Full Pull Listening To Your Constituents

March 10, 2017

Hello friends. Plenty of chatter these days about the value of listening to your constituents. I’m no MOC, but I do keep my ears open regarding what our list members want to see more of. And in the past year or two, one consistent message, via e-mails and warehouse-shelf sales and in-person conversations, has been: More sparkling wines. More white wines.

Music to my ears. Many of you know that I’ve shifted my own collecting/cellaring towards a higher proportion of whites and bubblies. They’re just so damned rewarding to age, and all it takes is a few years before they show signs of maturity, signs of tertiary complexity. Furthermore, it seems like more and more of my wine consumption is happening with food. And as I accept the unfair ravages of ageing and their impact on how much red meat I should be eating, suddenly there are fewer and fewer opportunities to pop a Cab with that fatty ribeye. And more opportunities to turn to a cold, crisp bottle of still or sparkling white wine.

2015 Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc

We’ve already offered (and reoffered!) the red CdR from Saint Cosme from this outstanding 2015 vintage. Today we have their lovely Blanc – a blend of 30% each Marsanne, Picpoul, and Viognier, rounded out with Clairette – at a significant discount off its $22 release price. Marsanne and Viognier dominate the nose, with notes of nectarine and orange peel, almond and ginger, but Picpoul assets itself on the palate, offering an electric vein of acidity that cuts through a core of fleshy fruit. A lovely, balanced Rhone white.

Wine Spectator (James Molesworth): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

2015 Abeja Chardonnay

I knew it had been awhile since we had been able to offer Abeja’s Chardonnay, but when I looked at our records, it has been five (!) years: the 2010 vintage, way back in spring 2012. I mean, in spring 2012 we were still in our little old warehouse on Utah Ave, and I didn’t have a mortgage or a pair of children. Simpler times. Anyway, that helps underscore what a rare opportunity this is. And even here, our parcel is borderline. No way this could have supported its own offer, but inserted into a multi-white offer, maybe we won’t be totally overrun. Because of the limited nature of this one, I won’t say much: just that this wine has long been a benchmark Washington Chardonnay over the years, always with a foundation of excellent fruit from Celilo, Conner Lee, and Abeja’s Estate Mill Creek vineyards, always with an appealing mix of dense stone and tropical fruit and toasty butterscotchy notes from 100% barrel fermentation. Apologies in advance if we have to under-allocate this one.

2010 Bolney Wine Estate Brut Blanc de Blancs

One of our local importers here in Seattle recently began to bring in a portfolio of sparkling wines from the UK. I tasted a sampling of them recently, and this was a total standout, and a pretty damned good ringer for Champagne. The vein of chalk that runs through Champagne and has made the region the undisputed king of sparkling wines happens to run right through the English channel and into southeast England. As global temperatures have risen over the past decade, this part of the world once thought too cold to support viticulture has suddenly become trendy in sparkling wine circles.

This particular bottling is 100% Chardonnay, and it spent 30 months on the lees. Listed alc is 12.5%, and it begins with an attractive nose: a core of lemon curd and apple fruit complicated by leesy subtleties of biscuit and savory chicken stock. The palate is razor sharp, electric, all nervy acid and salty mineral and austere fruit. It drinks drier than Brut thanks to all that beautiful mouthwatering acid. I was completely smitten, both for the intellectual thrill and the aesthetic pleasure of this beauty.

The Saint Cosme is first come first served up to 24 bottles. For the Abeja and the Bolney, please limit order request to 6 bottles each, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests (I wouldn’t be shocked if actual allocations are closer to 2-3 bottles). All the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull Spring Release Season

March 10, 2017

Hello friends. Nothing gets the heart racing quite like spring release season (I know, I know; mentioning spring in February is optimistic here in Seattle, but every bit of silver lining helps). This period, which runs from now through May, contains some of the most beautiful northwest wines released each year.

Beautiful and scarce. This is the season of allocated wines, which means it’s as good a time as any to review our allocation policy: Our allocations favor breadth over depth, so that everyone gets one bottle before anyone gets two. And our formula for prioritizing allocations includes overall orders, frequency of orders, recency of orders, and list tenure, among other factors.

Always among the earliest wineries to kick things off is Avennia, a winery that launched with loads of buzz and whose star has only continued to rise. You may remember some of the praise during their initial set of releases back in 2012: From Stephen Tanzer (Tanzer’s IWC): [TEXT WITHHELD]. Then from David Schildknecht (Wine Advocate): [TEXT WITHHELD]!

Soon after, I had the chance to write about Avennia for my Seattle Magazine gig, and since they’ve launched, we’ve offered the vast majority of Avennia wines presented to us. Chris Peterson’s winemaking is deeply compelling. The house style retains the character of Washington’s terroir and yet presents this sense of ribald, euro-styled earthiness that is a bit more unusual in these climes. These are beautiful, ageworthy wines, year in and year out.

It is amazing to me that this is only vintage five of Gravura and Sestina. Very quickly these wines have come to feel they’ve been around forever. Very quickly they’ve become indispensable.

2014 Avennia Gravura

I will say: the only way to get our pricing down to that level last year and this year has been to commit to solid chunks of Gravura, but those have been commitments that were easy to make. For list members who usually max out at $20 or $25 per bottle, I’d heartily encourage a splurge here. Gravura seriously over-delivers its price point.

The wine is an homage to Graves, and in 2014 the blend is 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, and 12% Cabernet Franc. It comes from an impeccable list of vineyards: Cabernet Sauvigon from Red Willow and Dionysus; Merlot from Klipsun; Cab Franc from Bacchus. That is a lot of classy old-vine material for the tariff. Raised in 50% new French oak, this clocks in at 14.6% listed alc and opens with a nose of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, smoky coffee, and gravelly minerality. The palate continues the mix of fruit and earthy mineral tones, with noteworthy complexity and intensity. Even in vintages like 2014 that want to be all yumball fruit, Chris finds elegance and sultry earthiness. This finishes all toothsome tannin goodness, redolent of Irish breakfast tea.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91-93pts.”

2014 Avennia Valery

Valery is among Avennia’s most limited wines, at just 240 cases produced, and it’s the least likely to be available for reorder. It’s now or never. The story behind Valery is that Chris Peterson was looking to make an earthy, rocky, Saint Emilion ringer, and when Dick Boushey offered a block of 1986-planted Merlot on a soil base that is essentially a large Yakima Valley rock-pile, he pounced. That fruit comprises 60% of this blend, the remainder Champoux Cab Franc (itself now 20 years old). It gets 20 months in French oak, 30% new.

This vintage has a significantly higher proportion of Cab Franc than last year, and it shows in the aromatics, adding floral and dried-chile notes to a core of Merlot’s stony black cherry fruit. The palate is a rich, intense, palate-staining mix of rocks and fruit, all framed by serious Merlot tannin structure, redolent of high-cacao chocolate and strong brewed coffee. It’s a deeply satisfying bottle, a classy example of Washington’s strength with these right-bank blends.

2014 Avennia Sestina

I know I get pushback any time I call a wine in the $60s a great value, but compared to its peer group of Washington elites, Sestina is very fairly priced. The vine age is ridiculous, with fruit from Dionysus 1973, Red Willow 1985, and Bacchus 1972 making up a full 85% of the blend. In 2014 that blend is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 10% Cab Franc. Sestina spent 21 months in 60% new French oak, and its case production is about half that of Gravura, so this one tends to disappear quickly. It clocks in at 14.6% listed alc and, as usual, is the brooder of the bunch, tightly wound and years away from showing its truest beauty. There is a tight core of graphite and blackcurrant fruit, complemented by barrel tones of woodsmoke and pecan. And then I kept a glass and checked in over the course of the day, and with time and air, some lovely layers of fruit began to emerge, including exotic notes of stone fruit and citrus peel. But right now, this one is all about structure, all about potential. Chewing on the massive black tea tannins that frame the (lengthy) finish, I jotted: built for the cellar.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93-95pts.”

Please limit order requests to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull Cabernet Value

February 27, 2017

Hello friends. Today we have outstanding pricing (down from an $18 release) on one of the best value Cabernet projects to emerge out of Washington in the past few years:

2014 Balancing Act Cabernet Sauvignon

(Note: the main thrust of this offer will be the Cabernet Sauvignon, but Balancing Act also has an outstanding Chardonnay, and we’ll offer that below.)

This is vintage number two for Balancing Act. I wanted to offer the debut vintage, but I slept on it a little too long, Wine Spectator published a 90pt review, and that was all she wrote. I don’t want to make the same mistake this year, and I just learned that the March issue of Wine Enthusiast is going to contain the following review from Sean Sullivan:

Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEST WITHHELD]. 90pts.” [Sullivan context note: in his time with Wine Enthusiast, Sean has published 121 reviews of Cabernets at $20 and below. Only a single wine (2012 Goose Ridge g3) wine has earned a higher mark (91pts). All that to say: a 90pt review for a Cabernet at this price point is a fine review indeed from Mr. Sullivan.]

The most important thing to know about Balancing Act are the folks behind the project: Ron Coleman and Danny Gordon of Tamarack Cellars. For years, they have been producing their Firehouse Red, consistently among the finest values in Washington. Now they’re applying their considerable talents to producing similar value in Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The intention with the Cabernet is that it’s a blend of Tamarack-vinified house juice and carefully-selected purchased juice. Ron has been making wine in Walla Walla for a long time. He knows everyone, and that means access to very good juice indeed.

But in 2014, I actually wonder how much purchased juice the winery needed. After all, this is the high-quality/high-yield vintage in the northwest that led to the “grand cascade effect” (thanks again to Erica Landon of Walter Scott for this pitch-perfect term). The deal with the grand cascade: let’s say a winery normally gets enough fruit to make 100 cases of their expensive single vineyard Cabernet. But in a year like 2014, they get enough fruit to make 150 cases. One option, of course, is to just produce 150 cases of expensive wine and hope the market can bear it. Another option: “cascade” those extra 50-cases worth of single-vineyard juice into a lower-priced label, and make it that much better.

This drinks very much like expensive fruit given the careful coddling typical for everything that comes out of Tamarack. It clocks in at 14.2% listed alc and offers a wonderfully expressive Cabernet nose: crème de cassis and black plum paired to smoky/earthy peat moss tones and savory beetroot. The palate is rich, inviting, downright luxurious, and that’s not an adjective I find myself tossing around much for fifteen-dollar Cabs. There is a core of dense, layered fruit, swaddled in smoky/spicy barrel tones. The finish, awash in fine-grained Cabernet chew, leaves an impression of cocoa powder, a lengthy final note confirming a wine that punches well above its price class, drinking like many Cabernets in the $20s or $30s. What fun to have a Cabernet priced for Tuesday night that drinks like Saturday night!

2015 Balancing Act Chardonnay
This too has an upcoming Enthusiast review in the March issue: Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 89pts.” [Sullivan context note: in his time with Wine Enthusiast, Sean has published 87 reviews of Chardonnays at $15 and below. None have earned better than an 89pt mark, and in fact only three others share that 89pt score.]

This one clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and offers a nose of honeycrisp apple, citrusy pineapple, and crème fraiche. A real fruit yumball on the palate, with nary a shred of barrel influence, but with plenty of fruit intensity. The fruit is rich and layered: tree fruits, stone fruits, even a little tropical character. We haven’t offered many ten-dollar Washington Chardonnays, and there’s a reason for that. Most of them are anonymous at best, technically flawed and/or oak-powdered into oblivion at worst. This is a rare exception: clean, fruit-driven, and appealing.

Party and wedding planners, take note. Your guests will like you if you serve these wines. First come first served up to 120 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull Exclusive Cabernet

February 27, 2017

Hello friends. Because of our list’s ongoing support for Michael Savage’s wines, we’ve been offered a treat today: exclusive access to a new wine in the Savage Grace portfolio, a killer Cabernet from one of the finest vineyards in Washington.

2014 Savage Grace Cabernet Sauvignon Red Willow Vineyard
First, a note on how this exclusive will work. A small parcel of this wine just landed in Seattle, and we basically have one months’ worth of dibs. For the next month, Full Pull is the only account that can touch this wine. After that, it’s open season. If there’s anything left.

The reason I think we might end up snagging the entire parcel? Well, it’s a combination of factors:

Michael Savage is about as buzzy as a winemaker gets in Washington circles these days, and that buzz turned into a roar last summer when Savage Grace was named Best Emerging Winery in Seattle Magazine’s annual awards. Here’s an excerpt of what I’ve written about Michael previously:


Red Willow Vineyard is one of Washington’s most important sites; the defining vineyard, in my opinion, of the far western Yakima Valley. It was originally planted by Mike Sauer in 1973, and for many years, the preponderance of the fruit went to Columbia Winery. In recent years, as Columbia contracts have loosened and as boutique, sterling-reputation wineries like Betz and Owen Roe and Gramercy (and Savage Grace!) have begun working with the fruit, the reputation of Red Willow has only grown and grown.

This Cabernet comes from the first usable harvest (third leaf) from a 2012 block planted on the Marcoux side of the vineyard. I reached out to Michael to ask him about working with Red Willow fruit, and here is his (excerpted) response: I started getting excited about the possibility of working with [Red Willow Cabernet] fruit and finding a way to express it in a style that matched the winery philosophy of making more restrained, old-world, balanced and terror-driven wines. Also, I thought of some of the older David Lake cabs that I’d tasted that were balanced and much lighter-bodied, lower alcohol. So this gave me a place to start to approach the fruit.

One of the main goals of the winery is to make balanced wines that speak of place and I feel like this is one of the truly great vineyards in the state, one where terroir really shows through in the wines. And I want people to know when they are drinking wine from this vineyard, how much the Sauer family respects their vineyard and what great people they are to work with. The terroir here is so unique. The aromas and flavors that show up in the wines are so specific to Red Willow and I feel like it shows across all varietals. Kind of a smoky, gamey, minerality, with brine and brilliant fruit.

2014 was a very warm year and I typically pick earlier, looking for more varietal character, lower-Brix, less “winemaking” needed, etc., so we discussed how early we could pick to get the right balance for that style. Leaner-bodied but balanced. So this was the first pick from that cab block, about 1-week earlier than the next pick that year. The 2014 Cab Sauv was picked on Sept. 25, berries were small, and it was fermented using a combination of destemmed, lightly-crushed, along with some whole-berry, for tannin management. Mostly punch-downs were used. Knowing that the cabs from that vineyard do not generally suffer from lack of tannins, it was aged in 18% new French Oak, which is rare for us to use, and the rest 1st and 2nd-use barrels. It was bottled after 1-year.

We’ve offered a lot of Michael’s wines over the years – Chardonnay and Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec and Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc – but never a Savage Grace Cabernet Sauvignon. This is as approachable a Cab as I can remember tasting from Michael; hell, maybe as approachable a Savage Grace wine, period.

It clocks in at 14% and has a nose that caused me to pause and jot a note to myself that “Michael has a real gift when it comes to purity.” Purity is the watchword for Savage Grace wines, and this is a fine example. The nose is a precise, expressive mix of black cherry fruit, cherry blossom, and loamy earthy notes. With time and air, lovely subtleties of cedar and tobacco emerge, like a Washington-Pauillac cross And then on the palate, it’s a marvel of intensity with nary a shred of excess weight. The sense of balance is impeccable, and the components (fruit, earth, exotic spice liked smoked paprika) coexist seamlessly. Acidity is bright and vibrant, tannins polished and supple, the entire package compelling as can be. It is really difficult to believe that this is third-leaf fruit, but that combination of skillful grower and gifted winemaker can make magic, even with youthful vines.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull Kevin White

February 27, 2017

Hello friends. For the first four years that we offered his wines (2012-2015), Kevin White had one release per year. We’d offer his ridiculously excellent La Fraternite and En Hommage, immediately sell out, and set the clock 365 days forward.

Fortunately for us, beginning in 2016 Kevin inaugurated a second release, with one well-priced gateway-drug wine and one rare single-vineyard gem. Last year we had to scramble a little, and offered them separately: the red wine in March and the DuBrul in April. As usual when it comes to Kevin’s wines, both sold out instantly, and I recall DuBrul allocations being especially rough.

This year we’re better prepared. Both wines are scheduled to be released March 1, and we’re offering the pair of them together today so that I know exactly what our list’s desires are when it comes to Mr. White’s wines. That will allow me to advocate as forcefully as I can for as much of these gorgeous wines as possible.

2015 Kevin White Winery Red Wine

Most winemakers, when they’re as trendy/buzzy as Kevin, find ways to *raise* prices, not introduce wines at lower tags. Just one of many reasons to admire what Kevin is doing with this winery, which has to be viewed as one of the most exciting to launch in Washington in the past decade.

This is commercial vintage number six for Kevin, and I’m pretty sure we’ve offered every single wine he has ever released to retail. His pricing is ridiculous, his bottles easily competing with wines at twice the tag. Kevin seems determined to offer exceptional value as he builds his brand, and I’m thrilled that our list members can continue to be the recipients of his efforts in that direction. The reason we continue to get competitive allocations of these scarce wines is in part due to the fact that Kevin himself was a long-time Full Pull list member (we first talked about this potential winery project way back in 2010).

As far as logistics go with this particular wine, the first thing I should say is that we’re likely to only get one shot. Unlike Kevin’s higher-end wines, which are carefully allocated and doled out, this red is being offered in open inventory. The good news: we can ask for whatever amount our list members want; the bad: so can every other account in town. And that includes restaurants, because this wine comes in at a price point that allows for glass-pours (always scary when it comes to depletion pressure).

Probably the most important thing to know about the wine itself is that it comes entirely from Kevin-vinified juice. He’s not purchasing any bulk juice to fluff this wine up. And while he’s not revealing the exact vineyards or breakdown involved (wisely, so as not to aggravate the excellent growers he’s working with, who might not be so crazy about seeing their grapes end up in a sub-$20 bottle), we can intuit the suspects: Upland and Olsen, Boushey and Elephant Mountain: fantastic sites for Rhone varieties in Washington.

And this is indeed a Rhone blend: 44% Syrah, 31% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre. It clocks in at 14.9% listed alc and begins with an exuberant nose, all fresh youthful goodness. Blackberry fruit, berry flower blossoms, and emerging threads of olive and mineral. This is the most openly delicious wine I can remember tasting from Kevin. It still possesses his trademark textural elegance, but here it’s paired to fruit character squarely in line with warm-vintage generosity. The overall package is one of the strongest sub-$20 Rhone blends I can remember tasting from Washington, punching well above its price class, and another data point arguing that this is a real growth category for our state going forward. Pair with a sausage and white bean stew for transcendence.

2014 Kevin White Winery Heritage DuBrul Vineyard

Heritage is an unusual wine for this Rhone specialist, as it is a squarely Bordeaux blend of Merlot (53%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (47%), raised in 40% new French oak for about two years. I suspect Kevin could not resist the siren call of DuBrul Vineyard, one of the finest sites in the state. After all, a bottle of wine from DuBrul and an eventual visit to the vineyard are parts of the winery’s origin story, as richly recounted by Sean Sullivan in an old posting on Washington Wine Report.

You may also remember what Mr. Sullivan wrote about last year’s debut (2013) vintage in Seattle Met Magazine: [TEXT WITHHELD].

I think Sean is right. As DuBrul’s reputation has grown, so too have prices, and it has become more and more difficult to source wines from this outstanding vineyard. The only other DuBrul wine we offer with any regularity is Rasa’s Creative Impulse, and that one generally goes for about a hundred bucks. As you can imagine, DuBrul fruit plus buzzy winemaker plus moderate pricing plus small parcel equals, ahem, allocation challenges. Hence the need to get in and stake our claim nice and early.

This vintage immediately blasts out of the glass with signature DuBrul exoticism: anise and smoldering Indian spice, orange peel and smoky grilled bread. All that over a core of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. It’s a thrill-ride nose, deeply complex and attractive. In the mouth, the silky, polished texture provides just-right framing for those continuing exotic notes, as well as a spicy note on the finish that reminded me of jalapeno. This is complicated, pleasurable wine; a fine introduction to an important, difficult-to-source Washington vineyard

Please limit order request to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull Blanco Tinto Inexpensivo

February 27, 2017

Hello friends. One of our biggest hits of last summer was a $20 3L Bag-in-Box from La Nevera in Rioja. I recently had the chance to try the other two wines in the lineup, and I just found myself shaking my head and chuckling. These are ridiculous values, and I’m convinced this packaging is going to own the future.

So today we head back to La Nevera, with a chance to access the Blanco and the Tinto:

2015 La Nevera Blanco (3L BAG IN BOX, Pickup Only)

Olé Imports has been a source of many incredible values for us, but perhaps none better than these boxes. You may recall from the Rosdao offer last year that Olé chooses not to put Rioja on the labels because “not showing the name Rioja on the label allows La Nevera to pay a lesser tax making these wines greater values than they otherwise would be.”

Nevertheless, this is indeed from Rioja, and more specifically from a single vineyard in Rioja Alta planted in 1973 and farmed organically at more than 2000 feet. Soils are clay and limestone, and the vineyard looks like this. Those grapes: 100% Viura, the great white of Rioja. After crush, the grapes get five hours of skin contact before pressing into stainless steel, where they age for a whopping two months before going into box.

Listed alc is 12.5%, and this kicks off with a fresh nose of lime and tangerine fruit complicated by salty sea-air. It’s like Viura-meets-Albarino on the nose. And then on the palate it almost drinks like Vinho Verde: clean, green, and pristine. There’s loads of zippy acid, and a lingering, salty, mouthwatering finish that really is more than we have any right to expect out of a twenty-buck box. What a refreshing treat for springtime picnics or road trips, or just to stash away in your fridge for weeks on end. Not to mention one hell of a seared scallop pairing.

2015 La Nevera Tinto (3L BAG IN BOX, Pickup Only)

What we get for those extra fifty cents: a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano and Viura from another organically farmed vineyard, this one planted in 1978 at 1800 feet in Rioja Alta (here’s a pic). Soils, as you can see from that picture, are sandy clay.

Treatment for the Tinto resembles the Blanco: just two months in stainless steel before “boxing.” (Although this one sees a full five-day cold soak and then ten days of post-fermentation extended skin maceration). Listed alc here is also 12.5%. The nose is pure and lovely, offering red cherry, earth, and wonderful leafy tones of eucalyptus and tobacco leaf. It’s a clean, complex nose at this price point. “I love subsidized winemaking!” was the first comment from La Nevera’s Seattle rep when we tasted this wine. And it’s true: it seems impossible to imagine this level of quality at this price without some friendly government intervention. For me, this drinks like totally honest young Rioja, like good Joven. It has that familiar leafy/dusty cherry fruit, and brings plenty of pleasure and palate-weight at such a moderate alcohol. I want to put a slight chill on this and order some legit Mexican takeout.

Please limit order request to 6 boxes total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

Full Pull Pinot Bargain

February 27, 2017

Hello friends. We got to know the wines of Matello last year through their outrageous Cote Rotie ringer from Oregon, Deux Vert. That wine, however, is a real outlier in the lineup, which is focused mostly on Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay). So today, we have our first Matello Pinot Noir offer, and it’s a doozy: their Tête de Cuvée, the finest Pinot in the Matello lineup, six years past vintage and just entering a beautiful drinking window. Release price on this wine was $45, but we’re able to do a lot better today:

2011 Matello Pinot Noir Souris

Vinous (Josh Raynolds): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

That’s a fine review from a tough grader, and underscores what a fine deal this is. Marcus, and his partner Gaironn Poole, are discontinuing the Souris label after the 2012 vintage, so at this point, they’re willing to offer excellent pricing to move significant volume. Perfect for the Full Pull model.

As a reminder, Matello was launched by Marcus Goodfellow in 2002 after he spent time working with the folks at Evasham Wood and Westrey. For the first few years, he made wine tucked away in a little corner at Westrey (good place for wine-knowledge osmosis!) before moving to a co-op facility and then his own facility in 2011.

Just in time to make this particular Pinot, which is a 58/42 blend of Whistling Ridge Vineyard in Ribbon Ridge and Durant in Dundee Hills, two excellent sites. It clocks in at 12.9% alc, very true to the cool 2011 vintage and approaching Burgundy Brix levels. One truism I’ve found about cooler vintages in Oregon is that they need time to unfurl. But my, the glories that await those of us with patience.

This one begins with a nose of blackberry and dried cherry, woodsmoke, and some lovely emerging tertiary notes of earth and leather spice. With just a little time and air, a wonderful mineral core emerged here, bestowing a terrific crushed-rock character to this Pinot. With plenty of nervy acidity and no shortage of robust tannin, this could easily be confused structurally for an old-world wine, and all that structure is perfect scaffolding for a dense core of rocks and fruit. There’s nothing better than hitting a wine right as its peak drinking window is beginning to open, and I think that’s just where we are with this wine, with a peak likely to stretch from 2017-2022 or so. It’s a taut, thrilling Pinot, and you can bet I’ll have a few bottles set aside for when the salmon start running in a few short months.

First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.