The Tranche wines based upon Rhône Valley varietals comprise the ‘Rhone Series.’ Slice of Pape pays homage to the blended red, Pink Pape is our rosé and Slice of Pape Blanc is cmpromised of white varieties of the Southern Rhône. Soon, all will be made exclusively from estate-grown grapes.
Located in the heart of Walla Walla, Wahington.
- It is our loving duty to learn from each vine and to nurture these wines into unique expressions.
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Average Bottle Price
A native of Perth, Australia, Andrew began his winemaking career in the Margaret River region, a place that is highly respected, as is Walla Walla, for crafting wines of structure and grace. His formal education took place at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, where he studied Oenology. “In Australia,” he notes, “young winemakers try to gain as much experience as quickly as possible. You can work two or three harvests a year in different parts of the world to build your knowledge base.”
Andrew learned winemaking quickly and thoroughly, doing the work of crush in New Zealand, California, the Mosel and Barossa before finding a permanent home with Tranche in Walla Walla. “It seemed like a most interesting place to make an impact in a young and fast-moving wine industry,” he explains.
Now in his fourth Washington vintage, Andrew’s global perspective and fine-tuned touch with a wide range of grape varieties is evident in every bottle of Tranche wine.
The Tranche winery and adjacent Blue Mountain Vineyard play an essential role in our portfolio. We are working here with carefully-selected varietals matched to a specific, unique, weather-blessed location. In terms of altitude, aspect, rainfall, and all the other factors that enter into the taste of a place – often referred to as terroir – the Blue Mountain Estate Vineyard is truly one of a kind.
Here we cultivate a diverse collection of some of the world’s most interesting grape varietals, with more being planted as we learn and explore. We practice only sustainable viticulture, hand-farming each block, in order to harvest very low yields of intensely-flavored fruit.
By design, Tranche has a totally different personality than our sister winery, Corliss. Corliss is more timeless, Tranche more cutting edge and exploratory. There is no compromising on quality, just a different path to achieving it. At Tranche we can produce expressive, aromatic, beautifully-defined varietal wines and blends at prices that don’t require a special occasion budget.
The Tranche wines based upon Rhône Valley varietals comprise the ‘Rhone Series.’ Slice of Pape (pronounced “pop”) pays homage to the blended red, Pink Pape is our rosé and Sli ce of Pape Blanc is cmpromised of white varieties of the Southern Rhône. Soon, all will be made exclusively from estate-grown grapes.
They are complemented with two more limited production series of Mediterranean vareities and Classic, estate-grown single varietal wines. We believe that, when done well, pure varietal, single vineyard wines offer the best glimpse of both grape and site. That is the target and goal – to extend the range and depth of flavor in every bottle of Tranche that you taste
A taste of Tranche is a slice of life… the life of the place, the vines, the people who make the wines, and most of all, you who drink them. We have given our lives over to making every bottle worthy of your attention.
Each of the Corliss wineries occupies a carefully-defined niche. For Tranche, it is a focus on Rhône varietals, and the opportunity to explore other Mediterranean grapes, all from estate-grown grapes. The pursuit of quality at an affordable cost has been the goal from the very beginning, and is built into the DNA of these wines.
“I did not at the beginning fully envision that we’d be where we are today,” Michael confides. “When you’re on a journey you take a lot of notes, and write it up when you finish. After 13 years, we know very clearly what we are doing, and where we are going.”
Lauri Corliss describes her role in Tranche this way: “I am responsible for hiring, regulatory issues, licensing, and operations. Mike is the vision guy, I’m the detail person. So everything that has to be managed logistically comes through me.” In other words (though she would never say it herself), without Lauri, the whole complex operation would grind to a halt.
Her background in business – banking, real estate, and development – brings skills that few people in this industry can claim. Yet they are essential if you are intent upon building a lasting legacy. Lauri’s wine education really took off when Michael asked her to represent him at vintage wine auctions. “For several years before we started the wineries,” she recalls, “I traveled to these wine auctions, studied all the wines of the world, and came to understand the whole spectrum of quality wines.”
Everyone at Tranche has a favorite child, so to speak. Lauri’s is the Pink Pape Dry Rosé, done in a lively, elegant, Euro-inflected style. Best of all, she can put the entire project in perfect perspective. “Tranche is designed to have a totally different personality from its sibling Corliss,” she explains. “Corliss is more timeless, as it is intended to be. But we want Tranche to be cutting edge.”
Practices & Techniques
Yet what does happen in the winery is absolutely critical to capturing, preserving and fully expressing the potential of the fruit harvested each vintage.
To that end, we do all of our fermentations in very small lots, principally with native yeasts. It is our belief that minimizing and/or eliminating the introduction of “designer” yeasts to the ferment adds character and nuance to the wines, although it requires a bit more knowledge and attention.
With native yeasts, fermentation takes a bit longer to begin, so extra care is required. On the plus side, a longer soak brings added complexity. And the finished wines express themselves in an authentic way.
We use primarily neutral oak barrels – carefully maintained – to nurture young wines that develop detailed aromas, palate-refreshing textures, and more overall complexity upon release.
That said, there is no standard winemaking protocol across all the Tranche wines. What is true to all of them is the absolute priority of retaining the primacy of fruit character in each wine. This is part and parcel of a full and complete understanding of each grape, and where and how it was grown. Only then can each wine truthfully express its unique personality.
Red wine production at Tranche commences with a meticulous sorting of hand-picked fruit as it enters small, open top fermenters – both steel and neutral oak. Long, cool ferments are primarily accomplished with native yeasts. After fermentation, the wines spend up to 36 months in oak barrels. The individual components of Slice of Pape, our flagship wine, spend their first year in small barrels. Following blending, the assembled wine is put into large “foudres” (oak ovals) for another 18 to 24 months. To ensure that the red wines are fully-integrated upon release, they all are given at least one year additional bottle age at the winery.
White wine production is tailored to each varietal. Some fermentations are done in small oak barrels, using native yeast, with extended lees contact and frequent “battonage” (stirring) to maximize richness and texture. Others take place in custom, concrete fermenters, which enhance breadth of palate following a very cool ferment with no oak influence. Some ferments require temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks to retain optimal freshness and vibrancy. All our white wines are produced in tiny lots with minimal intervention.
We like to say we don’t crush the grapes – we coax them. We don’t just extract the flavors – we extend them. A taste of Tranche is a slice of life – the life of each and every vine.
Estate Vineyards / AVA
Originally planted in 2001, and frequently expanded since, it is home to both red Rhône and red Bordeaux varieties, along with a few acres of Sangiovese. Our commitment to white Rhône varietals is one of the most extensive in Washington state. Here are twelve total acres of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc, and what we believe to be the very first plantings of Clairette Blanche in the country.
The quality of the finished wines depends directly upon the care taken in the vineyard. To that end, we farm at low yields – typically 1.5 to 2.5 tons/acre. This helps to maximize fruit intensity, contributes to flavor development, and ripens complex, polished tannins. Sustainable farming methods are mandatory in all of our vineyards, and here we are in the process of moving further into biodynamic viticulture. All the work of farming and harvesting is carried out by hand, ensuring that each vine gets individual care and attention.
We also employ our flock of Old English Southdown “Babydoll” Sheep to provide an environmentally friendly way of maintaining vineyard groundcover during the growing season, and their ‘recycled grass’ serves to improve soil fertility. This ancient breed is called Babydoll becuase they are considerably smaller than more common breeds so they can’t easily reach the tresslied grapevines. These adorable animals play an important role in our sustainable farming practices.
Taken together, the vineyard’s elevation, airflow, moderate rainfall and ever-changing sun exposure across the vine rows make this a unique ‘sweet spot’ in the Walla Walla Valley. These natural factors maximize the growing season, protect against spring frost and winter freeze, ensure physiological ripening, promote acid retention, and minimize the need for irrigation.
The soil is Walla Walla silt loam, most often referred to as Loess (pronounced “luhss”). This is ancient flood sediment, deposited in the valley between 12 and 15 thousand years ago during the recurring Missoula floods. Once the waters receded, the winds took over, picking up sediment from throughout the valley and depositing it here at the doorstep of the Blue Mountains. Over the centuries, the land acquired deep, rich, well-drained soil, providing a pesticide-free environment where healthy, balanced plants thrive.
Walk the rows with us and you’ll see our regular visitors – Red-Tail Hawks and Red Foxes. You’ll catch a glimpse of our closest neighbors. Leonetti Cellar’s Loess Estate Vineyard is just a quarter mile to the south, and the Dwelley vineyard sits a half mile to the east.