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Posts from the ‘Syrah’ Category

2010 Force Majeure Collaboration Series III Syrah – Bottle Notes

Force Majeure was founded in 2004 by Paul McBride and made its name pairing some of Washington’s highly acclaimed winemakers with fruit from one of Washington’s highly acclaimed vineyards, Ciel du Cheval.  The winery recently transitioned from Collaboration wines to Estate wines. Todd Alexander, formerly of Bryant Family Vineyards, is the winemaker for the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. There is also a second label that was introduced last year named Parabellum. Even more changes are in the works including a new label and a Force Majeure Tempranillo.

The CS III is 100% Syrah made by Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan.

Violet in color. 14.7% ABV. Savory nose blue and black fruits, iron and flowers. Full bodied with tremendous acidity. Blueberries, blackberries, peppered beef and blood on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with supple tannins. Exquisite Syrah that is aging gracefully. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 93 points.

Force Majeure is one of the most exciting wineries in the state. The winery is still accepting names for the mailing list .

I’m going to miss the CS wines and in particular the Merlot dominant CS IV but am excited about the direction Paul McBride has in mind for Force Majeure.

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2011 No Girls Syrah La Paciencia Vineyard – Bottle Notes

The 2011 No Girls Syrah was the winning bottle in the September Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was opened and served immediately.

No Girls Wines is a partnership between famed Cayuse vigneron Christophe Baron and longtime friend and Cayuse general manager, Trevor Dorland. The fruit comes from the Cayuse La Paciencia vineyard, which means patience—appropriate as the project was ten years in the making. The vines are tightly spaced and planted on an angle, giving No Girls a profile all its own. Elizabeth Bourcier is the Winemaker at No Girls.

The name No Girls comes from a mid-19th century building Christophe purchased. Just past the main entrance, at the top of a flight of stairs, the words “no girls” were painted on the wall. The decades old sign was a symbol that this house of ill repute had been shut down. The wine label is an actual photograph.

Crimson in color. 13.5% ABV. Savory nose of red fruits, olive brine and campfire embers. Full bodied with medium acidity. Supple, rich and completely seamless. Cherries, smoked meat, blood and black pepper on the palate. The finish is extraordinarily long with silky tannins. Simply stunning Syrah. I am eager to follow this project as the vineyard matures and winemaker hones her craft. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 95 points.

The wine is incredibly hard to obtain. Sign up for the waiting list. Be patient.

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2009 Betz Family Syrah La Côte Rousse – Bottle Notes

Betz Family Winery was founded in 1997 by Bob & Cathy Betz. Critical acclaim from local and national wine publications has put Betz Family Winery at the forefront of Washington wines alongside Cayuse, Leonetti and Quilceda Creek. The winery was sold to Steve and Bridget Griessel over five years ago. Louis Skinner, a longtime assistant of Bob’s, is now the full time Winemaker.

The 2009 La Côte Rousse is 100% Syrah from Ciel du Cheval and Kiona Vineyards.

Dark purple in color. 14.8% ABV. Monolithic nose of blue and black fruits, charcoal, ash and molten licorice. Full bodied with big acidity. Immense, concentrated and voluptuous. Blueberry, raspberry liqueur, white pepper and barbecued meats on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long. The color and the structure on this wine belies the 8 years of bottle age. Delicious Syrah but patience will be rewarded. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 94 points.

I understand the mailing list is full, although I suspect the wait isn’t too long. Fortunately, the wines from Betz are readily available all over Seattle almost year-round. The 2015 La Cote Rousse was recently released to the mailing list and should be available at retail soon enough. I’m a buyer.

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2009 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard – Bottle Notes

The 2009 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard was the winning bottle in the July Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was opened and served shortly thereafter.

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.

Maroon in color. 14.7% ABV. Savory nose of red fruits, soy sauce, olive brine and smoke. Medium to full bodied with loads of acidity. Immense and concentrated. Plum sauce, warm cherry pie, barbecued meats and minerals on the palate. The finish is incredibly long. In a really nice spot now but this wine will certainly drink well for another 3-5 years. Fantastic Syrah that has a timeless quality to it.

My rating: 97 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 are dialed in and Christophe has a new project and vineyard in the works. Expect to hear about Hors Categorie and Fiddleneck Vineyard in the next year or so. Lastly, Christophe at long last is hard at work on making a vintage Champagne. Expect to hear more in the years to come.

I blogged about Cayuse previously in The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power RankingsWinery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and Cayuse Vineyards – Better than Ever.

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2007 Cayuse Syrah En Chamberlin Vineyard – Bottle Notes

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.

En Chamberlin Vineyard was planted in 2000. This vineyard produces The Widowmaker Cabernet Sauvignon, Impulsivo Tempranillo and En Chamberlin Syrah.

Light red or rust colored. 14.2% ABV. Textbook En Chamberlin on the nose with aromas of red fruits, olives, smoked meats and grilled vegetables. Medium body and not lacking in acidity. Plush and concentrated. Cherries, smoke, blood, iodine and minerals on the palate. There is so much going on here. The finish is exceptionally long. As always, the funkiest wine in the Cayuse lineup. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 97 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 are dialed in and Christophe has a new project and vineyard in the works. Expect to hear about Hors Categorie and Fiddleneck Vineyard in the next year or so. Lastly, Christophe at long last is hard at work on making a vintage Champagne. Expect to hear more in the years to come.

I blogged about Cayuse previously in The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power RankingsWinery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and Cayuse Vineyards – Better than Ever.

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2014 Sleight of Hand Syrah Levitation – Bottle Notes

Sleight of Hand was founded in 2007 by Jerry and Sandy Solomon, and Trey Busch. The formula at Sleight of Hand is high quality wines from Washington’s most exceptional vineyards. Sleight of Hand produces a full range of red and whites and without question has one of the top few tasting rooms in all of Walla Walla.

Purple in color. 14.8% ABV. The fruit was sourced from Lewis Vineyard, Les Collines Vineyard, and Stoney Vine Vineyard. Savory nose of black fruits, grilled meats and herbs. Rich, full bodied and plush with gobs of acidity. Black cherry, boysenberry, graphite and pepper on the palate. The finish is long and powerful. Gorgeous Syrah. The bar gets set higher every year at Sleight of Hand. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 93 points.

The wine is fairly priced at $45 via the winery and retail.

Of note is the new tasting room just south of downtown Seattle.

I wrote about Sleight of Hand previously in New to Washington Wine? Check out Sleight of Hand, Gramercy & Force Majeure.

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2010 Betz Family Syrah La Serenne – Bottle Notes

Betz Family Winery was founded in 1997 by Bob & Cathy Betz. Critical acclaim from local and national wine publications has put Betz Family Winery at the forefront of Washington wines alongside Cayuse, Leonetti and Quilceda Creek. The winery was sold to Steve and Bridget Griessel five years ago. Louis Skinner, a longtime assistant of Bob’s, is now the full time Winemaker.

La Serenne is 100% Syrah from Boushey Vineyard.

Blood red in color. 14.4% ABV. Expressive nose of black fruits, iodine and grilled meats. Dense and concentrated with perfect acidity. Savory and plush. Almost a ringer for a Northern Rhone. Black raspberry, saline and black pepper on the palate. The finish is long and silky with resolved tannins. Delicious Syrah that will drink well for the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 91 points.

I understand the mailing list is full, although I suspect the wait isn’t too long. Fortunately, the wines from Betz are readily available all over Seattle almost year-round. The 2015 La Serenne will be released to the mailing list this Fall and should be available at retail. I’m a buyer.

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2007 Saxum Bone Rock James Berry Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Saxum Vineyards is located in the Paso Robles AVA of Central California. Founded in the early 2000’s by Justin Smith, a young winemaker who had previously been part-owner of Linne Calodo, Saxum leapt into the limelight in late 2010 when its 2007 James Berry Vineyards wine was named the #1 Wine of 2010 by Wine Spectator. Smith owns the winery with his wife Heather, and produces up to 2,800 cases of wine a year.

Blood red in color. 15.7% ABV. 82% Syrah, 13% Mourvedre and 5% Grenache. Soaring nose of molten licorice, camphor, blueberries and violets. Plush, full bodied and exceptionally well balanced. Lush and creamy on the palate with flavors of cassis liqueur, graphite, tar and minerals. The finish is silky, seamless and very long. Domestic Syrah simply does not get much better. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 98 points.

Current wines from Saxum are available via the mailing list at $98 per bottle. There is a several year wait before you can expect to receive an offer.

I’ve written about Saxum previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2004 Araujo Syrah Eisele Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Araujo Estate is a 38-acre vineyard in northeast Napa Valley, east of Calistoga. It was established in 1990 when Bart and Daphne Araujo bought the historic vineyard from Milt and Barbara Eisele, who planted the vines in the 1960s. For nearly 40 years the Eisele Vineyard has been known as one of the valley’s great vineyards, consistently producing outstanding wines. The Araujos completed many renovation projects after they acquired the estate, and planted many varietals including Petit Verdot, Syrah, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Nevertheless the estate’s signature wine is its highly regarded Cabernet Sauvignon.

Garnet in color. 14.8% ABV. Rich and ripe on the nose with aromas of cassis liqueur, leather and violets. Full bodied with noticeable heat. Lots of sediment. Blueberries, olives and raspberry liqueur on the palate. Like the ’03 this is pushing the envelope on ripeness and is a little over the top for my tastes. Drink over the next year or so.

My rating: 88 points.

Disappointing bottle and not up to the reputation of the vineyard and the Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon. I would have a hard time paying the $150+ this wine goes for in the open market. Proceed accordingly.

Several years ago Bart and Daphne Araujo sold the winery to Francois Pinault, the owner of Chateau Latour. The winery is now known as Eisele Vineyard.

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2007 Carlisle Syrah Rosella’s Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards was founded in 1998 by Mike and Kendall Officer. Their passion is clear: Small lots of Zinfandel and Syrah from exceptional, historic vineyards. Many of these vineyards are heritage sites planted by Italian immigrants and date back to the late 1800s . They have also recently added their first whites, two blends from historic, old-vine vineyards plus Sonoma County’s first ever Grüner Veltliner.

Overlooking the Salinas River Valley, the 50-acre Rosella’s Vineyard rests along the benchlands of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range. Owners Gary and Rosella Franscioni planted the vineyard in 1996.

Purple in color. 14.7% ABV. Showstopping nose of blue and black fruits, olive brine and white pepper. Full bodied with exquisite acidity. Incredibly complex and structured with a sense of freshness. Blueberries, blackberries, soy sauce and iron on the palate. The finish is monumental. One of the best Syrahs from Mike Officer in recent memory. Drink over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 95 points.

Current vintages of the various Carlisle wines are available via the mailing list, which is exceptionally long. Several retail outlets in California stock Carlisle, but you need to check with them at the time the winery releases their wines in the Spring and Fall.

I’ve wrote about Carlisle previously in Winery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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