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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Some Wash State Rhones - July 16, 2008


We tasted last night (7/16/08) Some WashState Rhones:

  1. K-Vintners Viognier ColVlly (14.0%) 2007: Light gold color; attractive pear/peach/Viog
    slight minerally/earthy quite lovely nose; soft/fat/porky light pear/peach/Viog bit simple flavor; med.short pear/peach/Viog fat/soft finish; very attractive Viog nose but doesn't quite deliver on the palate; lacks acidity and zip; fairly priced at $20.00
  2. K-Vintners TheBoy 94%Grenache/6%Syrah WallaWallaVlly (14.5%) 2006: Med.color; pleasant Grenache/strawberry light earthy/mushroomy/slight Rhonish rather toasty/charred/oak
    interesting nose; soft/smooth fairly bright/strawberry/Grenache light earthy/Rhonish rather toasty/ charred/oak flavor; med.long soft strawberry/Grenache rather toasty/oak some earthy/
    mushroomy/Rhonish finish w/ light tannins; ready to drink; somewhatlike a middle-of-the-road CdP and priced such. $45.00
  3. CharlesSmithWines BoomBoom Syrah ColVlly/WashState (13.5%) 2006: Med.light color; very ripe blueberry/cherry/black cherry/Syrah light spicy pleasant nose; soft very ripe/jammy/
    blueberry/cherry/black cherry/cherry pie bit simple flavor; med. ripe/cherry/blueberry/cherry pie finish w/ little tannins; seems pretty ripe & jammy for only 13.5%; fairly priced at $15.00
  4. Cristom Syrah Estate Eola-Amity Hills (14.0%) 2005: Very dark color; very intense cracked
    black pepper/cold-climate Syrah strong blackberry/Syrah beautiful/complex nose; tart very
    strong cracked black pepper strong blackberry/Syrah spicy bit pungent/espresso flavor; very
    long very cracked black pepper blackberry/Syrah/spicy some tannic finish; needs several yrs at least; best Cristom Syrah yet w/ more intense Syrah fruit than before w/ that same cracked black pepper/cold-climate SSyrah character; beautiful example of what Syrah can do in a cooler climate; fairly priced at $28.50
  5. Harlequin Syrah SundanceVnyd/ColVlly/Washington (14.6%) 2003: Dark color w/ very slight
    bricking; very strong blackberry/black cherry/cherry/Syrah bit peppery/spicy/Rhonish light
    toasty/oak fairly complex nose; soft/lush/rich ripe/black cherry/blackberry/cherry/Syrah
    light toast/oak slight spicy/Rhonish/pungent some complex flavor; very long lush blackberry/
    black cherry/Syrah quite spicy slight Rhonish/pungent finish w/ some tannins & nice complexity; a lovely developed WashState Syrah that should go another few yrs. $23.00
  6. K-Vintners Syrah Milbrandt/WahlukeSlope/ColVlly (14.5%; www.K-Syrah.com) 2006: Dark color; very attractive Rhonish boysenberry/blackberry slight black pepper/blueberry nose; soft/
    lush blackberry/blueberry/ripe/Syrah slight black pepper flavor; soft/long ripe/blueberry/
    blackberry/Syrah lush slight peppery finish w/ light tannins; quite attractive nose but a little like the BoomBoom on the palate w/ ripe fruit and little structure; fairly priced at $25.00
  7. K-Vintners Syrah PheasantVnyd/WahlukeSlope/ColVlly (15.0%) 2006: Dark color; deeper more intense blackberry/Syrah quite spicy bit more minerally/Rhonish/peppery slight meaty nose;
    tarter more structured/tannic bit minerally/Rhonish fairly blackberry/Syrah/spicy less ripe flavor; long bit tannic strong blackberry/spicy/Syrah slight toasty/oak finish; needs a yr or two; bit more Rhonish & structured and less ripe; fairly priced at $30.00
  8. K-Vintners Syrah TheDeal SundanceVnyd/WahlukeSlope/ColVlly (15.5%) 2006: Very dark color; very spicy/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah some roasted/Rhonish bit toasty/smokey/pungent/
    espresso/oak beautiful nose; rather hard/tannic licorice/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah bit
    Rhonish/black pepper/espresso flavor; very long blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah some roasted/
    Rhonish some charred/toasty/oak finish w/ some tannins; needs 2-6 yrs; terrific some Rhonish
    Syrah at a fair price. $35.00
  9. K-Vintners Syrah CougarHills/WallaWallaVlly (15.0%) 2006: Very dark color; more subtle/
    complex quite Rhonish/espresso/roasted slight toasty/oak some cracked black pepper some
    blackberry/Syrah complex nose; tart rich rather Rhonish/black pepper/roasted/espresso/
    pungent/smokey bit meaty strong blackberry/Syrah flavor; tannic/structured strong roasted/
    espresso/Rhonish/smokey/meaty some blackberry/Syrah finish w/ fair tannins; needs 3-8 yrs;
    much more Rhonish in character but more subtle and less in-your-face fruit; a terrific very Rhonish WashState Syrah at a fair price. $50.00
  10. SpringVllyVnyd NinaLee Syrah WallaWallaVlly (16.1%;www.SpringValleyVineyard.com; EG)
    : Black color; very intense blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah rather Oz-like bit herbal/
    SantaLuciaHighlands-like some toasty/oak interesting nose; soft/lush ripe/herbal/Syrah/
    blackberry some toasty/oak lightly tannic flavor; soft/ripe/lush slight herbal/blackberry/
    Syrah/boysenberry somewhat toasty/smokey/oak finish w/ light tannins; attractive Syrah
    somewhat like a Novy Garys'; bit too pricey at $50.00
  11. Lillian Calif Syrah (15.4%; WhiteHawkVnyd) B by lillian, Amity/OR 2004: Black color; rather
    toasty/pencilly/cedary/oak very intense blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry slight spicy/peppery
    nose; big/tannic/extracted strong toasty/cedary/oak intense/blackberry/Syrah/blueberry
    slight peppery/SBSyrah flavor; very long extracted/tannic/structured intense blackberry/
    Syrah somewhat toasty/pencilly/oak slight peppery finish; lacking in nuance right now but
    obviously made for the long haul; huge SB Syrah that (presumably) mature into something
    great; ambitiously priced at $82.00
  12. NormWilliamsonVnyd Idaho Syrah (13.5%) 2003: Dark color; some menthol/trumpet valve oil/
    blueberry/Syrah slight volatile/aromatic rather interesting/complex nose; tart bit hard/lean
    blueberry/Syrah/blackberry light toasty/oak slight menthol/earthy flavor; med.long strong
    blackberry/blueberry/Syrah light toasty/oak bit dusty/earthy finish w/ light tannins;
    rather interesting Syrah; much like a good WashState Syrah.
  13. Jaffurs PetiteSirah ThompsonVnyd/SBC (15.8%) 2006: Black color; very perfumed/aromatic/
    slight volatile huge/intense/boysenberry/licorice some toasty/oak beautiful/powerful nose;
    soft rich/ripe/lush/mouthfilling boysenberry/blackberry/licorice/Syrah light toasty/oak structured fairly tannic flavor; very long/lingering powerful/boysenberry/blackberry/licorice/framboise/Syrah light toasty/oak powerful finish w/ fair tannins; a huge/powerful PS but walks that fine line w/o being over-the-top or overextracted; well-structured and built for the long-haul. $32.00
  14. WalterDacon Syrah ColVlly C'est Syrah Belle (14.5%; www.WalterDaconWines.com)
    LloydAnderson 2003
    : Dark color w/ slight bricking; rather pungent/chocolaty/licorice/s,okey
    some charred/oak earthy blueberry/Syrah slight menty/menthol interesting nose; tart bit hard/
    lean/tannic some toasty/charred/oak pungent/coffee slight earthy/Syrah/blackberry/menthol
    flavor; long rather hard/tannic earthy/pungent/coffee some charred/oak slight blueberry/Syrah
    finish; rather hard/tannic and not sure where this wine will go; an interesting terroir-driven WashState Syrah that seems to be moving right along. $28.00

And more stuff from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Jaffurs PetiteSirah: Although we ordered this wine direct last Spring, I was quite surprised to find it here in NM on the shelf at retail, so thought we'd try it as a mystery before our stash actually arrived. It may be the best Jaffurs PS yet with powerful aromatics but the structure to take it out yrs in age. Maybe one of the best PS's being made in Calif these days. I find that often pure PS does not have, when young, a whole lot going on in the nose. This PS is definitely not lacking in aromatics. Since this btl was bought of'n the retail shelf, it doesn't bear the famous "Archibald Cuvee" on the label, which will lift a merely spectacular PS into the realm of the otherworldly.
2. NormWilliamson: Norm & Barb brought this as a mystery wine. Never heard of it before. It's apparently primarily a fruit orchard operation. Usually not a good segue into a winery. The only other Idaho wine I've had is from SawtoothMtn and it was a pretty impressive Syrah. This Williamson made a very favorable impression on me, reminded me a great deal of a mid-range WashState Syrah. Maybe there's something going on in Idaho we should know about?
3. lillian: This is a wine made by Maggie Harrison, who was asst winemaker for Manfred at SQN
for some 8 yrs, and now winemaker at AnticaTerra in Oregon. The familial resemblance to a
SQN Syrah is pretty obvious. Like most of the highly-extracted reds, they are a bit
lacking in nuance and all about powerful fruit and toasty oak and you like them because
you're told they are great wines and assured they'll mature into something spectacular.
Maybe/maybe not. But, to tell the truth, I found the Cristom or the Harlequin both far/far
more interesting to drink. The lillian just sort of leaves you slack-jawed by its power
and intensity and promise of things to come.
4. Harlequin: This is a small operation owned by a good friend, RobertGoodfriend. Robert and
I go way back to when he was a chef/owner of a restaurant named e.k.mas. Many memorable
meals went down at that venue, accompanied by some pretty spectacular wines. Working on
the wine list at e.k.mas inculcated an interest in wine for Robert, which eventually morphed into becoming a winemaker in Oregon, and then his own Harlequin venture, located in Touchet, WA. He also partnered to open the Wines of Washington tasting room on a small alley on Post Street in the Pike Market of Seattle. His, and several other small WashState wineries sell out of this tasting room. WebSite: www.WinesOfWashington.com Harlequin is a winery that flies below the radar.

I think Robert's Viognier is one of the very best made in the USofA, with hints of that minerality you find in Condrieu. He makes Pinot and Cabernet (if you like Cabernet) that is very good; the Pinot grapes coming from his Orgean winemaking days contacts. And his Syrahs are absolutely first rate. This '03 was one of the better-developed WashState Syrahs I've yet had; lovely stuff right now. It's a wnry worth tracking down. Alas, their WebSite doesn't work well w/ my browser (Mozilla) and I haven't ordered over the last year.
5. K-Vintners: I've followed Charles Smith's wines from the very start, though have never met
the guy (but..man...the stories I've heard!!). I've across the board liked his wines. The early yrs Syrahs had a lot of charred oak to give them a roasted/Rhonish character. Over the last few yrs, they seem to have less obvious oak and appear to be more vnyd/terroir-driven. I must admit I (gag me w/ a spoon) even like his Cab-based wines.


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