of the estate, on a container that is just set to hit the dock in Seattle this week:

2012 San Felice Brunello di Montalcino Campogiovanni

Wine Spectator (Bruce Sanderson): “In a traditional style, showing beefy tannins and savory earth notes, with a core of leather and cherry flavors. Shows some sweetness midpalate and picks up energy on the long finish. Hangs together, ending in an uplifting, resonant manner. Best from 2021 through 2036. 96pts.”

That review, which turned up in the March 22 Wine Spectator Insider, essentially sold the wine out in Seattle before the can even landed in the port. Fortunately we have a nice little parcel with our name on it. The review is a big deal because a) the only other time Campogiovanni earned a 96pt review from Spectator (the 2006 vintage, in 2011), it ended up as the #4 wine in Spectator’s year-end Top 100 list; and b) this is as strong a review as any 2012 Brunello has received yet from Spectator (they’ve reviewed 43 of them).

To date, we’ve mostly focused on San Felice’s glorious Chianti portfolio, but they also quietly own a 65-hectare estate called Campogiovanni, on the southwestern side of Montalcino, deep in the heart of Brunello country. They purchased the estate in the early ‘80s, when Brunello was still a sleepy category, and have carefully tended it since. Twenty of the hectares are planted to vines (and fourteen of those twenty are used for Brunello production), and the remainder in olives and forest. It looks like this. [Sigh. Must visit.]

This is a traditional Brunello, aged for about three years mostly in large, neutral Slavonian botti before spending another year in bottle. Because of the feeding frenzy effect, waiting and trying to score a sample bottle is not going to be possible. Given the quality of the producer and the consistency of previous vintages, I’m confident this will deliver the goods as expected.

We have to submit our own request on Wednesday morning. Please try to get all order requests in by Tuesday night, so that we can advocate for a parcel that accurately reflects our members’ wishes. And note: this one is unlikely to be available for reorder. Please limit order requests to 4 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 Devona

April 29, 2017

Hello friends. One of the best developments in northwest winemaking over the past year has been to witness the launch and growth of John and Molly Abbott’s Devona. These are two of the best people in the northwest wine trade, and John has long been among my favorite winemakers working in Washington. During his years at Abeja, he crafted many a Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay (and Syrah and Merlot and Viognier and etc etc) that I, and our list members, found deeply charming.

With Devona, the focus has returned to John’s first love: Pinot Noir. Much of John’s early winemaking career was spent making Pinot, and I always had the sense (via many a conversation about Burgundy and Oregon and Champagne) that he desired to hear its siren call again.

With this release, John and Molly will be settling into a more predictable pattern for the winery: Pinot Noirs in the springtime, Chardonnay and another-red-wine-I-won’t-name (because it will get people excited and I don’t know yet whether we’re going to receive an allocation). On that note, consider joining the Devona mailing list if you love John’s wines. While the Abbotts have been very generous with their allotments to Full Pull over the past year, these are always going to be highly limited wines, and the best way to guarantee yourself a future allocation is to join their list.

Today we have a pair of Pinots: one from a familiar vineyard (we’ve offered the 2012 and 2013 vintage from Devona) and one a debutante. Both are quite rare. I’m not sure if there’s another retail account in Seattle (or in the United States for that matter) that will receive a decent allocation of either of these wines. And neither will be available for reorder; anything we don’t take will be snapped up by the eager beavers on the Devona mailing list.

2014 Devona Pinot Noir Freedom Hill Vineyard

John harvests a mix of Pommard (80%) and Wadenswil (20%) clones from this 1982-planted site in the foothills of the Coast Range, on soils of marine sedimentary uplifted sea bed. The 2014 vintage represents 33rd leaf for this site, getting squarely into old-vine territory. I believe fewer than ten wineries get access to Freedom Hill fruit, and the list is a who’s who in Oregon, including St. Innocent, Patty Green, and Walter Scott. I’ll let John take over from here:

The 2014 vintage was our third working with Freedom Hill and we were feeling good. Our relationship with the owners, Dan and Helen, was developing nicely. I could find the vineyard blocks on my own, and their very large dog liked me. We were ready to start the new growing season after the cool, rainy finish of the 2013 vintage.

The weather was beautiful, with bud break beginning almost two weeks early. The warm, dry spring allowed for even bloom and consistent veraison. This led to a larger crop, which in turn led to much discussion about thinning and balance in our various blocks at Freedom Hill. Harvest was two weeks earlier than in the previous two vintages, and although the crop was larger, it was dark in color and nicely concentrated in flavor. Driving the fruit back up the Columbia Gorge to our winery was actually relaxing. For the first two vintages, I white-knuckled it, with the truck’s wipers flapping at top speed and the heater cranked up to high.

The 2014 Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir is a blend of Pommard and Wädenswil clones. The power in the blend comes from the Pommard, which is denser in color and has more blueberry and raspberry characters with a long finish. The Wädenswil gives the wine nice elements of bright acidity and ripe pie cherry characters. The 2014 vintage was a textbook beautiful vintage for Oregon.

John raised the ’14 Freedom Hill in French oak, 30% new, the remainder once-, twice-, and thrice-used. It clocks in at 14.6% listed alc, true to the warm 2014 vintage, which is more of a Cali year than a Burg year on the Oregon style spectrum. The nose offers an attractive mix of red cherry fruit, raspberry pastille, and dusty earth. In the mouth, this is clearly the richest vintage of this wine to date, with gobs of overtly delicious, generous Pinot fruit. And yet this still retains a classic John Abbott sense of elegance and balance. The overall package is a seductive charmer through and through.

2014 Devona Pinot Noir Mount Richmond Vineyard

Mount Richmond is a beautiful estate vineyard for Elk Cove Winery in Yamhill Carlton, with the original blocks going into the ground in 1996. From the sounds of it, this wine started as a winemaker trade: a little Washington Syrah fruit in exchange for some good Oregon Pinot fruit. Again, I’ll let John explain:

I firmly believe that if you try hard and have a passion, good things will come your way, and so came our first vintage of Mount Richmond Vineyard Pinot Noir. This wine began as a favor – a load of Syrah delivered to Oregon, a bit of Pinot Noir as a thank you, one winemaker helping out another. Fruit from Mount Richmond Vineyard is rarely available, and the opportunity to work with it is our good fortune. This began our friendship with Adam Campbell and we are honored by the relationship.

Adam and I share many things in common. To name a few, we both grew up in Oregon with fathers in the medical field (we discovered later that they went to medical school together), we both enjoy fly-fishing and navigating a drift boat down a river, and we both have a big passion for Oregon vineyards and the sense of place reflected in each individual site. Molly and I are grateful to Adam, his wine team, and his vineyard manager, Travis, for working with us on their very coveted fruit.

Mount Richmond vineyard is planted in marine sedimentary Willakenzie soils at high density spacing. It is located close to the middle of the Yamhill-Carlton American Viticultural Area. This vineyard’s classic Pommard clone is often early to harvest and produces a nicely structured, deep, expressive Pinot Noir filled with complex richness and fine tannins. We are able to utilize fruit from both the estate block and a new block established with cuttings from the estate block.

The 2014 growing season was a bit warmer than normal, and from bud break to harvest the vine phenology was ahead of schedule. Two small lots were fermented with native yeast that came in on the fruit and were aged in a mix of 30% new French oak barrels. The blue fruit is intense, with nice black currant and a hint of the coastal fir and earth aroma that makes me so happy. The mouth is long and generous, with just a hint of sweet oak filling out the mid-palate.

This one clocks in at 14.2% listed alc and offers a completely different aromatic profile than Freedom Hill, this one focusing more on savory elements, with lovely porcini mushroom and resinous forest floor notes to frame a core of black cherry fruit. That fruity/savory balance continues on the palate, which also balances its plush fruit with a sturdy spine of citrusy acidity and cherry pit bitters. This is complex and deeply compelling.
Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of each Pinot, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in the next month or so, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.


Full Pull Blue Mountain

April 28, 2017

Hello friends. It is exceedingly rare to see any single-vineyard Syrah from Washington offered at $20 or below, let alone a single-vineyard Syrah from an established vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley (I combed through our records briefly, and I’m not sure we’ve ever offered a single-vineyard Walla Walla Valley Syrah for twenty bucks). But that’s exactly what we have today:

2015 Kerloo Cellars Syrah Blue Mountain Vineyard

[Note: the BMV Syrah will be main thrust of today’s offer, but see below for short blurbs on new Kerloo Rosé and a well-priced Cab from Ryan Crane’s Sodo Cellars label.]

We received some inquiries late last year about the 2014 vintage of this wine after it earned a 93pt review from Sean Sullivan in the year-end issue of Wine Enthusiast. And I can see why: that is literally an unheard of review for Mr. S. Not a single other Washington Syrah priced at $20 or lower has earned any review better than 92pts.

Alas, by the time Sean’s review came out, the wine was sold out. But now the new vintage is here, the pricing is the same, and the poignancy factor is ramped up, because our neighbor Mr. Crane tells me this is the final vintage for this lovely wine.

It comes entirely from Blue Mountain Vineyard, which many of you will recognize as the estate vineyard for Tranche. Those of you with long memories might also 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, as it sits on a bluff at the exact spot where the Blue Mountains run into the city of Walla Walla. BMV sits next to Leonetti’s Loess Vineyard, in the deep silt-loam of the eastern Walla Walla Valley, a beautiful spot to grow Syrah.

Ryan fermented his Syrah with 100% whole clusters, and used 40% concrete and 60% neutral French oak (14.4% listed alc). And if you’re thinking that sounds like pretty nice treatment for a twenty dollar wine, well then you’re thinking the same thing I’m thinking. This pours into the glass inky black-purple and then explodes out aromatically, with violet and huckleberry, black pepper and flinty mineral. There’s a wildness to the nose, helped along I’m sure by all that whole-cluster material. In the mouth, this easily fans out across the entire palate, offering real palate saturation. It’s a seamless wine, balanced and polished. The complexity, the site expressiveness, the overall sense of class: a rare combination in a wine with this price tag.

2016 Kerloo Cellars Rose

Ryan’s lovely Grenache Rosé, all from Painted Hills Vineyard, saw three hours on skins, enough time to impart a pale salmon color. The nose is exotic and lovely, combining fruit notes of strawberry and melon with green subtleties of fennel frond and green papaya. The palate sees a bright vein of citrusy acid cutting through creamy, delicious fruit. At 12% listed alc, this is refreshing as can be. Put a hard chill on this beauty and enjoy it all summer long.

2014 Sodo Cellars Deadbird Cabernet Sauvignon

As a reminder, Sodo Cellars isn’t Ryan buying bulk juice and putting it under an entry-level label. This is top-end, Kerloo-vinified juice, but under a different label and sold for accessible pricing. I presume the goals of a project like this are twofold: 1) to reward Kerloo’s Calling Club members with a well-priced house wine; and 2) to give Ryan outstanding options to present to restaurants as $10-$12 glass-pours. The labels are great, too, based on Smithsonian crane-skeleton drawings. And the juice inside is outstanding. We’ve offered the Wingman (a Rhone blend) on a few occasions, and the Lovebirds Rosé once. This is our first time dipping into the Deadbird Cab.

And please note: there were only 240 cases made, and this is close to end-of-vintage, so it’s an unlikely reorder target. It is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, entirely from the Walla Walla Valley, and raised in 20% new French oak. The wine clocks in at 13.9% listed alc, and it begins with a nose combining blackberry, loamy soil, and high-cacao chocolate. The palate sees dark intense fruit swaddled in warming mocha barrel tones. It’s a rich truffle of a wine through the attack and mid-palate, then picks up Cabernet chew and appealing earthiness as it rolls into a long finish. As usual with the Sodo Cellars lineup, this punches well above its price class.

International Wine Report (Owen Bargreen): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 91pts.”

 

First come first served up to 36 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 Torre Oria

April 27, 2017

Hello friends. There is this sweet spot that exists when it comes to wine. Yes, we all know and love vintage bottles of bubbles from Champagne and get excited whenever the occasion calls for that beautiful-yet-expensive juice. However, if all you have is expensive wine, you might have a tendency to save it and never drink it. (And there is no shame greater in the world of Full Pull than not drinking enough sparkling wine.)

So, we search for this sweet spot right in between price and palate. We hunt for sparkling wine that is tasty enough to drink on its own, yet cheap enough to not feel bad about opening or mixing into a wicked good sparkling cocktail. We pursue price-point driven reds with oomph and character that can liven up a weeknight meal. It’s not always an easy spot to reach—and more often than not, taste gets put on the back burner to price. So, when we finally find a good bottle at an unbeatable price, we hold on to it as long as possible. We buy it by the case and stockpile it for parties, anniversaries, and random Tuesdays.

NV Torre Oria Cava Brut 1.5L MAGNUM

Torre Oria Cava Brut has had a permanent place in the Full Pull warehouse for some time now—long time list members might remember that this sparkling wine is one of our former FP team member Matt Tessler’s enduring legacies. We have list members who literally buy whatever we have in stock every time they come into our warehouse—and with good reason. This is a ridiculous value for sparkling wine—only made more awesome by being a magnum.

Made from 100% Macabeo grapes, this wine clocks in at a light and lovely 12% alcohol. The winery, Torre Oria, was founded in 1897 in Utiel-Requena DOC, (located here), right near Valencia. It occupies this wonderful transition zone between the Mediterranean climate of the coast and the continental climate of Central Spain. Using sustainable methods and dry farming for all of their vineyards, Torre Oria is known for exceptionally high value and exceptionally low prices.

We’ve offered this wine in an e-mail previously, in 750 ml bottles, but never before at this size.

Excerpts from the previous offer: Cava can be an incredible source of value, if you’re willing to tiptoe through the minefield of forgettable plonk. We are so willing, and the result is that, every once in awhile, we gain access to a bottle like this, one that offers real pleasure at an accessible tag.

This has subtleties leesy and floral to go with a core of creamy apricot fruit and dark bready notes. In the mouth, it presents an aggressive mousse of scrubbin’ bubbles, ready to cleanse the palate for the next bite of food. Terrific intensity for the tariff, and a fine choice for festive sparkling-wine cocktails like kir royales and French 75s.

Listen, there is no greater joy than pulling out a giant bottle of sparkling wine for your friends and family, and knowing that you spent less than $20 on it. Stock up now for summer parties, beach days, weddings, birthdays, thanksgiving, and the holidays—if you can go that long without drinking it.

2011 Torre Oria Reserva

Torre Oria is also responsible for some of our favorite price-point driven reds over the last few years. Usually splits of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, this winery’s lineup came our way only through Matt Tessler’s love of Torre Oria’s bubbles. We had to honor that love, right?

DO Utiel-Requena is a lovely place for grape-growing, but a lot of it is still planted to the traditional Bobal grape, which tends to produce less-than-thrilling wines. However, the little bits of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon that speckle this countryside are showing the true potential of the region.

Utiel-Requena may just turn into Spain’s Super Tuscan region (Super Valencia?). It obviously gets the heat units to ripen Bordelaise varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, and the affinity between Tempranillo and Cab is clear in a wine like this. In some distant future, they may rip out some Bobal, replant with Cab and Merlot, blend with Tempranillo, slather with new wood, and charge $80/bottle. In the meantime, we’ll continue enjoying these wines in the $10-$15 range.

This 2011 is a 70/30 blend of Tempranillo and Cab. It clocks in at 13% listed alc and begins with a deep, appealing nose of black cherry, star anise, smoke, and mint. The palate is clean as can be (always worth pointing out with a $10 wine), with a core of rich, honest Tempranillo fruit, all leafy and earthy and delicious. The complexity, the balance, the overall sense of pleasure this brings: all dazzle for the tariff. This is rapidly becoming a house wine for Full Pull.

 

First come first served up to 6 Cava Mags and 36 reds, 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 Basement

April 27, 2017

Hello friends. There are some wineries we encounter that completely embody a place. The location of the winery seeps into everything they do—into every wine that’s made within its walls—and in return, the winery itself gives back to the community. Whether it’s a devastated old world countryside that’s been revitalized through viticulture or an urban neighborhood that grows through local business, like a basement-turned winery in Seattle, wineries have a responsibility to the places they live. And as people of the community, we have a responsibility to those wineries. Good thing so many of them in our corner of the country are making grade-A, delicious juice.

The latter is exactly what we have to offer you today—wine from a basement in Seattle. And it’s damn good basement wine, too. Truthfully, Sous Sol has actually moved their production to our little neighborhood and are now operating out of Kerloo’s space. However, the winery started as a basement project of Derek Shankland and Co., the team behind Pioneer Square favorite, Delicatus. This team has a intimate knowledge of the Seattle restaurant world, and have used that to create a line of expressive-yet-balanced, food friendly wines.

Sous Sol, which means “basement” in French, began as a passion project in 2008, and has slowly moved from hobby to legitimate business over the last nine years. In 2012, Sous Sol moved all of their winemaking from Derek’s small basement to a production space in Pioneer Square. Between opening Delicatus in the midst of a recession, when Pioneer Square was losing businesses left and right, and moving their winemaking production just blocks away, the Sous Sol team is truly thought to be pioneers of the neighborhood’s revitalization. With a focus on food pairing built from Seattle’s impeccable restaurant world, Sous Sol produces unique, old world-style wines that are incredibly terroir driven from vineyards around Yakima Valley. These are Washington wines in every sense of the word.

Sous Sol’s winemaking philosophy? Work diligently to elevate the natural expression presented by the Vineyards. We think they do just that.

2013 Sous Sol DuBrul Syrah

DuBrul is a well-loved site in Washington and a site that is hard to source from—especially when it comes to Syrah. There is exactly one other winery that gets to bottle single-vineyard DuBrul Syrah, and that’s Cote Bonneville, the house winery attached to DuBrul as an estate vineyard (Owen Roe used to bottle a DuBrul Syrah, but not for the past decade). Dubrul is famous for high quality grapes, high quality wines, and high prices (the Cote Bonneville Syrah retails at $65).

Sous Sol’s terroir driven ‘13 Syrah spends 24 months in barrel and a minimum of 6 months in bottle. The nose gives off beautiful syrah fruit—blackberry and boysenberry—but stands out for its savory aromas of whole peppercorns, spicy crushed red pepper, and oregano. The palate is incredibly pretty (almost unexpectedly after that wildly aromatic nose); a medium body filled with rich, layered fruit and earth. The robust and lingering finish begs to be paired with food—anything roasted with herbs de provence, peppery bbq, soft funky cheeses, or hearty roasted vegetables would do the trick.

2015 Sous Sol Riesling 

This example of Washington Riesling comes from Handprint Farm Vineyard, right outside of Prosser. This vineyard was planted directly along the Yakima river, creating a super cool-temperature planting site. Nearly half of Washington state’s Chardonnay and Riesling grow in cool climate sites like this across Yakima—stretches of cooler terrain that can give heightened acidity and later pick dates to acid driven whites. Sous Sol’s grapes were picked in late October, a time of year where much of Yakima has already been picked and pushed over the pass for most of Seattle’s urban wineries.

The Riesling opens with a nose full of dried and fresh apricot and expressive floral notes. The palate is wildly acidic, which can be directly traced to the cool site of Handprint Farm, and comes through with tart flavors of lime, meyer lemon, and green apple. There is a very, very small amount of residual sugar—this is definitely a dry wine—with a finish that’s long and comes back to acid driven citrus. This wine would pair perfectly with a soft cow’s milk cheese, dried fruit, drizzled honey, and a porch.

2013 Sous Sol Red Blend – $19.99 (TPU $17.99)

This red blend will immediately perk up the ears of some of our vineyard-groupie list members. 49% Sangiovese from Full Pull favorite Boushey Vineyard and 43% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Syrah from ever-elegant DuBrul. Heavy hitters like this and an out-of-the-Washington-box Super Tuscan blend usually mean good things—and this wine does not disappoint.

This is a wine that balances the beauty of Washington’s fruit and savory sides—with red fruit and earthy, roasted notes from the Sangiovese; leafy green and black cherry that is decidedly Cab. Sauv; and a touch of pepper from the Syrah. The nose is red and black cherry, plum, fig, roasted red pepper, and leafy tobacco. It’s heavy on the Sangiovese and wants you to know it. The palate follows through with light spice, continued fruit, and leathery tannins with a touch of grip—all leading to a satisfying finish. This is a perfect food wine—delicious enough to pair with a special meal, inexpensive enough to open on a boring-old-Wednesday

We’re close to end-of-vintage for all three of these wines, so reorder prospects are murky at best. 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 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 Vintage Of The Century (Of The Month) II

April 24, 2017

Hello friends. Back in January, we had our first “Vintage of the Century (of the Month)” offer, highlighting the crazy hype for the 2015 vintage across Europe. In that offer, we featured Bila-Haut’s 2015 Cotes du Roussillon Rouge, which subsequently became one of our biggest January hits ever and a huge reorder target since. The success of that offer, especially in a typically sleepy month like January, underscored for me that we should expend some effort this year seeking out more excellent Euro-wines from the ’15 vintage.

So that’s what we have today: two new ‘15s, as well as a reoffer of the Bila-Haut that kicked this program off. Before we dig into those, I’ll reprint what I wrote in January:

—-

Hype. Short for hyperbole. It runs rampant in the wine trade. I vowed when starting Full Pull to try not to overdo it. Because, I mean really, if today I’m offering the GREATEST WINE I’VE EVER TASTED, what the hell am I supposed to say about tomorrow’s wine? The truth is: I love all my babies. Maybe not equally. But plenty of love. And yeah, I know I don’t always get it right, and sometimes enthusiasm crosses the line into hyperbole, but one thing I can promise you at least: it’s always on my mind to keep the hype in check and to offer you a clear-eyed look at the wines we’re offering.

One of the places where wine hype is at its worst is with vintages. We’re seventeen years into this century, and I shudder to think of the number of vintages I’ve heard described as the “potential vintage of the century.” In Washington alone, I’ve heard folks toss out that phrase for 2003, 2005, 2007, 2012, and 2014. When 30% of vintages are the “vintage of the century,” we are squarely into hype territory.

All of this is preamble to talk about the 2015 vintage in Europe. Hype heaven. It began as early as harvest time (see Decanter’s article: Europe’s 2015 wine harvest: On the verge of greatness?). And it has continued as even-handed folks like Jancis Robinson have begun compiling vintage reports. Some example quotes. Burgundy: Quality is looking extremely fine, with some people whispering comparisons with the outstanding 2005 vintage. Loire Valley: Very promising across the region, with the same warm, dry summer that many other French regions enjoyed. Languedoc-Rousillon: The hot weather produced plentiful ripeness, and potential quality is considered to be very promising at the top end. Northern Rhone: Universally viewed as a vintage with top quality potential. Bordeaux: Optimists are already calling it the best vintage since 2010 with early reports favouring the right bank.

Those of us who enjoy Jancis for her restraint can pretty easily translate phrases like “very promising” into “what the [bleep] are you waiting for? buy buy buy!!!!” But still, I’m not going to go anywhere near calling it Europe’s VOTC™. For one thing, it’s waaaaaay too early. Most of the best wines are years away from release. And anyway, doesn’t it suffice to just call it an extremely promising vintage and then go out and taste the wines?

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Again, I’ll tap the brakes and say: it’s still awfully early. But the data pointing towards an outstanding pan-European vintage are growing. Including the three data points below.

2015 Delas Freres Crozes-Hermitage 

Jancis Northern Rhone ’15 reminder: Universally viewed as a vintage with top quality potential.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 90pts.”

Vinous (Josh Raynolds): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 90-92pts.”

As you can see on the map, Crozes-Hermitage is an area in the crook of the neck made by the confluence of the Rhone and Isere rivers. While up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne are allowed in red Crozes, this version from Delas is 100% Syrah, from vines grown in “granite sub-soils in the North” and “fluvialglacial alluviums and terraces of rolled river bed stones mixed with loess in the South.” It clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and pours inky black-purple into the glass, a pretty rare color and saturation for the northern Rhone, but that’s 2015 for you. The nose immediately gets after it with a big hit of sanguine minerality to complement notes of huckleberry fruit and briny olives. The palate is a super-intense mix of bright fruit and smoked meats that turns minerally on the finish, a finish that also contains no shortage of medium-grained tannins. This augurs well for a beautiful evolution in bottle. Jeb’s drinking window of 2016-2024 seems just right to me.

To order this wine, click here

2015 Regnard Bourgogne Pinot Noir

Jancis Burgundy ’15 reminder: Quality is looking extremely fine, with some people whispering comparisons with the outstanding 2005 vintage.

Regnard is mostly known as a Chablis house, but they make this Bourgogne Rouge that is lovely in average vintages, and represents outstanding value in a fine vintage like ’15. It comes from vineyards scattered across the Cote de Beaune, saw no new wood, and clocks in at a brisk 12.5%. The nose is very expressive, offering notes of cherry fruit, mineral, and lovely rose petal topnotes. In the mouth, this is soulful Burg, with real succulence and richness on such a moderate-alcohol frame. There’s a bit of rustic chew on the finish, some structure to remind you that you’re in the old-world despite all that delicious fruit. Complex, structured, minerally; this offers plenty of character for a twenty dollar tag.

To order this wine, click here

2015 Bila-Haut (Chapoutier) Cotes du Roussillon Villages Rouge

Originally offered January 18, 2016. Excerpts from the original: This wine is a ridiculous value in mediocre vintages. In a fine vintage like 2015, it’s a sub-$15 wine that can help lay the foundation for a cellar. Jeb Dunnuck tasted it out of barrel last year, and he was, erm, a little excited.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 91-93pts.”

We tasted this wine in late December, and even at the end of a long year of tasting, this wine easily cut through the clutter. One of those wines where Pat and I simultaneously taste the wine and look up at each other like: are you tasting what I’m tasting?!? The nose is a glorious, expressive mix of black fruit and black pepper, violets and braising beef. The palate (14.5% listed alc) is perhaps most impressive texturally, with noteworthy intensity and real palate-staining character. The complexity and length, the crushed-rock minerality, the quality of pleasure this brings to the table: all simply dazzle at a sub-$15 price point. If this is the vanguard of 2015 in Europe, I might be ready to clamber aboard the hype train.

First come first served up to 72 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 Passing Time

April 22, 2017

Hello friends. We have access today to a small parcel of one of the toughest-to-source wines coming out of Washington right now: Damon Huard and Dan Marino’s Passing Time.

2014 Passing Time Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 95-97pts.”

Reviews like that, plus the star power attached to the winery, plus the quality of the wine itself (outstanding) combine to make this such a challenge to access in any large quantity. And please note: our parcel this year is borderline for an offer. I’m going to set max requests at 6 bottles, but actual allocations are likely to be considerably smaller.

It’s not really a surprise to me that this winery’s star is so rapidly on the rise. It was clear from the very first time I met Damon Huard that this was not going to be in any way a half-ass celebrity wine label. I still remember walking into Avennia and catching Damon talking to Chris Peterson about vineyard spacing. Not branding or labels. Not sales or marketing. Geeky vineyard talk! It seemed auspicious at the time, and it seems auspicious today.

Now then, the story of how this all came to be. The genesis of the project was a period in the late ‘90s when Dan and Damon overlapped with the Miami Dolphins. Marino was already a wine fanatic at that point, and he surprised Huard (a Washington native) with the fact that a solid chunk of his cellar came from Washington (wineries like Andrew Will, Leonetti, Col Solare, all three of which, I have to say, were making phenomenal wine in the late ‘90s; fine taste, Mr. Marino!).

Damon can tick off multiple connections to Washington wine: his great grandparents were grape farmers (okay, the grapes were Concord, but close enough); his grandpa played high school basketball with Paul Champoux (Champoux Vineyard); and he married a girl from the Yakima Valley. So there was plenty of interest among both men in finding a way to move into Washington wine after retiring from football. With their shared love of Cabernet Sauvignon, and their connection to the Champoux family, the original plan was to wait until they could access Champoux Cabernet, but in the interim, they tasted Cabernets from a series of Champoux neighbors. One of those tastings featured Discovery Vineyard, and the guys had a “wow” moment (I’ll admit; I’ve had a few of those drinking Disco Cabs).

With a vineyard plan in place, they next set about securing a consulting winemaker, and they landed on Chris Peterson of Avennia. What I love about this project is that Damon and Dan are asking Chris for a different house style than he does for Avennia (If we think of the Avennia style as maybe 40/60 fruit elements/non-fruit elements, then we can think of Passing Time as Chris Peterson trying to achieve something closer to 70/30). I’m sure that’s part of what makes it interesting for Chris, as well, and it certainly makes it compelling from a Washington Cab-lover’s perspective.

You may have noticed in Jeb’s note above that there are now Red Mountain and Walla Walla Cab bottlings as well under the Passing Time label. We may have access to those in future vintages, but for now, we’re sticking with the wine that started it all, from the Horse Heaven Hills. This year, the Cabernet is split right down the middle between perhaps the finest old-school Cab site in Horse Heaven (Champoux) and the finest new-school site (Discovery). There are small amounts of Merlot (9%) and Cab Franc (5%) in the mix as well, and all that good juice was aged in 80% new French oak for 20 months.

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles (and be prepared for actual allocations closer to 2-4 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.