Gramercy Cellars – 2013 Picpoul

We  had a fun wine dinner at our house recently with friends (more on that later), and one of our guests, Greg Harrington from Gramercy Cellars, brought us a couple of great wines as a thank you gift.

Gramercy Cellars limited release Picpoul.
Gramercy Cellars limited release 2013 Picpoul.

I don’t recall ever having a Picpoul wine before (or if I have, I didn’t know it), but I like it.  This is an excellent summer white wine that reminded me of a cross between (90%) Chardonnay from Chablis and (10%) Roussanne.

I asked to learn more about it, and Greg told me it was a blend of (92%) Picpoul and (8%) Viognier.  Greg also mentioned that the Picpoul vines had to be removed after harvest to plant Grenache.  Apparently the deal was that Leif Olsen, Gramercy’s top Grenache grower, had enthusiastically agreed to plant more Grenache  for Gramercy (specifically head-trained Grenache, which is the standard for the best Grenache vineyards in the Southern Rhone), but first, Leif really wanted to see Gramercy do something with the Picpoul for a year.  Greg saw it as a great trade and an opportunity to try something different, thus, the 2013 Picpoul is a one-time release.

Picpoul is a blending variety found in Southern Rhone white wines.  According to Greg, these vines were brought to the US by Tablas Creek in California from Chateau Beaucastel in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  In his words, it’s an “acid monster.”  We definitely experienced that, and it’s also an excellent pairing with seafood – Christina happened to have made a dip using dill and salmon roe, and it was amazing to see the way the briny flavors of the roe married so well with the Picpoul.  Oysters anyone?

2013 Gramercy Cellars – Picpoul – Lemon, grapefruit, mineral and a little bit of spice on the nose.  In the mouth, very nice medium bodied white fruit with bright notes of lemony grapefruit.  This wine has a really nice tangy acidity and a stony minerality.  The wine comes across as crisp, clean and dry, with key lime and a little spiciness on the long white fruit finish.  (92+pts.)

I think this wine is a very good value for the quality at $18/bottle.  2013 will be the only vintage of this wine, so get it while you can.  There were 195 cases produced at 12.7% alcohol.   I have to add this to my list of summer whites for this year – I’m keeping my eye out for other Picpouls to try as well.  Let me know if you have a favorite!

Taste Washington, Review #3 – Gramercy Cellars and Long Shadows

It’s no secret, we’re big fans of Gramercy Cellars.  We’ve been known to take their wines on our trips and share them with folks in places like Sun Valley and Bordeaux…we just think Greg Harrington is doing a great job.  I have a tendency to prefer wines with slightly higher acidity because they work so well with many different types of food, and Gramercy Cellars wines are great food wines.  Having good acidity in a wine is so important when it comes to aging as well, and the wines from Gramercy Cellars age beautifully.  If you haven’t tried the wines from Gramercy Cellars, you owe it to yourself to buy a bottle and see what makes Washington wine so exciting.  Greg’s wines are world-class.

Here’s what we tried at Taste Washington:

2011 Gramercy Cellars – Mourvedre “L’Idiot du Village” – Nice earthy dark red bing cherry nose.  In the mouth, sweet dark red cherries and plums combine with a dark earthy and slightly spicy complexity.  This wine has very good acidity, moderate tannins and a medium-long sweet dark red fruit finish.  This will be a great food wine.  You don’t see much in the way of Mourvedre wines in Washington State, but this one from Gramercy Cellars shows some real potential for the grape here.  (91 pts.)

2010 Gramercy Cellars – Syrah, Walla Walla – Nice sweet dark blackberry fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark blackberries and red bing cherries combine with a slight savory cured/smoked meat flavor.  This wine has nice acidity and very fine tannins that keep everything in balance on the long sweet dark fruit filled finish.  (93+ pts.)

2007 Gramercy Cellars – Syrah, Walla Walla – Very dark blackberry and spice on the nose.  In the mouth, again, very dark blackberries, baking spices and a wonderful savory cured/smoked meat.  The wine has good acidity and the savory dark fruit carries through on the long spicy finish.  The 2007 Syrah is darker and richer than the 2010 Syrah at present, but it has also had a few more years for the flavors to meld together and evolve.  This wine is in an absolutely beautiful place right now.  If you have some of the 2007 Syrah in your cellar, I would encourage you to open one – you won’t be disappointed.  While the 2007 Syrah is drinking well right now, there isn’t a rush to drink it, enjoy it over the next decade.  (95 pts.)

2010 Gramercy Cellars – Cabernet Sauvignon – Nice black cherry fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark black cherry, blackberry and black currants combine together with a little spice.  This wine has some very good acidity keeping everything alive and singing in the mouth.   The wine is very dark, with the primary flavors showing now, but it is just a baby.  The tannins are present on the long dark fruit finish, but they are ripe and very fine.  This is a very nice wine that you can enjoy now, but you will be greatly rewarded by holding on to it for another 3-5 years as the secondary flavors develop.  (93+ pts.)


We also tasted Long Shadows. We had a spectacular tasting at their winery a few years ago, arranged by a friend.  We were already familiar with the wines, but the tasting allowed us to learn more about all of the wines and their individual story and philosophy. Here’s some background: Long Shadows brings seven highly acclaimed vintners from the major wine regions of the world to Washington State, each an owner-partner in a unique winery dedicated to producing Columbia Valley wines that showcase the best of the Washington growing region.

After leaving Chateau Ste. Michelle in 2000, Allen Shoup was committed to furthering the potential of winemaking in the Columbia Valley.  He spent the next three years developing Long Shadows,with the vision to recruit a cadre of the finest winemakers in the world; give each vintner access to Washington State’s best grapes; and outfit a winery to accommodate a diverse group of winemakers’ exacting cellar specifications.  Today, wine legends such as Michel Rolland, Randy Dunn, John Duval and Philippe Melka make up the dream team of celebrated vintners bringing critical acclaim to these Washington wines.

Here are the wines we tasted:

2010 Saggi  (Super Tuscan Blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) – Spicy dark fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark red cherries, blackberry and a little red currant combine with a spicy dark earthy character.  This wine has very good acidity and a good dose of ripe tannin on the long spicy dark fruit finish.  I have always enjoyed the Italian styled Saggi.  It is one of the relatively new and different styled wines that Washington State is producing more of these days.  (92 pts.)

2010 Chester Kidder – Cabernet Sauvignon – Black fruit nose.  In the mouth, very dark black cherries and black currants combine with a slight savory component.  This wine has good acidity and very fine tannins on the long but slightly dry dark fruit finish.  This wine is still very young and needs a couple more years in the bottle for everything to meld together.  (93 pts.)

2010 Sequel – Syrah – Sweet dark fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark blackberries and red cherries combine with a little bit of spice.  This wine has good acidity and fine tannins on the medium-long sweet/spicy dark fruit finish.  (91 pts.)

All in all, these two wineries represent some of the best Washington has to offer, both in quality and price point.  We certainly hope they will remain that approachable as the region matures!


2013 Auction of Washington Wines Gala

We were delighted to be the guests of Kris Middleton and Tony Lupino of Caderetta Wines on Saturday night for the Gala Auction.  Before heading to the auction festivities, we got together with friends for a quick drink and photo opp.  Here’s the crew in action:

Pam Harrington, Chris Figgins, Maura and Drew Bledsoe, Greg Harrington, Kris Middleton, Tony Lupino, Christina and Bob Watt.
Pam Harrington, Chris Figgins, Maura and Drew Bledsoe, Greg Harrington, Kris Middleton, Tony Lupino, Christina and Bob Watt.

The auction vibe was great this year – there was a pervasive sense of community and camaraderie in the room.  An impressive $2,000,000 was raised, a testament to the very well-run auction.  We very much enjoyed the company of the guests at our table, along with their great wines.  Unfortunately, we were having too much fun with our hosts to remember to take notes on the vintages, but we loved getting to taste the crisp SBS white, as well as the Caderetta Cabernet. Springboard and Windthrow.  Next time we’ll have to do less talking and more note-taking!

2013 Gramercy Cellars and Doubleback Winemaker Dinner

We had a beautiful night on Friday at our winemaker dinner for the Auction of Washington Wines. We very much enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with our friends Pam and Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars, and Drew and Maura Bledsoe of Doubleback. Not only do they have great taste in wine, but as my wife says, they also have great taste in wives – we had a blast catching up with all of them this weekend.

Joey’s provided the food for the evening, and created some very inventive pairings, such as the crab with curry sauce that played perfectly off the flavors of Gramercy Cellar’s limited release rose.  Greg’s rose is a nice, dry wine in the provincial French style – it was a treat to be able to enjoy it, as he typically only makes it available to his wine list members.

Pam and Greg Harrrington of Gramercy Cellars with Christina and Bob Watt.
Pam and Greg Harrrington of Gramercy Cellars with Christina and Bob Watt.

Our highlights from the evening, besides seeing great friends, was the Gramercy Cellars ’06 Tempranillo, which was a nicely complex wine with good acidity, that makes it such a great food wine.  It’s still drinking young and appears to have a long life ahead of it.  We also enjoyed the Gramercy Cellars ’08 Lagniappe Syrah.  This wine was rich in fruit with spices, and paired well with the lamb course.

Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars with Drew Bledsoe from Doubleback.
Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars with Drew Bledsoe from Doubleback.

As always, the ’09 and ’10 Doubleback wines were full and lush, with dark berries and chocolate.  These tend to be big wines that will take years to mature and truly realize the complexity.  While drinking well now and a perfect pairing with any meat dish, aging these wines will definitely pay off.

Big thanks to Brian and Laurie Flynn for opening up their beautiful home, and to Greg and Drew for the great wines!