Full Pull Some Red Wines

November 19, 2017

Hello friends. Long-term list members know that I love the “red wine” category. Why? Because it’s such a broad category that the juice inside could be just about anything. Because it’s a category that rewards those of us willing to do homework to figure out what’s inside the bottle.

Some red wines are terrible. Press fractions that should have been pressed down a drain. Spoofy jam-monsters with notable residual sugar. Wines obliterated by oak powder and other undesirables. We don’t offer those.

But some red wines turn out to be five-variety Bordeaux blends from excellent vineyards that punch way above their price class:

2014 Pomum Cellars Red Wine 

[Note: while the red wine will be the main thrust today, we’ll also have a bonus Cabernet Sauvignon at the bottom of the offer.]

In this case, the blend is dominated by Upland Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (32%) and Dineen Vineyard Cabernet Franc (31%), the remainder 23% Merlot, 9% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot. And it comes from list-favorite winemaker Javier Alfonso. Our list members have gone bananas the past few years for Javier’s outstanding value Spanish varieties under his Idilico label, but before Idilico, there was Pomum, and Javier has always been gifted with Bordeaux varieties as well as those of Spain.

This is a time of year when our offers tend more towards wines in the $30s and $40s and $50s (and up). But even during November and December, we all need Tuesday night bottles that over-deliver and take the edge off the holiday madness. This is about as strong a sub-$20 BDX blend as I can remember tasting from Washington this year, and no surprise that it comes from the 2014 vintage, a high-quality/high-yield year where a lot of very nice barrels were cascaded down into lower price-point bottlings.

This one begins with a complex nose that belies its accessible tariff: cassis fruit and exotic star anise spice complemented by subtleties of dusty earth and cedar. You expect this type of blend at this price point to be all yumball fruit, but this is something different: more complicated, more characterful. The palate is full of verve and energy, with a beautiful acid spine paired to plush (14.5% listed alc) earth-inflected fruit. I loved how the Dineen Cabernet Franc reared up on the palate, offering grace notes of winter greens and pimenton agriducle. The texture here is classy as hell, just great for the asking price, with subtle fine-grained tannins that offer a lovely sense of toothsome finishing chew, all green tea and dust as a parting gift. This drinks like a wine you could easily lay down for 10 years if you’re into doing that sort of thing with twenty-dollar wines.

2013 Pomum Cellars Shya Cabernet Sauvignon 

And a bonus Cabernet from Javier, which I wanted to offer because a) it’s damned good (that should be a given for every wine we offer) and b) it comes from vineyards I’m not used to seeing: predominantly Konnowac and Morrison, two Yakima Valley sites that have some seriously old vines (some of the Morrison Cabernet dates back to 1968). Javier ages his Cab in French oak, 20% new, for 18 months, and this clocks in at 14.7% listed alc. It begins with a dark, dark profile – black plum, violet, loamy soil – lifted by this wonderful topnote of eucalyptus. The palate is a beautiful, honest expression of Washington Cabernet, with texture and structure and concentration that are down the middle for this variety. The complexity, the mineral finish, the overall sense of harmonious balance; all dazzle. So too Javier’s perfectly-weighted tannins, redolent of smoky tea leaves and just as chewy as you’d want from a good Cab. This is wine for the red meats and roasts of winter. Cue roaring hearth.

Full Pull Sticky Cyber Tuesday

November 18, 2017

Hello friends. Welcome to day two of our Cyber Monday sparkling and sticky offer. I guess we can call this Cyber Tuesday? Whatever you want to call it, today’s portion of post-Thanksgiving wine buying will be glorious, decadent sticky wines. What exactly are sticky wines? We’re talking about dessert wines, sticky and decadent in texture. Those of us who love this style of wine know that this is the one time of year when we can safely share our forbidden love with others—the holidays. The mixture of the cold weather, the desire to wear luxe fabrics, and holiday parties calls for something a little bit different. It calls for something sticky. And if circumstance forbids us from opening our stickies over this holiday season, we can rest safe in the knowledge that these categories of wines approach immortality. Another year in the cellar is only going to make these wines that much more exciting next year. Or maybe the year after that.

We have six different wines for you today, so we will try to keep it brief, while still giving you all the necessary information. If stickies are not your normal category, this might just be the time to try something new. All six of these wines represent a wide range of styles and approachable price points—there is definitely something for everyone here.

2016 Kiona Chenin Blanc Ice Wine 375ml

A rare Washington ice wine. While Red Mountain is famous for its red grapes, Kiona plants Chenin Blanc throughout the depressed areas of their vineyards, ensuring freeze by season’s end. This vintage was picked December 7th, 2016, when all of the grapes had finally frozen on the vine. Clocking in at 9.2% listed alcohol and 19.2% RS, this bottle opens with a layered nose of honey, apricot, malt-powder, pear, and vanilla. It’s boasts a sensational, luscious mouthful—sweet and absolutely delicious—and terrific balancing citrusy acidity for all that sweet fruit. It would be perfect with any sort of stinky cheese—from Washington and beyond.

2008 Weingut Alter Riesling Eiswein Zeltinger Himmelreich 500ml

There is something intellectually thrilling about having an old world eiswein and a new world ice wine together in one offer. Without German eiswein, Washington ice wine wouldn’t exist—and that would be a shame for all parties. Eiswein is fairly self explanatory, actually—it is wine made from frozen grapes. These grapes freeze directly on the vine and are pressed when frozen. The juice that emerges is highly concentrated, sweet frozen berry juice that undergoes a long, sticky fermentation. The results are delicious dessert wines that command a high price.

Weingut Alter’s Eiswein comes from Zeltinger Himmelreich, a highly regarded site in the Mosel. This wine opens with honey, apricot, lime, clove, and a touch of smoky minerals. The palate has true sweetness—warm, rich, yet delicate—and balanced acidity that shows itself as tart green apple and citrus. There is a surprising sense of freshness (9% listed alc) to this weighty wine that creates razor-sharp focus and purity. An immediate winter party: open this German example next to the Kiona ice wine and compare. Eat lots of stinky cheese.

2015 Jorge Ordonez & Co Victoria #2 Moscatel Dulce 375ml

Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 95pts.”

A bright, floral example of sticky wine, full of white rose, lilies, honey, and essential oils. It is plush, yet vibrant, and a wonderful example of what muscat can truly do. Any fans of Moscato d’Asti, this feels like a natural succession into a new category of sweet wine.

2014 Oremus Tokaji Late Harvest 375ml

Wine Enthuiast (Jeff Jenssen): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 93pts”

The winery attributes this wine to the careful balance of tradition and innovation. You might consider this modern Tokaj—and a great introduction to the region. Made from 50% Furmint, 30% Harslevelu, 15% Zeta, 5% Muscat de Lunel, these grapes are only picked after 50% of the grapes have succumbed to noble rot. Fermentation lasts nearly a month, usually ending when the winery is already covered in snow. Fermentation ends when the wine has naturally reached around 12% alcohol, and then it’s aged for 6-8 months in small, hungarian barrels,followed by a year in bottle. This is a bottle to enjoy for any Tokaji enthusiast or newcomer, with fine, elegant qualities, a signature sweetness, and balanced acidity. It’s baby 5 Puttonyos at a competitive price.

NV Alvear Pedro Ximenez Solera 1927 375ml

Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 98pts”

Release after release, we are totally smitten with this motor oil of a wine: brown sugar and sultanas, cherries and figs, brown butter and coffee, mixed nuts and caramel corn. This wine, clocking in at 16% alcohol, is a rare chance to taste a wine comprised in some small part by grapes harvested in 1927. This wine is a taste of history.

2013 Brian Carter Cellars Opulento 375ml

New vintage of an old list-member favorite, Opulento is as close as to a legitimate Ruby Port as you’re going to find in Washington. The reason is that Brian Carter, industry vet (30+ years in Washington wine) and blender extraordinaire, partnered up with growers at Upland and Lonesome Spring Vineyard to plant the real-deal Portuguese indigenous varietals. So Opulento, in 2013, is 58% Touriga Nacional, 21% Souzao, 11% Tinta Roriz, and 10% Tinta Cao. Aged for 18 months in French oak (20% new), this was fortified with 190-proof brandy up to a finished alcohol of 19%. Inky-dark, it’s a total glass-stainer, offering high-toned earthy aromas of the forest in the dead of winter, dark cherry, espresso, and high-cacao chocolate. The palate is a luscious mix of fruit (bramble berries, fig) and barrel (melting chocolate, caramelized treats), and again, it’s the sense of textural balance that shines here.

Full Pull Sparkling Cyber Monday

November 17, 2017

Hello friends. Now that the turkey has been carved, the relatives have gone home, and the leftover sandwich eating has commenced, it’s time for one of our favorite yearly traditions. Whether you like it or not, the holidays are officially in full swing, and it’s time to stock up on your winter wine needs. It’s time for Full Pull’s Cyber Monday sticky and sparkling offer. Usually, this is a mixed bag offer, but we tasted so many quality sweet, sticky wines and countless bottles of delightful bubbles that we decided to split this into two separate e-mails. Today, it’s sparkling. Tomorrow, it’s sticky. Either way, It’s an embarrassment of riches.

2009 Chateau dOrschwihr Cremant dAlsace Brut

You may remember the idea of “stupid wines” from our Thanksgiving offer. “Stupid” is not typically a term you’ll see when reading reviews of wine—but it is truly one of the most honest and organic descriptions that exists. A stupid bottle of wine is one that shocks; a bottle that is so good, and so inexpensive, that you can hardly believe it truly exists. It’s a bottle that takes the words right out of you mouth and leaves you with only this: it is stupid how good this wine is.

The sparkling wines we have tasted from Chateau d’Orschwihr fall into this category. At Thanksgiving, we offered the 2011 Brut Rosé. Today it’s 2009 Cremant d’Alsace. This is eight-year-old vintage cremant made from 100% Chardonnay and aged for five years in the bottle before disgorgement. The listed alcohol is 12.5% and it opens with expressive notes of leesy croissant, salty-sweet brioche, tart apple, asian pear, and marcona almonds. On the palate, it’s quite dry, with a touch of drizzled honey, and a wonderfully savory character. There’s a backbone of saline-acid that complements flavors of beeswax, green apples, and almonds. At this price point, and with this quality, this is a bottle to meet many needs—enjoy it at your holiday parties, open it on a quiet night at home, or pop it as the clock strikes twelve.

2014 Agusti Torello Mata Cava Trepat Rosat

Agustí Torelló Mata has been making sparkling wine for almost forty years, and started his own namesake label in 1993. While he produces a few other wines under this label, his true passion is cava. His operation, located just outside of Barcelona, is dedicated to quality Spanish sparkling. In his own words: In the depth of the cellars, protected from light, with a constant humidity and temperature, the miracle takes place: in each bottle slowly and patiently the fine bubbles will be born that will become a complex and exceptional cava. (This man is seriously into sparkling.) Each bottle is aged for an extended time on the lees before disgorgement. Then, the harvest year and disgorgement date are listed on every label—an effort to ensure quality. Agustí wants you to know what you’re drinking. He wants to eliminate the mystery that sometimes comes with bottles of imported sparkling. He considers each bottle a personal commitment—and expression of a grape (100% Trepat), and territory (Penedès), and a vintage (2014).

This vintage pours out of the bottle a vibrant, deep pink, and opens with a fresh and lively nose of wild strawberries, cream, and bright herbs. The palate is rich, bursting with fine bubbles, filled with fresh strawberries and a salinity that keeps it lifted and bright. The combination of fruit and acid made this particular sparkler well-suited for just about anything—aperitif, dinner companion, or dessert.

NV Franck Besson Rose Granit 

This is a special little bottle of bubbles from Beaujolais—cool enough to be an occasion wine for your oenophile friends, and inexpensive enough to simply enjoy. This is made from 100% Gamay from Julienas. Julienas is the second most northern Cru of Beaujolais and is known for unique soil that produces age-worthy, structured wines with particularly beautiful notes of flower, fruit, and spice. Because Beaujolais does not have a sparkling designation (remember, French wine laws can be complicated and exceptionally rigid), this bottle cannot be labeled as Cru Beaujolais, but technically, that’s what this wine is. Sourced from 40-year-old organically farmed vines, hand harvested, and made in the traditional method, this bottles goes against all local convention and it definitely pays off.

We first tasted this bottle of bubbles last autumn, but it was bought up so quickly that we were only able to secure enough for the retail rack at our warehouse (some of you probably went home with a bottle or two, though it was gone quickly). It opens with a nose full of bright, ripe berries, a touch of floral violet, and rocky minerals. The palate carries heft, but comes across delicate and fresh. It’s dry, full of the same lovely fruit from the nose, and bright, with some truly savory spice tones. As an added touch, the color is a glorious pink. Any fans of Full Pull’s own Block Wines Extra Brut Rosé (sold out until next year’s disgorgement), this is a bottle for you. It would pair well with just about anything, but I personally would prepare a dreamy cheese and charcuterie plate. Invite over your 2-4 favorite people, get out your best cutting board, and cover it with delice de Bourgogne, or any kind of bloomy rind cheese, dry-cured pork sausage, thinly sliced Jambon de Bayonne, a savory jam, and some pan-fried almonds with sage leaves. Pop a bottle of this (or two) and enjoy.

2012 Kiralyudvar Tokaji Pezsgo Henye (Sparkling)

This bottle will make you reconsider everything you know about Hungarian wine. A single vineyard (a biodynamic site called Henye), single-vintage sparkling wine, made with 85% Furmint and 15% Harslevelu (the two primary grapes of the region), this goes through primary fermentation in – you guessed it – Hungarian oak barrels, using only indigenous Tokaji yeasts. And then, it gets better. While the Champenois must use a mixture of still Champagne and sugar for their dosage, the Hungarians instead have the perfect nectar sitting around for dosage: Tokaji Aszu, the universally loved dessert wine of the region, and in this case a special Aszu-Esszencia sweet wine from Kiralyudvar’s Danczka vineyard.

Clocking in at 13% list alcohol, it starts with amber, autolytic aromatics of toast and smoky toffee, which give way to cooked peaches, spiced almonds, and a subtle salinity. The palate is rich, dry, and intense, with a sense of familiarity. It is decidedly not sweet like it’s dosage partner Tokaji, but it is reminiscent, like a distant relative of the region’s sweet wine. It’s filled with cooked orchard and stone fruit, dark bready notes, and a lively acidity. Honestly, this is a geeky wine. It’s exciting, and different, and deserves the special attention that winter allows for sparkling wine.

Full Pull Ontanon

November 16, 2017

Hello friends. As November comes to a close, we enter a new season of wine drinking. Annually, the fall is marked with numerous bottles of thought-provoking Pinot, a sprinkling of cru Beaujolais, and all the discounted rosé we can get our hands on. However, winter is a-whole-nother story. The upcoming season is marked by a decidedly different category—robust reds. Today, we’re celebrating the cold weather with a 12-year-old Gran Reserva from one of our favorite Rioja producers at a price well below its $46 release.

2005 Ontanon Rioja Gran Reserva

[Note: this is not the 2005 Reserva, which we offered in August 2016; this is the *Gran* Reserva, another step up the ladder.]

Ontañon has a long history with Full Pull—a bottle of its Rioja Reserva from the 2004 vintage was the second import wine we ever offered. The winery (located here) is a fifth-generation producer that holds 620 acres of vineyards in Rioja Baja’s Sierra Yerga Mountains (check out this 2-minute video for an intro to the family and the vineyard land). Much of Rioja’s traditional reputation has been built on Rioja Alta, with Baja juice often used as a way to plump up lean/mean bottlings from its western neighbor. Most of that blending juice comes from the Baja flatlands, but there is so much more to Baja than that. Ontañon’s holdings, for example, are on the hillsides of the Sierra Yerga (“the Alta of the Baja”), and they’re able to produce balanced, thrilling wines that straddle the line between old world and new.

What makes Spanish wine so exciting is its tradition—the region’s collective respect for time. In the United States, if you see “Reserve” on a bottle of wine, it means… absolutely nothing, not legally anyway. Grand Reserve? It’s just not a thing. There are no regulations around the usage of these words. That is just not the case for Spanish wines. In Rioja, for a wine to get the Gran Reserva label means it has been aged for at least two years in barrel and at least three years in bottle. What makes Ontañon one of the best is that they go well beyond that here. This bottle saw 36 months in American barrels, and has now seen another near-decade in bottle. Only in Spain!

Better yet: 2005 was an outstanding vintage. After 2005, it wasn’t until 2010 that the Rioja Consejo Regulador gave another vintage its strongest “Excellent” rating. And yeah, that excellence shows in the bottle too. This bottle of mostly Tempranillo (95%) and a splash of Graciano (5%), all from La Pasada Vineyard (elevation 1596-1938 ft) begins with a maturing Rioja nose: a mixture of fresh and dried cherries, a touch of dark fruit, plenty of leather, leafy tobacco, roasted spices, and subtle floral notes. At 13% listed alc, the palate possesses a wonderful verve that makes a dozen-year-old wine feel lively. It still hosts plenty of bright and pretty fruit, but the time spent in barrel and bottle comes through with a true sense of dark earthiness, spiced herbs, vanilla, smoke, and anise. As to be expected, it has a finish that just doesn’t quit.

Wine Spectator (Thomas Matthews): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92pts.”

Full Pull Upchurch

November 15, 2017

Hello friends. New vintage today of a Washington Cabernet that is about as buzzy as buzzy gets around these parts, and it is being offered via pre-sell. I’ve mentioned this a handful of times; it seems like we’re entering a second age of the pre-sell. I missed the first age. By the time Full Pull launched in 2009, the economy was so lousy that most pre-sells had gone the way of the wooly mammoths. But there was a time in the early 2000s where a wine selling its entire production run via presell was not uncommon. And offers like today’s make me wonder if we’re seeing the stirrings of a return.

2015 Upchurch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Here is an excerpt of the e-mail I just received from Upchurch Vineyard’s Seattle representatives:

Would it be wrong to put Chris Upchurch on the Mt. Rushmore of WA state Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-styled blends? I don’t think there’s anyone out there who could successfully argue against it, especially since he’s been behind the winemaking at DeLille since their inception in 1992. That winery has been a tad bit successful I’d say, and a good quarter century of making some of the best wines in the state rightfully merits that the placement.

Fast forward a few years from that early nineties launch of DeLille and you’ll see Chris and his family circling around and establishing their own estate vineyard on Red Mountain in 2007, the Upchurch Vineyard. First-hand knowledge of the distinct terroir there coupled with the appointment of vineyard manager Dick Boushey (also more than deserved of a place on a Mt. Rushmore of growers) has in no time made this piece of land a very special place. The 18.5 acre site has been dedicated to sustainable farming since day one, it is both L.I.V.E. and Salmon-Safe certified, and it has been responsible for the fruit that has gone into 5 very highly acclaimed wines since 2010.

The wine will be ready to ship on Monday, December 4th this year, and we’ll be taking requests for an allocation through Thursday, November 30th.

Please note: we’re going to send our first round of requests on Monday (Nov 27), so please try to get orders in by Sunday night. That said, we’ll do our best to honor any latecomer orders placed through Wednesday Nov 29.

As the note above makes clear, Chris Upchurch is a giant in the Washington wine scene. As an original partner in DeLille Cellars, and as the founding and current winemaker for that fine winery, he has produced some of Washington’s most breathtaking bottles. For his own label, he has built everything from the ground up. One vineyard parcel on Red Mountain, planted in 2007 in consultation with Jim Holmes of Ciel du Cheval and managed by Dick Boushey. One wine made from that plot each vintage.

His first two vintages were the cool years of 2010 and 2011, and yet the wines were still instantly successful and nearly impossible to source (Jeb’s 95pt review of the inaugural 2010 certainly didn’t hurt). The vast majority of production is sold direct through the winery doors, and what’s left is mostly allocated to restaurants. The amounts available for the 2010 and 2011 just didn’t make sense for us, and the amounts available for the subsequent 2012 through 2014 (which we offered) only barely made sense. I have high hopes that we can score a full allocation this time, but no promises.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 93-95pts.”

Full Pull New Copinet

November 14, 2017

Hello friends. At long last, we have a new release from one of our favorite producers of Champagne, a small-but-mighty house called Copinet. While we have loved the 2006 bottling —and offered it enough times over the past few years to prove it—it’s absolutely thrilling to be able to taste a new vintage from Marie and her team. These wines have been celebratory bottles for so many of our staff and list members alike, and the new vintage does not disappoint.

Now, I use the term “new” loosely, as this bottle still is still almost a decade old.

2009 Marie Copinet Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs M. Leonard

This story begins with William Woodruff’s Chloe Imports, an absolute gem of a company based in North Seattle. Copinet, and many of our other favorite French producers, might have been totally unknown to us if it were not for Chloe—and without our relationship with William, we would certainly not get access to this amount of well-crafted French juice.

William turned a banking job in Siena in the late-‘90s (where he was dealing with foodstuffs, including wine) into a wine import company when he moved to Seattle in 1997. It began with William importing one family’s wines from Tuscany, and over two decades in business, William has grown to represent that same family in Tuscany, two families in Piedmont, three families in Burgundy, four families in the Rhone, and exactly one grower Champagne: Marie Copinet (formerly Jacques Copinet, now run by Jacques outstanding daughter)

What’s so great about these old Copinet Champagnes is that they have consistently been total mind-exploding standouts. Aged Champagne is the motherlode, and well-priced aged Champagnes? They just don’t exist. Here, we’re benefiting from the fact that William is direct-importing these from Champagnes right into Seattle, so our pricing is outstanding.

Here is William’s introduction to Copinet: In the midst of the Marne Valley, in the tiny village of Montgenost, is the estate of Jacques and Brigette Copinet. With parcels in Villenauxe a Grande, Verpillieres sur Ource, Cuchery and Chantillon du Marne, complexity is the hallmark of these mineral rich wines. Along with the assistance of their daughter Marie Laure and son in law Alexandre Kowal, this family estate is the source of very fine Champagne. In 1975, Jacques and Brigette struck out on their own and began to bottle their own production. No herbicides or pesticides are used. Champagne is bottled and matures in the frigid chalk cellars beneath the family home. A fortunate few can now obtain the RD (recently disgorged) early vintages.

Those “fortunate few” William is referring to? Me. You. Us. In fact, Full Pull was one of the first retailers (if not the first) to even taste the 2009 vintage when it arrived from overseas. It is 100% Chardonnay, 100% 2009 vintage, with 5 g/liter dosage, made from grapes grown in chalk soil. Disgorged in September of this year, it offers a nose immediately recognizable as mature Champagne, but one that still has an air of freshness and vibrancy to it. Toasted brioche, your grandmother’s ancient sourdough starter, baked peaches, lemon zest, and just a touch of savory/smoky subtleties. The palate continues brightly; a nervy dynamo, with a sturdy citric-mineral spine supporting intense fruit and mineral flavors. The fruit is definitely still present after almost a decade, and comes in waves of lemon and tart green apple that just won’t quit. This wine is palate-staining, all-encompassing in its profile—and its history. This is one family, using one grape, to make one vintage—that is a story worth celebrating.

Full Pull Walla Walla Cabernet Price Drop

November 13, 2017

Hello friends. For many years, our list members have been the beneficiaries of Rich Funk’s kindness. His tradition had been to retail his Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for $30 for the majority of the year, and then offer a significant price drop for November and December.

Those price drops seemed to always coincide with Wine Spectator releasing strong reviews for the wine (a couple 93pt vintages, one 92pt vintage), which, in previous years, resulted in a holiday-season feeding frenzy. We’ve offered seven previous vintages of this wine, and each one has been snapped up en masse and enjoyed throughout the holidays and then the rest of the year.

Beginning in 2013, however, Rich essentially stopped the end-of-year discounts. Except…

Except for a very few partners (I believe the list is down to two now) who have been consistent supporters of Saviah over the years. I’m pleased that Full Pull, and our list members, are counted among those supporters. And honestly: even at $30, this is a strong buy. At our TPU price today, I’ll tell our operations team to batten down the hatches, because this represents exceptional value for Walla Walla Valley Cabernet, and I think our savvy list members know it.

2015 Saviah Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley

Why has this wine become such a hit with our list members over the years? Three reasons:

1) It is becoming ever rarer to see Walla Walla Valley Cabernet at a sub-$25 tariff (let alone $20).

2) Year in and year out, this is a Cabernet that most of us would be happy to pay $30 for. At a lower tag, it way over-delivers.

3) It comes from unusual WWV vineyards. So many times when we see Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon it comes from either the king (Pepper Bridge Vineyard) or the queen (Seven Hills Vineyard). There’s nothing wrong with those two vineyards. In fact, they’re among the standard-bearers for the valley. But… it’s a big valley, full of micro-terroirs, and those of us who care about such things get a little extra intellectual jolt from tasting other sites.

All of the Cabernet in the 2015 comes from McClellan (37%; location here) and Anna Marie (30%; location here) and Dugger Creek (20%; location here) Vineyards (the remaining 13% is Seven Hills Merlot). All three Cab sites are converted orchards farmed by the Brown family of Watermill Winery. Rich Funk (Saviah’s winemaker) was Watermill’s consulting winemaking during their early days, so he still gets access to this lovely fruit. It was raised in 35% new oak for about a year and a half, and it clocks in at 14.6% listed alc.

This pops aromatically, with clear Cabernet notes of cassis, beetroot, and loamy earth swaddled in subtle barrel tones of mocha and roasted pecan. The palate has all the richness and suppleness we’d expect from the warm ’15 vintage. It’s seamless texturally, lovely on attack, mid, and a finish that features fine-grained, polished tannins. The fruit is truly delicious here but not at all one-note, instead complicated by robust earth tones and the darkest of high-cacao chocolate. This is a wine that just seems to keep getting better, year in and year out, as those vines dig deeper and deeper into that good Walla Walla Valley soil. Many thanks to Rich for offering us this beauty at such a compelling price!