Full Pull Betz

September 13, 2017

Hello friends. Beyond the beauty of turning leaves and the lively feeling of chilled air, Autumn brings us much more than weather-related happiness. Autumn release season is a magical time of year for Washington wine. Many wineries save the biggest of their big guns for this time, and it’s all we can do to keep our heads above water and field compelling offer after compelling offer from some of the finest wineries in the state.

And speaking of the finest wineries in the state, let’s get right to it: the annual extremely limited set of Rhone releases from Betz Family Winery. The less said the better, given our quantities, so I’ll repeat what Full Pull has said before: Bob Betz’s face would doubtless be chiseled on a Mt. Rushmore of Washington winemakers. Until this year, he was 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 spring, for the release of its Bordeaux portfolio, and once in the fall, for the release of these Rhone-styled wines.

2015 Betz Family Winery Besoleil

In the winery’s own words: Bésoleil is our Spanish/French whimsy for “kissed by the sun”. It alludes to the warm, sunny days in the south of France that impart an intensity of character to the Grenache grape and its southern Rhône relatives. Imagine the windswept vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the inspiration for this wine, where Grenache thrives alongside a dozen or more other grape varieties. The story of Bésoleil begins with our long-held belief that a precise marriage of soil and site can produce a profound expression of Grenache in Washington. We put that belief to the test with Bésoleil’s first vintage in 2003.

Bob’s ode to Chateauneuf, Besoleil blends Grenache, Counoise, Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvedre. This year, the Grenache used in Besoleil is sourced from Upland Vineyard, the oldest planting of Grenache in the state. 2015 marks an uptick in Cinsault, Counoise, and Mourvedre, a trend that began in 2014 for the winery. As the winery continues to work with these varieties vintage after vintage, they become more precise and intensely flavorful, lending ample positive influence to the finished product. This is a powerful, rich wine that hits the holy trinity of Rhone blends – berry and rock and garrigue. The wine is 100% fermented and 94% aged in concrete, which brings out this dusty minerality. It’s robust, with silky texture, and a charming freshness from bright acidity. The star of the show, Grenache, takes on a gemstone-like quality that is shining, smooth, and brilliant. Listed alcohol is 13.7%.

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

2015 Betz Family Winery Syrah La Cote Rousse

Here, we move from Southern Rhone to Northern Rhone in influence. Made from 100% Red Mountain Syrah, La Côte Rousse represents the warmest growing region Betz works with. Red Mountain is known for its soil—loess and granitic gravels from the Missoula Floods and volcanic basalt. Again, what’s most present is unwavering freshness throughout all of the 2015 Betz offerings. This acts as a sign of a maturity in winemaking for a hot vintage. The Rousse pours deeply inky into the glass, and opens with dried florals, smoked meat, and pencil lead minerality. On the palate, it’s structured yet silky, powerful yet tender. An all around standout bottling.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 96pts.”

Full Pull Gigondas

September 12, 2017

Hello friends. We have a screamer of a deal today from our friends at Saint Cosme: a terrific price on a wine that seems destined to finish the year on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list.

2015 Saint Cosme Gigondas

Wine Spectator (James Molesworth) “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 95 pts.” [Context note: This is the strongest Wine Spectator review in this wine’s history.]

“You can never have too much of a good thing.” That is how 14th generation winemaker Louis Barruol describes the now famous 2015 vintage throughout Europe. “It was the kind of year when there were no sub-standard wines, everything was good, even wines from the youngest vines.”

“You can never have too much of a good thing.” That is how Full Pull Wines describes the soon-to-be-sold-out 2015 Château de Saint Cosme Gigondas by Louis Barruol. A reference point estate for the region, Louis Barruol’s Gigondas drinks like a laundry list of our favorite things.

First on our list of good things, the vintage. Bottle after bottle, 2015 is living up to every bit of press. It’s not hyperbole anymore. Second, the producer. St Cosme’s history dates back to the year 109 AD. Louis Barruol’s family purchased the property in 1590 and now, 14 generations later, this historic site is still run by Barruol descendents. After literal centuries of farming this region, the family knows how to work with Gigondas and produce standout wines with chateau specific flare. Third is Gigondas itself. Gigondas is a region marked by tradition, power, and garrigue earth. Barruol himself writes, “Gigondas offers a fairly unusual rendition of Grenache, difficult to compare with what you find in neighbouring areas. Its character can be ascribed to the ubiquitous limestone marl in our appellation.”

For any Grenache lover, consider Gigondas a way to further understand the grape. Its savory power sets it apart. However, this bottling goes far beyond the typicity and excellence of Gigondas—Château de Saint Cosme is a special little plot of land within this place. Barruol continues, “Saint Cosme is a very unusual rendition of Gigondas because our soils are distinctively Tortonian and virtually non-existent in other parts of the appellation. This unique soil type at Saint Cosme combines with a cold microclimate with temperature readings matching those at elevations of 400m above sea level, whereas our vineyards sit at an altitude of 240m. This combination of natural factors makes Saint Cosme virtually incomparable and Grenache develops a persona that can be disconcerting such is its pervasive freshness – a dimension rarely associated with this grape.”

We were able to secure a sizable amount of this wine (at the lowest price we can find nationally) because of our list’s long time support of the château’s entry level bottles. The Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone and Little James are some of our best performing import offers of all time. To make sure we were able to secure enough for the Rhone-lovers among us, we pre purchased all of the bottles left in Seattle. They are currently sitting in our warehouse, and will be ready for pick up beginning Thursday.

Saint Cosme’s Gigondas is mostly (70%) Grenache, with a splash of both Syrah (14%) and Mourvèdre (15%) and a singular touch of Cinsault (1%). The wine is whole cluster fermented and spends twelve months’ ageing in a mixture of new, second, third, and fourth use casks, and concrete tanks. The listed alcohol is 14.5%. The nose opens with fruit notes of red currants, fig, and wild strawberries and a savory side of white pepper, garrigue, and dried lavender. The palate is Herculean, bold and precise with thoughtful structure. It’s full-bodied and rich, yet feels light on its feet. Texturally beautiful, it dances between fruit and savor as it enters a lingering, anise-tinged finish. At this price point, this is a wine to horde. It’s drinking beautifully now, but will easily last a decade.

Full Pull Farewell Champoux

September 11, 2017

Hello friends. For almost as long as Full Pull has been writing about wine, we’ve considered Soos Creek to be responsible for some of the best values coming out of Washington. Soos Creek is a holistic representation of our state’s burgeoning wine scene. The man in charge, Dave Larsen, is one of the great success stories of the Boeing Winemaking Club. He began making wine in 1987 and quickly moved from amateur to commercial winemaking in 1989. He kept both gigs (Boeing and Soos Creek) until 2004, when he retired from Boeing to pursue winemaking full time.

Despite 30 years in the business, Soos Creek is still very much a boutique winery, with thoughtful, limited production (still under 2,000 cases) that always leads to high demand. Much of Soos Creek’s success comes from its honest and passionate approach to fruit. From the sourcing to winemaking, presenting and showcasing beautiful fruit has always been Dave’s focus. However, the 2014 vintage marks a surprising shift in Soos’ fruit. Due to Paul Champoux’s retirement, 2014 marks the final vintage that the winery will source grapes from Champoux Vineyard.

David Larsen and Champoux have a long, rich history together. Dave’s first commercial wine in 1989 was made from Mercer Ranch fruit. Mercer Ranch was eventually sold and renamed Champoux Vineyard (located here), and is considered by many the greatest site for Cabernet Sauvignon in the state. 2014 marks Dave’s 26th vintage working with this site, making these final bottlings homages to decades’ worth of work. Today, we have two wines that showcase the partnership Soos Creek and Champoux have built over the years.

2014 Soos Creek Champoux Vineyard

As super fans of basically everything about this wine (Dave Larsen, Soos Creek, Champoux Vineyard, etc.), we are collectively sad to see this bottling go. However, if you’ve got to go, what a stellar vintage to go out on. Comprised of 83% Cabernet and 17% Cabernet Franc, this wine is aged in 50% new oak. The fruit presented truly encapsulates this iconic vineyard—it’s elegant, brooding, and structured.

Clocking in at 14.1% alcohol, the nose opens with the savory side of Cabernet, showcasing a dark-but-clean earthiness, toasty barrel notes, leafy tobacco, and mellow poblano pepper. The inherent earthiness mixes wonderfully with Champoux’s traditional graphite notes. From behind their savory counterparts, cassis, currants, and cocoa emerge. The palate is texturally classy with a velvety mouthfeel and plenty of ripe, rich fruit. The tannins are ever present, yet impeccably polished. This is a wine—while enjoyable now—that will last a decade or two in the cellar. As the last chance to experience Dave Larsen’s hand with Champoux, stock up on a few bottles to toast the partnership for years to come.
To order this wine, click here

2014 Soos Creek Soleil

While the majority (62%) of the fruit used for this Cabernet/Merlot blend is sourced from Champoux, this wine also shows off grapes from Washington favorites Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun on Red Mountain, and Elephant Mountain in the Rattlesnake Hills. Whole berry fermented with 100% native yeasts, this wine is aged for 21 months in 15% new oak before bottling and release. 68% Cabernet and 32% Merlot, it clocks in at 14.1% alcohol. On the nose, it opens with charming, ripe, rich fruit notes of cassis and raspberry, followed by tobacco, earthy moss, dried thyme, and subtle, warm barrel notes. The palate boasts equally elegant fruit, with bright citrus acidity upfront and superbly polished tannins on the back. The finish lingers with notes of anise and English Breakfast tea. This is a supremely elegant bottle for any price point, let alone $20.

Seattle Met Best of Washington Wine 2017: “Winemaker David Larsen has a knack for making high-quality wine that’s affordable; once again he delivers with this blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot that brims with spice, herb, and dark fruit flavors.“

Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 90pts.”

Full Pull La Rata

September 10, 2017

Hello friends. Today we have the return of a special wine. Offering Elizabeth Bourcier’s La Rata affords me a rare, wonderful opportunity: to write about the vines, the animals, and the people of the incomparable Cayuse Vineyards.

2014 La Rata

As it has been from the beginning, Full Pull is the exclusive retail partner for La Rata. Outside of a handful of top restaurants, we are the only place to source this wine. Now then, let’s get logistics out of the way, and then we’ll get to the fun stuff:

a) Elizabeth and I have agreed to allocate as follows. First, we will make sure that all list members who were allocated last year’s 2013 La Rata will receive an allocation at least equal to last year’s allocation. After those folks are taken care of, we will move onto list members ordering La Rata for the first time, using our normal allocation method (everyone gets one bottle before anyone gets two; formula for prioritizing allocations includes overall orders, frequency of orders, recency of orders, and list tenure, among other factors).

b) The wine is already safely tucked away in the warehouse. We will begin allocating La Rata on Wednesday Sept 27 at noon pacific time. Any order requests received after are unlikely to be considered. The wine will be available for pickup as early as Thursday Sept 28.

c) Please note that our demand for each of the first two vintages *vastly* exceeded our supply. Given the growing buzz surrounding this wine, I expect this year’s demand to be at least as high. And supply is barely budging upwards. (Gulp.) We’re going to limit order requests to 6 bottles, but likelier allocations are 2 or 3 bottles for folks who purchased last year, and 1 or 2 bottle for newbies.

d) Our normal policy about trying to ship in full-case increments will not apply to La Rata. If you end up allocated 1 or 2 or 3 bottles and want those shipped during our upcoming autumn shipping window, we will accommodate that. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible to get these beautiful wines into happy homes.

Okay, now the fun part. I’ll copy and paste our original La Rata offer from two years ago all the way at the bottom of this e-mail. That’s the long version.

The more concise version is this. Inspired by a bottle of excellent Priorat (Clos Erasmus Laurel) consumed during a harvest lunch in 2012, Cayuse assistant vigneronne Elizabeth Bourcier had an epiphany. Much like in Priorat, the stones area of the southern Walla Walla Valley represent a rare region where Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon ripen at the same time, can be picked on the same day. The experiment is born. Grenache from Armada Vineyard. Cab from En Cerise. What starts as “Priorat” scrawled on the puncheons is soon shortened to “The Rat” and then Spanishized to “La Rata.” It’s a name that works on multiple levels. Elizabeth’s zodiac sign is the rat (spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility, vitality; it fits). She still, despite having one of the most coveted roles in the Walla Walla Valley, thinks of herself, at heart, as a cellar rat.

And how did Full Pull have the good fortune to get involved? Well, Elizabeth was looking for a sales partner. Their team already had three mailing lists (Cayuse, No Girls, Horsepower), and they didn’t need another. They wanted one exclusive partner for the entire production run of La Rata. They liked our model. They liked the list members they had met. They knew me. (And here I have to pause and give many many thanks to Sean Sullivan, who way back when invited me to tag along on some of his Cayuse trips, and introduced me to Elizabeth and Christophe and Trevor and the whole jolly Cayuse gang. None of this would have happened without him.)

Since Elizabeth guides this wine so carefully from vine to bottle, I’ll let her introduce the new vintage: The 2014 vintage was a very warm, dry year. The lack of rain and very nice weather through ripening created an excellent vintage. The wines are rich and have a nice concentration while showing balance and purity. The 2014 marks the first vintage that I added a small percentage of syrah to the blend. I believe the syrah complements the grenache and cabernet sauvignon by adding texture and complexity in the mouthfeel with a bit more backbone to the wine. The nose shows the characteristic savory notes and also black currant, red licorice, undergrowth, and dried mushroom. The 2014 vintage La Rata is all about finesse and the tannins coat the palate seamlessly. The underlying fresh, bright character of the grenache is apparent in the front of the palate, but the wine is still firm with lingering tannin.

Elizabeth touches on the biggest change this year, which is the addition of 13% Syrah, from Cayuse’ La Paciencia Vineyard (also the source of the outstanding No Girls Syrah), to go with the usual Grenache (53%; Armada Vineyard) and Cabernet Sauvignon (34% Cabernet Sauvignon). I think all of us who love Syrah from this part of the Walla Walla Valley will feel a little tingle up our spines knowing that Syrah is in the mix. Whether it’s the Syrah addition, the vintage, or Elizabeth’s growing comfort with developing this blend, it seems clear that this is the most successful vintage of La Rata to date, notching its best reviews yet from Jeb Dunnuck and Owen Bargreen:

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

International Wine Report (Owen Bargreen): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 95pts.”

It’s always a trip watching reviewers attempt to capture the salty meaty umami funk that makes this wine so special. My notes this year included things like miso paste, brackish seashell, bacon fat galore. All that to complement raspberry fruit, and all on a classy, texturally seamless frame. Texture is where Elizabeth seems to be making the biggest strides. I love how the Cabernet tannins are present, but they’re so polished and fine-grained you’d almost miss them if you weren’t paying attention. The more you sip this wine, the more you appreciate the level of thoughtfulness that clearly goes into every aspect of it.

Speaking of thoughtfulness, a quick word on my annual spring visit to Cayuse. The visit began – as it always does – in the vineyards. But not the usual vineyards. This year, the team was eager to show us what they call their “American jewel”: Hors Categorie. I won’t go on at great length, because this isn’t the wine we’re offering today (sign up for the mailing list here), but allow me to show three pictures from my May visit to this site where the north and south forks of the Walla Walla River converge. Here is the approach to the ridiculously steep site, which looks like Cote Rotie. Here is Christophe showering affection on a baby lamb (there are always animals in the meadows at the foot of the vineyards), and here is a shot showing their very own Cote Brune and Cote Blonde, with two clearly different soil types. By the time we climbed from the bottom of the slope (1300’) to the top (1492’) my knuckles were bloodied and I was completely out of breath. I couldn’t have been happier.

A visit to Cayuse is always a good reminder that – if some cult wineries are about marketing and fashionability and conspicuous consumption – Cayuse is, on the other hand, about obsessive farming; about the careful stewardship of vines that allow terroir to tell its story. The vineyards remain the lungs of Cayuse, holy ground in northwest winemaking. I’m grateful to Christophe and Elizabeth for letting me visit each year, and to the warmth and hospitality always displayed by Trevor Dorland and chef Christopher Galasso and Cécile Randon as well. It’s a special group of people continuing to produce extraordinary wine. The fact that our list members have access to one of them is a source of unending delight to our entire team.

Full Pull Redacted #4

September 9, 2017

Hello friends. Today we’re back with the latest in our Redacted series, whereby in exchange for redacting the winery name, we’re able to offer the wine at a considerable discount. This single-vineyard Oregon Pinot Noir, from one of the finest sites in the Willamette Valley, began its life at a $55 tariff, and today our TPU price is considerably less:

Redacted 4: 2013 Pinot Noir

A few reminders on this series. The goal with Redacted offers is the mythical win-win-win: the winery moves inventory, we offer a great deal, and our list members get very good wine at a considerable discount. These wines all come with the original winery label intact, so you will learn the producer and the exact wine the moment you pick up the wine or receive your shipment. The series is currently only open to producers we’ve previously worked with. In this instance, it’s a winery we’ve worked with from very early on in our Oregon offers (our first Oregon offer came in 2011; our first for this winery in 2012).

Let’s see what else I can say about the wine without getting in trouble:

Release price: $55.

The vineyard is in the Eola-Amity Hills appellation, and I’m struggling to think of an Eola site with a better reputation. The strongest review Wine Spectator has ever bestowed upon an Oregon Pinot Noir was for a Pinot from this vineyard. Oregon Pinot lovers wax poetic about ‘90s bottlings of this vineyard from Adelsheim and Evesham Wood and St. Innocent, but it has been years since any of those wineries have been sold fruit from this site.

This particular wine has only been reviewed by one of the major publications. It was a 92pt review, with a drinking window of 2017-2023, and it mentions “mineral character,” “harmony,” and “structural tension.”

The winery involved underwent a major overhaul with the 2014 vintage, including an entirely new look-and-feel for the labels. No surprise: they’re eager to move through the remainder of their ‘13s so they can begin to tell their new story. That’s why the deal is so good today.

This wine comes from vines more than three decades old. Fermentation takes place with 30-40% whole cluster material, and this Pinot was aged in French oak (15-30% new) for about a year. It clocks in at 13% listed alc and offers an evocative nose: black cherry fruit, forest floor, dark minerals, dark flowers. It’s a dark profile altogether, something like Cotes de Nuits filtered through Oregon. The palate is bright and balanced, with a core of cherry fruit shot through with myriad mineral streaks. That wonderful resinous note you see in great Oregon Pinot – something reminiscent of the state’s coastal forests – is here as an alluring grace note, adding freshness. This feels like a wine just getting started on its path; that drinking window of 2017-2023 seems pretty darned solid to me.

Full Pull Funk

September 8, 2017

Hello friends. Earlier this year, we were able to offer Rich Funk’s exquisite 2014 Walla Walla Valley Syrah at the lowest tag we’ve had for any vintage of that wine, lower than its $32 release price, lower than our previous-low tariff (26.99 TPU for the 2007 vintage).

In order to secure the same pricing for the 2015, we needed to make a pretty serious volume commitment. Do you think I hesitated for even a lick?

2015 Saviah Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley

If you want to see the vanguard of the ongoing democratization of the rocks district, look no further. Rich’s 2014 was 80% rocks fruit – a combination of his estate Funk Vineyard as well as Watermill – and this 2015 has the exact same proportion. It is thrilling to see well-made Syrahs from this part of the northwest at accessible pricing.

We’ve received loads of reorder requests for that ’14 (offered in early April), but that one was sold out soon after our offer, with sales accelerated by positive reviews from Sean Sullivan in the July Wine Enthusiast (93pts, a score that is rare indeed for Mr. S. on Syrahs at this price point) and Tim Fish in the July Wine Spectator (92pts). With press like that, I suspect this wine is going to get more and more difficult to source going forward; hence why I wanted us to jump in nice and early, before holiday-season sales pick up.

Saviah is a fine example of the myriad benefits of estate vineyards. Rich planted his aptly-named Funk Estate Vineyard down in the rocks district back in 2007, so those vines have been in production for several years now. And yes, they’ve made some beautiful single-vineyard Syrahs (we’ve offered several), but better yet: in the past few years Rich has begun allowing some of that good Funk juice to cascade into his Walla Walla Valley Syrah, and all of the sudden this bottling – which offered strong quality for the price – has become a can’t miss.

This ’15 clocks in at 14.6% listed alc and roars out of the glass with an unmistakable Rocks nose: olive tapenade, smoked bacon, nori, marionberry, peony. Briny and meaty, floral and fruity, brackish and naughty: this is what those of us who love this terroir crave. The palate is very true to the warm ’15 vintage, with supple pillowy yumball fruit aplenty. Rich and intense, this fans out and stains the palate with its glorious mix of fruit and savory elements. Outrageous, audacious wine to be sure. The last note in my book: “Rich is doing WORK down ITR!” (ITR = Zitarelli wine-note shorthand for “in the rocks.”) In my opinion, this is every bit as good as the 2014; possibly better. Run don’t walk.

Full Pull Dueling Nebbiolo

September 7, 2017

Hello friends. In the picturesque hills of Piedmont there is one grape that reigns supreme. This is not your average grape—it’s complicated and deceptive, well-loved and sought after. When made into wine, it goes by many names and is greatly influenced by the place it comes from. You may know it as Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Ghemme, Gattinara, etc. This grape is Nebbiolo, and though it’s not the most planted grape in the region, it’s universally considered the finest grape of Piedmont.

Today, we have two of Nebbiolo’s many identities for you—a workhorse table-wine and a high-class, contemplative bottle, both made by the same producer in the Langhe.

[Note: see the bottom of the offer for two bonus wines from Vajra; one dry white and one not-so-dry Moscato.]

2016 G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo 

A quick reminder about G.D. Vajra, Piedmont’s best kept secret: Milena and Aldo Vajra started their family winery in 1972, making small-production, regionally-specific wines from the grapes Aldo’s father planted in i the 1940’s. In a review for Wine Advocate a few years back, Antonio Galloni wrote, “Aldo and Milena Vajra are among the quietest and most introspective of Piedmont’s top echelon growers. It is the wines that do the talking here, and they do that ever so eloquently.” Despite a history of positive reviews, these wines have always flown slightly under the radar, which proved lucky for the learned few who could get their hands on the woefully small allocations. In recent years, the rest of the world has been taking notice and recognizing Vajra for what it is—some of the best value in Piedmont.

Vajra’s Langhe Nebbiolo is a perfect encapsulation of who the winery is and what it does—an introduction at its best. The Langhe is the greater Piedmontese region that holds Barolo, Barbaresco, etc. Langhe Nebbiolo is Nebbiolo grown from that region, traditionally from declassified sites. Vajra’s Langhe Nebbiolo, however, is made from 100% Barolo classified fruit. That means that all of the fruit used for this mid-week crowd pleaser comes from the same vineyards as some of our favorite, famed Barolos.

On the nose, this exudes the intersection of beautiful, bright red fruit and savory herbs. In one small sniff you’ll easily find cherry, thyme, raspberry, sage, strawberry, and marjoram. You can tell from the nose, this is a quaffable enough sample to drink on its own, but it would be killer with a whole slew of dishes from salty cured meats to homemade pasta. The palate continues with brilliant ripe fruit tones, fresh herbs, and dried flower petals, as a backbone of signature Nebbiolo acidity leads to dynamic, velvety tannins. The finish is sturdy, elegant, and all encompassing. This is a perfect, accessibly-priced way to get to know Vajra’s skill with Nebbiolo.

2013 G.D. Vajra Albe Barolo

“Barolo” and “value” are typically thought to be mutually exclusive, which helps explain why we offer them so rarely. Time after time, a worthy bottle of Barolo is delicious and expensive, or quite the opposite. One example we know to be tried and true is the Albe Barolo by Vajra. Albe is widely considered one of the best bang-for-your-buck wines in all of Barolo and the $35 price tag compares favorably to many a $50-$100 Cru from other Piemontese producers of similar caliber.

Albe, which is the pluralization of the Italian word for dawn, is sourced from three separate vineyards. These vineyards sit within the estate’s rolling hills, and the sun slowly reaches each vineyard at different times throughout the morning. This creates three different, successive dawns for these vineyards. In the Vajra family’s own words: “A true Barolo di Barolo, Albe is a blend of grapes from three different vineyards at three different altitudes. Every morning the sun rises from one vineyard to another creating a symphony for the senses just like the wine produced from these blocks.”

For those counting at home, the three vineyards are Fossati, Coste di Vergne, and La Volta. After a rocky beginning to the season, 2013 ended up being a vintage to write home about. The cooler than normal season and late harvest in Barolo produced beautiful regional examples that boasted intrepid aromatics, smooth and structured tannins, bright fruit, and a sculptural mouthfeel. Albe follows the trend and opens with a delightfully perfumed nose of roses, cedar, and fresh, green herbs, surrounded by black cherry, raspberry, and fig. The palate is robust, yet full of subtleties. There is beautiful fruit on the attack, lively black cherry and plum, that lingers through the mid palate as herbaceous tobacco and savories take over. The finish calls upon signature Barolo—it’s full of bold, tannic heft that still manages to present as texturally pleasing. The palate is supple yet structured, the tannins sturdy yet smooth.

Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92 pts.”

To put Antonio Galloni’s review into some context, he is an exacting critic when it comes to Barolo. While 92 points is nothing to sneeze at, the text of Galloni’s review is glowing—if not radiating—in comparison to that score. Specifically, he calls this bottle the “single best value in Barolo today.” Here at Full Pull, we tend to agree with him.

2016 Luigi Baudana Dragon Langhe Bianco

We’ve tried for years to offer the Dragon, Vajra’s wonderful dry white bottled under their Luigi Baudana label. Every time we’ve ever had an event with Francesca Vajra, this is among the most popular wines she pours, competing in sales with the heavy hitter Barolos. The label is great, the juice inside is great, but the quantities have never been quite right. It’s a blend mostly of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, with a little Riesling and Nascetta in the mix as well. This vintage clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and makes for a lovely autumn-into-winter white, with wonderful palate heft and richness paired to a sturdy acid spine. Flavors include stone fruits (peaches and nectarines) elevated by subtleties floral and nutty (hazelnut especially). This is likely a one-and-done offer; the quantities imported into Seattle are never very large.

2016 G.D. Vajra Moscato d”Asti 

Good Moscato is such a pleasure-soaked indulgence, and Vajra’s version is very very good. At just 5.5% listed alc, you can treat it like a beer and drink it right from the bottle. The expressiveness of the nose beggars belief, all citrus and flower garden, with grapefruit and lime paired to honeysuckle and jasmine and rose. The palate pairs delicious sweetness to tooth-tingling acidity, a fine bubbly mousse, and an unabashed Italian sense of bitters. The grapefruit-pith bitters are exactly the foil needed for all that sugar, and it keeps this from ever moving into cloying territory.