Random Musings

CIRQ and Schrader Releases and Why I’m Buying Both

Earlier this week on Tuesday the 3rd of December the much anticipated Fall releases for CIRQ and Schrader arrived in my inbox.

CIRQ is a single vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from Michael Browne. Browne is of course the winemaker and co owner of Kosta Browne. The vineyard, known as Treehouse, is farmed by Charlie Chenoweth. Word of this project came out last year and the mailing list quickly filled up.

The single vineyard wines from Kosta Browne cost $78 when released several months ago. Given the demand for CIRQ and the pedigree of Michael Browne I don’t think anyone anticipated CIRQ would be inexpensive. The initial release this week was for a 3 bottle allocation at $100 per bottle. The wine will ship on March 1st. I was somewhat surprised that you have the option of buying less than 3 bottles. There is also a wish list option.

I’m a huge fan of the Kosta Browne style. Ripe, lush, rich, decadent Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. I had an opportunity to try CIRQ this past summer. The wine is made in the same vein and is perhaps even slightly more concentrated.

CIRQ Pinot Noir will likely be highly sought after and most certainly collectible. I have little doubt that James Laube will bestow a high score on the initial release. For me though, that is of little matter. Whether a 93 or a 97 I will be drinking my bottles and can’t wait to follow this project over the coming years.

The 2012 Schrader portfolio is perhaps the most anticipated release ever from one of the finest Cabernet producers in all of Napa Valley. 2012 is already drawing comparisons to other legendary vintages like 1991 and 2007. The growing season was nearly perfect.

Yields were up across the valley and Schrader used the opportunity to reward long term customers by increasing their allocations. My allocation doubled from 3 to 6 bottles (1 CCS, 2 RBS, 1 T6, 1 Schrader and 1 LPV). Barrel samples on 3 of the wines (Schrader, RBS and CCS) scored in the 100 point range according to Robert Parker. The other 3 bottlings are not far behind.

Price for the wines stayed constant at $175 per bottle. This is the same price as at least the previous few vintages. When wines like Bryant and Harlan go up in price every vintage, credit needs to be given to Schrader for holding steady.

On top of all that, Schrader is a collector’s dream. Wines can frequently be sold for well above release price if one chose to do so. The ’07 CCS has been known to gavel for upwards of $1000 per bottle. There are very few wines at this price point that still interest me. For the time being I will continue to buy everything Schrader offers me.

Finally, if anyone from Schrader or CIRQ is reading this, I think all of us are of the opinion that Fred Schrader and Michael Browne need to hop on a phone call so that they can agree to send out the offers at least a week apart…instead of on the same day!

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