Full Pull Northern Rhone

December 7, 2017

Hello friends. We have a gorgeous set of Northern Rhone wines today from what may be an unfamiliar winery to our list members, but is very much a familiar owner/winemaker: Michel Chapoutier.

We’ve extolled the virtues of Chapoutier’s Roussillon project – Bila-Haut – time and time again. Today we touch on another realm in this brilliant winemaker’s empire: Ferraton Père et Fils. Chapoutier began partnering with the Ferraton winery two decades ago, and then purchased the winery outright in 2004. Since then, quality has been on a slow-and-steady uptick, culminating in a fast-and-sudden additional uptick since the building of a new winery facility in 2013. It’s to the point where these wines now represent that rare bird: quality in the Northern Rhone at accessible pricing.

The press has begun to notice, summed up nicely by James Molesworth’s article last year for Wine Spectator, and that has made these wines marginally more difficult to source. The main feature of today’s offer – a dynamite Crozes-Hermitage – wasn’t even being imported into Seattle. We had to ask for a special-order, and it arrived this week, just in time to offer up for the holidays. In addition we’ll offer two entry level Cotes du Rhones (one white, one red), and a special treat: an Hermitage six-plus years past vintage.

2015 Ferraton Crozes-Hermitage Rouge Les Calendes 

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92-94pts.”

In my opinion, Crozes-Hermitage is the most uneven appellation in the Northern Rhone. I’m sure one of you who recently paid $35 for crap Saint-Joseph is shaking your head in disagreement right now, but I’d still argue that Crozes takes the cake for hit-or-miss bottles. It’s one of those appellations where there is simply no substitute for tasting to separate the wheat from the chaff. As you can see on the map, Crozes is an area in the crook of the neck made by the confluence of the Rhone and Isere rivers. While up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne are allowed in red Crozes, this is 100% Syrah, entirely destemmed and aged in concrete. It clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and offers a lovely nose of plum sauce, black olive, and stony minerality; just the kind of savory/fruity mashup the northern Rhone does best. The outstanding 2015 vintage shines on the palate, offering its signature palate-staining goodness, its rich fruit paired to naughty brackish notes. Texturally, this fans out and saturates every square inch of the palate. It’s terrific Syrah for the tag, and a lovely pairing for many a winter braise or roast.

2016 Ferraton Cotes du Rhone Blanc Samorens

Wine Spectator (James Molesworth): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 90pts.”

A lovely mid-weight winter white (13.5% listed alc), this possesses a savory element – straw and sweet pea – almost reminiscent of a nice Gruner, paired to lovely melon and white peach fruit. It’s balanced, bright, and delicious, with a robust citrus-mineral spine to counter a core of creamy fruit.

2015 Ferraton Cotes du Rhone Rouge Samorens

This is predominantly Grenache (80%), rounded out with Syrah and Cinsault, and it’s another delightful 2015 value, pairing plush raspberry and black cherry fruit to flower-inflected garrigue and mineral tones. There’s a smoked-meat subtlety here, a bacon fat note presumably from the small amount of Syrah, that really gets the blood pumping. And as usual with the better ‘15s, this offers almost new world–style density and concentration of fruit. It’s a delicious sub-$15 value.

2011 Ferraton Hermitage Rouge Les Miaux 

Very little of this available, so I won’t say much, but Ferraton’s base is very much Hermitage, and their Hermitage bottlings are their flagship wines. This clocks in at 13.5% listed alc and offers a complex, maturing nose: huckleberry fruit paired to notes savory (mushroom stock, roasting meat) and green (rosemary, green olive) and floral. It’s still surprisingly intense and primary on the palate, and there’s a succulence and exoticism to the fruit that is just wonderful. A rare chance to access maturing wine from one of the world’s beating hearts of Syrah production.

Full Pull Italian Bubbles

December 6, 2017

Hello friends. The story goes: We taste A LOT of sparkling wine this time of year. The autumn-into-winter months are when just about every producer, importer, and wholesaler are trying to convince Seattle restaurants to program their particular bubbly for the holiday season. Year after year, some of the best QPR sparklers we taste come from Italy.

The other story goes: Full Pull is a house built on bubbles. Sparkling wine is emotional currency around these parts. When Full Pull started back in 2009, Paul and his wife, Kelli, developed a simple agreement. Kelli’s responsibility: supply several years of steady income and health insurance while Full Pull figured out what it could be. Paul’s responsibility: keep at least one case of sparkling wine on hand at all times. And it’s not just in our fearless leader’s house—Mountain Dome Brut was the first bottle ever offered to our list, and since then, sparkling wine has been a mainstay in our warehouse.

Given these two tales, offering sparkling wine from Italy this time of year seems like a natural fit. So today, we present our sophomore offer of Italian bubbles. The first version, offered last October, was so well received we decided to do it again—a Lambrusco, a rosé, and a Franciacorta. Hopefully this marks an annual tradition here at Full Pull, an homage to our beginnings, and our staff and list full of bubbleheads.

2015 Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Secco

As Italy goes, a decent rule of thumb is: if a region is better known for wine than food, expect to pay top dollar for the wine (think Tuscany and Brunello di Montalcino; think Piedmont and Barolo). If a region is better known for food than wine, expect to find serious value. To wit: Emilia Romagna. Many of the best-loved foods of Italy come from ER. Parmigiano-Reggiano. Prosciutto di Parma. Balsamico di Modena. Lasagne alla Bolognese. All products of this region. But what do they drink? They drink Lambrusco.

And not the crap that was exported to the United States (and became hugely popular) in the 1970s and 1980s. We’re talking about dry, juicy, lightly sparkling, slightly bitter red wine. Lambrusco is squarely in comeback mode, and as serious importers begin bringing in more serious Lambruscos, these wines are only going to grow in popularity. For example, Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco is imported by the wonderful Kermit Lynch—the only Lambrusco his company imports. Can it get more serious than that?

Fattoria Moretto is a certified organic Lambrusco producer interested in terroir-driven bottlings. It’s unclear if anyone has ever had the sole passion of terroir-driven Lambrusco before this family, but whatever the Altariva family is doing is working. Kermit Lynch himself wrote, “Moretto is to Lambrusco what Tempier and Terrebrune are to rosé. It reminds me of the best reds of Bandol and Tuscany, with herbs like thyme, and a sort of dusty mineral quality, like you find in some of the top Bordeaux and Tuscan wines.” This bottle, clocking in at 11.5% alcohol, is a fresh, decidedly drinkable version that isn’t playing around. Sourced from 20-40 year old vines, this wine is chock full of black cherries, raspberries, and wild strawberries, but balanced with an intense minerality and fistfuls of fragrant Italian herbs. At this price, and with this palate, there may be no greater pizza wine in the world.

2015 Bortolomiol Filanda Rose

This is the outstanding Prosecco house Bortolomiol applying the same Charmat method used to make Prosecco, but here working with 100% Pinot Noir grapes from one of their neighboring regions to the west, Oltrepo Pavese. Note, this is the same vintage of Bortolomiol that we offered last fall in our inaugural Italian bubbles offer, but it is a brand new, fresh disgorgement. This bottle clocks in at 10 g/L dosage and 12% listed alc, and it pours into the glass a pale delicate pink. The nose is a marvelous mix of cherry, stone fruit, and blood orange fruit speckled with warm spice and subtle earth tones. The palate pairs bright acidity with creamy texture and Pinot Noir earthiness with lovely floral tones, all while highlighting a textured chalk-minerality. This is a mouthwatering rosé with a crisp clean finish and an overriding sense of elegance.

The greatest thing about sparkling rosé is that it pairs with everything. This bottle is ready to go with a thoughtfully made cheese plate, various types of charcuterie, or a simple salad. The earthiness of the Pinot Noir and bright acidity would also be great with main courses, specifically whole roasted chicken, pork loin, or a feast of seven fishes. Its fun and effervescent nature make it an ideal companion for brunch, eating buttered popcorn on the couch, and decorating gingerbread cookies—hell, eating gingerbread cookies.

NV Corteaura Franciacorta Saten 

I know we have list members who will be stoked to see this one return. Last year, we set upper order limits at 6 bottles, ended up with max allocations of 2 bottles, and had to zero out more than a dozen folks who got in too late. We’ll optimistically set limits at 6 bottles again, but no promises.

Franciacorta is generally regarded as the finest sparkling wine region in Italy. Established as a DOC in 1967 and then as a sparkling-only DOCG in 1995, it puts Champagne-level restrictions on the wines, and produces bottles that can act as Champagne ringers in blind tastings. Year after year, these bottles get gobbled up in Europe, with very few escaping the continent in any meaningful number. Which makes it such a delight when there are enough bottles available for an actual offer to our list members.

Non-vintage Franciacorta must spend at least 18 months on lees (compared to 15 months in Champagne), but this particular bottling was aged on the lees for 30 months. A “Saten” in Franciacorta means a Blanc de Blancs, and this is indeed 100% Chardonnay. It clocks in at 12.5% listed alc and offers a head-turning, autumnal nose: apples and cream, woodsmoke and fresh baked bread. There’s so much to love about the palate: the fine mousse, the insistent intensity, the depth and richness, the savory chicken-stock subtleties, the long salty finish. It’s really an awful lot to expect at this price point, but in my experience, that’s Franciacorta for you, a must-try category for lovers of sparkling wines.

Full Pull House Style

December 5, 2017

Hello friends. A true house style can be elusive for many wineries. Trends ebb and flow, vintage conditions affect available grapes, staff changes—there are hundreds of reasons why a winery might find themselves without a consistent vision. However, a well-executed house style is incredibly important for any winery that wants to succeed. In our corner of the world, a house style sets wineries apart in a sea of stand-out Washington wines; it allows consumers to purchase wine with confidence, knowing exactly what to expect from a bottle they haven’t tasted. Ben Smith has mastered the art of a house style with Cadence, creating a vineyard-focused bordeaux lineup that is consistent year in and year out. His house style focuses on three components: textural elegance, carefully-tended structure, and finely-tuned balance. This style allows Cadence to hyper focus on creating high-quality, delightfully ageable wines from three vineyards on Red Mountain.

We’re here today with new releases of two Cadence single-vineyard wines, and a bonus reoffer of the winery’s best-priced bottling, with new reviews and press.

2014 Cadence Bel Canto Cara Mia Vineyard

Those of us who love Bel Canto love it, I think, for its profound Cabernet Franc character. Here the Franc is proportionally a little bit less than previous vintages at 50% of the blend, but it is still ever-present with brooding dark fruit and green, leafy herbs. A wholly delightful surprise to this vintage is the increased percentage of Merlot (38%), which provides lift and silkiness, and the addition of Petit Verdot (12%), whose floral notes shine in this bottling. Texturally, this is as classy as ever. This wine hits the holy trinity of Ben Smith’s house style—it has outstanding textural elegance, boasts a strong yet thoughtful structure, and exists in a place of balance, carefully meeting sophistication with strength, fruit with earth, the rugged with the refined.

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

2014 Cadence Camerata Cara Mia Vineyard

This vintage, Ben has gone back to Camerata’s roots—a very high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon. While the 2013 moved more toward blend proportions, the 2014 is back with 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc. This wine shows off its Cabernet character, with cassis and dark fruit overlain with allspice, dried flowers, and earth. The Cabernet Franc adds a crushed gravel minerality and plenty of baking spice. This bottle is a knockout—impeccably structured, elegant, and clearly suited for long-term evolution. In my mind, Cadence always proves to be one of the best examples of what Red Mountain can achieve. This Cab-heavy Camerata is the pinnacle—it’s the kind of wine you give to a friend who has never had Washington wine or heard of Red Mountain to make them a true believer in what the region can produce.

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 94pts.”

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 94pts”

2015 Cadence Coda

It wouldn’t be a true Cadence offer without a nod to Coda—Ben Smith’s incredible value bottling. This is a reoffer of the 2015 vintage, but since the original offer, this wine has received a 92pt review and a place on Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 list.

Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92pts”

Originally offered June 4th, 2017. Excerpts from the original: The history of strong reviews and sub-$30 price points proves it: Coda is an incredible value, year in and year out. What truly makes this wine stand out is the serious juice and vineyards being used. Ben makes exactly four single-vineyard wines for Cadence, all from Red Mountain. Ben carefully crafts the blends for those high-end ($45-$60) wines, and then whatever barrels aren’t included during those blending trials end up in Coda. What that means for Coda is that it’s always a blend and always barrels that were raised with the exact same care as the higher-end bottles. And we get to enjoy this lovely juice for about half the price of the single-vineyard wines.

The blend in 2015 is 46% Cabernet Franc, 28% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot, and it clocks in at 14.4% listed alc. The nose opens with lush, deep fruit of plum and black cherry, herbaceous spice, leafy greens, fresh flowers, and hints of lightly smoked wood. While this nose highlights characteristics of all of the grapes in the blend, the Cabernet Franc notes are especially enticing and welcoming. On the palate, the wine is rich, with fresh acidity and an earthy, mineral-driven backbone that leads to a robust finnish full of grip. It’s elegant, structured, and balanced.

Full Pull Temporal

December 4, 2017

Hello friends. Today, we celebrate taking chances. Last year, we launched a new project that we called Full Pull’s first “pop-up wine.” Inspired by the idea of pop-up restaurants—ephemeral spaces that can be experimental, edgy, and decidedly worthwhile—we took a chance on a stunner of a bottle sourced fully from Dineen Vineyard and made by one of our long-time favorite winemakers.

This was the dark-horse candidate of last year’s private label offerings—a wine that we knew we wanted to sell but weren’t exactly sure what the reception would be. $15 dollar Washington Tempranillo is a rarity around these parts. So, we decided to offer said wine for one vintage, with the option to extend if all went well. Lucky for us all, it proved equally successful with list members and critics alike, gaining a 93pt review from Wine Advocate. Today, we’re back for year number two.

2015 Temporal Vintners Tempranillo 

Unlike some of our other private label offerings, we decided not to keep this winemaker a secret. Our list is full of smart, savvy wine-lovers who all know that if we’re partnering with a winemaker to make Washington Tempranillo, there’s only one person it could be—Javier Alfonso of Pomum Cellars and Idilico.

We began talking with Javier about Tempranillo in March 2016. He had some 2014 juice, all single-vineyard (Dineen in Yakima Valley), all Tinta del Pais clone (the clone used predominantly in Ribera del Duero). In his first e-mail, Javier said that “this clone and site produces Ribera del Duero styled wine with a high tannin content contributing structure and length,” and asked if we’d be interested in tasting the wine. The answer was a resounding, “Yes!”

In 2015, Javier again sourced wholly from Dineen vineyard: Tempranillo from his Tinta del Pais clone with addition of a clone of Tinta de Toro. Both plantings run about an acre each and were planted exclusively for Javier’s use. In this second vintage, we do have decidedly less to offer, with production about half that of the 2014.

The juice was raised in a mix of neutral and twice-filled barrels. It clocks in at 14.8% alc and begins with savory, earthy nose, full of black fruit and smoke. Tobacco leaf and potting soil; black plum and black cherry; warmed wood and vanilla. This vintage is much more savory than the fruit-forward ‘14—a touch more hedonistic, a wine that’s of the earth. What hasn’t changed is that the palate still easily outperforms $15-expectation. This is not the soft side of Tempranillo; this is burly, muscular, powerful Tempranillo. This is Tempranillo with Cabernet structure—full of polished, fine-grained tannins that offer a texture to perfectly complement all sorts of meals throughout the winter. Tempranillo is the wine for braising weather: for days indoors slow-cooking a tough piece of protein into something supple and delicious. Pot roasts and short ribs and oxtails. Big messes of root veggies and potatoes.

Will this wine last another vintage? Who knows! That’s the point—it’s fleeting, much like life, and should be enjoyed fully. This bottle is both temporary, in that we do not know if it will return, and temporal, as it relates to time and our worldly affairs.

Full Pull Holiday Deal

December 3, 2017

Hello friends. On November 10, I received an email from an old pal in the wine trade, Ross Mickel. Here is an excerpt:

In the transition of buying my winery back from Precept this past May, I’m looking to get my remaining 2013 Boushey Syrah ([REDACTED] cases) and 2013 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ([REDACTED] cases) into as many hands over the holidays as possible. To do that, I’m adjusting my pricing to $20/bottle from its previous price at $30. I don’t know if you’ve tried these wines or when the last time was, but I’d love to drop you a couple samples to see if they interest you. It’s been a very exciting and energetic transition back to being a sole proprietor these past few months; I’m channeling the energy of a 22 year old to keep on top of everything. Thank you for all your support over the years.

We (I, our team, our list members) have loved Ross’ wines for many years now. A 2006 Boushey Syrah from Ross was one of my early aha moments about the quality and excitement of Washington wine. I was blown away that a Syrah at that price could be that compellingly site-expressive. The price in question for the 2006 vintage? $28. So yeah, the fact that seven vintages later, we had the opportunity to potentially offer that Boushey Syrah, and a Red Mountain Cab, for twenty bucks; let’s just say I hit reply quickly.

After sampling (and loving) the wines, my original plan was to save them for our last-week-of-the-year offers. But then Ross gave me an update on the quantities, and the burn rate is scary for these two wines, perhaps unsurprising given the scale of the discount and the quality of the wines. It was enough to cause me to a) move the offer up to early December; and b) beg for a hold on reasonable parcels of each wine. That hold expires Tuesday morning, so please do try to get order requests in by Monday night. We’ll try to include a buffer for latecomer orders, but no promises. Now, onto the wines.

2013 Ross Andrew Syrah Boushey Vineyard

Ross’ Boushey Syrah comes from two different blocks of the vineyard; one 14 years old, the other 23 (likely the second oldest plantings in the state after Red Willow). It was raised in French oak (mostly neutral), clocks in at 13.8% listed alc, and opens with an alluring nose of huckleberry fruit, espresso, and smoky minerals. Decidedly a fruit-driven version of Boushey Syrah (with meaty subtleties relegated to grace notes that emerge with time and air), and my oh my is that fruit pure and delicious. There’s a freshness here, something almost minty in the mid-palate, that adds lift and energy, and the character of the fruit is wild and brambly. I love the concentration and density here, all without a shred of excess weight. This is a winemaker who clearly has a deep comfort level working with this particular vineyard, and to access single vineyard Boushey Syrah at a twenty-dollar tag is a rare treat indeed.

2013 Ross Andrew Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 

One of the best trends of 2017 has been fairly regular access to Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon at price points in the $20s. Of course $19.99 is even better. The common thread seems to be Quintessence Vineyard, an amazing young site that is producing remarkable value bottlings from the oft-pricey mountain. Quintessence forms the backbone of this Cabernet, rounded out with the queen of Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval. It was raised entirely in French oak barrels, 70% new, and listed alc is a reasonable 13.9%. Fruit tones of kirsch and blackcurrant are dusted with cocoa and exotic orange peel and lifted by glorious high-toned cherry-blossom florals on a dynamite nose. On the palate, this quickly fans out and saturates the entire palate with Red Mountain goodness, a mix of deep fruit and iron-tinged earth notes. Plush on attack, this moves seamlessly into a mid and back-end replete with notable tannic heft, dusty in just the right way. It is a fantastic example of what gets us so excited about Red Mountain Cab – power paired to grace – and a rare find at today’s tariff.

Full Pull Betz Vertical

December 2, 2017

Hello friends. I recently received an email from our buddies at Betz Family Winery, with the subject “Library offering?” If you think that made me sit up and take notice, you’d be correct. The email (excerpted) went on:

I have a quick idea to run by you. We recently made a change to our distribution in California… In the process, I took back the remaining inventory from the distributor. It’s mainly little lots…a few scattered bottles over several vintages. There is one exception: there are [REDACTED] of three vintages of Bésoleil: 2011, 2012 and 2013. I was planning on just absorbing it back into inventory, but then I thought it might be an opportunity to do a fun library release, which we’ve never been able to do before, for obvious reasons. What I was thinking of was offering a library 3-pack, one from each vintage. We wouldn’t be able to do more than [REDACTED] or so, and it would be a hard limit, but it would be an exceptional offering. Bésoleil get magical as it ages, texturally and aromatically struttin’ its Southern-Rhone roots while texturally approaching something that walks the line between aged new-world pinot and CDP…silky and slatey.

As you can imagine, I said yes instantly. We just don’t get access to any older Betz bottlings, ever, so this is a rare opportunity for our list members. Then, earlier this week, I had a chance to taste the wines side by side (by side), and felt very, very happy about that decision.

Betz Besoleil Vertical (2011, 2012, 2013)

First off, I’m pleased that the folks at Betz did not apply a library premium. In fact, our TPU price today is a little less than the sum of the three TPU prices on original offer. Second, this seems like the perfect time of year to access a vertical. It certainly makes a rare, wonderful gift for any Washington wine lover, and/or it is an instant holiday party starter. Open all three bottles, let folks debate which is best, argue merrily.

What I love about a vertical like this is that the house style is very consistent, and while there is some variation in the varietal breakdown, the real differences that you’re seeing here are vintage related. It’s a terrific prism through which to view the impact of different growing seasons on finished wines. All three wines revolve around the Grenache trinity of flavors: brambly berry fruit, flower-inflected garrigue, and minerality. The 2011 flavors flowers and minerals; the ’12 deep fruit and dark minerality; the ’13 garrigue and pure berry fruit.

But the biggest differences you see across a single tasting are textural. The structure of the ’11, from a cool vintage, is much more acid-driven; it’s juicy, energetic; a propulsive bottle showing beautifully now. The ’12, from a down-the-middle year, has the most robust tannic structure, and while it’s the least approachable of the trio now, it will likely be the longest lived of the three. A savory meaty character emerged after a few hours open that augurs well for future complexity. The ’13, from a warmer year, is glorious right now, the goldilocks of the trio, offering balanced acid and tannin, and a roundness that is deeply pleasurable.

Here are the winery’s notes from each release: 2011. A blend of 54% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 12% Counoise, 12% Mourvedre, and 7% Syrah, all from the Yakima Valley, the 2011 Bésoleil takes us closer to our Chateauneuf du Pape model by adding Counoise. A little-known Southern Rhone varietal, it adds nuance to both aroma and flavor, with earth, spice and structure. Vibrant ruby with hints of blue color, it opens to an intense southern Rhone character of black raspberry, smoke and roasted dried herbs. Garrigue, black pepper, and the floral notes of lavender and rose petal all play their aromatic role. A silky entry leads to a supple mid palate and a structured finish, reflecting the overall cooler vintage. There’s vitality, weight and authority here, with a structure that dances and will certainly reward cellaring.

2012. A blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 15% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah, all from the Yakima Valley. Washington southern Rhone varieties continue their winning streak, proving to excel in cool and hot vintages. Fans of this Southern Rhone-inspired wine will note that there’s no Counoise in the 2012 blend as there has been in recent vintages; that variety ripened fine, but they lacked the penetrating character needed to complement the final wine. The Mourvedre fraction (15%) stepped right up to fill its place, its deep, brooding and sweet ink character carrying through in the wine, making the 2012 deeper, more structured yet finely layered. Grenache (50%) still dominates the blend, with its creamy black raspberry, wild dried strawberry, dried herbs and floral notes. Cinsault (20%) fills in with its dusty blue notes, and Yakima Valley Syrah (15%) provides more backbone. This is a Bésoleil for the cellar, dense and full, and a few years of aging will expand its Chateauneuf-like appeal.”

2013. A blend of 49% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 16% Cinsault, 9% Mourvedre, and 6% Counoise. Grenache speaks loudly in the Bésoleil with notes of pomegranate, red raspberry, and strawberry leaf. The Counoise and Cinsualt bring bing cherry fruit and blueberry notes to the table, complicated by pepper and garrique. Mourvedre donates a wild meatiness to the blend, and a purple hue. Syrah rounds things out, adding texture, and flesh to the palate.

For what it’s worth, Jeb Dunnuck’s drinking windows from Wine Advocate for the three vintages are:
2011: Drink 2014-2019
2012: Drink 2014-2024
2013: Drink 2015-2025

I mostly agree, although I’d take slight exception with the 2011 and punch that window out to 2022 or 2023 based on how beautifully fresh it’s drinking right now. And maybe pull the 2013 back to 2022 or 2023 as well; that one is so delicious right now.

Full Pull Figgins

December 1, 2017

Hello friends. Hitting your inboxes for a rare Tuesday offer, because I just learned yesterday afternoon that this wine is finally available. Normally an October release in previous years, it’s coming to us a little later this year, but still in enough time for the holidays. This is a limited release of a wine that seems to have achieved cult status in a very short period.

2014 Figgins Estate Red Wine

This is Chris Figgins’ own project, separate from the Leonetti family of wines. What distinguishes it, and makes it so intellectually interesting, is that it is very much a Bordelaise project. Figgins is a winery with one vineyard (planted mostly to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot) and one red wine (anything that doesn’t make the cut gets sold off on the bulk market), which is a real rarity in Washington. Putting all your eggs in one vineyard basket is gutsy indeed, but Chris Figgins has the skill and experience to make it work.

Unsurprisingly, Chris’ emphasis when he talks about the wine is the vineyard, not the winery. Located in the Mill Creek drainage of the Walla Walla Valley, this is as far-east a vineyard as I know of in the Walla Walla Valley, bumping right up against the Blue Mountains. The soils are deep, rich loess, and this area gets enough rainfall that dry-land farming (no irrigation) is possible in some years. It’s a haunting, high-elevation (1750 ft) site, where exactly 17 minutes past sunset each night, a load of cold air from the Blue Mountains comes roaring down Mill Creek canyon. You can feel the air change when you’re standing there, and the grapes feel it too: an instant diurnal shift that helps retain lovely acidity in the finished wines.

It’s going to be a real treat to watch this wine evolve as the vines dig deeper, and even the evolution from the inaugural 2008 vintage to now has been fascinating. To see this kind of quality from ninth-leaf fruit augurs well for the future. As usual, this is a wine built more for ageing than for immediate gratification. If you just can’t wait, I’d suggest a multi-hour decant if opening this any time in the next few years.

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 94pts.”

Washington Wine Blog (Owen Bargreen): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 95pts.”