A small-lot, premium Oregon Pinot noir winery is hardly where you'd expect to find our favorite Bordeaux blend of 2017 hiding in the cellar. Unless you're at Alexana, that is.
Two years ago, I was tasting through barrels of Pinot and Chardonnay at Alexana with winemaker Bryan Weil when he mentioned a covert, soon-to-be-bottled Washington red blend he was working on. As soon as it was bottled, we grabbed as much as we could -- just enough for our Northwest Big Reds Club. That was the 2013 and everyone loved it.
The 2014 is better, it's here, and Andy and I are telling, scratch that, imploring you to try it.Alexana Gran Coeur Bordeaux Blend 2014
$44.95 in any 12 bottle or Build a Case* order ($49.95 regular)
Holy sh!t this is awesome. Beautiful, mesmerizing fruit grabs your attention -- blackberry first, then black cherry and black currant -- adding mocha and cedar accents. There's an elegance and balance to it that I simply don't taste in 99.9% of Washington reds, which is evident from first sip and all the way through the rich, expressive, pure and silky finish. Already gushing and with plenty of years ahead of it, this is equally outstanding as a wine to drink today as it is for the cellar. 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Petit Verdot, 20% Merlot and 7% Malbec. An April Northwest Big Reds Club selection. Bryan, you've outdone yourself! - Marcus
Leaning on the connections Bryan developed while making wine in Washington, he sourced a small amount of fruit from Yakima's Lonesome Spring Ranch. Bryan utilized the strengths of Alexana's winemaking style and facility with the Lonesome Spring fruit. "We're a Pinot winery -- we don't even have a crusher so we made each lot of Washington fruit the way we make Pinot, more pump overs and more whole berries, so there was less tannin and more purity of fruit."More about Gran Coeur and Winemaker Bryan Weil
I met Bryan in Corvallis, roughly 10 years ago, while he was in the fermentation sciences program at OSU (and hanging out with young winemaking students like Jared Etzel, now winemaker at Domaine Roy in Dundee). After Bryan finished school, he moved to eastern Washington to take a position at Hogue Cellars, one of Washington's largest wineries.
In 2012, Bryan joined Alexana as Associate Winemaker (the "Associate" has since been dropped). Alexana specializes in small production, premium Pinot noirs, hardly where you'd expect to find a rockstar Bordeaux blend lurking in the cellar. But to know Alexana is to know the larger winemaking family of Dr. Medaiah Revana, an incredibly successful heart surgeon who began as a wine collector and has evolved into a proprietor of multiple wineries (including Alexana) ranging from Oregon to Napa to Argentina. Gran Coeur, "Great Heart," grew from Dr. Revana's desire to highlight his favorite growing regions in France coupled with Bryan's enthusiasm and experience with Washington.
In his time at Hogue, Bryan developed tons of Washington vineyard connections and preferences. "I got to play with a lot of fruit," joked Bryan, "and being involved in the reserve program at Hogue, I really fell in love with what I was tasting from eastern Washington. I really like the intrinsic qualities of each grape -- I love Cabernet, I love Merlot -- but I particularly love Washington blends. I knew the Cab was phenomenal and the Merlot had a real prettiness. Blending allows me to respect variation between vintages."
"I've talked to our wine club members and customers and I know what they want. I know I want to make good wines that I want to drink with my friends and family. You can drink them young and they're age-worthy. There's just enough tannins so you know they are there."