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Posts from the ‘Syrah’ Category

2008 Cayuse Syrah Cailloux 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.

Cailloux was Christophe’s first Walla Walla Valley vineyard. This 10-acre plot was planted in the stones of Milton Freewater in 1997.

Crimson in color. 14.1% ABV. Co-fermented with 8% Viognier. Textbook Cayuse on the nose. Cherries, meat, smoke and a hint of flowers. Medium to full bodied with ample acidity. Olive brine, cured meats, cherries and herbs on the palate. The finish is extraordinary. Stunning Syrah that exhibits both power and finesse. Best over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 96 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.

I blogged about Cayuse previously in The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power RankingsWinery Mailing Lists: The Fab 5 and Cayuse Vineyards – Better than Ever.

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2011 Sandlands Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands – Bottle Notes

Sandlands is the personal project of Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua. Tegan is the Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Turley. The line-up encompasses some of the forgotten classic California varieties, primarily grown in decomposed granite from regions and vineyards that have been farmed for many generations but have remained the outliers of California viticulture.

Crimson in color. 12.9% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, gamey meats and lavender. Medium body with medium to strong acidity. Light, elegant and fresh. Cherries, olive brine, barbecued meats and minerals on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Reminds me more of a Saint-Joseph than your prototypical California Syrah. Delicious for what it is. Drink over the the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 91 points.

Seriously consider signing up for the Sandlands mailing list. Tegan has a model of exceptional wines at extremely fair prices from impeccable vineyards. What more can you ask for?

Sandlands fared well on The 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2008 Spottswoode Field Book Terra Bella Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Spottswoode is a family owned winegrowing estate located on the western edge of St. Helena in the Napa Valley. The 46 acre estate, established in 1882, is distinguished by the historic Victorian home depicted on the label. Its entrance is graced by classic formal gardens, while the vineyard stretches behind to the Mayacamas Mountains.

The Spottswoode Estate was bought by Jack and Mary Novak in 1972. The first Cabernet Sauvignon was produced in 1982. Spottswoode also makes an exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, a second Cabernet named Lydenhurst and a Rhone blend known as Field Book.

Terra Bella Vineyard is in Paso Robles and this wine is a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache. Field Book is produced for members of the Spottswoode Wine Club.

Dark crimson in color. 14.5% ABV. Savory nose of black and blue fruits, grilled meats and espresso. Rich and full bodied with robust acidity. Dense, concentrated and powerful. Perfect balance. Blueberries, blackberries, cassis liqueur and chocolate truffles on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with silky tannins. Stunning Syrah that far exceeded my expectations. I should have known better given the producer. I will wait 2-4 years before I open my last bottle.

My rating: 95 points.

I blogged about Spottswoode previously in Overlooked Wines from Great Producers.

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2009 Carlisle Syrah Cardiac Hill – 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.

Cardiac Hill Vineyard, in the Bennett Valley, runs on a very steep hillside at an elevation ranging from 500 to 900 feet hence the peculiar but appropriate name.

Violet in color. 14.2% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, olive brine, smoked meats and violets. Full bodied with gobs of acidity. Big, bold and extremely complex. Blackberry liqueur, coffee, blood and white pepper on the palate. The finish is long with subtle tannins. This Syrah would be a tremendous ringer in a Northern Rhone tasting. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 93 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 2017 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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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.

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

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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.

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

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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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