rulo rocks - part two – plus "best washington wine blog"

Monday, April 04, 2011

Continuing with thoughts and notes from last week’s outstanding vertical tasting of Rulo chardonnays, I am posting up the results from the second flight. These eight vintages (2001 – 2009, skipping 2004) were sourced from a single Walla Walla vineyard, whose ownership changed in mid-decade. Hence, a name change from Vanessa to Birch Creek.

These wines have been designed as counterpoints to the stainless steel style of the Sundance chards. As Kurt Schlicter explained, the grapes were harvested at higher brix than the Sundance fruit, anticipating their aging in new French oak. “I love making a rich, lush Chardonnay and robe-ing it in wood,” he enthused. “There’s a place for these wines. They age really well. And this is what the French do!”

Here are notes and, just for fun, scores based upon how well they were showing at whatever age they happened to be.

Rulo 2001 Vanessa Vineyard Chardonnay
100% went through malolactic fermentation. It powers ahead with rich, woody, nutty, oily, big, lush aromas. In the mouth it’s more refined, retaining some mineral/herb accents, and not letting the wood/barrel flavors overwhelm the details. My second favorite of the flight. 93

Rulo 2002 Vanessa Vineyard Chardonnay
A bit sharper edge to the nose, with more lumber type wood aromas. This feels a little thin in the mouth, and a little hot and woody in the finish. 89

Rulo 2003 Vanessa Vineyard Chardonnay
A little cardboard and lemon polish at first sniff. This is the only wine of the group that was unfined and unfiltered (like my blog!). It breathes open into a round, fruity, lush wine with a precise edge of minerality. Really interesting at the moment – a mix of luscioius fruit and mineral-tinged spice. 92

Rulo 2005 Birch Creek Vineyard Chardonnay
An aggressively nutty, oily nose. This vintage was sealed with Neocork. Some intriguing scents of truffle and mint, in a wine that is well along the aging curve but drinking just fine at the moment. Soft, smooth, nutty, lingering. 92

Rulo 2006 Birch Creek Vineyard Chardonnay (the first bottled under screwcap)
Here is a big shift in style and in aromas. Only half the wine was put through malolactic fermentation. Fresh, firm and tart to open, it later brings in some softer flavors of butter and toast, which take over the finish. 90

Rulo 2007 Birch Creek Vineyard Chardonnay
No malolactic at all on this one, perhaps why I found it the best of the flight. Tight, almost dumb in the glass at first, we gave it plenty of breathing time. Ultimately still a bit constrained, but lively and dotted with herb, stone fruits, and a streak of butterscotch. Needs time, but it’s all there. 93

Rulo 2008 Birch Creek Vineyard Chardonnay
Half of the wine went through malolactic fermentation. Initially I found some volatility in the nose; a slight whiff of glue. But plenty of stone fruits also. Very young, with some bitter phenolics in the finish. Nonetheless, a fine wine, ageworthy, with long life ahead. 91

Rulo 2009 Birch Creek Vineyard Chardonnay
Only a tiny percentage went through malolactic. Young and still a bit yeasty, this wine was tasted pre-release, and the flavors are still integrating. There are good barrel/liqueur tastes, matched to medium acids and stone fruits.

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NOTE: I am very pleased to note that this blog was named “Best Washington-focused Wine Blog” by Seattle Magazine. Calling it “a blend of keen observation and funny, often snarky posts about Northwest wine,” the award was one of several under the headline “Best Washington State Wines 2011: Winemaker, Vineyard, Wine of the Year and more.”

My deep appreciation goes to Seattle Magazine editorial director Rachel Hart Rios, and writers Shannon Borg and Leslie Kelly. It is an honor to be included among a gold star list of winners such as Dick Boushey, Bob Betz, Jon Martinez, Chris Sparkman and Mark McNeilly. For a look at all categories and winners, click here.

1 comment:

Sean P. Sullivan said...

Congratulations Paul! Very well deserved.

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