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Gramercy CellarsGramercy Cellars

Fall Release 2018

08/28/2018

Welcome to the Fall 2018 MTA Release. I’ve been waiting a long time for this release.  If you have been a long time Gramercy wine club member, you may notice a change.  Fall is for Walla Walla Syrah and Third Man!  Well, not this year.

Some changes are coming at Gramercy.  To begin, we have decided to hold some of our Syrahs for an extra six months.  Usually, Lagniappe Syrah would have been released last spring, but we have moved it to a Fall release.  You will see this with all of our higher-end Syrahs. We feel that these wines change tremendously in bottle in six months. I would rather send the wine to you closer to the time it will be ready to drink.  These wines will still need time, however.

Secondly, you will see more single vineyard bottlings going forward.  We have made a philosophical shift for Rhône blends to produce single vineyard bottling when possible. Brandon and I feel we understand our vineyards and blocks well enough to make single vineyard bottlings from Red Willow, Les Collines, Forgotten Hills and Olsen every year.

I have been waiting to release the 2015 Lagniappe for a long time. It is one of the best wines to ever come from Gramercy.  It is both fresh and compelling.  It is Red Willow at its best and shows the greatness of the vineyard.

Jeb Dunnuck – 98 points
“Always one of my favorite releases from this estate, the 2015 Syrah Lagniappe is 100% Syrah (mostly from the Red Willow Vineyard in Yakima, with 5% from the Forgotten Hills Vineyard just south of Walla Walla). Deep ruby/plum-colored and loaded with Côte Rôtie-like (Côte Blonde?) notes of black raspberries, tapenade, and crushed flowers, this beauty is medium to full-bodied, seamless, and silky on the palate, with incredible finesse and elegance. It’s going to benefit from 3-4 years of bottle age and knock your socks off over the following decade or more. It’s unquestionably one of the wines of the vintage.”

The second Syrah is from our estate vineyard Forgotten Hills. William Kelly, the new writer for Robert Parker in Washington, described it this way:

“Complex and compelling, the 2015 Syrah Forgotten Hills Vineyard reveals beautiful aromas of orange rind, wild berries, tapenade and cracked pepper. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, layered and succulent, with lovely sappy acids, concentrated fruit and some youthfully chewy tannins that will need a few years in bottle to melt away. Cellar it for a few years and follow it for a decade.” William Kelly 94 pts

The Forgotten Hills will require a bit of patience.  It is our most backward Syrah upon release.  It is also our most European Syrah.  When I meet sommelier’s in New York City, London or Paris, I show the Forgotten Hills Syrah for the “wow effect.”  It is not a wine most sommeliers expect to come from the New World.

I love the MTA bottlings this release. The 2016 MTA Pinot Noir is our second release of Le Prè du Col Vineyard, sourced from Bergstrom’s amazing, biodynamically farmed vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA of the Willamette Valley. The 2015 Cabernet Franc MTA again shows the uniqueness of Cabernet Franc in Walla Walla.

And lastly, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley.  When speaking to Patrick Comiskey, Wine & Spirits Senior Correspondent, he mentioned how much he loved the recent Gramercy Cabernets. We talked about Cabernet for a while and I said the most significant change being both vineyard selection and vineyard age.  There is magic when one blends Phinny Hill with Sagemoor, our blend for both the Columbia Valley and Reserve bottlings.  The vineyards are incredible together.

Thank you for your support of Gramercy.  I love presenting this release.  I genuinely feel our wines get better each year and show a unique perspective on the greatness of Washington terroir.

We look forward to seeing you soon in Walla Walla, Seattle SODO (hint, hint…) or at an event soon.

Greg, Pam, Brandon, Robbi & Nichole


2015 Syrah “Lagniappe” Columbia Valley

 

Sauer Family. Red Willow Vineyard. 2015 vintage. Mic drop…

Jeb Dunnuck 98 pts
“Always one of my favorite releases from this estate, the 2015 Syrah Lagniappe is 100% Syrah (mostly from the Red Willow Vineyard in Yakima, with 5% from the Forgotten Hills Vineyard just south of Walla Walla). Deep ruby/plum-colored and loaded with Côte Rôtie-like (Côte Blonde?) notes of black raspberries, tapenade, and crushed flowers, this beauty is medium to full-bodied, seamless, and silky on the palate, with incredible finesse and elegance. It’s going to benefit from 3-4 years of bottle age and knock your socks off over the following decade or more. It’s unquestionably one of the wines of the vintage.”

I don’t know what more to say. We are ecstatic about the reviews for this wine. I can’t say we did anything different with the Lagniappe this year, except picking a bit lower Brix in 2015 than previous years.  The wine is 13.7 alcohol. (What is ripeness? Discuss.) As always, the wine is fermented around 100% whole cluster, fermented in concrete for 21ish days and aged in neutral 500-liter puncheons.

The 2015 is technically a single vineyard Red Willow bottling.  American AVA law allows 5% of other vineyards in a blend to be labeled single vineyard.  Starting in 2016, Lagniappe will always be a single vineyard bottling, as will most of our Rhône wines.

Is this the best Lagniappe to date?  Honestly, I am not sure.  Right now, I think the 2010 is our best. But its oh so close.  The 2010 may be a bit more aromatically complex, but the 2015 has more mid-palate power. Both are stunning wines. I can’t wait to taste both side by side in five years, ten years, twenty years.  Who wants to come to those parties?

Tasting notes: Black olive, Asian spice, red flowers, red currant, garrigue, black pepper, salumi, super aromatic.  Explodes on the mid palate, a bit more blue fruit on the palate. Firm acidity and medium plus tannins. This will age for a long time and improve for many, many years. Perhaps our best Lagniappe to date.

Varietal: 100% Syrah
Whole Cluster: 98%
Vineyard: Red Willow, Forgotten Hills
Cases Made: 586
Drinking Window: 2019 – 2034


2015 Syrah “Forgotten Hills” Walla Walla Valley

While we have been using Forgotten Hills since 2005, this is the third release of a vineyard designate Forgotten Hills for Gramercy.  Located at the base of the Blue Mountains, the vineyard is under constant attack by cold weather, even during harvest.  While not in the Rocks District, it sits on a pan of exposed basalt, aka volcano rock, which gives the wine deep minerality. Yes, terroir exists. End of story. We also fermented this wine in concrete, now our definitively preferred method for Rhône variety fermentation.

Forgotten Hills is all about acidity, mineral, smoke, blood, and iron. It is hard-core Syrah, for those that love the Old World. It starts life full of red fruit, then gradually the funk develops after about a year. We are incredibly proud of this wine.  It is maybe our favorite wine of the 2015 Syrah’s.

We fermented this wine with 75% whole cluster in concrete (yeah concrete) and stainless steel. The Forgotten Hills was aged in a mix of older 225L and 500L puncheons for 18 months.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate – 94 points
“Complex and compelling, the 2015 Syrah Forgotten Hills Vineyard reveals beautiful aromas of orange rind, wild berries, tapenade and cracked pepper. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, layered and succulent, with lovely sappy acids, concentrated fruit and some youthfully chewy tannins that will need a few years in bottle to melt away. Cellar it for a few years and follow it for a decade.”  -William Kelly

Tasting Notes: Smoked meat, salumi, Herbes de Provence, raspberry, cranberry, stone, iron, blood, red flowers, Asian spice. Extremely fresh and vibrant. Racy acidity and firm tannins. Medium bodied with extreme length and complexity.

Varietal: 100% Syrah
Whole Cluster: 75%
Vineyard: Forgotten Hills
Cases Made: 329
Drinking Window: 2019 – 2027


2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley

My love for Cabernet is growing so deep that I’m am now getting mocked by 25 year old sommeliers in New York City.  On a recent trip, I suggested we order a fantastic classified Bordeaux. (I’m not throwing down for First Growths. There is now a lot of value in Bordeaux.) One of them commented – Dude, you are OLD.  Next, you are going to want to order Port. Fully mocked.  But sorry, I have grown to love well balanced, thoughtfully made, terroir-driven Cabernet, especially in Washington.

As we said in 2014, the Cabernet Sauvignon always contains two vital parts – Phinny Hill and Sagemoor Vineyards.  They are like chocolate and peanut butter together. The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is about 60% Phinny Hill Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Bacchus Cabernet Sauvignon. Each vineyard contributes vitally to the final blend. Phinny is backbone and elegance; Bacchus, as the vines are 45+ years old, is all about power and complexity.

Last year, with the 2014 Cabernet, we said Merlot took its ball and went home. Well, Merlot worked hard in the offseason – trained well and ate clean.  It comes back in full force in 2015, representing about 14% of the blend. While the 2013 (8%) and 2012 (10%) had high percentages of Merlot, only the 2008 (14% Merlot) matches the Merlot percentage of the 2015 Cabernet. (I can tell you that the 2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet and the Lower East Cabernet are in a perfect place right now. Drink up!)

A few years ago, we acquired the oldest block of Merlot at Pepper Bridge Vineyard. It’s an ideal complement to this wine.  Some may ask – why Walla Walla Merlot?  I feel if they didn’t make that movie Walla Walla Merlot would be an iconic variety in Walla Walla.  I always grin when Chuck Rhoades gets messed with in Billions. Punishment for the Merlot comments. Walla Walla Merlot adds intensity and complexity in the mid-palate that is unique to Walla Walla. Adding Merlot from other areas doesn’t ignite the spark for us. Walla Walla Merlot is the smack that Cabernet loves and needs.

The 2015 Cabernet is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. It was aged in 50% new French oak and the remainder in 2-5 year old French barrels.

Tasting Notes: Red, blue and black fruit, gravel, deep, elegant, complex, silky, mineral, medium + acid, firm tannin.  Chocolate, pencil shavings, red flowers, forest floor, mushroom, cedar

Varietal: 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot
New Oak: 50%
Vineyard: Phinny Hill, Bacchus, Pepper Bridge, Octave Estate
Cases Made: 975
Drinking Window: 2018 – 2036


2015 Cabernet Franc “Old Stones Vineyard” Walla Walla MTA

This vineyard, from now on, is to be known by codename Vineyard X.

Cue scene from Oceans 12

Rusty Ryan : Ooh, don’t ever ask that. Ever. Seriously. Not to anyone.
Linus Caldwell : Wait, why not?
Rusty Ryan : Look, it’s not in my nature to be mysterious. But I can’t talk about it and I can’t talk about why.

I wrote about Vineyard X, located in the Rocks, for the 2013 Rock Steady Syrah release:
“Vineyard X is on the cooler side adjacent to Highway 12, near the drive-in movie theater.  Yes, we still have one in Mayberry. X is an exceptional vineyard. Originally planted by the Waters Winery crew, we took on management of the vineyard in 2013, before a fantastic Woodinville based winery purchased it in 2015. (We also get Cabernet Franc from X Vineyard, and it is monumental. We may have done an MTA wine from it. More on that later.)”

Well, it’s time for that MTA wine. Those of you that have been to our MTA parties have heard me say things like this before, usually somewhere after 9:00 pm.  I think the Rocks is a better area for Cabernet Franc than Syrah.

The 2015 Cabernet Franc is not a dead ringer for Loire Valley Cabernet Franc.  The vintage was a bit too warm. It lies somewhere between the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. It has the aromatics of the Loire with tart red fruits and beautiful green pepperiness but is more full-bodied on the palate. And it is a delicious wine.

For this cuvee, we tend to punch down the cap, instead of pump over, as we do with all our other Bordeaux varietals.  We are seeking aromatics and elegance over power. We aged the wine in 15% new French barrels and the remainder in neutral French barrels for 18 months.

Tasting notes: Bright red fruits with some blue black fruit sneaking in. Gravel, smoke, tobacco.  Very floral on the nose with chocolate, plum, blueberry, forest floor. Expansive mid palate. Medium plus bodied and fresh.  It’s like Croatia in the World Cup – so not traditional, so unexpected and so pretty to experience.

Varietal: 100% Cab Franc
Vineyard: Old Stones
New Oak: 15%
Cases Made: 205
Drinking Window: 2018 – 2035


2016 Pinot Noir “Le Pré du Col Vineyard” Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley MTA

The 2016 MTA Pinot Noir is our second release of Le Pré du Col Vineyard, sourced from Bergstrӧm’s amazing, biodynamically farmed vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA of the Willamette Valley.

The 2016 vintage in the Willamette Valley according to the Oregon Wine Board:
“An unusually warm spring gave way to moderate summer conditions, which provided even growing conditions through véraison. Though it was an intense growing season due to the early start, the fruit produced throughout the state resulted in wonderful concentration and complexity with characteristic natural acidity.”

To review the story of how we ended up with Pinot Noir, besides my needing/wanting a co-winemaker/partner retention program, Brandon happened to be at a tasting with Josh Bergstrom. We have always loved and respected Josh’s wines. Josh mentioned to Brandon that he had started a small Syrah project and was looking for some fruit.  Brandon suggested a trade. In early 2015, we took a trip down to Oregon with a large heap of Syrah samples.  After many hours of tasting Syrah and Pinot, we had a plan worked out.  Josh agreed to let us work with the fantastic Le Pré du Col Vineyard.

We continue to view Pinot Noir with a Syrah frame of reference.  We fermented the Pinot Noir with a large percentage of whole cluster, greater than 80%.  We fermented the wine with native yeast (as with all our wines) for about 21 days. During that time, we punched down the cap 2-3 times a day.  The wine was aged in both 225 and 500-liter neutral French barrels.

As I said last time, this is not a pop and pour wine as the FedEx driver is leaving the driveway. It will take some time to evolve.  When I wrote the tasting notes, the bottle was considerably better the second and third day.  If you prefer to have NFL wide receiver numbers for your Cellartracker scores, drink this in the next 90 days.  If you prefer to live in the land of defensive tackles and linebackers, give the wine some time.  It will reward patience.  I promise.

Tasting Notes: Tart razor focused raspberry, blackberry dropped in freshly mowed grass and savored. Smoke, mineral, saline, Cuban cigar Monte #2, red flowers, stems, orange blossom, spice. Rosemary, sage, thyme, almost garrigue? I love the savory green of this wine. Firm and fresh with substantial, but silky tannins.

Drink: Winter Holidays (not Thanksgiving) 2018 – 2028
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Whole Cluster: 80%
Vineyard: Le Pré du Col
Cases Made: 202
Drinking Window: 2018 – 2028