Full Pull Baer Pair

October 17, 2017

Hello friends. We have fantastic pricing today on a pair of wines from the outstanding Baer Winery, wines that are normally offered at a $43 release price. It took a combination of several factors – our willingness to commit to a significant quantity, my wanting to push our TPU discount a little deeper than normal – to hit our TPU tag today, and I think our list members will be enormously pleased. These are wines that deliver great pleasure and over-deliver even at their normal tariff in the $40s. At our pricing today, it’s back-up-the-truck time. Anyone looking for holiday gifts that look (and drink) like $60 bottles should pay careful attention today.

For a good primer on this winery, whose story is one of tragedy and renewal, I recommend Andy Perdue’s article from August 2015 in Great Northwest Wine. Another important note is that all Baer wines are 100% from Stillwater Creek Vineyard. Now, onto the wines:

2013 Baer Ursa

This wine has really become a phenomenon, landing on Wine Spectator’s 2011 Top 100 list (spot #6) for the 2008 vintage, and then again on last year’s Top 100 (spot #28) for the 2012 vintage (a wine we offered, I might add, at 39.99/36.99 TPU).

It is a right-bank Bordeaux blend, predominantly Cab Franc and Merlot (42% each), rounded out with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, and aged for about two years in 100% French oak (about half new). It begins with an attractive nose of red fruit, dusty earth, and cedar, with lovely leafy autumnal nuance. The palate is a charming blend of Merlot generosity and Cab Franc structure and perfume. This is elegant, polished, offering complexity and robust structure, especially in the form of fine-grained finishing tannins, redolent of chamomile. Just a baby, this got better and better with each passing hour open.

International Wine Report (Owen Bargreen): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]93pts.”

2013 Baer Arctos 

Arctos is Baer’s left-bank Bordeaux blend, always predominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, but in 2013 seeing a huge proportion of Cab (84%), the remainder equal parts Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. This too spent just shy of two years in French oak (80% new) before going into bottle in July 2015, where it has now had another two-plus years to evolve and unwind. It’s drinking beautifully, offering the prototypical Washington four-corners Cabernet: fruit (cassis, black plum), earth (good clean soil), savory/herbal (golden beet, poblano pepper), barrel (smoky high-cacao chocolate). This has real palate impact. If Ursa’s watchword is elegance, Arctos’ is power. It’s a total palate-stainer, from front to back. The back-end is all toothsome finishing chew, with length to spare and a lovely last impression of green tea.

International Wine Report (Owen Bargreen): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 93pts.”


Full Pull Majestic

October 16, 2017

Hello fiends. One of the most exciting trends in Washington’s wine scene is the increase of Grenache-dominant Rhone blends. This is a category that was almost unheard of 10 years ago in our corner of the country—and it’s a category that will be (without a doubt) considerably more important in another 10 years. Growers and winemakers seem to keep putting out better and better versions, and prices seem to keep becoming more reasonable every vintage. That’s a fine convergence of factors, and it is displayed perfectly by today’s wine:

2015 Kerloo Cellars Majestic

Ryan Crane has long been a leading force in the new wave of Washington winemakers, specifically when it comes to Grenache-dominance. He has always been a high-performing winemaker with a stubborn (in a good way) point of view that translates into a well-defined (and glorious) house style. Ryan’s is a winemaker who knows what he wants to do—and then does it.

While Kerloo’s wines have always been exceptional values, Majestic has taken it to a whole other level. We’ve long put this wine in the conversation for finest Rhone value made in Washington. This is a wine sourced from some of our favorite vineyards throughout the state, it has only received 91+ reviews or higher, and it’s made by a Wine Enthusiast titled “game-changing winemaker.” This bottle could easily demand a much higher tariff, but instead, it is here for everyone at a 20-dollar ask. This is a price point that changes the game. It makes the fine wines of Kerloo approachable for all, and it also makes Washington’s take on southern Rhone approachable for all.

This year, Majestic is made up of 69% Grenache, 26% Mourvedre, and 5% Syrah sourced from Stone Tree, Upland, and Den Hoed—all regulars in Kerloo’s usual vineyard roundup. Bottled this past May (right outside of Full Pull!), this wine aged in 100% neutral oak before bottling. Ryan’s passion has long been centered around showing off the pure, authentic side of Washington fruit. His oak usage consistently honors that vision. It clocks in at 13.8% listed alcohol.

The nose immediately opens with fresh floral notes (roses, lavender, violets), a telltale marker of fruit from Upland vineyard, and continues with bright red cherry fruit, white pepper and a touch of herb-smoked meat and granite minerality. This wine is beautifully textured. It has generous fruit, but moves quickly through fresh acidity, savory meat notes, and a decided sense of minerality that all keep the wine interesting and balanced. This wine feels wild, yet thoughtful—the hero of some movie who is rough around the edges but has a heart of gold. Furthermore, this nails the holy trinity of the southern Rhone blend – brambly berry, hot-rock minerality, and perfumed underbrush – and it does so via a deeply charming bottle of wine.

International Wine Report (Owen Bargreen): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92pts”


Full Pull Maison Bleue

October 15, 2017

Hello friends. Limited trio of new releases today from the ultra-talented Jon Meuret of Maison Bleue, all single varieties from single vineyards in the Rocks District of the Walla Walla Valley. We typically get only one shot at these wines each year, and that shot comes now. When you factor in that all three wines have already received positive press pre-release, the likelihood of reorder availability dwindles further.

2014 Maison Bleue Bourgeois Grenache

100% Grenache from Monette’s Vineyard in the rocks district (location here), this looks, smells, and tastes like Grenache. It pours into the glass pale red and comes roaring back out with a nose chockful of raspberry fruit, dusty herbal garrigue, and sanguine rocks minerality. The pale color belies a rich, full-throttle (14.9% listed alc) palate, which delivers wave after wave of flavor, a balanced mix of fruit and savory elements. As usual with Jon’s wines, the texture is seamless, classy as can be.

Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 93pts.”

2014 Maison Bleue Voyageur Syrah Yellow Jacket Vineyard

After years of producing peaches and apples for the Waliser family, Yellow Jacket Vineyard was first planted to wine grapes down in the Rocks in 1999. Cabernet Sauvignon went in first, and Syrah followed two years later, in 2001, making these some of the oldest Syrah vines in this tiny, wonderful district. As you can see from the vineyard location, this site sits smack in the middle of the Rocks District. I wouldn’t call this overtly funky rocks Syrah, but it is without question savory, and especially meaty. This offers the full charcuterie plate – cured meats, smoked sausages, bacon fat – to go with a core of smoky blackberry and blueberry fruit (14.8% listed alc). The palate is tightly wound, suggesting this has years of fascinating evolution ahead. But it’s awfully delicious right now.

Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 94pts.”

2014 Maison Bleue Frontiere Cabernet Sauvignon Waliser Vineyard

The most limited of the three, so I’ll try to keep my prose limited too. It comes entirely from another Waliser-farmed vineyard at the southern edge of the rocks (location here), this one planted in 1998, and it offers a dynamite version of 100% Rocks Cab. Blackcurrant, loamy earthy minerality, topnotes of violets; it’s everything you could want from Cabernet aromatically. The palate is intense (14.5% listed alc), serious, with dynamite structure, especially in the form of ripe, fine-grained tannins, redolent of Irish breakfast tea. I love the balance of fruit and mineral elements here.

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


Full Pull Cremant-priced-Champagne

October 14, 2017

Hello friends. It is very rare to see 1er Cru Champagne for $30 dollars. Even more rare? To stumble upon a Champagne that you can absolutely rave about for $30 dollars. Yet, that’s exactly what we have for you today:

NV Lombard Champagne Premier Cru Extra Brut

We could probably just stop there, but Lombard is no ordinary Champagne producer. Their process and values drive their work, which provides us with exceptional Champagne for the price of Cremant. This three-generation old Champagne house (founded in 1925) is still family run and independent, focusing deeply on Champagne to showcase the region. Lombard believes deeply in the role that environment plays in winemaking, and dedicates each of their cuvees to highlighting the best of the region.

What makes this specific $30 bottle of Champagne even more wild is that it’s designated Premier Cru. If you’ve been a Full Pull member for a while, you’ve probably seen your share of the word “Cru.” While the word is not solely reserved for Champagne, it does have specific meaning within the region. Champagne’s Cru designations are built around a system that rates the quality of villages (aka communes), called the Echelle des Crus. The vineyards that exist within the top rated villages get designated as Grand Cru or Premier Cru. Grand Cru vineyards are in communes that rate 100%, of which there are only 17, and Premier Cru vineyards must be in communes rated 90 – 99%, 43 different locations total. Grand or Premier Cru designation can cause high demand for grapes, and therefore high prices for wine. Finding a Premier Cru for this price is almost unheard of—and is definitely a lovely treat to take advantage of.

The bottle is extra brut (another win in the book of Full Pull), which is drier than brut, and many times, our preferred style of sparkling. We first tasted Lombard last autumn, but it was bought up so quickly that we were only able to secure enough for the retail shelf at our warehouse (some of you probably went home with a bottle or two, though it was gone quickly). This year, we knew that we didn’t want to make the same mistake and decided to offer this wine well before the official start to the holiday season. That way, there is enough to go around, and those of you who ship your wines can still get this bubbly before shipping season is over.

This bottle clocks in at 12.5% listed alcohol. Made from 40% Chardonnay from Graves and Virtues (communes known for their freshness and balanced expression), 40% Pinot Meunier from Coulomnes-la-Montagne, and 20% Pinot Noir from Sermier and Villedomanges, this bottle was aged for 36 months en tirage in the estate’s centuries-old cellar. It pours a beautiful golden stream of bubbles and opens with a nose full of peach, apricot, asian pear, almond, and sandalwood. There is a touch of citrus and autolytic baked bread floating throughout. The light dosage makes this a perfect apéritif Champagne. It’s playful on the palate—with a touch of weightiness—round and full of the same fruit from the nose. The finish is bright, yet refined. A delicious example of Premier Cru Champagne at an affordable price. This is a wine for celebrations; meant for toasting loved ones, encouraging dancing, and turning any event into an occasion.


Full Pull Holler

October 13, 2017

Hello friends. Very pleased today that we can offer Chris Sparkman’s outstanding Holler Cabernet Sauvignon for only the second time in this wine’s existence. It wasn’t easy either; it required pre-buying the entire remaining stash in western Washington. This wine is essentially sold out everywhere else west of the mountains.

2015 Sparkman Cellars Holler Cabernet Sauvignon

We offered the very first vintage of Holler (the 2012), and it was a hugely popular Cabernet for us. So you’d think we would have offered the subsequent 2013 and 2014 vintages, but this wine has proven devilishly difficult to source. Basically, after we offered that initial 2012, all hell broke loose for this wine. The 2013 scored a 94pt review from Harvey Steiman in Wine Spectator, and then landed at the #21 spot in Spectator’s year-end Top 100 list. That knocked out the 2013 vintage, pretty much guaranteed the 2014 was all sold on a pre-release basis (that one ended up with a very respectable 93pt Spectator review from Tim Fish), and added sales pressure to this 2015 as well.

What has always made Holler such a killer value is that it comes predominantly from the same vineyard sources that go into Sparky’s high-end bottlings. Some examples: Sparkman’s Evermore Cab ($100) contains fruit from Dionysus and Upland; both of those vineyards are in Holler. Kingpin ($62) is all Klipsun Cab; Klipsun is in Holler. Rainmaker ($62) contains fruit from Olsen and Kiona; both in Holler.

The winemaking looks similar to the pricey bottles too: 18 months in oak; 30% new, 40% second-fill, 30% older barrels. This clocks in at 14.5% listed alc and kicks off with an attractive Cabernet nose: black plum, dark chocolate, dark soil; there’s something wonderfully loamy and earthy here, offering a beautiful counterpoint to the deep dark fruit and smoky barrel tones. Palate-wise, this is the classic reverse mullet: party in the front, business in the back. The attack is all richness and plush fruit, and then somewhere around the mid-palate, the tannins pick up and carry this all the way through a lengthy, chewy finish. You can taste the classy vineyards here; so too the classy winemaking. This is a bottling that offers polish and intensity and complexity more often seen in Cabernets that command twice its price.


Full Pull Tricksters of the PacNW

October 12, 2017

Hello friends. Sawbuck wines. While the category isn’t necessarily slim, the subcategory of outrageously delicious, thoughtfully sourced ten dollar wines is rarely seen. Batches of these well-priced wines come across Full Pull’s tasting table—and we taste every last bottle in search of the elusive award-worthy-sawbuck. (After all, Full Pull’s unofficial motto is: we kiss the frogs so you don’t have to). After countless frogs, we will sometimes stumble upon a prince—a wine that checks off every one of our boxes. Delicious? Check. Interesting? Check. Well-priced? Check. Corvidae, Owen Roe’s value-focused sister label, consistently hits every mark.

Coupled with the other wines from David O’Reilly and his team, Corvidae rounds out a truly impressive lineup across a broad spectrum of tariffs. The name Corvidae comes from its animal incarnation, a family of birds that includes crows and ravens, the tricksters of the Pacific Northwest. Fierce-and-sneaky birds are a surprisingly appropriate representation for these wines, which present wickedly smart yet mischievous (at ten dollars, there are usually a few secrets about these wines). Today we are offering two of the Corvidae sawbuck bottles, the Mirth Chardonnay and the Rook Merlot. Both wines are absolute princes in their own right; they are honest, charming, and some of the best value we’ve seen out of the Pacific Northwest.

2016 Corvidae Mirth Chardonnay

This is a drinkable, fruit-driven bottle of Washington Chardonnay. From the get-go, the sincere nature and regional typicity of this wine shine through. None of the sourced vineyards are listed (because any good sawbuck wine needs to have a few secrets). Based on what we know about Corvidae, we can surmise that a good amount of the fruit is sourced from the same vineyards as Owen Roe’s. This bottle is done entirely in stainless to showcase pure Chardonnay expression and clocks in at 13% listed alc.

Vintage after vintage, Mirth Chardonnay is unfussy. The nose overflows with tangy green apple, ripe pear, and a touch of tropical fruit, followed by subtle hints of green celery leaf and chalky minerals. On the palate, it provides richness and texture—especially considering no oak is used. It feels simultaneously bright and weighty, finding an impeccable balance between the two. This is definitely a Chardonnay to pair with food: shellfish cooked with fresh herbs and shallots; toasted bread with soft, creamy goat cheese and sauteed chanterelles; roasted chicken thighs with lemon and thyme.

2014 Corvidae Rook Merlot 

We get a little bit more information about the Rook than the Mirth. This Merlot is sourced almost 50/50 from Owen Roe’s estate vineyard, Outlook, and Goose Ridge Vineyard, a long time favorite of Charles Smith’s operation. Both are cooler, higher elevation sights with outstanding potential for Merlot.

The wine clocks in 14.1% alcohol and opens with a nose full of cherries, raspberries, complemented by notes of spice (baking spice, orange zest, anise), and leafy tobacco. The palate is lively, with ripe fruit, plentiful acidity, and textured, fine tannins. It is a vibrant bottle of Merlot that maintains a sense of energy without forsaking structure. While there aren’t any official scores out on this wine, my favorite review comes from our own Paul Zitarelli, who e-mailed me as I readied to write this offer and said, “If this wine doesn’t convince someone that Washington Merlot is a charmer through and through, then I give up.”


Full Pull Library BDX

October 11, 2017

Hello friends. Every once in a long while, we get access to winery-aged library Bordeaux from Kermit Lynch-imported Chateau Bellevue. We’ve offered one previous library parcel of this wine; that was the 1998 vintage, exactly five years ago, on October 18, 2012.

This time, the parcel size was borderline, and I didn’t want to take any chances, so we purchased the entire remaining stock in western Washington. This is one of those offers where I have mixed feelings. Of course we always like to sell lots of wine, but I wouldn’t cry if we ended up with a few extra bottles to take home as we enter red-meat season (which some folks call “winter”).

2004 Chateau de Bellevue Lussac-St. Emilion 

If you’ve ever hunted for sea glass along the Washington coast, you’ll understand what hunting for value in Bordeaux is like. It’s 99 uninspiring pebbles for every 1 piece of glass. Bordeaux might have our lowest hit rate of any category, in terms of the percentage of wines tasted that we actually end up offering.

Some of the regions where we focus our BDX tastings are the “satellite” appellations. Chateau Bellevue is in Lussac St-Émilion (see map). Lucky for us it’s not in St-Emilion proper (region #21), because then we’d have to pay for the branding weight that name carries. Instead, we get thirteen-year-old wine from next door at an approachable tag.

This wine first hit my radar because Chateau Bellevue is one of only a handful of Bordeaux producers brought into the United States by the legendary Kermit Lynch. He has some incredible photos of the Chateau on his website, including a pair where Andre Chatenoud, the current proprietor, burns a bundle of wood down to coals and then uses those coals to grill some pretty tasty-looking steaks.

I don’t recommend this (unless you too have a 10-foot-tall fireplace, in which case go for it), but I do recommend the wine, and pairing with a more traditionally-cooked steak wouldn’t be a bad idea either. We’re on the right bank, so this is predominantly Merlot (95%; the remainder Cab Franc), all from 40-year-old vines on clay/limestone soils that have been farmed organically since 2002. The wine sees about two years in 20% new French oak, and this library parcel has spent the subsequent eleven years evolving slowly in bottle.

It offers a nose brimming with honest Bordeaux character: cedar and mint and insistent earthy notes overlaying a core of red cherry and redcurrant fruit. The palate beautifully mixes primary and tertiary notes, with a mix of fresh and dried fruits complicated by rich earth tones. Texturally, this is in a wonderful drinking window, the tannins integrating nicely, still offering some pleasing toothsome chew, and framing a finish redolent of green tea. As we enter the colder months, my thoughts often turn to Bordeaux. When I fire up a New York strip steak, there’s still nothing more appealing to me than a charming, chewy Bordeaux, especially one that has been aged to perfection in winery caves.