Full Pull Three Shades of Grenache

May 29, 2018

Ryan Crane has long been a leading force in the new wave of Washington winemakers, specifically when it comes to Grenache. He’s a high-performing winemaker with a stubborn (in a good way) point of view that translates into a well-defined (and glorious) house style. Today we have three shades of Grenache to put that house style on display

2017 Kerloo Grenache Blanc Blue Mountain Vineyard

A annual star in Kerloo’s spring lineup, this Grenache Blanc is sourced entirely from Blue Mountain Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley. The vineyard, an estate site of Corliss/Tranche, was planted in 2001. 12 acres were planted in 2009 dedicated entirely to Rhone white varieties like Grenache Blanc (and perhaps the first planting of Clairette Blanche in the entire country). Sustainable and low-yield farming at Blue Mountain grows fruit with deep intensity, and its somewhat cooler location in the Walla Walla Valley showcases acidity. A perfect combination for Ryan’s passion for the pure, authentic side of Washington fruit

Aged in a mix of concrete (70%) and neutral French oak (30%), this bottle clocks in at 12.9% alcohol. From the nose to the palate, you can see the role of both concrete and oak, respectively, adding intense minerality while softening the bright, acid-driven palate. The nose surges with lively lemon flesh, pear, thistle, a twist of lime, and a touch of honey. The palate brings forth intense fruit to match the bold acidity, juicy peaches and apples mixed with citrus fruit and salinity. A true spring and summer stunner, well suited for everything from spot prawns to sockeye salmon, manila clams to tumble-grown Blue Pool oysters.

2017 Kerloo Grenache Rose Painted Hills Vineyard

Crafted from two clones planted at Art DenHoed’s Painted Hills Vineyard in the Columbia Valley, Kerloo’s Rosé has become something of a calling card for the winery. It’s an immensely popular wine year after year, largely because Ryan has helped lead the charge for purposeful rosé in Washington.

Painted Hills is named for the intense sun that heats the grapes along its slope—which creates beautiful, concentrated fruit. However, the vineyard’s elevation of 1300 feet provides needed airflow to increase the grapes’ natural acidity. A win-win for rosé. Ryan picks these grapes early (as seen by the 12.1% listed alcohol) and they sit on the skins for a mere 2 hours before being pressed and then fermented in stainless steel. The result is a delicate salmon glass that opens with strawberries, cucumber, watermelon rind, pink grapefruit, and orange blossom. The palate is bright, but showcases a touch of texture from lees ageing, a beguiling combination that still presents mouthwatering and vivacious. This bottle is always Washington rosé at its best– stock up for a summer full of char-grilled chicken legs, home-grown arugula and israeli couscous, and citrus-avocado salads.

2016 Kerloo Grenache Upland Vineyard

We’ve long written about Upland vineyard’s propensity for top-notch Grenache—stories told to us by some of our favorite wineries, like Kerloo, Betz, Idilico, Latta. It wasn’t until earlier this month that team Full Pull actually got to visit Upland on Snipes Mountain and see what all the fuss is about. The striking mountain, planted with over 700 acres of vines, boasts riverbed cobblestones brought up to 1300 feet on an anticline ridge. These stones give finicky Grenache what it loves at an elevation that doesn’t freeze. Driving up the winding dirt roads of the vineyard behind manager Todd Newhouse, it was astonishingly clear why the best of Washington’s winemakers sources grapes from this magical place.

Ryan’s Upland Grenache is fermented 50% whole cluster with native yeasts taken from Snipes Mountain. It was then aged entirely in concrete. I’ve always found that Upland’s grapes help evoke a sense of place—in Ryan’s take, it’s a lavender field and you’re holding fistfulls of crushed bramble berries in the warm sun. Succulent raspberry and blackberry thickets, fields of purple petals, dusty old riverbeds, and flowering bunches of wild sarsaparilla. The palate is lifted with vivid acidity and minerality, winding through all the berry goodness of the nose and plenty of green, savory subtleties on its 14.1% alcohol frame. A touchstone of Kerloo’s house style—and a mighty fine bottle as we move into the season of roadside fruit stands and grilled meats.


Full Pull Syncline

May 29, 2018

Hello friends. We’ve long held a torch for James and Poppie Mantone’s Syncline. They’ve earned their spot in the upper echelon of Washington wineries vintage after vintage with consistent expressions of freshness, purity, and transparency. If others overlook them in discussions of the best of Washington, it may only be because of their out-of-the-way location in the Columbia Gorge.

Syncline has become so popular with our list members you can now set your clocks by the release of their wines. On May 15th, 2017, we offered the 2016 Syncline Rosé. Now, almost exactly one year later, we have the new release—plus a bonus white and equally popular red.

2017 Syncline Rose

This wine has become so popular in recent years that once we taste it we have to offer it—because it will be gone before we get another chance. Long-time list members will remember, the 2009 Syncline Rosé was the first rosé ever offered by Full Pull. That was the summer of 2010 and we haven’t missed a year yet—and definitely aren’t going to start now.

Always a Rhone rosé, this vintage boasts a blend of 40% Mourvedre, 33% Grenache, and 27% Cinsault from McKinley Springs and Alder Ridge in the the Horse Heaven Hills. The vineyards are selected and the grapes grown specifically with rosé in mind. The color is a striking salmon pink and the wine opens with aromatics that match—strawberries, watermelon rind, lemon zest, and grapefruit. The palate is serious, mixing bright, fresh fruit with lovely green tones and a touch of savor. There is plenty of acid, but the palate still holds authority, like a bell ringing to say “schools out for summer.” The finish continues, just as dry as can be. This is a rosé made for food—a mean, stinky cheese plate, cold sesame noodles with scallions and soy, philly-style pork shoulder and broccoli rabe subs on a picnic bench in the sun.

2017 Syncline Picpoul

Picpoul is traditionally a blending grape found in many Southern Rhône whites. It’s named for the acidity it carries—Picpoul translates to lip stinger. Grown properly by Dick Boushey and made by the team at Syncline, this version shows what Washington Picpoul can truly be at its best. 13.5% listed alcohol, the nose is full of flowering lemon verbena, citrus zest, peaches, and smooth stones. The palate is zippy, with plenty of freshness, salinity, and minerality. Close your eyes and pictures Kumamoto oysters, spot prawns, Dungeness crab—this is the wine you’re drinking. It’s Pacific Northwest Seafood wine at its best.

2016 Syncline Subduction Red

One of the best trends to come out of the past decade of Washington wine is the emergence of more and more Rhone blends—but price point has been a serious challenge. We have our Chateauneufs and our Gigondas, but where are our Cotes du Rhone Villages? Syncline was the first winery to help solve this problem—a trend that is thankfully catching on—with the Subduction Red. We’ve been offering it since the 2009 vintage, but at that point, it had already been around for about five years.

In 2016 it is a five-variety blend: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan, sourced from Horse Heaven Hills, Red Mountain, Columbia Gorge and Yakima Valley. The listed alcohol is 14%. A true ode to the Rhone, the nose is fresh, spiced, and high-toned, with plenty of juicy red fruit and smoky subtleties. The palate is wild—almost feral—with meaty Syrah undertones, Mourvedre spice, and plenty of delicious, soft fruit. This wine has gained a reputation for punching well above its price, and this vintage is another standout example.

Full Pull Hermitage Two Ways

May 4, 2018

Hello friends. These past few years, we have come close to cornering the Seattle market for the lovely Northern Rhone wines of Domaine du Colombier, and this year, we have access to the memorable 2015 vintage. Colombier was founded in 1929, and for most of their existence sold their fruit to negociants. Their biggest customer was none other than Guigal. Then in 1992, the family decided to begin estate-bottling their own wines, and since then, they’ve risen to become one of the great under-the-radar estates of the region.

Well, mostly under the radar. Here’s Robert Parker himself introducing the estate in late 2012: Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): Domaine du Colombier is one of the most underrated estates in the Northern Rhone. Proprietor Viale merits more attention from wine writers, critics, bloggers, etc. given the quality of wines he is producing. Moreover, this is one of the few family-owned domaines producing Hermitage, not to mention their splendid Crozes-Hermitage.

And then here’s Jeb Dunnuck writing in Advocate more recently: Covering roughly 13 hectares in Crozes Hermitage (mostly around the villages of Mercurol and Tain) and just under two hectares in Hermitage, the wines from this domaine see a traditional vinification followed by aging mostly in older demi-muids, with new oak kept to around 20% for most of the cuvees. The wines are classic, textbook examples of their appellations and should not be missed. The fact that they can represent good value is just icing on the cake.

Because our import partner is direct-importing these into Seattle, we’re also able to offer outstanding pricing on both the entry level Crozes and the crown jewel Hermitage:

2015 Domaine du Colombier Crozes-Hermitage

As you can see on the map, Crozes-Hermitage is an area in the crook of the neck made by the confluence of the Rhone and Isere rivers. While up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne are allowed in red Crozes, this is 100% Syrah, done whole-cluster and foot-stomped, and given long, cool fermentations. This Crozes always has wonderful woodsmoke and peat moss elements on the nose and palate. There’s very little new oak used here – it’s mostly concrete and big old demi-muids – so I suspect it’s just varietal character expressed through this terroir. The fruit tends towards huckleberries, with savory elements (olive, ferrous minerality) galore. The terrific 2015 vintage really shines through in color (inky purple-black) and especially in texture, offering head-turning intensity and a fine sense of weight, all on a moderate-alc (12.5%) frame. This is delicious, palate-staining Syrah.

2015 Domaine du Colombier Hermitage

Only a handful of cases are imported into Seattle each year, and we purchased the entire remaining lot, so this wine is socked away in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup/shipping post-allocation.

Hermitage is one of the true beating hearts of Syrah in the world. A tiny AOC (345 acres; by comparison, Cote Rotie is 550 acres) contained on a single hill (located here), it produces wines that are as difficult to source as they are hauntingly beautiful.

Colombier’s 2015 vintage Hermitage is wild, both for its deep glass-staining color and its evocative savory-fruity nose, with maple-dipped bacon notes complicating a core of black cherry fruit. The palate impact is crazy for Hermitage and speaks to what an unusual vintage this is. It’s could be confused for a new-world wine in its fruit impact, and to see that paired with all of Hermitage’s signature savory meaty notes is deeply exciting. Where the Crozes is softer, more inviting, more approachable, this is burly, structured, ageworthy. There is legit tannic heft here, the kind I would usually associate with thicker skinned grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon. I could go on and on about this wine, but I really shouldn’t, considering the amount we have on hand and how much I hope a few bottles remain unsold for my personal stash.

Full Pull Rosé Round Up

May 3, 2018

Hello friends. With the growing popularity of rosé and number of jaw-droppingly good examples increasing at a steady rate, we’ll spend as much time as possible dispelling myths about summer’s favorite wine. Rosé doesn’t need to come from a certain place, be made in a certain style, or bottled a certain way to be delicious. Past vintage rosé can be magnificent. Rosé from Washington or Spain can be just as gulpable as France. Rosé in a box or can have the potential to be better than counterparts in bottle. What makes a good rosé is taste—plain and simple.

The only good thing about these rosé myths is that the rosés that don’t fall into the acceptable box are usually sold for a screamin’ deal. Today, we’re taking full advantage of that. Below you’ll find three rosés, all under $20. If you’re looking to stock up on some international treasures without breaking the bank for a summer full of pink, this is the place for you.

2016 Ferraton Pere & Fils Cotes Du Rhone Samorens Rose

This is a delicious Rhone rosé from an owner/winemaker very familiar to our list: Michel Chapoutier. We’ve extolled the virtues of Chapoutier’s Roussillon project—Bila-Haut—time and time again. (And in our last blow-out rosé offer, we featured his daughter, Mathilde, and her standout Provence bottling.) Today we touch on another realm in this brilliant winemaker’s empire: Ferraton Père et Fils. Chapoutier began partnering with the Ferraton winery two decades ago, and then purchased the winery outright in 2004. Reds, whites, and rosés—these wines now represent the rare bird of quality in the Northern Rhone at accessible pricing.

This rosé, at 13.5% alcohol and made from Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah, is the perfect example of a rosé that improves after a year in bottle. Its nose, still full of red berries, stone fruit, and ripe summer melon; its palate, still vibrant with citrus acidity and limestone minerality. It’s just as vibrant, if not more, than many new rosé releases, with a touch of spiced complexity that would make this the perfect accompaniment for most meals: BBQ chicken legs cooked on the grill, green salads full of farmers market produce, buttery-charred corn on the cob, endless bowls of fresh guacamole and chips.

Plus, we get to offer it at 25% less than its fifteen-dollar release price!

2016 Hexamer Spatburgunder Weissherbst

Drinking wine from Germany is not just delicious—it’s usually educational, because how could you possibly understand what you’re drinking without a quick German lesson? Hexamer is a producer from the Nahe, a wine regions that sits on the Nahe River between the Mosel and the Rheinhessen. Spätburgunder means Pinot Noir and Weissherbst is rosé. This is a barely pink rosé of Pinot Noir from a great winery—a star when it comes to German imports in the US. Imported by Terry Theise, he found the right words to describe the best things about these wines: “When tasting the wines, one sees the purity of the vineyards, the intensity of minerality and remarkable clarity. Hexamer’s wines are balanced in the ultraviolet spectrum; they’re steely, acid-driven, clean and transparent.”

This bottle, with 11.5% alcohol, shows Hexamer’s signature steely acidity and purity through the lens of German Pinot Noir—and it’s glorious. The nose is white peach, early-season raspberries, watermelon rind, mint, and stone-cold steel. The palate leads with clementine acidity and moves into sweet pink fruit, creating a moment of off-dry sensation before finishing with clean, crisp minerals. This is a bottle delicious enough to gulp, but cool enough to savor. It’s a fresh and decidedly fun bottle from a serious producer.

NV La Nevera Rosado (3L BAG IN BOX, Pickup Only)

You don’t need an applied mathematics degree to tell you that quality boxed rosé is a good deal. For example, this particular Rioja-grown, provence-style rosé contains the equivalent of four 750ml bottles, which makes the price $5/bottle. As we’ve said before, only in Spain!

We’ve previously offered La Nevera’s boxed tinto, bianco, and rosé and they’ve all been instant hits with list members. Mostly because it’s kind of ridiculous what’s in this box, given the tag: 100% Garnacha (Grenache), all 2017 vintage despite the NV tag, from organically grown estate vines planted in 1983 on gravel/clay/limestone at 1150 feet elevation in Rioja Baja. Aged in stainless, this is a clean, easy-drinking rosé, with raspberry, cantaloupe, leafy herbs, rose, and blood-orange. The alcohol is moderate (12.5% listed), the acid vibrant, the overall package fresh and driven by lively herbaceous notes. It’s perfect for decks and boats, campgrounds and picnic tables, back porches and nights on the couch. The beauty of the box— you can open it for a party or keep it open in your fridge for a month as you drink it glass by glass.

Full Pull Library Chinon

May 3, 2018

Hello friends. We have a rare treat today: access to library Cabernet Franc from Chinon in the Loire Valley, now 13 years past vintage:

2005 Pierre-Jacques Druet Chinon Clos de Danzay 
[Full disclosure note: all the bottles are labeled 2005, and we’ve been assured all the juice is 2005 vintage, but several of the samples we’ve pulled have had corks that say 2004. The winery is out of business, so hard confirmation is not possible, but the running theory from the importer/broker is that the winery had an excess of 2004-printed corks and used some of that glut to bottle their 2005s. What I can say confidently is that all the samples we’ve pulled have shown consistently.]

Back in November, we were presented with a handful of library samples from Druet. For our team, the 2005 was the star of the show, especially at its offered tariff, and we committed to a parcel on the spot. It took months for the wine to get loaded onto a container and shipped out of France into the Port of Seattle, but the wine arrived in April and is now safely tucked away in our warehouse and ready to go.

Druet went out of business a few years ago, but during his heyday, he was considered one of the finest producers in Bourgueil. Here is an excerpt from Richard Kelley’s write-up (Kelley is a UK-based expert on the Loire Valley):

Pierre-Jacques Druet is often acknowledged, controversially, as the best grower in Bourgueil. He arrived in the appellation in 1980 with his wife, Martine. He was 30 years old at the time. He trained initially at the Lycée in Beaune before embarking on a career as the export manager for a Bordeaux-based négociant; rather following in the family tradition, since his grandfather had performed a similar role in Montrichard, a town with several large sparkling wine cellars on the banks of the Cher. He began by renting some old vineyards in Le Grand Mont from the veuve Courtois, but has since built up his domaine to around 20 hectares. Druet’s involvement in Chinon dates back almost as long, since he purchased 1.5 hectares on one of the plateaux of Beaumont-en-Véron in 1982; Le Clos Danzay being a ‘true’ clos which was once under the ownership of the château of the same name. The vineyard is planted exclusively to Cabernet Franc with one-third of the vines being between 60 and 80 years old. The balance is more recent; planted by Druet in the early 1990s.

So yeah, a Bourgueil expert, but one with a special vineyard in Chinon, and it’s that vineyard (Le Clos Danzay) that we’re dealing with today. To access mature single-site Chinon that includes 80-year-old vines is an unusual opportunity; even more so at a $20 tag. This clocks in at 12.5% listed alc and begins with a terrific, expressive, mature nose: dried flowers and dried cherries, arugula and earth and dried tobacco leaf. Even good young Chinon is alluring aromatically; a mature Franc like this has an ineffable aromatic quality; it just has to be experienced. The palate still retains plenty of bright acidity, alongside soft, mostly-resolved tannins. The overall package is complex, fecund, full of spice and verve and character. It’s a charmer through and through.