Full Pull Arctos

August 30, 2018

Hello friends. We have fantastic pricing today on a list-favorite wine from Baer Winery. It took a combination of several factors—our willingness to commit to a significant quantity, the desire to push our TPU discount a bit deeper than normal—to hit the tag today. We think our list members will be enormously pleased.

2014 Baer Arctos
(For a good primer on Baer, whose story is one of tragedy and renewal, I highly recommend Andy Perdue’s article in Great Northwest Wine.)

This wine is normally offered at its $43 release price. For the last few years, we’ve been offered one shot each year at considerably better pricing if we’re willing to commit to a sizeable parcel. Which we are (that’s about as easy as “Yes” gets for us).

All Baer wines are 100% sourced from Stillwater Creek Vineyard, a fantastic site whose grapes are used by wineries like Corliss, Saviah, and Rotie. Planted in 2000, the vineyard’s 235 acres sit southward facing on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills. Arctos, Baer’s left-bank Bordeaux blend, is crafted from Stillwater’s Cabernet Sauvignon, (81%), Petit Verdot (15%), and Merlot (4%).

The wine spent nearly two years in French oak—the Cabernet in some new barrels—before bottling in summer 2016. It has now had another two years to mature in bottle. Listed alc is 14.8%, and this begins with a nose combining black plum and cherry fruit with touches of violet, earth, spice (clove and anise), and dark chocolate. How wonderfully Washington Cabernet. It’s a downright supple, palate-staining wine that elegantly straddles brute strength and balance. A silky attack and robust mid-palate emerge, all with a dark brooding core of fruit, and it finishes long and vibrant with black-tea tannins and graphite minerality.

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

As you can see, Mr. Bargreen suggests waiting another year at least to drinks this wine. His review was written in June 2017, so we have hit that mark and then some. His suggestion makes sense—even still, the brooding nature of the fruit and the prominence of the powerful tannins both suggest a wine whose best years are ahead. Still, this wine is already balanced, classy, and well-proportioned. For list members whose usual buying ceiling is $20, this is a wine to consider a splurge on. Those extra ten bucks get you a wine that drinks every bit like its $43 release price.

Full Pull Mirth and Chapel

August 25, 2018

Hello friends. It takes a special set of skills to make a wine that can make it onto Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list. It takes a different, but equally impressive, set of skills to make a wine that is downright delicious for a sawbuck. What’s most impressive is a winery that can do both—like Owen Roe. Today we have two wines from David O’Reilly and his team, entirely different, yet both entirely delicious.

2017 Corvidae Mirth Chardonnay
What makes a perfect sawbuck wine? Is it delicious? Check. Interesting? Check. Well-priced? Check. Corvidae, Owen Roe’s value-focused sister label, consistently hits every mark. The wines are honest, charming, and some of the best value we’ve seen out of the Pacific Northwest—and Mirth is one of the stars.

Year in and year out, this a drinkable, fruit-driven bottle of Washington Chardonnay. None of the sourced vineyards are listed (because any good sawbuck wine needs to have a few secrets), but 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 main lineup. This bottle is done entirely in stainless to showcase pure Chardonnay expression and clocks in at 13% listed alc. What I love most about Mirth Chardonnay is that it’s delightfully unfussy. The nose overflows with tangy green apple and fresh squeezed lime juice, followed by subtle hints both green and mineral. On the palate, it feels simultaneously bright and weighty, finding an impeccable balance between the two. This would be a great fit for the dinner table: clams cooked in butter and herbs with toasty bread; a soft creamy goat cheese tartine; a whole roasted chicken with lemon and thyme.

2012 Owen Roe Syrah Red Willow Vineyard Chapel Block
First things first: there are always unanswered questions when it comes to wine. Like, why is this small parcel of 2012 Chapel Block Syrah available in Seattle when the winery is onto 2015? In this case, we’re not asking questions, we’re just getting as much of it as we possibly can.

This is a wine we’ve only been able to offer once before—and that was the 2011 vintage in 2014. The story goes like this: we tried to offer the 2008 vintage in 2010, but it snagged a 97+ pt review from Harvey Steiman and landed the #23 spot in Wine Spectator’s top 100 list that year. The wine disappeared overnight, and since the buzz of that year, Chapel Block has been more and more difficult to source. Even today’s offer is not without complications; there is only a little bit of this wine left. We have access to all of it, but this will be a one and done offer with no chance of reordering.

The first commercial Syrah vines in Washington went into the ground at Red Willow in 1986, partly due to the vision of the late Master of Wine and long-time Columbia Winery winemaker David Lake. Given Washington’s ever-burgeoning reputation for Syrah, it’s shocking to realize that the oldest vines in the state are just over thirty years old. The site (which had other varieties planted as early as 1973), is farmed by Mike Sauer and is about as far west as you can get in the Yakima Valley. The Chapel Block is famous for the stone chapel quarried from nearby rocks and constructed onsite in the vineyard.

The wine was aged for almost a year in in French oak (47% new) and clocks in at 14.1% listed alc. It has now spent 4-5 years settling in bottle. It opens with fresh and stewed summer berries, creamy milk chocolate, anise, rocks, and orange peel. The palate is full, bold, Washington Syrah, full of layered blueberry and fig, bittersweet earth, citrusy acidity, and smoke. It’s smooth and velvety throughout, with a long, dense, lingering fruit finish.

Full Pull Wines We Believe In

August 23, 2018

Hello friends. Sometimes we taste wines that we know our list members are going to love—and are going to purchase freely. We can preorder Secret Squirrel to secure our list members’ stake; bring in pallets of St. Cosme reds; fill our warehouse annually with La Rata with no fear that it will sit untouched.

However, there are just as many times that we will taste a wine that we know our list members will love—but aren’t as sure it will be able to sell. Maybe the region is a bit too unknown, or the grapes sound a little too weird, or the bottle costs a little too much.. Despite the occasional crushing letdown, we continue to take chances on the wines we believe in, from Alto Adige Pinot Bianco to British bubbly, locally-sourced Merlot to Island-based wineries using amphoras to vinify . Because in the end, isn’t this what Full Pull is all about? Offering new and interesting wines that you would struggle to find elsewhere.

Today is one of those offers. A beautiful Beaujolais—a region we will continue to beat the drum for—in a rather unusual package. (Plus two bonus Beaujolais at the bottom!)

2016 Clos du Fief Beaujolais-Villages La Roche 5L Box 
Let’s start by breaking down the size and price of this box. This is a 5 liter box of wine that—once open—will last you about 6 weeks in the fridge. 5 liters equals about 6.7 bottles of wine.

So, $90 price tag is for 6.7 bottles;
Which means this wine costs roughly $13.43 per bottle;
Which equals $2.69 per glass;
Or just about ¢53 per ounce.

Which is a great deal for declassified cru Beaujolais fruit. Now, onto that fruit. This box is labeled as Beaujolais Villages, a step up from the base-level Beaujolais designation, but the Gamay grapes are all sourced from young vines in Julienas, a northern Cru of Beaujolais. There are 10 Crus of Beaujolais—each with its own distinct style. Julienas’ granite, volcanic, and clay soils provide depth, structure, and ageability to floral, spicy, fruited Beaujolais.

This box does a wonderful job showcasing some of the beauty of Julienas. It opens with a thicket full of bramble fruit—the thorns included—and quickly exhibits autumnal baking spices, dried mediterranean herbs, and a touch of wildflowers. The palate is all crunchy leaves and forest berries along a 13% alcohol frame that rips with acidity and minerality. It’s mouthwateringly juicy, only made better by a slight chill. Without a doubt, this would be the perfect wine for a large family Thanksgiving—especially for those who want to serve a delicious wine but don’t want the added pressure of picking multiple bottles. Beyond Thanksgiving, Beaujolais is one of the eternal fall table wines. This box will last you almost all fall if you drink one bottle of wine a week. And if your household drinks more than that on a weekly basis? Two boxes might be in order.

And for those of you who don’t have a current need for 6.7 bottles of wine, we have some delicious 750 ml bottle Beaujolais, too.

2017 Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils Beaujolais Rose
Domaine Dupeuble has been making wine in southern Beaujolais since 1512. Over the past 500+ years, the name has changed three times, most recently when the Domaine’s heir, Anna, married Jules Dupeuble in 1919. It is now run by Stéphane and Ghislaine Dupeuble, Anna and Jules’ grandchildren. These wines have been Beaujolais mainstays in the US for years, ever since Kermit Lynch first met the family in the late 1980s and started importing these wines.

Domaine Dupeuble’s estate has grown generation by generation, now measuring roughly a hundred hectares, with vines up to one hundred years old. The vines used for this rosé are up to 70 years old. Estates like this just don’t exist in the new world yet—we haven’t had enough time. Old-vines means something entirely different in Europe.

Dupeuble’s rosé is bright and fresh at 12% listed alcohol. It opens with a nose full of peach, orange blossoms, strawberries, and lemon-cream. The palate is utterly delicious—mouth wateringly vibrant with citrus acidity, juicy pink fruit, and a mineral streak. A downright dreamy rosé fit for sippin’ away the rest of summer, but this bottle (and the rouge below) would be a knockout for Turkey Day, too.

2017 Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils Beaujolais
The winery’s red comes from 50-100 year old vines planted in clay, granite, and limestone. The nose shows off something I love most about Beaujolais—the meeting of fruit and earth. Its goodness is crackly leaves along the forest floor, violet flowers, red berry thickets, smashed cherries, and rocks. With a 13.5% alcohol frame, this bottle has a touch more weight than you’d expect, thought it still hums with acidity. It’s a brilliant example of the heft that Beaujolais can carry, despite reputation.

I found this Kermit Lynch quote when looking into this wine, and it’s no surprise he says it best: The Dupeuble Beaujolais towers majestically over every other red on the market today yet retains the quaffable ‘légèreté’ we demand from this monumental appellation. At the same time, how can one ignore its eyeball-riveting color, its super concentrated body engorged with blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, olallieberries, boysenberries, cinnamon, cherry pit, violets, petunias, red currants, black currants and graham crackers? There is there, one might say, there. Multi-layered layers of sublime simplicity, a blood-boiling aftertaste, this is a palate hummer.

Full Pull Italian Stars Align

August 7, 2018

Hello friends. We’ve been singing the praises of Piemontese producer G.D. Vajra for some time now. From entry level red blends to mighty, full-fledged Barolos, Vajra’s wines offer tremendous quality at approachable pricing. Today, we have an extremely rare treat—the ability to offer the winery’s Langhe Rosso, a list mainstay and a wine we have frequently referred to as the gateway drug to the Vajra lineup, alongside two of the winery’s Piemontese single varieties.

This is a rare treat because these wines can be super challenging to time up for an offer. The Dolcetto and Barbera never arrive to our corner of the world in huge quantities, and the Langhe Rosso is incredibly popular in our market. What usually happens is this: the Langhe Rosso arrives and we have first dibs, but the Dolcetto is long-gone. We wait for a new shipment of Dolcetto, but by the time it arrives, the Barbera is sold out. Finally, there’s enough Barbera, but the Langhe Rosso has changed vintages. And so on and so forth—until the stars finally align. Today is one of those rare instances where the stars are in our favor and we have access to all three at the same time. So, please order accordingly; this will be a one-and-done offer, and it could be a while before it happens again.

2016 G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso 
Langhe Rosso is a category full of gems, if you can pry them away from their home in the Italian countryside. Vinified unfussily and well-loved by the locals for their food-friendly rusticity, early-drinking character, and easy-on-the-wallet price—if you made this wine, you’d probably keep it all to drink, too.

Langhe Rosso allows the winemakers to explore their homeland through blending wine. As Giuseppe Vajra, the founder of the estate, put it, “Our Langhe Rosso is a hug from Piedmont. It’s an invitation to explore its different varieties and to get to know its personality.” Drinking somewhere between a rustic Pinot Noir and full-throttle Nebbiolo, this Langhe Rosso predominantly features Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto, with smaller quantities of Freisa, Albarossa, and Pinot Noir. These grapes work together to create a complex Italian wine that is surprisingly easy to drink and practically made to be paired with food.

This year, Vajra’s Rosso has a truly wild character—drinking more like a Nebbiolo from Alto Piemonte. These wines are known for their intense fragrance, vibrant minerality and acidity, and firm, refined tannins. From the get-go, it’s bright and inviting. On the nose, intense rose petals, dark earth, and chalk-like minerality come through with succulent fruit qualities of cherries and currants to balance. The palate is lively, featuring bright, acidic berry fruit with touches of graphite and wood that add complexity and roundness to a 13.5% frame. The finish is dry with rustic, food-friendly tannins.

You could drink this bottle with a whole host of delicious foods—grilled pizza with sausage and Mama Lil’s peppers, epic charcuterie boards, roasted racks of lamb with herbs. However, I think the ultimate food pairing for this bottles comes from Piedmont itself: a hearty bowl of Tajarin. Tajarin is an egg-based fresh pasta made with mostly egg yolks, cut ultra thin, and finished with butter, sage, and parmesan cheese. Think the grown-up version of butter noodles—that you get to eat with wine!

2016 G.D. Vajra Barbera d’Alba
Piedmont is Barbera’s ancestral homeland—and some experts suspect its origin dates back to the 7th century. These are ancient grapes from the birthplace of Barbera. The grape itself is the most planted of the region, once simply planted to take up vineyard space that wasn’t fit for the region’s favorite Nebbiolo. However, over the last century, there has been a push to plant Barbara more thoughtfully. Vajra’s version is sourced from six different vineyards from three different growing areas: Barolo, Novello, and Sinio.

Vajra’s Barbera is about as honest a rendition as you’ll fine: fruit-forward, deep, and astonishingly lifted. It’s heavily pigmented in color—yet surprisingly light on the palate. (Almost the opposite of Nebbiolo in some ways—which is deceptively light in color with powerhouse tannins.) Clocking in at 14% listed alc, it opens with black cherries, plums, leafy tobacco, and plenty of blood orange acidity. There is a delightful savory undertone of subtle saline and spice. The palate is mouth-watering, succulent, with pure fruit intensity and lifted with bountiful natural acidity. It’s layered with graphite minerality, a tell-tale marker of the Bertone vineyard in Sinio where it’s partially sourced. This wine just begs for an early fall evening and an all-day Sunday gravy.

2016 G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba
Glorious grapey Dolcetto—or sweet little one, as its Italian name states. However, this is a misnomer. Yes, Dolcetto is an easy charmer brimming with beautiful fruit, but its present, sophisticated tannins and tarry mineral qualities make it anything but little or sweet. Aldo Vajra, the current owner, puts it best: “It is a wine that gives life! If people knew how good, digestible, and humanizing it was, they would drink it every day.”

Vajra has Dolcetto locked down. The grapes are all sourced from 20-40 year-old estate vines in Coste di Vergne, Fossati, and Pacolo in Barolo and Ravera in Novello. While the wine begins with a typical Dolcetto nose full of purple florals, red cherries, wild berries, and herbaceous earth, the palate is what sets Vajra apart. This Dolcetto is structured less like a typical d’Alba; it tastes more like the highest end Italian Dolcettos from Dogliani, a small village tucked into the hills just south of Barolo. These limestone and marlstone soils are home to the only Dolcettos with DOCG status. The palate is flavorful—glorious berries, summer herbs, and a touch of bittersweet tar—with solid, sophisticated tannins and bright, mineral-driven acidity that create true structure for this seemingly juicy bottle. Another stunner for a dinner table full of Northern Italian treats.

Full Pull Value Grenache

August 4, 2018

Hello friends. We have the return today of a wine that has become a list mainstay; a true expression of (mostly) rocks Grenache from the Walla Walla Valley:

2016 Renegade Grenache 
You may recall that we offered the 2015 vintage in January, and allocations were… rough. We under-allocated scores of list members, and had to zero-allocate many latecomers. This time we asked for a hold on a larger parcel of the ‘16, but that hold evaporates shortly, so consider this a one-and-done opportunity to access one of the finest value Grenaches produced in Washington each year.

According to our records, this is the eighth consecutive vintage of this wine that we’ve offered—every vintage it’s been released since it’s 2009 debut. Why? Because it is exceedingly rare to find Washington Grenache at $15. Especially one with a backbone from Rocks District fruit.

Before we get into it, a quick reminder of what the Renegade program is all about. So, imagine a winery sitting on barrels of wine that they don’t want to release under their own label. There are a myriad of reasons why this could be the case. Regardless, Trey Busch (whose main label is Sleight of Hand Cellars) purchases the barrels, bottles the wine under his Renegade label, and frequently signs a non-disclosure agreement regarding the source of the juice. Here’s what we can disclose about this Grenache:

1. The foundation of this wine is the Rocks District of the Walla Walla Valley. It does have some Yakima fruit in there as well this year, so it is labeled Columbia Valley.

2. The Rocks foundation is specifically from one vineyard in the Rocks District. This Rocks vineyard sells fruit to a very small number of wineries, all of them among the finest Rhone producers in Washington.

3. This wine was aged for 16 months in neutral barrels.

4. 2016 marked a return to (relative) normalcy after the hot, hotter, hottest trend for Washington. It is proving to be an outstanding vintage—even for value wines.

5. This is delicious Grenache, evocative of its unique origins: the ancient cobbles of the Walla Walla River.

Clocking in at 14.3% listed alc, this wine opens with an enchanting nose redolent of the Rocks’ signature fragrances. A bouquet of lavender and violets, black olives, wild red raspberry, cracked pink peppercorns, bundled mediterranean herbs, and smoke. (I find this nose to be a dead giveaway of the Rocks vineyard it comes from.) In the mouth, it’s easy—delightfully and completely lacking rough edges. This is a silken drinker, such a charming wine texturally that it goes down a little *too* easy. But be advised, you’ll like this wine best if you show some glugging restraint, for there is hidden complexity in spades. A touch of savory meat. A tinge of herbal smoke. A reminder of its unique origins. This is characterful, well-priced Grenache that fits the bill for every food occasion, from weeknight take-out to an all-day weekend braise. In my house, we’ll pair this with hummus kawarma—which is hummus topped with lamb, lemon, and parsley—from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s cookbook, Jerusalem.

Full Pull Outskirts

August 2, 2018

vHello friends. We have the return today of what has become one of our most popular import Syrahs each time it appears:

2016 Val Joanis Luberon Tradition Syrah 
[Note: the Syrah will be the main thrust of today’s offer, but we do have access to a terrific parcel of Joanis Rosé as well. See below.]

There is incredible value to be found on the outskirts of the Rhone Valley. Places like Cotes du Ventoux and Grignan-les-Adhemar. Places like the Cotes du Luberon. As you can see from Joanis’ location, we’re in a transition zone here between the Rhone and Provence. You may recall there was a time when no one had heard of Gigondas and Vacqueyras, and so those regions produced terrific values. I’d argue that places like Ventoux and Luberon are now stepping up and occupying that value space. The regions are still uneven, and that’s okay: as you know, we don’t mind tasting through a lot of dreck to find the gems.

This particular gem has a long history. How long is a little unclear, but it appeared in a land register in 1575 with the exact same boundaries it has today. The 1800s and early 1900s were not kind to the estate, which was overgrown by forest in 1977 when the current owner (Jean-Louis Chancel) purchased it. But evidence of vineyards and olive groves was scattered throughout the estate, and Chancel proceeded to embark on a twenty-year rehabilitation project, in the end planting out 186 hectares of vineyards (and some olive trees as well). He also built a winery on the property inspired by the architecture of the Dominican Order, along with gardens so beautiful that they were named among the “Notable Gardens of France” by the French Ministry of Culture (here’s just one picture of the gardens). Sounds like a place we should probably all aim to visit.

And then there are the vineyards. Here’s what the winery says: During the Quaternary Era, erosion phenomena caused the appearance of broad deposits of limestone and gravel, forming an exceptionally favorable soil. The vineyard spreads over the hills, at altitudes from 280 meters (945 feet) to 499 meters (1637 feet) at its highest point. And more to the point, here is what the vineyard looks like, a thick layer of pebble stones above anything resembling “soil.” Many of the wines produced in this region are Grenache-based, as you’d expect from the southern Rhone, but Val Joanis’ estate vineyards are planted predominantly to Syrah. And thank goodness for that, because this is one savory-wonderful expression of Syrah, priced like a midweek house wine but with enough complexity to serve on special occasions.

The 2016, second of back-to-back killer vintages the likes of which the Rhone hasn’t seen in some years, clocks in at 14% listed alc and kicks off with an expressive briny-fruity nose, marrying blueberry and huckleberry fruit to terrific brackish black-olive tapenade. There is something so savory-salty-appetizing about that nose; it really cast my mind ahead towards braising season. Palate-wise, this is notable for its intensity, its purity, and the outright pleasure it brings for this tariff. I find this combination – of new-world fruit impact paired to old-world brine-and-blood – to be completely irresistible.

2017 Val Joanis Rose Josephine
Bonus rosé, and just to be clear, this is not the entry-level Tradition Rosé. This is Val Joanis’ top-tier rosé (from the best pink juice of the estate’s Grenache and Syrah), and it comes in a bottle whose shape will stubbornly resist efforts to cellar. No matter; you’re not going to be able to resist this for long anyway. It’s a solid, serious mid-weight (13.5% listed alc), more of a late-summer-into-autumn rosé. A bottle of this would certainly look striking on a Thanksgiving table, and the juice inside would fit that occasion beautifully as well. Aromas and flavors mix berries and fresh cucumber with subtleties of exotic spice and mineral. Plush texture is balanced beautifully by citrusy acidity. This is a delightful late-season rosé.

Full Pull Latta

August 1, 2018

Hello friends. This summer, I’ve been reminded continuously how important it is to have and be good neighbors. And it’s not just because of the release of the wonderful Mr. Rogers documentary, or the recent incident of locking myself (and my dog) out of the house mere minutes after my partner left on a plane for the east coast. The greatest reminder of neighborly love has come through Full Pull, specifically the delicious wine and killer deals we’re able to negotiate with our neighboring winemakers.

The latest steal of the summer has come from our closest neighbor, Andrew Latta, who recently hit it big with a mountain of praise for his 2014 vintage. From William Kelley to Sean Sullivan, it seems like reviewers universally agree with what we’ve known for a long time—Andrew is making some of the finest wine in Washington. The slew of new scores has led to a near sell-out of Andrew’s 2014s, but he is holding the last bottles of his Roussanne, GSM, and Mourvedre for our list members. This may be the last chance to get these wines while Latta could still conceivably be called a hidden gem.

The hold we have on these wines is going to evaporate after we place our order, so please understand these may be one-and-done wines for us with no potential for reorder. Please keep this in mind when ordering.

2014 Latta Roussanne Lawrence Vineyard 
Andrew’s house style revolves around a thoughtful focus on place. The vineyards he works with were all meticulously selected after years of hands-on research. Lawrence Vineyards is the home of this Roussanne. It’s a cool site on the Frenchman Hills overlooking the Royal Slope, one that Andrew used to make Viognier with when he worked for Charles Smith. However, he has always been attached to the Roussanne grown there.

Sitting 1450 feet above sea level, the Roussanne block is made up of silt loam soils and fractured basalt. While sites that sit lower on this slope are threatened annually by frost, the Roussanne is protected by its elevation and the angle of the incline. Andrew works directly with Josh Lawrence, the vineyard manager and owner, to create a distinctive growing technique for these grapes. Roussanne needs to be aggressively managed because of how easily it can brown. Andrew and Josh have a program in place that simultaneously allows increased airflow in to cool the block but offers protection from afternoon sun on the west side. The balance in place allows for these grapes to get the long, cool growing season they prefer.

Robert Parker (William Kelley): “[TEXT WITHHELD] 94pts.”

2014 Latta Latta GSM
While the price point of this wine might suggest an entry-level bottling in the Latta lineup, this GSM is anything but introductory. More of a GM than a GSM, it’s made up of 50% Grenache, 46% Mourvedre, and just 4% Syrah. The Grenache and Mourvedre both come from Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain, the site that Andrew uses for his single varietal bottlings of the two. Upland (which we’ll cover more below) is one of the most interesting sites in Washington—a truly terroir expressive location that has the attention of some of our state’s best winemakers. The Syrah used for this blend comes from Freewater Rocks Vineyard in the Rocks, one of the other deeply terroir-driven AVAs in our region.

[Note: this review will be included in the September issue of Wine Enthusiast, at which point we expect any remaining stock to disappear.] Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[TEXT WITHHELD] 94pts” [Context note: 94pts is as strong a review as Sean has given to any of the 177 Rhone reds he has reviewed for Wine Enthusiast. The other three Rhone reds to earn 94pt reviews cost $35 (‘15 Kevin White Pionnier), $45 (‘13 B. Leighton Gratitude), and $85 (‘14 Betz Reserve du Soleil). All that to say: Mr. Sullivan seems to consider this as strong a value as there is in Washington Rhone reds.]

2014 Latta Mourvedre Upland Vineyard
Mourvedre loves growing in old Washington riverbed soil. The variety’s ancestral homes—Bandol, Jumilla, the Rhône—all have rocky soils. Think about Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where Mourvedre plantings have become increasingly popular over the last 50 years. The soil there is made up of mostly stones (known as galets) that have been smoothed over by years of the Rhône river. Mourvedre thrives here—along with Grenache—because these grapes love the warm rocks. Here in Washington, many of our river bed soils are at lower elevations, which can be very susceptible to freeze. Rhône varieties can already be finicky to grow, even in the warm, rocky environments that they like, and can be even more difficult in areas where freeze wreaks havoc.

Now, it’s time to talk about Upland. This vineyard, with plantings that go back over 100 years, contains slopes facing all four directions that elevate 750 to 1300 feet above sea level. At that height, Upland sees nearly year-round favorable weather conditions and air drainage. Upland sits at the top of Snipes Mountain’s anticline formation. In layman’s terms, anticlines and synclines are folds in the grounds that go up and down (usually together) and are created by compressional stress. Synclines sink into the ground while anticlines project upward, bringing soil that you would normally find at lower elevations up to higher ones. What that means for grape growing is that Upland Vineyard has perfectly-suited-for-Mourvedre soils at elevations that prevent freeze and let these grapes mature perfectly. This is a singular vineyard in Washington State.

[Again, this will be part of the September issue, and again, that will be all she wrote for this wine.] Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan):[TEXT WITHHELD] 95pts.” [Context note: This sets a new Sullivan benchmark for Mourvedre. Of the 64 Washington Mourvedres he had reviewed for Enthusiast, the previous high was a 93pt review.]