Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Efeste's Big Papa cab sauv

Thomas Price pours Efeste Big Papa at Met Grill
That's Seattle's newly minted Master Sommelier Thomas Price on the right, pouring us a glass of Efeste's astonishing 2008 vintage Big Papa at Metropolitan Grill this week. The occasion was the launch of the restaurant's new Met Prime program of humanely raised beef from Double R Ranch in the Okanogan Valley of eastern Washington: tender, flavorful cuts from cattle raised on a 60,000-acre spread near the town of Loomis. The Met's beef used to come from Nebraska; sourcing locally reduces the carbon footprint by over 40 percent.

But, hey, this is a post about the wine. Big Papa is one of Brennan Leighton's relatively few single-variety releases; he prefers blends. But the sourcing is diverse: Red Mountain (Kiona and Klipsun vineyards), Columbia Valley (Sagemoor), Wahluke Slope (Weinbau). Efeste (named for its three owners, Mssrs. Ferelli, Smith and Taylor), occupies a production facility in Woodinville where Leighton, a California transplant, has settled in. His approach is non-interventionist, a rarity in a world of ego-driven enologists who think their job is to "craft" a wine, and that success can be measured in "points above 90" on some critic's rating.

The Big Papa (which, for the record, did indeed get above 90 points from everybody) could be the ideal Steak House wine, rich in the mouth (almost 14.5 degrees of alcohol), flavors of blackberries and currants, a bit of spice in the nost as well, with big tannins that do justice to the meat. Vines that have been around for 30 years, so the grapes have none of the unpleasant, green astringency so often shown by younger cabernet. Minimal racking. Mostly new oak barrels. And above all (most important to me, at any rate), a confidence in indigenous yeasts. More than anything, indigenous yeasts are responsible for the concept of terroir, since they spring from the soil itself. You can't buy microbes like that from the corner store. On the other hand, you can buy a bottle of Big Papa for $95, or a glass for $24.

The Metropolitan Grill, 820 Second Avenue, Seattle, (206) 624-3287

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