As I sit in my house watching the Seahawks play, it seems appropriate to start this newsletter with my Fall tradition: Reminding myself about the things to be thankful for in my life.
I’m thankful that I get to do what I do every day. To work with our talented growers, who, year after year, provide world-class fruit for us to make wine. To work with my Gramercy family, who create magic with these grapes – wines that make me so proud. We welcome the world to the winery with open arms, wanting them to feel how we feel about Walla Walla and the winery. The staff took what I had seen in great restaurants and created a hospitality culture. The praise of customers is the most motivating aspect of the business for me. It’s what gets me up in the morning.
I’m thankful for new partners and new endeavors. In July, we opened Four Eleven Wine Bar in Seattle. It’s a fantastic tasting room for Gramercy and Bledsoe Family, and we get to show the world other wines we love, from Barolo to Barossa. It also reminded me that, damn, opening a new venture is hard. It’s also extraordinarily satisfying and rewarding as we make new friends and see them start to develop a love of wine.
I’m thankful for harvest time, even though this year it is fast and furious. Warm temperatures in the summer forced a chaotic first few weeks of picking Syrah before the overripe flavors developed. The first weeks are always a challenge, as we must get into fifth gear, prepare for busy days and late nights, train new staff, and welcome the multitudes of guests visiting Walla Walla, which increases every year. This fall, we had expected a roaring 1920’s style worldwide party with abundance, decadence, and celebration of overcoming hard times. Instead, we have more uncertainty and apprehension. But harvest always reminds me that time goes on in the cycle of renewal. Every year the vineyards ripen and we have the fortune to turn them into wine.
From prior harvests that we remember fondly, here are the 2021 Fall release wines! First is the 2018 Lagniappe Syrah, which is always a fantastic wine. This vintage shows that vineyards can give different attributes each year. Secondly is the 2018 Mourvèdre “L’Idiot du Village” from Alder Ridge & Olsen Vineyards. Classic Mourvèdre and I wouldn’t blame anyone who mistakes it for an Old World wine. Next, the quickly becoming cult-like release of our 2018 Gramercy Estates – this year again based on Cabernet, but in a new configuration. Lastly, the 2020 Viognier is arriving just in time for your holiday dinner tables. Beautifully vibrant and jumping out of your glass, this will be a great conversation segway when your relatives start talking politics. A darn good fall line-up with plenty of gems to add to your cellar.
2018 Syrah “Lagniappe”
$65 Retail – $55.25 MTA Wine Club
We were immediately smitten with Red Willow Vineyard. Year in and out, no matter what the climate gives, the Sauer family farm the vineyard meticulously. We never worry about the quality of the fruit – it’s always stunning.
The Lagniappe Syrah finds us blending the older and younger blocks at Red Willow vineyard. This brings a balance of deep red fruit and earth with mid-palate intensity and aromatic complexity. A richer wine with rocking tannins and a long finish.
The 2018 Lagniappe was fermented in concrete, 98% whole cluster with native yeasts. It was aged in a combination of large cask and neutral French 500-liter puncheons for 18 months.
“From a site in Yakima Valley (Red Willow), the 2018 Syrah Lagniappe was fermented with just about no destemming and saw a scant 4% new oak. This deep purple-hued effort offers terrific notes of classy leather, blueberries, ground pepper, and violets. It’s a slightly richer, more powerful wine than the John Lewis, has ripe tannins, rocking balance and a great finish.” 94-96pts – Jeb Dunnuck
2018 Mourvèdre “L’Idiot du Village”
$44 Retail – $37.40 MTA Wine Club
We continue to be astounded by the complexity and intensity of the Mourvèdre from both Olsen and Alder Ridge Vineyards. Each vineyard contributes something different. We always say Olsen is all about freshness and aromatics. Alder Ridge brings depth and structure. In 2018, the wine is 50% Alder Ridge and 50% Olsen Vineyard, a dance of elegance and power. We added 5% Syrah, which provides a bit of lift aromatically, freshening the wine.
The 2018 Mourvèdre was fermented 50% whole cluster with native yeasts. It was then aged in neutral ten hL Stockinger foudre (huge vessel), 500-liter puncheon (large vessel), and 225-liter barrels (normal size vessel) for 18 months.
“The 2018 ‘L’Idiot du Village’ Mourvèdre is another beautiful new release by the talented winemaking team at Gramercy Cellars. The intense smoky tones really impress aromatically with a great core of dark fruits and white pepper accents rounding out this outstanding bouquet. The palate is fresh, vibrant and beautifully textured. Ripe red cherry and black raspberry flavors mingle with smoked pork shoulder, Mandarin orange rind and coffee grounds on the palate. This shows excellent length and viscosity, as this great new Mourvedre will provide drinking enjoyment over the next decade. Drink 2021-2031” 93pts Owen Bargreen
2018 Gramercy Estates
$72 Retail – $61.20 MTA Wine Club
This is our third Gramercy Estates offering. At blending, we have two vineyards to select for our estate wine – JB George, located on the valley floor and our hillside vineyard on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley, named Octave. Octave is situated high in the SeVein development adjacent to Seven Hills Vineyard. The wines from Octave Vineyard are different from JB George and the valley floor. Octave wines are more New World with explosive fruit and power; not really about finesse and complexity. They are in your face screaming, “I am Cabernet.” Loudly. We admit this isn’t our usual propensity, but it made a fantastic blend in 2018.
The 2018 Gramercy Estate Red is 90% Cabernet, 10% Merlot with the majority of fruit coming from Octave Vineyard. A bit of JB George Cabernet adds complexity and helps identify the wine as distinctly Washington. We noticed the wine needed a richer mid-palate during blending, accomplished perfectly with the addition of 10% Merlot from JB George. The wine was fermented with native yeasts and aged it in 35% new French oak for 22 months.
This wine is only available through our tasting room and sells out insanely fast. With only 70 cases left, please don’t say we didn’t warn you.
“A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, the 2018 Gramercy Estates is dark ruby in the glass with a slight magenta rim. Aromas of black raspberry, dusty plum, currant and crème de cassis waft on the nose with elements of dusty rose, cinnamon, vanilla and baked earth. Full-bodied, the wine has a fine, complex and balanced mouthfeel with buttressing tannins and oak flavors that support the fruit tones of blackberry skin and plum. The wine lingers with persistence and finesse on the elongated finish. It’s delightful, and you’ll want to add some to your cellar.” 94 pts, Anthony Mueller, Wine Advocate.
$28 Retail – $23.80 MTA Wine Club
This wine is perfectly in line with the balanced Viogniers we have crafted in the past using the cool sites of Antoine Creek near Lake Chelan and our Forgotten Hills Estate vineyard. We fermented the wine in stainless steel to give the wine freshness. The 2020 Viognier was then aged Sur Lie for eight months in neutral wood, adding texture to the wine.
Very vibrant aromatics lift out of the glass. Showing stone fruits, white peach, D’anjou pear, and apricot. Tropical notes of pineapple, mango, and lemon zest. The fresh fruit stands out as if you were plucking it right off the tree. Just a touch of meringue creaminess. The palate is all about balance and length. Completely plush and inviting but finishes with just enough acidity to keep a fine balance between the acid and texture. – BM
Fall Release Wine Club Exclusive Wine:
2017 Pinot Noir “Le Pre du Col”
$60 Retail – $51 MTA Wine Club
This is our third release of Le Pre du Col Pinot Noir, sourced from Bergström’s notable, biodynamically farmed vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA of the Willamette Valley. We view our Pinot Noir with a Syrah frame of reference. We fermented it 100% whole cluster with native yeasts. When writing tasting notes, the bottle was considerably more open on the second and third day so don’t be afraid to lay this bottle down.
Palate is savory with high acid and firm tannin. Bing cherry, wild strawberry, green fig (love those stems), mushroom, red and purple flowers, and bright spices. Very fresh and will last forever. – GH
Case orders qualify for waived ground shipping!
Wine Club Information
Our Masters Tasting Association (MTA) wine club has a few spots available! If you’d like information about what being involved in the club entails or how to sign up, please visit our website by clicking on the link below or contact us!
Questions? Contact us via phone at 509-876-2427 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.