Full Pull Baby Chateauneuf Alert

July 25, 2018

Hello friends. Fire up the warning klaxons. We have a baby Chateauneuf alert. It’s a term I don’t throw around lightly. You may recall that we’ve used it for only three wines previously: La Chaussynette from Mas de Boislauzon, Renjarde’s Massif d’Uchaux, and Petit Roy from Jean Royer. That those are three of our top-ten most popular import offers should tell you something.

But it gets better. Chaussy went out at [TEXT WITHHELD]; Renjarde at [TEXT WITHHELD]; Royer at [TEXT WITHHELD]. Get a load of today’s pricing:
2017 Les Vignerons d”Estezargues Cotes du Rhone Cuvee des Galets
I endeavor daily to keep the hyperbole in check. Like many of you, I read some of the other hype-monster emails sent by some of our trade-fellows, and while I appreciate the ability to get stoked about everything all the time, it’s just not my personality. Hopefully that adds extra resonance when I say: it’s time to back up the truck. [One more quick data point on that front: our wonderful staff writer Dylan Joffe is getting married next year, and of all the wines we’ve tasted so far in 2018, this is the first one that has officially been designated as wedding wine. She knows a good deal when she sees one.]

I should also mention: this is not really a $10 wine. It’s usually closer to $15. A quick wine-searcher scan shows no-one selling the ’17 yet, and Astor in NYC as the only retailer selling the ’16 (at $13.96). We’re fortunate that a) our local importer is direct-importing this into Seattle, which helps with pricing; and b) we’re committing to a metric-[bleep]-ton of this wine, which helps even more.

We tasted that 2016 vintage back in March, loved it, and went so far as to schedule it for an April 2 offer. Then things fell apart. The wine was being glass-poured all around town, and importers are loathe to sell out of a solid glass-pour, which represents count-on-it recurring revenue. So we got shut out, and reviewing my series of anguished emails from springtime only makes me more excited that we have access to the ’17.

On the access front, I should say that we have first dibs on the parcel that just landed. Our hold evaporates one week from today, so please try to get all order requests in over the course of the next week, and we’ll do our best to build in a latecomer buffer as well.

Now then, the wine itself. I’ll let the importer introduce Estezargues: Les Vignerons d’Estézargues is a co-operative in the small town of Estézargues located to the south and west of Avignon. The co-op is truly unique in the wine world. All over France the co-ops still play a very important role in the production and sale of wine. They receive grapes from members and then make wine from them in large batches from many different vineyards blended together with the focus on producing wine in quantity rather than quality. Les Vignerons d’Estézargues takes a fundamentally different approach; starting in 1995 the ten different growers in this co-op began to vinify their wine separately and make single cuvées from their best plots. On the heels of the single cuvée project, Les Vignerons d’Estézargues began to practice natural winemaking – possibly one of the only co-ops in the world to do so. They use no cultured yeasts, no filtering, no fining and no enzymes during vinification or aging and only add a small amount of SO2 at bottling.

So yeah, we’re getting a carefully coddled natural wine from the Rhone. For ten bucks. Oh, and did I mention why it’s called Cuvee des Galets? The Galets (French for pebbles, or stones) refers to the vineyards where this wine is grown, which look like this and this. You know where there are also rockpiles of Galets? Yep; Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

And like in Chateauneuf, this is Grenache-dominated, with small amounts of Syrah and Carignan rounding out the blend. It clocks in at 14% listed alc and roars out of the glass with an expressive nose full of brambly raspberry, wildflower-dotted garrigue, and hot-rock minerality. The palate is equally great. I love the wild brambly air of the sauvage here. It adds an electric edge to a core of plush wildberry fruit. My kids have been obsessed with foraging northwest berries lately – salmonberries and thimbleberries, red huckleberries and native blackberries – and the fruit profile here reminds me of my younger one’s hands after he tries (and fails) to carefully coddle the berries. There’s wonderful fruit impact and intensity here, and it’s perfectly balanced by cooling mineral tones. This is just wildly good for the price.


Full Pull White Pink Red

July 24, 2018

Hello friends. We have a trio of wines from Efeste today showcasing the broad strength of the portfolio across white, pink, and red wines. Each of these is a single-vineyard wine; each punches well above its tariff:

2017 Efeste Feral Sauvignon Blanc
Year in and year out, one of the best Sauvignon Blancs made in Washington; hell, one of the best white wines made in Washington period. And no surprise, it comes from one of Washington’s best white-wine vineyards: Evergreen in Ancient Lakes, where the caliche soil yields white wines with wonderful, insistent chalky minerality. That’s certainly the case here, where those mineral tones mix with lemon-curd fruit and light grassy notes, all on a mid-weight (13% listed alc) frame. There’s terrific mid-palate fruit impact here, and it’s cut through with Evergreen’s signature acid spine. The finish is seriously mouthwatering, demanding another sip or perhaps another bite of goat cheese salad.

2017 Efeste Rose Oldfield Estate Vineyard
This has, in a few short vintages, rapidly moved up the charts to be one of the strongest rosés released in Washington each year. Oldfield, planted in 2007, sits next to Boushey Vineyard and is managed by Dick Boushey himself. The climate here – at 1300 feet elevation – is known for long, sunny days and cool evenings—the perfect place to craft crisp, refreshing rosé.

A Bandol-inspired field blend of Mourvedre (75%) and Grenache (25%), these grapes were grown together and picked early to preserve food-friendly acidity, then whole cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel and neutral french oak. The wine clocks in at 12.5% listed alc and has a wonderfully expressive nose, underscoring what a fantastic grape Mourvedre is for rosé. Look for plum and anise, rose hips and violets, spices and minerals. It’s exotic and alluring aromatically, and the palate is equally complex, offering plenty of intrigue for those who want to think about their rosé, and plenty of refreshing acidity for those who would prefer to chug. It’s a lovely Bandol ringer, perfect for late-summer BBQs.

2015 Efeste Cabernet Sauvignon Taylor Mag Vineyard
This is the sophomore vintage for a terrific new project from Efeste, with a stated goal of crafting the best possible Red Mountain Cabernet under $30. It comes entirely from their estate Taylor Mag Vineyard, high up on Red Mountain. Single vineyard Red Mountain Cab for $25 is a rare treat indeed, even more so estate grown.

This 100% Cab clocks in at 15.0% listed alc and begins with a nose of crème de cassis, high-cacao chocolate, and wonderful earthy complexities of porcini stock. “Like a baby Lonely Heart” is my first palate note, referencing Mark Ryan’s wonderful $105 Red Mountain Cab. It’s high praise, and I’m sticking with it; this really is crazy pricing for the quality here. The palate is rich, intense, with all the palate-staining power we expect from Red Mountain. So too the robust structure, here in the form of chewy, green tea-flavored tannins. Any fiscally prudent parents of children born in 2015 would do well to consider this as a sub-$30 birth-year wine that could easily hold out for 21 years. I can’t imagine we’ll be able to offer this wine at $25 for many more vintages, but what a treat it is right now.


Full Pull Savoie

July 23, 2018

[BOOK EXCERPT TEXT WITHHELD]

Today we’ll offer all three of the abovementioned whites, as well as three bonus wines: two bubblies and one red. All six come from Savoie stalwart Jean Vullien. The Vullien family is well known in French winemaking circles, in large part for their vine nursery business (Vullien Pépinière Viticole). It is only in the last 40 years that Jean Vullien and his two sons (David and Olivier) have moved into winemaking.

They farm 69 acres of vineyards in the Combe de Savoie, a boomerang-shaped hillside between Grenoble and Albertville on soils of dark Jurassic limestone and black marl base with pebbly topsoil layer of scree (degraded limestone fragments). The Combe contains six hillside crus (top micro-regions within Savoie), and the Vulliens farm four of those crus, including all of Savoie’s indigenous varieties. They have previously been honored with a Coup de Coeur from the influential French publication Revue du Vin. This is an outstanding domaine; a perfect prism through which to view the beauty of the Savoie.
2017 D. Jean Vullien Jacquere
Montmelian (located here) is the cru where the Vulliens farm five acres of Jacquere. At the end of a long day on the ski slopes, how nice it would be to fire up a bubbling pot of fondue and crack a bottle of this crisp, lemon-and-mineral scented alpine white? It’s bone-dry, nervy (11.5% listed alc), insistently refreshing; a great alternative to Muscadet with raw oysters. You can practically hear mountain springs gurgling in the background as you glug this well-priced beauty.

2016 D. Jean Vullien Roussette de Savoie Cepage Altesse
The Altesse has not flipped vintages since our July 2017 offer, so this 2016 is a reoffer. The Vulliens grow about six acres of Altesse across multiple crus in Savoie. With 5-7 years of age, Altesse can take on wonderful toasty honeyed complexities, but right now, this is youthful and fresh as can be. It opens with an alpine nose of peach, fresh cut melon, and apricot. The palate is dry and brightly acidic, with citrusy salinity and minerality that has a real palate-staining character. This one just lingers and lingers with salty alpine goodness. It’s a wine that’s intense and electric—and considering that complexity and intensity here, it will easily last a decade and get more and more interesting with each passing year.

2017 D. Jean Vullien Chignin-Bergeron Les Divolettes
Chignin is the place (cru located here), and Bergeron is the grape. Unlike unfamiliar Jacquere and Altesse, however, Bergeron is simply the local name for a familiar grape: Roussanne. But this is a far cry from Rhone Roussanne, and a *really* far cry from new-world Roussanne. It’s more like Roussanne filtered through the Alps, beginning with a nose of peach pit, almond, and Alpine wildflower, along with a dusty/chalky mineral element (one of the great things about all these Alpine Savoie whites is their insistent mineral character). This offers all the density and intensity we expect from Roussanne, but at a moderate weight (13% listed). I love the waxy texture here, the fat honeyed mid-palate, and above all the wonderful full-blooded earthiness. This is complex, savory, fascinating white wine that would cost four times this much in the Rhone.

NV D. Jean Vullien Cremant de Savoie
Cremant de Savoie was just approved in 2014, and wines with the Cremant de Savoie label were only allowed to be sold beginning in December 2015. This is the eight cremant appellation in France, a designation that covers sparkling wines made outside Champagne and still puts strict controls on the production and the varieties involved. In this case, the varieties involved are Jacquere (40%) and Altesse (20%), along with 40% Chardonnay. This clocks in at 12.5%, pours deep gold, and offers a lovely nose of creamy peach and apple fruit complicated by alluring earthy hazelnut notes. This is dry, nervy, downright racy, with terrific bread and mineral nuance to a core of citrus fruit. It would be great on its own this summer, great as part of cocktails like a kir royale or French 75, and great with all manner of food. It’s a versatile, easy-drinking Cremant.

NV D. Jean Vullien Vin de Savoie Brut Rose
A 40/30/30 blend of Mondeuse, Pinot Noir, and Gamay Noir, this clocks in at 12% and pours into the glass decidedly salmon in color, with an orange tinge. The nose is wild, with savory notes of earth and dried sausage complementing a core of creamy cherry fruit and brown bread. I suspect the dosage is a little higher here than in the Cremant; it certainly drinks richer, and I’d probably save this bubbly for the cooler months ahead. I can say from experience that this is a dynamite Thanksgiving wine, if you can hold onto it that long.

2017 D. Jean Vullien Vin de Savoie St. Jean de la Porte Mondeuse
Savoie is certainly a region best known for its white wines, but it does contain an indigenous red as well: Mondeuse. The Vulliens farm Mondeuse in the cru St. Jean de la Porte (located here). It clocks in at 12.5% listed alc and smells an awful lot like great cru Beaujolais, with its alluring mix of wild berry fruit, loads of stoniness, and dark flowers. Then add exotic spice notes, and you have Mondeuse. In the mouth, it’s light and lively, juicy and vibrant, a propulsive vin de soif seemingly made to be glugged on a hot deck with a light chill on the bottle. The acidity is so mouthwatering that this too had me thinking of Thanksgiving possibilities.


Full Pull Sicilian Island Wine

July 20, 2018

Hello friends. Sometimes, life gets in the way of living. The trip gets canceled due to family or postponed because of work and suddenly, you’ve never been to Santorini. Or Australia. Or driven from Napa to Sonoma. That is one of the things I love so much about wine—in a world full of responsibilities that sometimes prevent us from doing all of the things we want to do, wine provides a little getaway. Wine lets us into places that we’ve never been, it introduces us to people we’ve never met—and it fills us with the hope of possibility.

And so today, with four wines, we all get to visit Sicily.

Between a wild, mountainous interior and the sandy beaches that run along the 1,000 kilometers of coastline, Sicily’s soil ranges from marine sediment to rugged limestone to deeply volcanic. The island’s wine scene has flown surprisingly under the radar despite an ancient history dating back to 750 BC. While much of the region has been historically used to create bulk wine, there are plenty of small, boutique wineries making extraordinary juice. These are wines built and born by the sea, volcanoes, and a thousand-year-old civilization; Sicilian wines are in ancient history. With their intense minerality, acidity, and rustic earthiness, the wines of this southern Italian island have become a new obsession for Team Full Pull.
2017 Francesco Intorcia Heritage Vignemie Grillo
Francesco Intorcia’s family is famous for Marsala. Not the crappy cooking wine you buy off the shelf at Safeway, but the honest, true Marsala that resembles Madeira more than some chicken-mushroom recipe. This wine, however, is not Marsala—but it is made from the same grapes. Grillo is the variety, and at one point it was only used for Marsala production, but somewhere in the late 1900s, winemakers started vinifying it as a dry white wine. Now, Grillo is one of the best values you can find for seriously delicious, savory Italian white wine that’s fresh but also good for aging.

Fermented in stainless steel, this wine was fermented sur lie for six months before bottling. It expresses itself as truly Mediterranean—full of bright lemon flesh, seawater, beach pebbles, long grass, and jasmine flower. The palate is super fresh, while still showing off its 13.5% alcohol frame. It’s equally as beguiling as the nose, full of peaches, citrus, mint, and ocean salinity. Deck or dinner, it would be delicious. I could personally drink this all summer long, but the weight makes it a great transitional wine come September.

2016 Firriato Le Sabbie dellEtna Rosso
This bottle is made from native Sicilian varieties, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, grown on Firriato’s Cavanera Etnea Estate on the north-eastern slope of Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano. The Estate’s soils are volcanic, predominantly sandy, and nutrient rich. Firriato has played an integral role in Sicily’s two-decade rise to international acclaim, building out estates in the countryside of Trapani (western Sicily), Mount Etna, and the Aegadian Islands off the western coast.

Clocking in at 13.5% alcohol, this wine was vinified in stainless steel vats and then aged for 12 months in Slovenian casks. Black raspberry and currants, rosemary, anise, and minerals create a wickedly compelling nose. (A “holy crap, this is going to be good” kinda nose.) The palate is lively and lovely, full of energetic red fruit and florals that quickly show off savory, meaty undertones. There are smooth tannins that creep in toward the finish, creating elegant structure and adding complexity to an already knockout bottle. For the tariff, this cannot be beat.

2014 COS Rami Bianco
At the farthest tip of southeastern Sicily lays COS, a young winery doing very old, ancient things. This region is Italian, but lays closer to Tunisia and Malta than many parts of Italy, and is inspired by both regions. The winery opened in 1980, and the three friends who founded it were the youngest winemakers in Italy at the time. Inspired by the heritage and ancient winemaking of the lands they farmed, COS decided to farm biodynamically, and use ancient terracotta vases to vinify their wine. Today, the winery uses large amphoras dug into the ground to to make many of their wines.

This is technically a reoffer from last year—and still utterly fantastic upon a recent tasting. COS Rami is a blend of 50/50 Grecanico and Insolia and is certified organic. These grapes grow in a mixture of red soil clay and limestone near the winery. Fermented and aged in concrete, the wine goes through spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts. It presents almost like a baby orange wine—a great gateway into the world of interesting, funky whites. So frequently we talk about the benefits of a little bottle age on white wines—this is a perfect example ready to drink right now. The listed alcohol is 12%. The nose opens with bright, citrusy orange marmalade, pears, salty sea water, honey, and fresh beeswax. The palate is tannic for a white wine, due to some extended skin contact. It’s thought provoking, but not overwhelming, with citrus orange and salinity leading the way through an unctuous mouthfeel and long finish. Though this is drinking beautifully now, it’s a wine that was built to age—it will continue to develop and deepen over the years to come.

Wine Enthusiast (Kerin O’Keefe): “[TEXT WITHHELD] 92pts”

2016 COS Frappato
25 years ago, many Sicilian producers were ignoring the native grapes of their island in favor of big international sellers—like Merlot and Cabernet. Now, we can barely sell domestic-grown Merlot, and the Sicilians are making beautiful, quaffable bottles from their Island’s ancient grapes. One of those grapes is Frappato. Grown in the Vittoria region of Sicily in the southeast, Frappato is one half of the area’s leading blend, Cerasuolo di Vittoria. However, on its own, Frappato is a star.

A close relation to Sangiovese, Frappato feels just about as quintessentially Italian as its more famous relative. This is a low tannin, low-alcohol grape that, depending on the vintage and winemaker, can be delicious young or age beautifully for a few years. COS’s version falls somewhere in between—absolutely willing and able to sit in the cellar for a few years, but incredibly drinkable now. Made from almost all Frappato and a splash of Nero d’Avola, this wine saw native ferments and 12 months in Slovenian oak. Ruby red in the glass, it opens with raspberries and cherries, pink peppercorns, orange zest, and violets. The palate is decidedly complex, velvet in texture but light with acid. Sweet spice and flowers lead to the finish, which is lengthy and surprisingly firm. What I love so much about this wine is that it’s a perfect summer wine when just lightly chilled but where it will ready shine is this fall on the Thanksgiving table.


Full Pull Bubble Bubble

July 16, 2018

Hello friends. It has been *ages* since I’ve written a mixed bubbly offer. Dylan has been crushing the bubbles lately, and she’d probably be crushing this offer too, but for the fact that she happened to be on vacation when I tasted three out of these four wines.

A good excuse for me to swoop back in and re-tell Full Pull’s bubble-flecked origin story. As the legend goes, when Full Pull started back in 2009, my wife and I developed a simple agreement. Her responsibility: supply several years of steady income and health insurance. My responsibility: keep at least a case of sparkling wine on hand at all times.

Bubbly was good for celebrating the small victories, for drowning the sorrows of the small losses, and as much as our palate preferences have changed over the subsequent decade, sparkling wine has never gone out of fashion in our house (I just checked; six out of the nine bottles in our fridge at the moment are semi- to fully-sparkling). Today I want to feature a quartet of bubbly bottlings that have recently charmed: a pair from the PacNW, and a pair from Europe:
2016 Anne Amie Cuvee A Amrita 
From the pricing, you may have already deduced that this is not a Champagne-method sparkling wine. In fact, this is the sparkling method long derided by wine snobs the world over: direct injection. Essentially, this is the same method as is used for soda. And no, I’m not going to argue that it yields the same perfectly manicured mousse as a nice bottle of Champagne, but it also doesn’t cost fifty bucks, and it brings an awful lot of pleasure for a sawbuck.

From Willamette Valley stalwart Anne Amie, Amrita is a kitchen sink blend of 35% Riesling, 28% Pinot Blanc, 13% Muller-Thurgau, 13% Viognier, 7% Gewurztraminer, and 4% Chardonnay. It has a crown-cap closure, and the overall bottle design looks great. Amrita basically smells like German Sekt, with the Riesling mostly dominating the nose with its notes of lime and tangerine and mineral. Gewurz and Viognier add lovely floral topnotes. “Serious glugger” says my first note on the palate (12.7% listed alc), and it is indeed, a fizzy marvel best chilled to ice-cold and consumed on a scorching deck or poolside. It drinks like nothing so much as a fizzy dry Riesling (citrus, mineral), and if that sounds delicious to you on a hot summer’s day, then welcome to my wavelength.

2017 AGO Sparkling Wine
AGO is a new label from Luke Bradford of COR Cellars, launched in 2016 and with fruit sourced entirely from Luke’s home in the Columbia Gorge AVA. The goal: “limited bottlings meant to showcase mountain varietals in the light and fresh COR style, celebrate our neighborhood vineyards, and mirror the energy and youthful vibrancy of the Gorge.” Again, the bottles look great (the sparkling wine is the yellow label in the middle, again with a crown-cap closure). This time we have an 85/15 blend of Gewurztraminer and Riesling, all Gorge fruit, clocking in at 12.5% listed alc and with 6 g/L dosage. This is beautiful aromatically, combining Gewurz’ signature trio of tropical fruit, spice, and flower. It smells a little like Moscato d’Asti, and the texture isn’t far off either, with plenty of fizz carrying fresh clean flavors of fruit and flower across the palate. This is a deeply refreshing expression of cool-climate Gorge fruit.

2015 Pere Mata Cupada Rose Cava Brut Nature Reserva
This is the most limited of the four wines. We pre-purchased the entire remaining stock in Seattle, and in doing so are able to offer the wine at a bit lower than the wine-searcher low of 21.95, but it’s barely enough wine to warrant its inclusion.

Thomas Calder has long been a reference-point export agent for French wines (see this Spectator article to learn about what that means), and now seems to be edging into Spain. As usual, he knocks it out of the park in terms of QPR, bringing over a vintage-dated Cava Reserva at ultra-dry (Brut Nature) dosage level. And did I mention it’s pink? It comes all from estate vineyards on calcareous-clay soils, and blends the three usual suspects in Cava (Macabeu, Parellada, Xarel-lo) with Monastrell for color. After 30 months lees-ageing, it is disgorged with zero dosage. Listed alc is 11.5%, this pours pale pink into the glass, and it begins with a glorious nose of strawberry fruit complicated by bread and roses. What could be better? The palate is seriously dry and austere, a perfect summer sparkler, just as tense and nervy as can be. The acid-driven finish is mouthwatering and asks for the next sip or – better yet – next bite of food.

NV Gilles Romain Collet Cremant de Bourgogne Brut
I tasted this, absolutely loved it, and immediately set about figuring out why it was so damned good. Cremant de Bourgogne is a broad appellation, and likewise offers a broad range of quality, but this was spectacular. And as it turns out, the answer, as it often seems to be, was in the vineyards.

The Collet family has been making wine in Chablis since 1792. So when they set out to make a sparkling wine, where do you think they sourced their Chardonnay. If you guessed estate fruit entirely from within the Chablis appellation, then ding-ding-ding! Because of French labeling laws, this can’t be labeled as Chablis, so it has to get the more generic Cremant label. But yes, this is all estate-grown Chardonnay from within Chablis, the wonderful, chalky, cool northern outpost of Burgundy. After 18 months on lees, this is disgorged with 6 g/L dosage. Right away, the nose betrays the origins, all lemony chalky-minerally goodness. That insistent minerality continues on the palate, which dazzles with its intensity, fruit impact, and palate saturation. Imagine a tensile Chablis ratcheted up another notch with the addition of bubbles, and you have this wine. It’s a new house favorite, and a recent pairing with porcini risotto is one of my better food-wine combos in recent memory.


Full Pull Southernmost Rhône

July 13, 2018

Hello friends. On the southernmost tip of the Rhône Valley growing area lies an AOC steeped with regional history. Loved by the Greeks before Roman rule, originally designated part of the Languedoc, the wines of Costieres de Nimes have had many admirers, but have always shared the most similarity with the stylings of the Rhône Valley. So much, in fact, that the grape growers of the region petitioned to be included within the Rhône regional committee, a change that officially took place as recently as 2004. Like many of the furthest outposts of the Rhône region, Costieres de Nimes offers some of the most compelling Rhône expression at the lowest possible price points.

We like to think of Costieres de Nimes as the Rhône Valley with a dash of Mediterranean soul—and Château Teulon embodies this better than anyone in region. The Teulon family has some of the deepest roots within southern France, and established their Château well over 400 years ago. Now—seven generations later—Château Teulon combines traditional Rhône savor with present-day practices. For example, five years ago, the estate became entirely certified organic. They are able to do what many are not: effortlessly meld ancient tradition with the world we currently live in. Their wines simultaneously show passion, tradition, and innovation—for less than ten dollars.

2016 Chateau Teulon Costieres de Nimes Roussanne
A quick note on the vintage: 2015 was widely lauded as the vintage of the century across Europe—but right on its heels came 2016. Many winemakers in the southern Rhône Valley actually prefer 2016. The vintage is proving focused and structured while still maintaining bold, beautiful fruit. It’s hitting somewhere between classic Rhône revival and the modern age. As we’re seeing more and more 2016s enter the market, the buzz is quickly growing.

The Costières soil at Château Teulon is made up entirely of Rhône-style rocky alluviums known as brownstone. This soil comes from deposits of the Rhône and Durance rivers, and provides the ideal soil pairing for the vigorous grapes that like to grow in this region. Roussanne thrives here—and is one of the rising star varieties of the region. It’s known for being wildly aromatic, and if not vinified alone, can be found in most of the Costières blanc blends.

This bottle is 100% Roussanne and is listed at 13% alcohol. The wine opens with strong aromatics of tropical fruit (mango, pineapple, melon), floral white petals, and a salty ocean breeze. It’s a robust example of Roussanne, kept light and lively by its ever present orange-tinged acidity. This is a year-round white, bright enough for hot summer afternoons and weighted nicely to match a cool fall evening. Which means it could be paired with just about anything—crab and drawn butter, grilled pork tenderloin, a rich cheese board, or a roasted chicken with apricot glaze.

2016 Chateau Teulon Costieres de Nimes Rouge
This is a 60/30/10 blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre, grown along the rocky alluviums of the Rhône delta, and aged in a mix of concrete and neutral barrels. It clocks in with 13.5% listed alcohol. From one quick sniff, you can tell that this is going to be a wine to reckon with: dried marjoram, chalky minerals, cracked pepper, cured meat, and pure berry fruit. There is freshness and charm all around, but the wine still holds substantial structure. Lovely florals, ripe fruit, and sun-baked clay reign supreme, leading to a finish that’s leafy, delicious, and full of character. Year after year, this wine consistently punches above its price class. Anyone looking for a house red to open on Tuesday nights should pay careful attention here.

And as a little bonus:

2017 Chateau Teulon Costieres de Nimes Rose 
A favorite rosé with our list members over the last two vintages—Château Teulon’s rosé is a juicy, bright, medium-bodied Grenache/Syrah blend. Like all the Teulon wines, this bottle drinks beautifully—and not just for the <10 price point. Up front, it’s got a healthy dose of fresh berries, wet stone minerality, and garrigue (which is the low-growing vegetation that climbs across the limestone hills of the Mediterranean coastline. Think freshly plucked juniper, thyme, rosemary, and lavender). On the palate, it’s equal parts savory and fruit-driven with a touch of orange citrus to create lift and balance. The finish is full, yet dry—an ideal rosé for now through Thanksgiving.


Full Pull Rotie

July 8, 2018

Hello friends. The first annual set of Washington wine reviews are out from Wine Advocate’s new Washington reviewer, William Kelley, and they have caused quite a stir. I have seen some claims on social media that Kelley obviously doesn’t care for Washington wine. That seems like a bridge too far for someone who gave 95pt-or-better reviews to a full 52 wines.

What is clear is that his palate is quite different than that of his predecessor, Jeb Dunnuck. From a quick perusal of reviews, it seems that textural elegance, judicious use of oak, and overall sense of balance are of special importance to Kelley. Producers known for especially robust structural profiles (especially in the form of tannin) and/or a reliance on creamy, vanillin-flavored new oak are suffering dramatically in this transition.

One winery that performed quite well in Kelley’s inaugural set of reviews was Rotie Cellars. We were already planning on a Rotie offer this fall, as I recently had two memorable visits with Sean Boyd in Walla Walla: one in his current production facility, where he showed me plans from acclaimed architect George Suyama for an ambitious new winery he’s building adjacent to his estate vineyard in the Rocks District; and another at the vineyard itself, called Rotie Rocks. This site is yet another data point in a growing body of evidence speaking to the unique beauty of the Rocks District, and it features prominently in one of the three wines we’re offering today.

Please note: as you can see, the winery has already flipped vintages on all three of these wines: to 2017 for the Southern White and to 2016 for the Northern and Southern Reds. Sean has set aside a stash of today’s wines for us, but the hold is going to evaporate after we place our order. He has been inundated with distributor orders from around the country after the release of Kelley’s reviews, and we’re fortunate to have access at all. I need to send Sean orders by Thursday, so please try to make all requests by end of day Wednesday, and please understand these will all be one-and-done wines for us.

2016 Rotie Cellars Southern White 
A blend of 50% Dwelley Vineyard Viognier along with 35%/15% Roussanne and Marsanne from Los Oidos (you may recall this vineyard from our recent Tulpen offer) and SJR (Delmas’ estate site), this was done in a mix of neutral barrel and stainless steel, and it clocks in at 12.5% listed alc.

Wine Advocate (William Kelley): “ [TEXT WITHHELD] 93pts.”

2015 Rotie Cellars Southern Red 
The ’15 Southern clocks in at 14.5% listed and is dominated (70%) by Grenache, which comes from the all-star trifecta of Upland (Snipes Mountain), Alder Ridge (HHH), and Gunkel (Gorge).

Wine Advocate (William Kelley): “[TEXT WITHHELD] 94pts.”

2015 Rotie Cellars Northern Red
This is a 94/6 Syrah/Viognier co-ferment (14.5% listed alc), with the Syrah portion coming entirely from Rotie’s 2010-planted estate vineyard, Rotie Rocks. Here is a good site containing a description, exact location, and plenty of pictures. This is a vineyard, and a wine, to monitor closely in years to come. For now it is one of the lowest-priced (perhaps *the* lowest-priced?) estate-grown single-vineyard Rocks Syrahs on the market, and it over-performs its tariff admirably.

Wine Advocate (William Kelley): “[TEXT WITHHELD] 95pts.”