Welcome to the 2018 Spring Release!
We will begin by answering the obvious question – “Dude, where’s my Syrah?” The Spring Release usually includes the Lagniappe Syrah. Don’t panic; the wine isn’t gone. However, we realized that we were releasing the wine a bit too early. It was kind of a “Duh” moment for Brandon and me. We age Cabernet for almost three years at the winery, though we make Cabernet in a slightly riper style than Syrah. Additionally, with the John Lewis, Deuce, and Lagniappe Syrah’s, the wines are sometimes downright backward. We notice how the wines change in the tasting room. When we first start sampling them, the wines usually aren’t the hit of the table. However, in 6 months, the top Syrah becomes the most talked about wine on the table. So, we have decided to give the top cuvées an additional six months of age.
The 2018 Spring Release is a study in wine diversity. We begin with maybe our favorite MTA Rhône blend to date – 2015 Syrah Blend “Olsen Vineyard” Columbia Valley MTA. Olsen Vineyard fired on all cylinders in 2015. This vineyard continues to get better and better every year. We rarely make a Syrah-dominated blend with Grenache in a supporting role. The only other time, I believe, was the 2009 L’Idiot du Village, which was Syrah – Grenache for its first iteration. The second MTA wine is something new. A single vineyard Merlot from the famed Loess Vineyard in Walla Walla, owned and farmed by the Figgins family. For the past few years, the Loess Merlot has been going into the Reserve Cabernet. Brandon kept mentioning that the 2015 Loess Merlot was maybe his favorite Bordeaux barrel for the vintage, so it needed its own cuvée. The other three wines in the shipment are very familiar to wine club members – 2014 Columbia Valley Syrah, 2015 Mourvèdre, and the 2014 Tempranillo. The 2014 Columbia Valley Syrah is drinking famously right now. Feel free to pop it while the FedEx driver is still in the driveway.
For those of you coming to Walla Walla for Cayuse Release Weekend, we will again be hosting a Saturday morning tasting. Last year, we talked about Blind Tasting 101. This year we will be tasting the wines of…? Last week, we tasted an amazing lineup of Bordeaux and Washington wines. It was eye-opening. We are debating recreating this tasting or studying the Rhône Valley. Details to follow.
A note regarding the 2018 MTA Releases. With the change in release for some of the wines, the price of the MTA will change slightly. While the average six pack box will still be about $250, going forward, this Spring Release will be a bit less than $250 and the Fall Release a bit more.
Thank you for your support of Gramercy Cellars.
Greg, Pam, Brandon, Robbi and Nichole
If you live in or near Portland we invite you to join us for our second annual Portland pick up party on Thursday, April 19th from 5 pm – 8 pm at the exceptional Portland City Grill in Portland, Oregon! If you don’t live near Portland but want to attend, plan a trip!
WHAT’S IN MY SPRING SHIPMENT?
MTA 6 will receive the following:
2014 Syrah Columbia Valley (2 bottles)
2015 “L’Idiot du Village” Mourvèdre Columbia Valley (1 bottle)
2014 “Inigo Montoya” Tempranillo Walla Walla (1 bottle)
2014 Loess Vineyard Merlot Walla Walla MTA (1 bottle)
2014 Olsen Vineyard Syrah Blend Walla Walla MTA (1 bottle)
The total price of your shipment will be $221.85. This reflects your 15% MTA discount. Tax and shipping charges will depend on your location.
MTA 12 will receive the following:
2014 Syrah Columbia Valley (4 bottles)
2015 ‘L’Idiot du Village’ Mourvèdre Columbia Valley (2 bottles)
2014 “Inigo Montoya” Tempranillo Walla Walla (2 bottles)
2014 Loess Vineyard Merlot Walla Walla MTA (2 bottles)
2014 Olsen Vineyard Syrah Blend Walla Walla MTA (2 bottles)
The total price of your shipment will be $443.70. This reflects your 15% discount and free shipping. Taxes not included.
The 2014 is the third vintage of the Columbia Valley AVA designated wine. As we search Washington for better and more unique Syrah, we see two things happening: First, our upper-end wines are becoming more vineyard focused with both John Lewis and The Deuce based on Les Collines, and Lagniappe based on Red Willow Vineyard. Second, we love the combination of fruit from the lower Yakima Valley and Walla Walla. We can make earthy wines with both structure and freshness. Third, we want to make a Syrah that has better availability and some potential for growth. Enter the Columbia Valley Syrah.
This wine blends four vineyards. The northerly Oldfield and Minick Vineyards, and Walla Walla sources Forgotten Hills and Old Stones in the rocks. Forgotten Hills, which lies at the base of the cool Blue Mountains, provides a world-class base for the wine, contributing freshness and energy to the blend. As it is on pure fractured basalt, it also provides minerality. Oldfield, adjacent to Boushey, and Minick provide red fruit and freshness. The Rocks gives pepper, funk, smoke, depth, and structure. This wine, aged 15 months in neutral barrel, is about 54% whole cluster.
Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate (93 pts)
“Olive tapenade, licorice, smoked herbs and plenty of peppery black fruits emerge from the 2014 Columbia Valley Syrah, and it’s medium to full-bodied, rich, concentrated and beautifully textured. It’s another smoking wine from this estate that has real character and depth.”
Tasting Notes: Red Cherry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Leather, Saline, Meat, Funk, Violets, Roses. Smoked herbs. The palate is medium bodied with crisp acidity and energy.
Whole Cluster 54%
Forgotten Hills, Old Stones, Minick Vineyard, Oldfield Vineyard
Drinking Window: Now – 2030
2015 Mourvèdre “L’Idiot du Village”
This is our fifth release of Mourvèdre. The popularity of the L’Idiot is mind-blowing. It sells out faster than any other wine at the winery. As I have said many times before, Mourvèdre is at home in Eastern Washington. We continue to be blown away by the complexity and intensity of the Mourvèdre from both Olsen and Alder Ridge Vineyards. Each vineyard contributes very different aromatics and structure. Olsen Vineyard, near Red Mountain, is all about red fruit, freshness, and aromatics. Alder Ridge, which sits on the Columbia River in the Horse Heaven Hills, brings black fruit, depth, and structure.
The 2015 L’Idiot is 95% Mourvèdre, mostly from Olsen Vineyard, with a small portion from Alder Ridge Vineyard. We fermented this wine in both concrete and stainless steel with 60% whole cluster and aged the wine for 15 months in old oak.
Tasting Notes: Red raspberry, cherry, fresh blackberry, garrigue, mineral, stone, tar, gravel, finishes sweet fruit, sweet cream, orange peel, smoked meat.
95% Mourvèdre, 5% Carignan
Whole Cluster 60%
Olsen Vineyard, Alder Ridge Vineyard
Drinking Window: 2019 – 2030
2014 Tempranillo “Inigo Montoya”
Walla Walla Valley
We are coming to the end of a long journey with Tempranillo. After this release, we only have the 2016 Tempranillo to offer. In early 2017, Brandon and I decided to replace the Tempranillo block with Cabernet Franc. What do we have against Tempranillo? Nadda. But we are finding that we love our Cabernet with a bit of Cabernet Franc added. While we have small parcels of Cab Franc at JB George and Octave Vineyards, we don’t have enough at either vineyard for a full, healthy ferment. Adding an acre of Cabernet Franc at JB George, where it excels, will give us the ability for a single vineyard Cabernet Franc cuvée in the future.
We recently had the pleasure of dining at Harvest Vine in Seattle. The wine list at the restaurant is a treasure trove of old-school Rioja and Ribera del Duero estates. Truthfully, we have been drinking newer wave Spanish wine – Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra, etc. It was fantastic to return to some of the legendary properties that built the reputation of red wine in Spain. It reminded me of the uniqueness of Tempranillo in Walla Walla. In great vintages, it’s a dead ringer for Spain. Bad news for people who took out their Tempranillo blocks. Great news for people that have been putting aside 100 cases each vintage since 2008 to release as the wines age and change over the coming 10-15 years. While we won’t be producing Gramercy Tempranillo after 2016, we will be drinking and offering it for a long time.
The 2014 Tempranillo was fermented in open top stainless steel and punched down three times a day. Fermentation lasted for 14 days and was aged in a combination of American and French Oak barrels for 18 months.
Tasting Notes: Predominately strawberry and raspberry. Red flowers, star anise, stone mineral, smoke, orange peel, campfire marshmallow. Green herbs – tarragon, rosemary. Smoked meat, soy, mushroom. Firm acidity and tannin. A bit of sweet oak with Asian spice.
75% Tempranillo, 15% Grenache, 5% Syrah, 5% Carignan
Gramercy Estate, Les Collines & Olsen Vineyard
15% New American Oak, the rest combination of older American and French barrels
Drinking Window: Now – 2035
2015 Syrah Blend MTA
Since the inception of the Gramercy Wine Club, I believe we have sourced more MTA wines from Olsen Vineyard than any other source that we use. Olsen is a Tour de Force when it comes to Southern Rhône varieties. Other growers and winemakers are starting to see the potential of the area as well. I recently toured a new vineyard in the area that will be a game changer for Southern Rhône varieties in Washington. While Olsen sits in the line of sight of Red Mountain, the area is a bit cooler, allowing additional hang time for Grenache and Mourvèdre.
We usually begin an MTA blend from Olsen with a high percentage of Grenache. While blending the Syrah wines from 2015, it was apparent that Olsen was unique. We decided to look at what would happen if we started with mostly Syrah and blended small additions of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan. While we don’t see too many Syrah dominant wines in the Southern Rhône, traveling a bit east to the Languedoc one finds many reiterations of Syrah-Grenache-Mourvèdre blends. If you can find it, locate a bottle of Clos Marie from the Languedoc, a benchmark producer who uses large percentages of Syrah in their blends.
The 2015 Olsen Vineyard Blend is 60% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache and 10% Carignan. We fermented the Syrah with 66% whole cluster. The Mourvèdre and Grenache were both fermented 100% whole cluster. The Carignan, as they are still young vines, was destemmed. The wine was aged for 15 months in neutral barrel.
Tasting Notes: Red fruit, blueberry, dark cherry, garrigue, concrete, lavender, Asian spice, orange peel, tar, leather. Firm acidity, fresh. Will open faster than other Gramercy 2015 vintage wines. Tastes way better than a Tide Pod. Don’t eat laundry detergent. That’s stupid.
60% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache, 10% Carignan
Whole Cluster 70%
Drinking Window: Now – 2025
2015 Merlot MTA
Walla Walla Valley
Jack: If they want to drink Merlot, we’re drinking Merlot.
Miles Raymond: No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any f-ing Merlot!
The line that crashed a market. To me, the funniest thing about the movie Sideways was the ending. At the end of the movie Miles is seen drinking Cheval Blanc with a hamburger. When the writer wrote the script, it was supposed to only represent Miles drinking an obscenely expensive wine with a burger. The writer had no clue that Merlot makes up most of the Cheval Blanc blend. As I was the only one to laugh in a theater full of people, the audience didn’t get it at the time either. I’m such a geek.
Around the Walla Walla parts, Merlot has a special reputation. It’s a fantastic grape for our climate. But we have to start with how the locals pronounce the grape. On a recent interview on Levis Dalton’s I’ll Drink to That podcast, Tegan Passalacqua, winemaker at Turley and Sandlands, talks about his search for old vine Carignan in California. When he asked local growers for Carignan (kah-ree-nyah), he received blank stares. In this area, it seems the locals call it Kerrigan (rhymes with Nancy).
In Walla Walla, Merlot rhymes with the first syllable of Meerkat, the small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family and Disney movie star. The first time I heard it my first thought was “Did you really just say it that way? Are you joking? Am I being punk’d?” Nope, that’s how it’s said. Meeeeeeeer-low.
I don’t know exactly how we first started getting Loess Vineyard Merlot. I think it just showed up one year. But when Walla Walla royalty sends you fruit, you don’t ask questions. You just take it and do a happy dance. The Loess Vineyard is a legendary vineyard, producing some of the best Meeeer-lows in Washington. The key to the wine is not power. This is not rocket fueled, full throttle, knock your head off wine. Elegance and complexity is the focus here. Taste the Merlot side by side with Cabernet. Cabernet flavor is intense and resides in the front of your palate. Merlot is subtle and focused on the middle of your palate. It’s more Call Me By Your Name than Fast and Furious 6.
Tasting Notes: Rich, ripe, hedonistic. Blue and black fruit, green herb, some vanilla, cigar box, chocolate. Integrated tannins, stone, mineral, gravel. Mid-palate intensity.
97% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petit Verdot
28% New French Oak
Drinking Window: 2020 – 2030
Upcoming Gramercy Events
April 6th & 7th – Cayuse Release Weekend
MTA Event: April 7th – Greg’s Somm 101 Seminar 10-1130 @ Gramercy Cellars
Limited Event – Free for MTA members
April 19th – Gramercy MTA Pick-Up Party
Portland City Grill 5pm-8pm
Free for MTA members
May 4th & 5th – Spring Release Weekend
MTA Event: May 4th – MTA Wine Club Party 5:30pm–8pm
Free for MTA members
June 16th – Celebrate WW Merlot
Riedl Tasting and Combined Winemakers Dinner
Pepper Bridge in Walla Walla
Limited Event – $160 per person
We will send more information and Registration Links March 1st.
Where else can I see Gramercy?
February 25th – E & R Wine Shop, Portland OR
February 26th – Taste Walla Walla @ PDX
March 18th-21st – ProWein in Dusseldorf, Germany
March 24th & 25th – Taste Washington in Seattle
April 15th & 16th – Reveal Walla Walla
April 26th – 28th – Hospice du Rhone – Paso Robles, CA