Syrah Saturday

Syrah grapeFor the first time in many months, we went wine tasting on Saturday in Woodinville, where Syrah was both king and queen. Our tasting tour took us to see old friends and meet new ones at Efeste, William Church, Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Obelisco, Barrage Cellars and Darby. Each winery featured a fine lineup of Washington wines, but according to our palates, Syrah took the lead every time.

Efeste: Winemaker Brennon Leighton continues to excel at a number of Syrahs crafted for Efeste. 2008 Jolie Bouche hails from one of Washington’s finest, Boushey Vineyard, and was rated 95 points by Wine Spectator, while 2008 Ceidleigh is a rich wonder from Red Mountain, rated 93 points by Wine Spectator.

William Church: Co-owner and winemaker Rod Balsley creates Syrah once again with his trademark flair. His “Jennifer” 2008 Syrah was sourced from three premium vineyards: Dineen Family, Red Willow and Stillwater Creek.  This Syrah, complex, dark and aromatic, was co-fermented with Viognier, resulting in an elegant mouth-feel and 90 points from Wine Enthusiast.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars: Block 17, creatively crafted by co-owner, winemaker Jarod Boyle, has always been on our list for heavenly Washington state Syrah. The 2008 vintage is no exception, with its dark red, inky color and a wonderful balance of luxury and delicacy. Jarrod notes that Block 17 is young and bold, so decant first, if you drink it prior to 2012.

Obelisco: This relative newcomer to Washington state offers 2008 Estate Syrah that explodes with robust flavor from the southwest corner of Red Mountain. This dark beauty, with moderate tannins, received 90 points from Wine Spectator and 90 points from Wine Enthusiast.

Barrage Cellars: The newly released 2008 Eclipse Syrah is another favorite, which is no surprise since the fruit comes from Les Vignes De Marcoux Vineyard, the sister vineyard to the Sauer Family’s Red Willow Vineyard. Barrage owner-winemaker Kevin Correll worked his wonders with the grape, and the result is one fine Eclipse Syrah.

Darby: Darby English’s 2008 Aunt Lee Syrah was released just two weeks ago, and it’s already drinking well. This dense 100% Syrah is lush and smokin’, and (in Darby’s own words, and we totally agree), delicious!

Four years ago, Washington wine pioneer and self-proclaimed farmer of Red Willow Vineyard, Mike Sauer told us that 80% of  Syrah in Washington state was propogated from cuttings from his vineyard, where the first production of Syrah grapes in the state took place in 1988.

Syrah, whether spicy or smoky, pairs well with beef, BBQ, pork, game and spicy foods. Enjoy!


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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 additional posts about Oregon, B.C., California, ANZ, France, Italy, Spain and more. A former national journalist in Canada and the U.S., Margot has been a Washington wine enthusiast since moving to Seattle in 1999. Her motto: “It’s wine o’clock somewhere.”