As you may have heard, I just came back from wine country in Washington state. Yup, eight days of walking the most revered vineyards and talking story with some of the real leaders of what’s happening there. (I am so thankful to all who made the trip so interesting and insightful.)
Early on, Riesling had its heyday. Since then & now Cabernet Sauvignon based red wines is the most highly acclaimed. For the future, however, it seems Merlot & Syrah is on the rise there. On this recent trip it therefore turned out that Syrah was more of the focus for this trip.
We found their top Syrah renditions are unlike those encountered from California, Australia or France. One of the characteristics we really liked was the savoriness each offers. That’s what inspired this tasting! We tasted wines from three of the trip’s standout producers….all served BLIND, just for fun. How often do opportunities like this come about? We suggest you jump on the bandwagon early, as this train is ready to just take off. Tasting wines from these 3 standout wineries will hopefully give you a glimpse of what all of the fervor and hoop-la is about.
2013 Gramercy Syrah “Lower East”–We are so impressed with what Gramercy Cellars and co-winemakers, Greg Harrington and Brandon Moss, are doing in Washington state through their wines. Theirs is a true pursuit of transparency, texture and & balance. The 2013 is 100% Syrah, which combines the freshness and acidity of Minick and Upland Vineyard, sitting at 1300 ft in the Yakima Valley, with the funk and meatiness of the rocks at Stoney Vine and SJR Vineyards in Walla Walla. 16 months in oak, only 10% new. 93 points. Just so you know, this bottling is typically the entry to their world of Syrah. With the 2014 vintage Gramercy released at least FIVE different Syrah bottlings–“Lagniappe” (a blend of Red Willow, Forgotten Hills & Minick vineyards)….”Columbia Valley” (northerly Oldfield, Olsen, Old Stones & Les Collines vineyards)…..”The Deuce” (Les Collines & Forgotten Hills vineyards)…..”Forgotten Hills”” (100% from their Forgotten Hills estate vineyard)….and “John Lewis” (100% Les Collines vineyard Block 46). Each are well worth checking out……for different reasons.
2012 Reynvaan Syrah “The Unnamed”–There is no doubt Matt Reynvaan is one of the top winemaking phenoms of Washington state. This 95/96 pointed Syrah is produced from grapes grown “In the Rocks” estate vineyard & grapes grown in their vineyard in the foothills of the Blue Mountain (co-fermented with Grenache Blanc), which showcases very different character in the wine than that of Red Mountain and the other iconic Syrah sites. Matt’s wine style is along the lines of those from Cayuse–very lavish, generous, rich, opulent, warm, VERY savory…….with lots of swag. I noticed Matt did not produce this bottling in 2015.
2012 Force Majeure “Collaboration III”–A 97 point rated stud! For this vintage, the 100% Syrah grapes come from the highly revered Ciel du Cheval vineyard of the Red Mountain appellation and crafted by Mark Ryan McNeilly & Mike Macmorran both of Mark Ryan winery. This wine really is a stud–masculine & immense with lots of fortitude & mojo…..along the lines of a Syrah crafted by a Cabernet winemaker. As I have noted on a previous post, with 2014 & on, Force Majeure will be focusing on making wines from their estate Red Mountain vineyard–which was planted in 2007 on the hillside above Ciel du Cheval & the Col Solare vineyards………AND with Todd Alexander (former winemaker at Bryant Family in Napa Valley) at the winemaking helm. Yes, we will be witnessing a new era for this winery.