Bruce K wrote:
Jenise wrote:Syrahs I like better? I'm crazy in love with Reynvaan at a similar price point, and for a lot less I've liked Amavi, Saviah, Trust, Watermill and Dunham. Maison Bleue's in there too somewhere though I'm not sure of the price.
Jenise, as noted in my post on the other thread, I'm guessing you'll find the syrahs from Gramercy, Kerloo and Rotie (Northern Blend) similarly attractive. I think Amavi's syrah is the best value there is in WW. I like Saviah and Watermill, too. Tasted a Reynvaan in the Rocks once and was blown away, but price and accessibility have otherwise deterred me. (Haven't tasted Trust or Dunham.) Other syrahs I think are well worth trying if you travel to WW include Waters, which has some beautiful single vineyard bottlings (now owned by Tero -- you can try them at Tero's tasting room downtown or at Waters south of town), Balboa, Fjellene (though I heard a rumor they may be defunct), and Buty (if you count Rediviva of the Stones, which is part Cab -- though they changed winemakers recently). Another place worth visiting is Morrison Lane because the owner's a hoot and because they lean to the unusual (nebbiolo, carmenere, counoise, barbera, etc.)
I find it especially fascinating to taste the difference in the syrahs -- which I think is overall the AVA's most promising grape -- between those from vineyards in the rocks area (e.g., Reynvaan, Cayuse/No Girls, Buty) and those grown in higher elevation, loess-based vineyards like les Collines (e.g., Gramercy, Kerloo, Amavi). To oversimplify, it's intensity/earthiness vs. aromatics/elegance. Two very distinctive terroirs just 5-10 miles apart. Also, an advantage of going and tasting now is that 2010 and 2011 -- the bottlings most likely to be available -- were cooler than average vintages, which for me is a good thing.
Bruce, appreciate your response. It's so fun discussing Washington wines with someone who has experienced them--JC's always game, but otherwise few here have much experience with any WA wines at all.
Re syrah being the most promising grape: miles of great old merlot vineyards were planted over to syrah because nobody outside the state got how great merlot was here, and because it was time to give up competing with California on cabernets. It has taken a long time, more time than I think most thought it would, to get syrahs of character and prestige into the market place at a price fair to the people who made them and train the public that thought $50 for a great cab was a no-brainer to pay as much for an equally venerable syrah. There was the earthy Cayuse at one level, McCrae, K, Buty and Dunham's Frenchtown bottling on another--though it was only sold at the winery and few knew about it--and then more or less there was everybody else. Reynvaan's unprecedented and meteoric rise to mailing-list-only glory proves, I hope, that the marketplace has finally matured in its appreciation for the grape, and a lot of the other wineries you mention finally have some coattails to ride.
Glad you, too, were blown away by the earthy Reynvaans: domestically, syrah has been just about my last place grape and yet I gobbled up every bottle I saw and jumped on the mailing list when I had to, paying those prices, because I was THAT smitten. On sheer faith alone I have even ordered and paid for my full allocation of the 2012 Cabernet they won't release until sometime in 2015. If you ever swing through this part of the world again, drop by Birch Bay and we'll pop some corks.
That said, the 2013 harvest finally, for the first time either ever or in decades, not sure which, saw red wine production outpace white (mostly reisling, which is fed to Asia). But it was cabernet on top, not syrah.
I am sympathetic to your take on the cool vintages. I love 2010, which is the coolest vintage since 1999, though 2008, also cooler
than most, might turn out to be the best vintage of the decade. It was a smaller vintage with great concentration and the structure to carry it. 2011--eh. Yes, cool, but unkindly so and a real separator of men from boys. There was like one magic week in November 2011 in which the grapes were barely ripe enough to pick but before the frost hit, and if you didn't wait, or didn't have pickers lined up for that week, you were screwed. A lot of grapes just rotted. I haven't tasted many yet, but if Long Shadows is any indication then, as feared, a lot of good people made sad wine.
Since we're on the same page, I've noted all the wineries you name to target when we get to Walla Walla. Re Buty--you seem to know the story. Do I understand correctly and Nina and Caleb divorced and she got the winery?