* = denotes hard-to-find wine
1. Cayuse Cailloux Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $85 *
One of the most exciting wines coming out of the Northwest is this intensely rich syrah from Christophe Baron’s first vineyard, planted in the Rocks in 1997. Aromas of potpourri, smoked meat, ash, and plum all but leap up from the glass, and the flavors are savory and focused.
2. Horsepower Sur Echalas Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $120 *
This is Rocks wine at its finest, with vibrant aromas of soot, charcuterie, crushed flowers, and liquid stone, then intense fruit and savory flavors that sail on through a long finish.
3. Delmas SJR Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $65 *
Microproduced syrah from its estate vineyard in the Rocks built Delmas’s reputation; this latest offering certainly burnishes it—a hit of viognier (8 percent) injects a distinct aromatic lift that leads to black olive and smoked meat flavors and one extended finish.
4. Maison Bleue Voyageur Yellow Jacket Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $50
Winemaker Jon Meuret was once known for his thrilling Yakima Valley wines; now firmly ensconced in Walla Walla, he creates a wine with delightful aromas of sagebrush, blackberry, smoked meat, and wet stone followed by pure, exquisite fruit flavors.
5. Saviah The Funk Estate Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $60
Few winemakers evince all the Rocks District has to offer like Richard Funk, and never more so than on this wine—both aromatic and flavorful with crushed gravel, fresh flower, tapenade, and blue fruit.
6. Rasa Veritas Sequitur SJR Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2013 • $95
There’s a sense of maturity and verve to this new offering, thanks to an extended amount of time (32 months) in French oak prior to release; go slowly to take in aromas and flavors of iron, earth, black olive, and dried flower.
7. Reynvaan Family Foothills Reserve Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $70 *
The foothills of the Blue Mountains, a relatively unexplored region of the Walla Walla Valley, deliver a rich wine, perfumed with kalamata olives, smoked meat, and black pepper that’s just as savory on the palate.
8. Waters Old Stones Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $50
The fruit-forward flavors are a surprise after aromas of ember, cured meat, and mineral—a pleasant twist that’s likely the result of the unusually warm vintage.
9. K Vintners The Hidden Northridge Vineyard Syrah Wahluke Slope 2014 • $70
Syrah guru Charles Smith turns to a vineyard quietly establishing itself as one of the state’s premier sites to craft this rich, dense, flavorful wine, with blackberry, crushed flower, and mineral notes.
10. Efeste Ceidleigh Syrah Red Mountain 2014 • $39
Red Mountain is best known for its cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends but this ace Woodinville winery shows syrah can thrive there too; this is the varietal at its decadent best, with blackberry jam, black olive, and mineral flavors that bring a velvety feel.
11. W. T. Vintners Damavian Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $45
Sommelier Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen aims to make more restrained, food-friendly wines. He accomplishes this mission with violet, rubbed herb, and purple fruit aromas and flavors that express this vineyard site exquisitely.
12. Ardor Quaternarium Reserve Syrah Columbia Valley 2015 • $70
The Walla Walla winery makes single-vineyard syrah from four sites—Art Den Hoed, Lawrence, Red Heaven, and Stoney Vine—but here blends them all in equal parts; the sum is an expressive wine with aromas and flavors of grilled asparagus, ember, moist earth, and wet rock.
13. Two Vintners Some Days Are Stones Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $50
A familiar entry on our Top 100 list delivers complex aromas with notes of tapenade, potpourri, and fresh herb that lead to palate-coating savory flavors; the balance among oak, tannin, acid, and fruit is impeccable.
14. Kevin White En Hommage Syrah Yakima Valley 2015 • $28
No one in Washington makes better-priced Rhone-style wines than Kevin White. This standout blend of fruit from Boushey, Olsen, and Elephant Mountain vineyards drinks like a charcuterie plate, with plenty of fresh herbs rounding it out.
15. Block Wines Ankleroller Block Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2015 • $50
Just try to walk the cobblestone-filled rows of this vineyard: It’s immediately apparent how this wine—filled with tar, smoked meat, and earth flavors—got its name.
16. Mark Ryan Lost Soul Red Willow Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley 2014 • $48
The vineyard where syrah was first planted in Washington just keeps getting better with age; in the hands of this talented winemaker it yields intense aromas of boysenberry, tar, and mineral, followed by a palate of seamless fruit flavors.
17. Tenor Syrah Columbia Valley 2014 • $58
You could almost mistake this aromatic dazzler for a Rocks wine; notes of raspberry jam, blackberry, and orange peel mingle with earthy funk—a lead-up to heady fruit flavors and subtle smoke that lingers on the finish.
18. Gramercy Lagniappe Syrah Columbia Valley 2014 • $60
This wine’s name, a Cajun term for “a little something extra,” is particularly apt given the piercingly pure red fruit, fresh herb, and plum flavors. Put it on the dinner table to see it at its best.
19. Rôtie Northern Blend Walla Walla Valley 2015 • $48
Yet another winner from founder Sean Boyd, one of the state’s most talented Rhone-style winemakers. It’s an expressive wine with aromas and flavors of sea salt, black pepper, earth, and green olive.
20. Sleight of Hand Levitation Syrah Columbia Valley 2014 • $45
No tricks with this wine, which blends fruit from top sites Lewis, Les Collines, and Stoney Vine to reveal aromas of blackberry, licorice, cherry, and smoke, with a final flourish of dense, pure fruit flavors.
21. Amavi Les Collines Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $41
Those signature notes of crushed violet, dried herb, and plum remind us why Les Collines is one of the state’s top syrah vineyards.
22. Dusted Valley Tall Tales Stoney Vine Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $60
This wine is more brooding than your typical mega-aromatic Rocks wine, with generous fruit and savory flavors that persist on the finish.
23. Eight Bells Eight Clones Red Willow Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley 2014 • $35
Blending eight different clones—aka genetic variants—of syrah makes this a one-of-a-kind wine in the state, but the complex, compelling result speaks for itself.
24. Gorman The Pixie Syrah Red Mountain 2014 • $45
Chris Gorman’s wines are never shy, but this one is an unfettered exhibition of raw power, with seamless, pitch-black fruit flavors that linger on the finish.
25. JM Cellars Boushey Vineyard Syrah Yakima Valley 2014 • $48
Winemaker John Bigelow makes the most of one of the state’s long-reigning top syrah sites in a supremely rich wine that plies your senses with dark plum, blackberry, and bacon fat.
26. Lawrelin Syrah Columbia Valley 2004 • $42
That vintage isn’t a typo. Kendall Mix holds back his wines for over a decade so drinkers can experience the joy of a well-aged wine without the wait.
27. Guardian The Informant Syrah Wahluke Slope 2014 • $30
A sweet, saturated wine that turns the dial way up with aromas and flavors of plum, fresh flower, and smoked meat.
28. Savage Grace Underwood Mountain Vineyards Syrah Columbia Gorge 2015 • $35
Irrigation is the rule in Washington, but one of the state’s few dry-farmed vineyards brings aromas of white pepper, herb, and lemon zest, all followed by an ethereal palate.
29. Trust Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2014 • $32
Clearly Steve Brooks made the right choice when he left a career at CNN and moved to Walla Walla to make wine: No fake news here, just a profile of raspberry, blue fruit, green olive, and dark chocolate.
30. Syncline Estate Vineyard Syrah Columbia Gorge 2014 • $60
Syrah is relatively rare from this growing region (harvested here at a microscopic one ton per acre) but this wine shows that, in the right vintage, it can deliver, with aromas of white pepper, smoked meat, and earth and a lush, pure palate.