WA State Syrah Buzz
Syrah from Washington State has a longtime fervent Northwest following and receives much praise from the national wine media. What is it that local insiders and wine writers have discovered? First and foremost, this classic Rhone varietal has found a perfect home in the vineyards of eastern Washington, known for northern latitude, geologically young free draining soils, and inland areas protected from marine influences. That said eastern Washington is a large area where microclimates play a large role in vineyards. Syrah has a broad flavor spectrum and its expression is greatly influenced by the site where it is planted and winemaking style - from rich ripe fruit to roasted meat, from orange peel to saddle leather. Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report and Wine Enthusiast states it very well by saying “Syrah is like a sponge. It soaks up the terroir of the place it is planted. It also soaks up the vineyard practices applied to it. And it also soaks up winemaking techniques.”
L’Ecole produces two fabulous Syrahs, each very different and beautiful representations of their respective styles and vineyard sites.
Estate Syrah – Seven Hills Vineyard – Walla Walla Valley
1,015 cases • $34
We began producing this Estate Syrah in 1999 at a time when relatively few Washington wineries were working with the varietal. Our Estate Seven Hills Vineyard is planted in the wind-blown loess of geologically young, mineral rich soils. Each year we work with the same three blocks of fruit at Seven Hills which imparts the vineyard’s signature earthy dark fruit profile. Each block was hand harvested. Approximately 20% of the fruit was fermented whole cluster on the stems while the remaining was gently crushed into 1.5 ton stainless steel fermenters. We find this practice increases the overall complexity of the wine through additional aromatics, mouth-feel characteristics, and additional tannin structure.
Tasting Notes: The resulting wine marries dark aromas of earth, olive, tobacco and white pepper with pretty floral notes of violet. The rich mid-palate shows flavors of ripe plum, and dense blackberry that give way to a concentrated and unrelenting, earthy mineral finish.
Food Pairing: The game and earthy components of this wine lend themselves to dishes with a similar profile, such as grilled lamb tenderloin served with rich mushroom sauce and roasted root vegetables.
Syrah – Columbia Valley
2,280 cases • $24
Our Columbia Valley Syrah is sourced from five premium vineyards in the Columbia Valley that are farmed for quality. This Syrah is made in a more fruit-forward style. Grenache is added to the blend further accentuating the already pretty aromatics of the wine. Each block was hand harvested and gently crushed into 1.5 ton stainless steel fermenters. Following primary fermentation, we chose to age this Syrah in neutral oak to protect the lovely, delicate nuances that make it so intriguing.
Tasting Notes: This luscious and balanced Syrah presents fruity aromas of ripe blackberry, earth and spice. The wine shows rich black currant, kalamata olive and black peppercorn through a finely textured mineral finish.
Food Pairing: This versatile wine is a lovely accompaniment to a wide range of dishes such as a simply prepared pork roast or the complex layered flavors of sausage and seafood paella.
Grab a bottle of each and explore the broad range of this fascinating grape for yourself!