Columbia Winery just released its 2004 Syrah, Red Willow Vineyard, South Chapel Block. Big name, andÂ a potentially big Syrah. Red Willow is located in the northwestern corner of the Yakima Valley Appellation. There are no other vineyards within 20 miles; it is fairly warm; and located at a high elevation. Red Willow had an exceptional year, and the result is a structured Syrah accented with a touch of raspberries and hints of smoke, and a long finish of strawberries and licorice.
The well-versed staff at Columbia Winery’s tasting room explained to us that in the 2004 release, the Syrah grapes were co-fermented with 10 percent Viognier. As a result,Â the wineÂ is not as deep or smoky as the 2003 Syrah, Red Willow Vineyard, South Chapel Block, which was co-fermented with 93 percent Syrah and 7 percent Viognier. We tasted them side by side and our preference is the 2003, which is well balanced with soft tannins, and a bright, juicy finish.
Don’t get me wrong — the 2004 release was good, but it’s still too young. In the meantime, the 2003 release is still available and highly recommended.