Substance Four Pack Sampler

by Wootbot

In the endless quest for a distinctive brand identity, wineries have drawn on a wide range of inspirations and imagery. Geographical, historical, artistic, cinematic, and literary inside jokes have all been featured in some of the wine names and labels for sale on this very site. But what about the science geeks? Unless you count the “funny animal” trend – and we’ve certainly never seen any species called a “Naked Kangaroo” or a “Chartreuse Zebra” in any biology textbook – the sciences have been totally neglected. Don’t the guys and gals in the lab coats deserve a wine to call their own?

No – they deserve four wines to call their own. And this Wines of Substance four-pack delivers. Beyond their mission to educate vine-heads everywhere about the superlative wines coming from Washington state, Substance adorns every wine in their line with a bold, periodic-table-inspired label, including a two-letter symbol. Talk about your mood-altering chemicals.

Of course, the label on the test tube doesn’t matter as much as what’s in it, and the brain trust behind Substance has a lot more going for it than a clever labelling gimmick. Back in 1996, Greg Harrington became the youngest American to ever pass the Master Sommelier exam. He put those credentials to good use as a manager of wine programs for guys like Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck before founding Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla with his wife. Meanwhile, a couple of other Walla Wallaites named Jason Huntley and Jamie Brown had founded Waters Winery, dazzling the oenophile elite with elegant, food-friendly wines like they make ‘em in the Old World.

But the elite wasn’t the problem. This Walla Walla alla-star team worried that Washington wines were being overlooked by wine n00bz, for lack of affordable on-ramps to the Washington wine expressway. They joined forces to form the grape-stomping Voltron known as Substance, setting out to school the world’s palate in all the Evergreen State has to offer. Fortunately for you, this four-part course’s tuition is cheap and the classwork is, well, anything but work.

Lesson one: Substance 2007 Merlot. Available here for the first time anywhere, this one calls out the Sideways snobs with a rich roundhouse right of intense herb, plum, chocolate, and dark berry fruits. Best enjoyed with fatty beef, fatty pork, fatty chicken, or fistfuls of cheese. Taste those hints of dust and gravel sprinkled in the smooth tannins? That’s the taste of Washington.

Lesson two: Substance 2007 Chardonnay. Unlike some of its fellow Chards, you won’t be wondering if you should drink it or spread it on toast. Oh, there’s a little butter in there, sure – its melon, baked apple, and fig flavors are as rich and full-bodied as Oprah. But it’s spiked with acid (not that kind) and French oak to make itself a refreshing dinner guest.

Lesson three: Substance 2007 Riesling. And the first thing you’ll learn is, it’s not from Germany. Intense, dry, acidic – it’s nothing but a Washington thing, yo. Melon, citrus, apricot, and peach flavors stand in bold counterpoint to anything seasoned with ginger, coriander, or caramelized onions. Unless, maybe, you’re one of those weirdos who puts caramelized onions on your Frosted Flakes.

Lesson four: Substance 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. One of the original Substance joints, you may not recognize it if you’re used to Cabs that taste like they were made by Smuckers. Those red and black fruit flavors are balanced by firm acidity and soft integrated tannins, with the occasional stray note of herbs, flowers, or mocha wafting by.

But hey, reading the syllabus is nothing compared to actually taking in the class. For a sure-fire chemical reaction from your palate or your guests’, enroll in the Wines of Substance Washington Four-Pack. And remember: if you skip class, you’re only hurting yourself.

2007 Chardonnay

  • Bottled: May 9, 2008
  • Cases produced: 520
  • RS: Dry
  • ph: 3.67
  • ta: .57
  • Alcohol: 13.7%
  • all french/50% new

2007 Riesling

  • Bottled May 9 , 2008
  • Cases produced: 475
  • RS: 1 gram per liter
  • ph: 3.57
  • ta: .68
  • alcohol: 13.5%
  • all Stainless

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Bottled: August 20, 2007
  • Cases produced: 943
  • RS: Dry
  • ph: 3.78
  • TA .59
  • Alcohol: 13.9%
  • 50% new/ 75% French, 25% American

2007 Merlot

  • Bottled: July 29, 2008
  • Cases produced: 1147
  • RS: Dry
  • Ph: 3.69
  • TA: .62
  • Alcohol: 13.9%
  • 50% New 75% French, 25% American

Rules and restrictions:

  • Wine sold by winery (or a retailer in your state where necessary)
  • You must be 21 or older to order
  • Whoever receives the package must be 21 or older
  • If you're drunk when the package shows up, you will not be allowed to receive it
  • Wine cannot be delivered to a P.O. Box
  • We highly recommend you use a business address as your shipping address

Thanks to stick-in-the-mud buzzkilling state legislators, wine may only be delivered to the following states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District Of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

If your state's not on the list, you're out of luck... for now. Keep up with the ever-changing laws over at, and/or sound the alarms with your state assembly person through Meanwhile, all Federal, state and local laws are complied with in providing this wine.