Hello friends. Every time someone brings in a bottle of Secret Squirrel for us to sample in the warehouse, I have a strong urge to scream like Clark Griswold Sr. in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: SQUIRRRRRRRELLLLL!!!!! This label has been that kind of phenomenon.
And no, before our list members work themselves into a lather, I should say: this is not the return of the Secret Squirrel Cab. That wine is gone, and all indications remain that it is gone for good. But…
…the Cabernet is not the only Secret Squirrel wine.
2013 Secret Squirrel Columbia Valley Bordeaux Blend
I’ll start by saying that we had to commit to a large quantity of wine to nudge our TPU price down to the magic twenty dollar mark, a tariff we were able to hit with the first (2012) vintage of Squirrel Cab, but not with the 2013 (that one was 25.99/22.99 TPU). Am I concerned about committing to such a large quantity? No I am not. Not when a wine drinks like baby Corliss Red for twenty bucks.
Some reminders: Secret Squirrel is a new(ish) project for the Corliss family of wineries (Corliss Estates, Tranche). The name is obviously pretty playful, as is the packaging, which features, as best I can make out, a horny squirrel getting ready to attend an Eyes Wide Shut-themed party. The juice inside, on the other hand, is deadly serious. I mean, really serious, really high quality, really bottle aged juice.
The Squirrel label is mostly a result of Corliss’ Red Mountain estate vineyards coming online. With Corliss Estates making otherworldly wines at the high end of the spectrum, and with Tranche focusing squarely on their Blue Mountain Estate Vineyard, they needed a home for all the excellent Red Mountain juice that didn’t make sense for the Corliss wines. Enter the squirrel. What I love about this project is that it shares the Corliss/Tranche ethos of extended ageing, but it does so at pricing about half that of the Tranche reds, and one-third to one-quarter of Corliss reds.
Will you allow me to say that the winery is a little “squirrely” about the exact blend here? What they will say: it is essentially Cab/Merlot dominant (equal parts) that amount to around 70% of the blend, followed in order by Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. As expected with Squirrel, the fruit is Red Mountain dominant; three of the four vineyards involved are Corliss estate sites on RM: Red Mountain Vineyard, Blackwood Canyon, and Canyons Vineyard. The wine spent 22 months in 35% new French oak (pause and let that sink in: $20 new world wines are not aged for two years in expensive French wood). It clocks in at 14.5% listed alc and begins with a deep, expressive nose, with a core of black cherry and redcurrant fruit swaddled in barrel tones of smoke and cocoa and kahlua. Grace notes of earth and cedar complete an attractive nose. The palate is rich, intense, delicious, a little truffle of a wine with power and intensity to spare. It’s another wonderful, well-priced window into Andrew Trio’s outstanding winemaking!
International Wine Report (Owen Bargreen): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92pts.”
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.