The 2011 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard was the winning bottle in the September installment of Pick My Next Bottle. I did not decant the wine.
Cayuse was founded in 1997 by Christophe Baron, a native of France who grew up in family of winemakers in Champagne. Baron studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne, and had ambitions to make Pinot Noir in Oregon. However, on a visit to Walla Walla he found property that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes and decided to purchase the land.
At 1815 vines per acre, the 7-acre Armada Vineyard, created in 2001, was the highest density planting in the Walla Walla Valley until 2008. Other wines from the vineyard include the God Only Knows Grenache and Edith Grenache Rosé.
Magenta in color. 13.5% ABV. Savory nose of red fruits, olive brine, bacon fat and smoke. Medium to full bodies with perfect acidity. Plush and well structured. Cherries, tapenade, gamey meat, blood and minerals on the palate. Lots going on here. Tremendous length on the finish. A great bottle from an average vintage that perhaps just lacks the concentration I typically expect from Armada. Best over the next 2-4 years.
My rating: 94 points.
The waiting list for the Cayuse mailing list is huge and you need to be well-connected to get a bottle via retail. Either way, current vintages are worth the hunt!
Last year Christophe Baron finally made the cover of the Wine Spectator. Cayuse, Horsepower and No Girls make some of the top wines in Washington. Christophe recently launched a new project, Hors Categorie. Christophe also has a new vineyard in the works. Expect to hear more about Fiddleneck Vineyard in the next year or so. Lastly, Christophe at long last is hard at work on making a vintage Champagne. Details on this project are still a couple years out.