Washington Wine 2015

Top Syrah

Further proof that 2012 was one of the best years ever for Washington syrah.

By Sean P. Sullivan September 9, 2015 Published in the September 2015 issue of Seattle Met

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This year's #1 syrah

1. Ardor Cellars Syrah Stoney Vine Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2012 - $50

Layered fruit and savory flavors come in waves, leading to a prolonged finish. This graceful offering from a young winery is aromatically expressive—all green olive, earth, and fresh herbs. It’s a knockout.

2. Efeste Jolie Bouche Syrah Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley 2012 - $44

Boushey Vineyard has long been known as one of Washington’s top syrah vineyards, and here winemaker Peter Devison offers a compelling example of the site. The wine—redolent with raspberry, olive, and iron—is a complete delight. 

3. Gorman Winery The Pixie Syrah Red Mountain 2012 - $45

With fruit sourced from top sites Klipsun and Ciel du Cheval, this blend produces reserved aromas of mineral and black and blue fruit that lead to flavors of dense, sweet fruit along with a finish that seems near endless. 

4. B. Leighton Syrah Olsen Brothers Vineyard Yakima Valley 2012 - $45

Winemaker Brennon Leighton (Charles Smith Wines) has always shown a particularly skilled touch with syrah. This memorable example of his talents displays a mixture of fruit and savory notes, with elements of green olive, smoked meat, and mineral, surrounded by silky texture. 

5. Delmas Syrah SJR Vineyard 2013 - $65

This tiny 10-acre vineyard in the Rocks District is quickly establishing itself as a top syrah site. From it, consulting winemaker Billo Naravane (Rasa Vineyards) crafts an expressive wine with aromas and flavors of earth, flowers, and coffee and a lengthy finish. 

6. Maison Bleue Voyageur Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2012 - $55

Winemaker Jon Meuret recently relocated his winery to the Walla Walla Valley; his first foray with valley fruit is a winner with waves of blueberry, coffee, mineral, and smoked meat. 

7. Owen Roe Chapel Block Syrah Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley 2012 - $55

No imagery of Washington wine country is more immediately recognizable than Red Willow Vineyard’s small stone chapel, surrounded by the grapevines that provide the fruit for this beautiful wine. It’s full of sweet, rich date and chocolate flavors. 

8. Saviah Cellars The Funk Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2012 - $55

The moniker represents both the surname of winemaker Richard Funk and the earthy odor that signifies the Rocks District. Inside the bottle, it’s an aromatic tour de force with blue fruit, smoked meat, and olive followed by layered fruit and savory notes. 

9. Walla Walla Vintners Estate Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2012 - $40

The winery’s estate vineyard in the upper Mill Creek area of the valley is one of the few locations in Washington with enough rainfall that irrigation isn’t necessary. It produces an expressive wine with aromas and flavors of coffee, raspberry, and plum.

10. Waters Winery Old Stones Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2012 - $50

Jamie Brown is consistently one of the state’s top syrah winemakers. This offering from the Rocks District is full of blue fruit, mineral, and smoked meat, and shows a sense of vibrancy that carries through the fruit-filled finish.

11. J&J Vintners Syrah Les Collines Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2012 - $30

Cowinemakers Jeremy Petty and Jody Middleton were working at the largest private label juice processing company in the U.S. when they decided to go back to school and learn how to make wine. This well-priced offering is a stunner with elements of roasted coffee beans, spice, and dark plum. 

12. Proper Estate Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2013 - $42

A youthful wine out of the Rocks District with aromas of huckleberry, mineral, and smoked meat, this syrah is plush in feel with a pleasing mixture of fruit and savory flavors along with a lot of hang time on the finish.

13. Dumas Station Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2012 - $34

Winemaker and co-owner Jay DeWitt displays a deft touch on this power-packed wine, which is full of raspberry and blueberry on the palate with vanilla grace notes. The Dayton winery stands at the site of one of the oldest apple orchards in Washington. 

14. Sleight of Hand Cellars Levitation Syrah Columbia Valley 2012 - $45

No tricks here from winemaker and world’s biggest Pearl Jam fan Trey Busch. A blend of fruit from Les Collines, Lewis, and Stoney Vine vineyards, it offers fragrances of green olive, earth, and boysenberry. Cherry notes are creamy in feel with a persistent finish. 

15. Rotie Cellars Northern Blend Walla Walla Valley 2013 - $48

A tribute to the wines from the northern region of the Rhone Valley, this offering is syrah with a pinch of viognier. It’s brightly aromatic with notes of plum and orange peel that lead to silky fruit and savory flavors. 

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