Full Pull Anniversary Week 1 of 5: Block Bubbly

October 23, 2018

Hello friends. Welcome to Anniversary Week! Full Pull launched about eight years ago (!), on October 5, 2009, and we use the occasion of our anniversary week to blast out some of our most compelling offers of the year. This is the first in a planned quintet of Anniversary Week offers.

Today we are kicking off this celebratory week in the most appropriate way possible—with bubbles. This offer marks the new disgorgement of one of the most well-loved wines we offer: our bubbly extra brut rosé from Block Wines, our winery-within-Full Pull.

NV Block Wines Extra Brut Rose Marchant Vineyard D.2017
We could never have imagined what a phenomenon this little bottle of pink would become with our list members. (Okay, we probably could have imagined it…). The past two disgorgements have sold like hot cakes—largely because growing in the cooler part of Yakima Valley lessened our desired production. However, this year, it is quite the opposite. We are happy to report that we have increased the production on this wine by 50%. We are hoping this increase in bottles will keep us armed and ready with supplies to last through the holidays—though no promises of December reorders can be officially made.

While Morgan Lee makes all of the still wines under the Block label, Christian and Juergen Grieb have been our partner winemakers for this wine since the beginning. They are the Washington-focused sparkling winemakers behind Treveri—and we consider this partnership extremely special. While the bubbles scene in our state is growing, sparkling wine producers are still few and far between. We consider Christian and Juergen experts on the matter of Washington sparkling.

This wine is made from 100% Washington Pinot Noir. While practically growing like a weed in Oregon, Pinot is much harder to find in our neck of the woods. That is part of what makes this bottling so special. Treveri has access to a small amount of Pinot Noir—not nearly enough for their own commercial rosé production, but perfect for our purposes. True to the block name, this juice comes from a single block of a single vineyard called Marchant. Marchant Vineyard is a cool-climate Yakima Valley Vineyard; just cool enough to be perfect for Pinot, and that’s all they grow there. Our fruit is pulled from the block closest to the farmhouse on the property: hence the “Farmhouse Block” designation on the label.

This pours into the glass stunning pale pink—the color of hazy Seattle sunsets and the salmon we’ve become famous for. It opens with a nose of ripe fruit (strawberries, cherries, apricots, nectarines), bits of brioche, fresh cut lilies, meyer lemon, granite minerality, and a touch of salinity. In the grand tradition of this wine, we settled on a brisk five grams per liter dosage. This puts us in the “Extra Brut” category; drier than Brut. And it definitely drinks extra brut, while still managing some true breadth. Expertly walking the tightrope of balance, this bottling is bright and clean while dancing between pure fruit, saline minerality, and strong acidity. The finish moves through a few more leesy notes and ends with a lingering touch of strawberries and earth. Pair this wine with just about anything: drink it alone or with a touch of cassis or lillet for a killer aperitif; serve it with a whole roasted chicken glazed with apricot preserves; toast a glass along side free-form, freshly-foraged mushroom galettes (it is made from pinot, after all!); fancy up breakfast with a frisee salad, poached egg, and crispy bacon lardons; or present it with the softest, creamiest cheese you can find. There is no wrong pairing here.

As you’ve heard time and time again, sparkling wine plays a big role in the lives of Team Full Pull. Paul and Kelli decided to embark on Full Pull itself after a handshake agreement about life, expectations, and sparkling wine. Nick and his wife toasted their wedding with Marie Copinet champagne. Dennis told me with a wink that he once loved sparkling Shiraz. Universally, these bubbly bottles weave their way into our most cherished memories.

But truly, for me, sparkling wine marks the celebratory nature of everyday life. When the seasonal depression of Seattle’s rainy season hasn’t fully kicked in, I wake up most mornings in complete awe of this multi-faceted city. Just this week, the tree down the street from our house has turned fire-engine red, which fills this transient east coaster with a joy you wouldn’t believe. I feed the animals, hear the light rail cruise down MLK, and contemplate how I convinced someone to sell me this house. This house: the one that holds a happy family of two humans, a cat, a dog, generations of memories, and a whole lot of potential. It’s in those moments that I can’t help but think, if this life isn’t a cause for celebration, what is? And those are the times that sparkling wine is truly made for.

Full Pull i-Cab

October 19, 2018

Hello friends. Do you recall my no-black-swans theory of twenty-dollar Washington Cab? It goes like this: I’ve come to believe, over many years of wine tasting, that there are no black swans. No inexplicably excellent wines. Every excellent wine is excellent for a reason. A number of reasons. Or better still: a number of perils avoided. Winemaking is a Houdini escape act, with danger around every corner, and when someone pulls it off successfully, you can only give them the slow clap they deserve.

How this applies to my tasting for Full Pull: when I taste a wine that seems inexplicably outstanding, the job becomes clear. Research until I understand why the wine is as good as it is.

2016 Isenhower Cellars i-Label Cabernet Sauvignon
The new vintage of i-Cab is a perfect example. Just like the 2015 vintage, this 2016 easily outperforms a twenty-dollar tag. But why? How?

As is often the case, the answer starts at the vineyard level. And there are only three vineyards involved here, all exciting. Summit View comprises 45% of the blend. That site (a neighbor to Ferguson Vineyard) is, like Ferguson, part of the Sevein project, important new vineyards planted on fractured basalt in the south Walla Walla Valley. Next comes Eritage Vineyard at 32% of the blend. This is Justin Wylie’s uber-ambitious new project in the rolling wheatfields north of Walla Walla. It includes vineyards and a crazy-beautiful resort. Very few vineyards are planted in this part of the valley, but those that are (Spring ValleyMinnick Hills) have expressed themselves beautifully. And finally: 23% Walulla Vineyard. You know: the one that goes into Den Hoed’s $85 Andreas Cab.

So yeah, no. Nope. That’s not a trio of vineyards likely to appear in twenty-dollar bottlings. This was bottled after 16 months in barrel, and clocks in at 14.5% listed alc. It begins with a compelling nose featuring blackcurrant and cocoa powder prominently, and then savory subtleties galore: roasted herbs, golden beets, and then this cereal-grain note that I attribute to Eritage only because I find it so often in that north valley fruit. What characterful Cab this is! The mix of fruit and earth and sweet grain is so lovely, and the oak is used so judiciously here. The packaging suggests that Brett and Denise Isenhower are going for something approachable and not-too-serious, but my oh my does the juice inside belie that.

Full Pull Pinot Price Drop

October 18, 2018

Hello friends. This year continues to be a trip when it comes to value Oregon Pinot offers. It seems like Oregon wineries have caught wind of the fact that there’s this operation way up north in Seattle involving scores of people who like nothing more than delicious, deeply discounted Pinot Noir from our neighbors to the south. This trend is a win-win for all of us. It’s a sales opportunity for high-end Oregon wineries that are looking to wheel and deal with their wines and still maintain brand reputation within the cozy confines of Oregon; and we, the scores of people who like nothing more delicious, deeply discounted Pinot Noir, get to purchase hoards of delicious, deeply discounted Pinot Noir.

2015 Dois Irmaos Pinot Noir Two Brothers Private Selection
This is the latest in the series of 2018 beauties. The discount is one of the most outrageous yet: this wine began its life at a $45 release price. This quality juice at that release price would be completely normal in the world of Oregon Pinot Noir. At the TPU price we have today, it’s in the running for our best Pinot deal to date.

Dois Irmãos is the sister winery to a Willamette Valley winery that many of our list members may know—Coelho. The winery, along with three estate vineyards, is run by the Coelho family out of Amity, Oregon. The story goes, Dave and Deolinda Coelho farmed 800 acres in the San Joaquin Valley in California. Like so many before them, they fell in love with the Willamette Valley and moved their family to Oregon in 1991. Dave and Deolinda purchased 40 acres just south of Amity and transformed the land into their namesake estate vineyard. They sold fruit until the early 2000s, when they decided to pursue their own ancestral roots and make estate-grown wine. Coelho winery released their first vintage in 2004 and named the wine “Paciência,” Portuguese for patience. The Coelho family has a deep connection to their Portuguese heritage, and you’ll find Portuguese influences throughout the winery, from vineyard to cellar. In Portuguese, the family and winery name means rabbit; Dois Irmãos means two brothers, which refers to the two sons of the family, David and Samuel.

This wine is 100% Pinot Noir made from select clones of Dijon, Pommard, and Wädenswil. It comes from two of Coelho’s estate vineyards, Coelho and Zeitoun; Perrydale Hills, which is run by one of the Coelho sons; and Scharf Farms, a fourth-generation, family-run farm just west of Salem. It was raised in 55% neutral French oak, and the rest in an equal mix of new, second-use, and third-use barrels. The nose presents perfectly Pinot: this wonderful blend of berries and the earth they’re grown in. It sings with ripe red berries, crunchy underbrush, citrus, and sarsaparilla. Continuing down this path of dirt and fruit, the palate is mouthwatering and juicy with herbaceous and floral subtleties. The palate shows off fine but present tannins, providing delightful structure to its 13.8% listed alcohol frame. This is a thoughtful and complex showing of Pinot Noir that’s still utterly delicious.

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt):“[TEXT WITHHELD] 91pts.”

Full Pull Malbec Deal

October 16, 2018

Hello friends. We were recently offered a screaming deal on an Argentine Malbec with so much going for it: a connection to the Rothschild family of Bordeaux fame; a strong review from a writer not prone to over-praise; several years of bottle age. The only catch was a fairly hefty up-front volume purchasing requirement. We decided to take our chances:

2012 Flechas de Los Andes Gran Malbec
Our TPU price today is well off this wine’s $22 release, and is best-in-country per Wine-Searcher. I honestly don’t know why the winery is choosing to discount; this is a Malbec that is drinking beautifully right now. Tanzer pegs it as just entering its peak drinking window, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s one of the happy conundrums of the wine trade: wines going on deep discount just as they enter peak drinking.

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[TEXT WITHHELD] 91+pts.”

No surprise, perhaps, that Flechas de Los Andes would produce a Malbec with “the stuffing… and structure to reward more aging,” considering the players involved. More specifically, Flechas is part of the Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons family, which covers Bordeaux properties Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Chateau Clarke, and Chateau des Laurets (Champagne Barons de Rothschild too). Malbec is one of the five main varieties in red Bordeaux, but often plays a minor role there compared to Cab, Merlot, and Cab Franc. Not so, of course, in Argentina, where Malbec is king.

There are obviously some… ahem… resources behind this project. The packaging looks great, and the winery looks like an alien race of Art Deco enthusiasts landed a spaceship in the middle of Argentina. The vineyard was planted in 1999 at the foot of the Andes with no expense spared, and the wine itself is coddled: aged for 18 months in French oak (30% new, 30% second fill, 40% neutral) and then given years in bottle before release.

The result is a Malbec that drinks like a cross between traditional Mendoza and rustic red-blooded Cahors. It pours into the glass inky black-purple, giving away no hint that it’s a wine six years past vintage. The fruit is dark – black cherry and fig – and there’s a deeply expressive aromatic exoticism as well: spice notes of star anise and cardamom, top notes of tea leaf and violet; bass notes of dark minerals. It’s a swirling pastiche that continues to evolve and shapeshift with each passing hour; a marvel of complexity for a wine at this tag. In the mouth, this is rich (14.5% listed alc) and intense to be sure, but it is not a typical Argentina blueberry-pie-fruit-bomb. Instead, it is almost Cabernet in texture, with robust tannins asserting themselves almost immediately. This must have been a beast in its youth, but is now beginning to unwind into something special. What a house red this would be for midweek meals all autumn and winter long. Then again, with the Rothschild connection and the quality of the juice, you could easily serve this for holiday special occasions and no one would be the wiser that you paid twelve and change.

Full Pull Andrew Will Holiday Deals

October 9, 2018

Hello friends. [Insert whatever winter holiday you celebrate] has come early this year for Full Pull list members. The support our list members have given Andrew Will over the years has put us on Will Camarda’s nice list. (Will is the Will in Andrew Will). Today, we have a very generous holiday deal on three ‘13 beauties.

2013 Andrew Will Sorella
There are very few ways to taste the oldest blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon from Champoux Vineyard. One way is to make it onto the Quilceda Creek mailing list (their Cabernet Sauvignon uses Block One fruit). Another is to grab a bottle of Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cabernet before it disappears each year. And then there is Sorella.

Andrew Will is one of the wineries that joined with Paul Champoux to purchase Champoux Vineyard from the Mercers in 1996 (Quilceda, Woodward Canyon, and Powers are the others), giving winemaker Chris Camarda access to the cream of the vineyard crop, including Champoux’s gnarled vines. The 2013 Sorella is made from 78% Cab, 10% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petite Verdot. It clocks in at 14.5% listed alcohol.

The entire package is so wonderfully typical of great Cabernet. A nose full of dark fruit and cassis, graphite, poblanos, leafy tobacco, baking spice, and a touch of citrus. Champoux’s signature palate is like a mouthful of geology class. Yes, there is plenty of dark, brooding fruit there, but the unique beauty of Champoux is found in its layers, many of which are rocky or mineral-driven. And these layers can take years in the cellar (or hours in the decanter) to unfurl, but they truly reward the patient. What’s so special about this deal is that you’re more than halfway there. Five years in and this wine is extremely pleasurable, but it will only continue to evolve steadily and beautifully for years to come.

2013 Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard
Chris Camarda’s skilled hand with Champoux fruit can also be found in the Champoux bottling—a right bank ringer made from 44% Merlot, 29% Cab Franc, 18% Cab Sauv, and 9% Petite Verdot. Entirely sourced from Champoux, the average age of the vines used is 27 years.

What I love about this wine is how the Cab Franc shows off. It’s not the biggest player in the blend, but Franc stakes its claim on the nose with notes of brooding fruit, leafy greens, green peppers, purple flowers, and pencil lead. Chris knows how to work with Washington Cab Franc like no other. On the palate, it’s an abundant wine on a 14.5% alcohol frame, surging with fruit and earth. The tannins are powerful, feisty yet polished; the acid is lively. It’s bold and enchanting. This is a wine that will last for a decade or two, easy. A star for your cellar.

2013 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
Now we move from the Horse Heaven Hills to Red Mountain. Specifically, a star of Red Mountain: Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. Chris has been working with Ciel fruit since the early 1990s, and the length of the relationship is important in two ways. First, Chris has developed a comfort level with the vineyard; comfort that allows him to produce a Ciel bottling each year that is the truest expression possible of this Grand Cru Red Mountain site. And second, he gets the good stuff: some of the oldest vines in the vineyard. For those of you unfamiliar with Ciel du Cheval, the vines there grow right out of the Red Mountain sand. You can imagine how deeply those old vines have had to dig in search of water and nutrients, and how much depth and character they impart to the finished wine.

The blend changes with each vintage, and in 2013 it is only two grapes: Merlot (56%) and Cabernet Franc (44%). I find it fascinating—seeing what Merlot and Cab Franc can do all on their own. It’s such a nice reminder of the caliber of grapes we grow here in Washington. Who needs Cab when you have Red Mountain-grown Merlot? The nose features Merlot’s clove-spice and black cherry entwined with Franc’s greenery. Outstanding. The palate—14.4% listed alcohol—is dense and robust. Full of chewy tannins and equally bold fruit, it achieves lift with citrus peel subtleties. A truly wonderful expression of a supremely special place.

Full Pull Whom the Angels Name Lenore

October 8, 2018

Hello friends. Today’s offer is exciting for all lovers of Washington-grown Syrah. Scratch that. Today is exciting for anyone who loves Syrah from anywhere—and those who hunt for great value should especially take note. Today, we have the new release of Corvidae’s Syrah, Lenore. We’ve only been able to access one vintage of this wine before; we offered the 2013 back in the fall of 2015. (Though it has been reoffered countless times because of its popularity). We’ve been asking Owen Roe for months—maybe even years—when a new release would be out. You can only reoffer a wine so many times before you start craving the new vintage.

2016 Corvidae Syrah Lenore 
The new vintage does not disappoint, 2016 Lenore is a downright glorious Syrah with plenty of stuffing for the price tag. A worthy successor to one of the most popular wines we’ve ever offered.

Corvidae is the sister label to Owen Roe that focuses on value price points—and David O’Reilly and team really mean it when they say value. All of the juice that goes into Lenore is vinfied by the Owen Roe team; none of it is purchased. The fruit is sourced from unnamed vineyards in Yakima Valley and the Horse Heaven Hills, plus Owen Roe’s own estate, Outlook Vineyard. With that, we could probably just say “baby Ex Umbris” and start taking order requests. Really though, this immediately enters the conversation of the best value Syrahs in Washington, and may just be the best value we’ve tasted from Washington in all of 2018. The quality for price is off the charts.

This bottle clocks in at 13% listed alcohol—a lovely, little reminder of how exciting the somewhat cooler 2016 vintage is after three successive hot ones. It offers a nose full of crushed blueberries, briny capers, rose petals, smoked meat, bramble bushes, and bouquet garni. Quintessential Syrah on steroids; this nose is vibrant and all encompassing. Holy cow. The palate is equally stellar. It’s ripe and openly delicious, pulsating with citrusy acidity. It’s expansive on the palate, in the way Syrah should be, and immediately offers dozens of food pairing options. Braised pork shoulder with polenta; smoky eggplant and caramelized onions; roasted cauliflower with olive oil, olives, and raisins; perfectly simple roasted potatoes and rosemary. This is a charming and generous bottle for folks who don’t really care about wine, but sneakily complex and savory enough to open for folks who do. I’m not sure if I know of a better use for a 10-dollar bill.

Full Pull Kerloo

October 2, 2018

Hello friends. Ryan Crane was our first winery neighbor at Sodo Urbanworks. Back in the fall of 2014, when it was still easy to find a parking spot on a Saturday afternoon, Kerloo opened its doors and helped set into motion the wave of wineries that have moved into our complex. However, our history with Kerloo actually goes back before we became Sodo neighbors. On October 9, 2009, four days after launching Full Pull, we sent out our third-ever offer. It was the 2007 vintage of Ryan Crane’s Les Collines Vineyard Syrah—a wine that had dazzled Paul during his initial Full Pull research explorations out to Walla Walla. Now, almost a decade later, we still get dazzled by Ryan’s wine. And even more so now that we are neighbors and he can stop by on a random Wednesday with new releases to taste:

2016 Kerloo Cellars Majestic 
Ryan has long been a leading force in the new wave of Washington winemakers, specifically when it comes to Grenache-dominance. He has always been a high-performing winemaker with a stubborn (in a good way) point of view that translates into a well-defined (and glorious) house style. Ryan is a winemaker who knows what he wants to do—and then does it.

While Kerloo’s wines have always been exceptional values, Majestic is on a whole other level. We’ve long put this wine in the conversation for finest Rhone value made in Washington. This is a wine sourced from some of our favorite vineyards throughout the state, it has only received 91+ reviews or higher, and it’s made by a Wine Enthusiast titled “game-changing winemaker.” This bottle could easily demand a much higher tariff, but instead, it is here for everyone at a 20-dollar ask. This is a price point that makes the fine wines of Kerloo approachable for purchasers at every price point.

This year, Majestic is made up of 74% Grenache, 21% Mourvedre, and 5% Syrah sourced from Upland, Den Hoed, and Lonesome Springs—all regulars in Kerloo’s usual vineyard roundup. It clocks in at 14.4% alcohol. The nose is wildly fragrant with fresh floral notes (roses, lavender, violets), signature markers of Upland vineyard in my mind, and continues with bright red raspberries, blackberry bramble, wild garrigue, granite, and a touch of herb-smoked meat. This bottle is beautifully textured; it has a straightforward rusticity to it that’s refreshing and toothsome. Ryan is generous with his fruit here, but the thing I love about Majestic year after year is its ability to move quickly through fresh acidity, savory subtleties, and intense minerality. The wine’s many moving parts make it evocative and balanced. It feels wild, yet thoughtful—a rough-around-the-edges-antihero with a heart of gold. Furthermore, Ryan shows off his ability to nail the holy trinity of the southern Rhone blend – brambly berry, hot-rock minerality, and perfumed underbrush – and he does so via this deeply charming bottle of wine.

2016 Kerloo Cellars Columbia Valley Syrah
A brand new wine to the Kerloo lineup—this Columbia Valley Syrah is sourced from an all star list of vineyards. This wine is 95% Syrah. 52% comes from Red Willow, the vineyard where the first planting of Syrah in Washington was planted; 43% from Upland, a Washington darling for Rhone varieties. The other 5% of this wine is Viognier. It comes entirely from Les Collines, perhaps the site that Ryan is most famous for working with. These are simply not vineyards found in the 20-dollar range. Ryan’s high-end, single-vineyard Syrahs are dynamite, and we truly appreciate his effort to have that same quality of juice at more approachable price points.

Clocking in at 13.6% alcohol, this pours into the glass inky black-purple and then explodes out aromatically, with violet, plums, black pepper, allspice, and chervil. In the mouth, it’s moody and expressive; animalistic and wild. There’s a sense of savoriness that takes over, speckled with lush fruit, dirt, and smoke. It finishes brilliantly with earth and espresso. This bottle is seamless, which is to say that it’s expertly crafted, not lacking in complexity. It is deep, dark Syrah at its palate staining best; rare for a wine with this price tag.