Que Syrah, Syrah

Columbia Winery just released its 2004 Syrah, Red Willow Vineyard, South Chapel Block. Big name, and  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, the wine 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.


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About Margot

Margot has been writing about wine since 1997 at KOIN-TV in Portland, Oregon; ten years later, she created this blog. Write for Wine focuses on the fine wines of Washington state, with occasional posts about other northwest wine regions (Oregon and B.C.), California, ANZ and Bordeaux. A former national journalist in Canada, Margot has been a Washington wine enthusiast since moving to Seattle in 1999. Her motto: “It’s wine o’clock somewhere.”