It was #4 on the just-released Seattle Met Magazine Top 100 list put together by Sean Sullivan. Jeb Dunnuck of The Rhone Report, who reviews (duh) Rhone varietals, took the time to make special mention of it in his recent newsletter. And Paul Gregutt will have the following review in September’s Wine Enthusiast:
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “Rasa founder and winemaker Billo Naravane already held advanced degrees in applied mathematics and computer science when he abruptly changed gears and entered the Masters winemaking program at UC Davis. Ambitious and enormously talented, he has a small lineup of single-vineyard Syrahs and Cabernets that are among Walla Walla’s best-kept secrets. [This is] a fine expression of the special strengths of this vineyard. The blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot is pure and juicy, a riot of blueberry, blackberry and cassis. There is a focused thread of fresh herb and as the nose expands, baking spices kick in beautifully. 97pts.”
The Wine Enthusiast review puts the Creative Impulse into rarefied air and practically guarantees it a top-three place in PaulG’s end of year Top 100 list. Already a limited wine (at just 120 cases produced), the vast majority of this will be sold through Rasa’s private mailing list, and I consider us extremely lucky to have access to this small parcel; a result, I suspect, of our list’s support of Rasa from the beginning of Billo and Pinto Naravane’s adventure.
And in fact, my experience with this wine starts at their beginning, and at my own. During my first research trip for Full Pull, back in summer 2009, I made an appointment to taste through the Rasa wines with Billo. At the time, they didn’t have a winery (they were working out of Artifex), so we met at Billo’s new house in Walla Walla. The living room was filled with moving boxes, a white grand piano, and not much else.
But the dining room had everything we needed: a table, chairs, stemware, and spit buckets. We tasted through the lineup, which at the time was only the 2007 QED and 2007 Principia (both, of course, ultra-impressive). And as I started to say my goodbyes, Billo told me he had something else he wanted me to try, and came back with two glasses: the first a barrel sample of DuBrul Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; the second a barrel sample of DuBrul Vineyard Merlot.
Even back then, it was obvious he was onto something special. The aromatics were insanely exotic for such young wines, and the structure was breathtaking. “I’m thinking,” Billo said, “of blending the two into a single-vineyard DuBrul bottling.” Two years later, Creative Impulse has arrived.
Despite its unparalleled reputation among Washington winemakers and wine insiders, I suspect that DuBrul Vineyard is still something of a hidden gem. To give you some sense of the quality of this site, planted in 1992 in a cool part of the Yakima Valley by Hugh and Kathy Shiels, I’d refer you to this Wine Spectator article, where Quilceda Creek winemaker Paul Golitzin says the following in regards to losing Champoux fruit this year due to frost damage: “To make up some of the loss we have contracted with DuBrul Vineyard for [some] Cabernet and Merlot.” When Quilceda Creek comes calling for your Cabernet and Merlot, you’re growing some serious fruit.
I had a chance to retaste the Creative Impulse recently (this time out of bottle), and oh the joy. There is an aromatic exoticism that is hard to pinpoint exactly, but it is alluring beyond measure. The flavors are a fruit smorgasbord of berry and citrus, and there are grace notes of mineral and cocoa and coffee, but what really gets me (and everyone else) is the texture. In the mouth, this contains such energy and vibrancy that I really do consider it a joyful wine. We’re lucky to live in a world with many beautiful objects of art, and this is one of them (and even better, you can drink it; every try to lick a Van Gogh painting? unpleasant to say the least!).