Each Friday we highlight a wine from the Northwest that we think is a real "find." By find we might mean that it's a steal, as all of these wines we'll feature weekly are at or under $20. We might also mean "Hey, you really need to go find this" and it might be a wine that we feel not enough people know about. In any case, with the weekend pending we're hoping to help you "find" a wine to kickoff the weekend right. We'll tell you a little bit about the wine and try to help you track it down here in the Northwest.
She's an indie rocker, nothings gonna stop her, her fashion fits... -Archers of Loaf
Indie, independent, the unconstrained, unfettered and maybe, maybe, unconventional. I took a firm stance on the whole 1183 situation here in Washington, coming down firmly on the #1183Sux side of things because I like the indie joints, the independently owned wine shops and retailers. I saw the big box influx that was sure to result as a threat to the growth and success of those independent shops. I dig these places because they're about people and relationships, not about markdowns and blow outs and bottom lines. The folks who own independent wine shops have gone into this business out of their love of wine. They're not looking to become these wealthy robber-barons. What exactly is a robber-baron anyways?
My favorite shops in Seattle are owned by people not conglomerates, or corporations. Jon and T own and operate Bin 41 over in West Seattle. It's right there in the junction and it's a personal touch that Jon and T offer that separates them from the big box joints. They ask you what you like, and can certainly find wines that fit that bill, but they also have a wide selection of wines and might suggest that you explore some of the wine unknown. That kind of touch is also evident at picnic in Phinney Ridge. Jenny and Anson Klock run a place that features some top notch selections. They're the only ones in Seattle carrying the Bow & Arrow wines, they'g got great Grower Champagne, and a deli counter with cured meats, awesome cheeses and some eat in or take out options. I recently came across Liner & Elsen in Portland, sweet Jesus that's a great wine shop. Amazing variety and selection and some of the most unique Oregon wines out there.
This week one of my favorite indie guys in the wine business, Paul Zittarelli of Full Pull Wines was named Independent Retailer of the Year by the Washington Wine Commission. This is particularly outstanding when you consider Paul's business model. Full Pull is a mailing list based retailer. Each day you receive an offer from Paul that focuses on anywhere from one to four or five wines. The emails are written in a way that certainly pique your interest and might just open a door to a whole new wine producer here in the Northwest. Recently I bought some stuff from off the radar Oregon producer Ovum that Paul had written about. I mean, it's Oregon, and I'd never heard of them?!?! Respect. It's my hope that here on the Anthem we talk about wines you've never heard of before, and in doing so, we help you discover some of the hidden gems of the Northwest. Paul has certainly done that for me.
Paul also has access to small parcels, older bottlings and sometimes obscure Washington gems based on his relationships with winemakers, and winery folks.
Paul got his start as a wine blogger, and he's turned that love of wine into a very successful and still relatively young and up and coming business. Oh, Paul's also a hell of a nice guy. That's important to me too. You can't say, "Yeah, get my wines at QFC, that QFC, great guy, awesome family." Or, "Costco is one of those guys he'll look out for something particularly for you." That's what indie wine merchants mean to me. And Paul has great hair. I bet BevMo has really bad hair, but in fairness I've never met him.
In honor of Paul and his award today's Friday Find is a wine that I bought from him not too long ago. The 2011 II Vintners Columbia Valley Syrah. From Paul's offer :I’m racking my brains, trying to think whether I’ve tasted a more compelling sub-$20 Syrah out of Washington this year. What makes it so compelling is that it answers an age-old question in Washington Syrah: What do you get when you add YakFunk to RocksFunk?" That "YakFunk" that he's referring to is the savory, sometimes funky Syrah that is often the signature of Boushey Vineyard. In my opinion the greatest New World source of Syrah on the planet. This Syrah is mostly from Boushey as well as Olsen Vineyards and includes fruit from the famous Rocks area of Walla Walla where the funky Syrahs from Cayuse and Reynvaan come from.
Well, true to his word, Paul picked a winner. The wine is stupid good. Lots of earthen aromatics, a hum of blue fruit, a touch of meatiness and a tang of Montmorency cherries. I've also become quite fond of the II Vintners stuff and find them to be reliably one of the Washington wines that is consistently better on day two. So, go indie this weekend, you can sign up for Paul's Full Pull list here, or go to your local independent retailer and ask for this superb wine.