Hello friends. We have offered many Cavatappi wines since Full Pull’s inception, and that’s no accident. It’s a terrific fit for our model: a 27-year-old Washington winery that few have heard of, started by a former Italian restaurateur and focusing on Italian varietals.
Although Peter Dow’s project has been around for more than 25 years, this is still an insider winery. Cavatappi flies under the radar in large part because their wines are much more likely to show up in restaurants than at retail. And perhaps that makes sense, since Cavatappi’s origins are deeply tied to the restaurant world.
Back in 1984, Peter Dow was the chef/owner of Cafe Juanita, a Kirkland restaurant featuring the cuisine of Northern Italy. After visiting the region himself, Peter was inspired by the number of restaurants in Piedmont that were making their own house wine, and so he set about developing a winery in the cellar of his restaurant. To do so, Peter also had to develop partnerships with growers to put those vines into the ground (growers like Dick Boushey of Boushey Vineyard and Mike Sauer of Red Willow).
In the mid-eighties, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo planted in Washington’s vineyards were practically unheard of—even now, decades later, they could still be classified as rarities. And even more rare is seeing these wines with a little bit of age. That’s what makes today’s offer so exciting.
2013 Cavatappi Maddalena Nebbiolo
Nebbiolo is a real rarity outside of northern Italy, where it is used to make the ethereal wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. The combination of Piedmont’s soil and the dense morning fog that hangs over the vineyards during harvest time is unique in the world. And while it’s impossible to replicate, Red Willow Vineyard has proven qualified at producing a Nebbiolo that can at least be confused with a Langhe Nebbiolo, if not one of the big guns.
On a February day back in 1984—that Peter described as “colder than #@!%”—he and Mike Sauer drank a bottle of Barolo and then proceeded to bury it under the acre of land at Red Willow Vineyard that would become Peter’s Nebbiolo block. The burial was a good-luck ritual designed to woo the spirits of Piedmont. Considering that the vineyard block is still in production 26 years later, perhaps their juju was successful.
This bottle, 100% Nebbiolo, saw 20 months in neutral oak before bottling in August 2015, and has now spent another 30 months in bottle. Clocking in at 14.7%, this wine opens with classic Nebbiolo notes of thorny roses, worn leather, red cherries, tar, and woodsmoke. As food wines go, there’s nothing like Nebbiolo, with its big citrus-pith acids and equally impressive tannins. This bottle does not disappoint, showcasing waves of fruit with firm tannic structure that’s begun to integrate five years past vintage.
Nebbiolo is an entirely different animal from other red wine grapes (different color; different aromas; different flavors). Wine-lovers, upon tasting their first Nebbiolo, generally experience one of two reactions: 1) this is the wine I have been waiting for my whole life; or 2) is something wrong with this wine? Cavatappi’s half a decade old New World Nebbiolo seems to straddle the balance between the two camps. It has enough classic allure to charm Barolo or Barbaresco fans, yet still remains approachable for those looking to dip their toes in the water of Nebbiolo before jumping in the deep end. This is a true palate-expander.
2012 Cavatappi Molly’s Cuvee Sangiovese
Another treat from the Cavatappi vaults: Sangiovese at six years past vintage from three of the shining stars of Washington: Red Willow, Boushey, and Alder Ridge. The most-planted wine grape in Italy, Sangiovese can be a bit of a chameleon, taking on different qualities from different regions and winemaking. Here in Washington, Sangiovese is gaining popularity, but still finding its domestic footing.
Aged in neutral barrels, this wine, with a listed alcohol of 13.6%, gets right into Sangiovese’s classic fruit and earth. Pressed flowers and fallen leaves meet ripe plums and wild raspberries—with a touch of Italian bitters (read: negroni), of course. This Sangiovese thrives on its backbone of mouthwatering, citrus-soaked acid. Followed by vibrant red fruit, subtle clove spice, dried tarragon and anise seed, this palate, even six years in, proves long and lingering in its beauty. A sommelier’s darling, but for us, a chance to play somm at home with our best, most rustic Italian cooking.
Both of these wines are in a beautiful drinking window—without any signs of slowing down. First come first served up to 24 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.