Full Pull Blue Mountain

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.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: