2009 Cowhorn "Reserve-Estate" Applegate Valley Syrah

SKU #1115290 93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Reliance on 100% whole clusters and just over 50% new barrels hasn’t resulted in any stemmy or woody extremes in the Cowhorn 2009 Syrah Reserve; on the contrary, this manages to combine explosive intensity of dark berry fruit and peat-like smokiness with seductively wafting perfume of freesia, buddleia, and violet; palpable extract-richness with near levity (at 13.5% alcohol); and vibrant fruit acids with a silken texture. It will leave your mouth and preconceptions shaken. And I’m betting that new revelations will emerge from bottles rationed over the next 6-8 years if not longer.  (8/2012)

K&L Notes

"Southern Oregon's extensive viticultural activities receive only a fraction of the attention accorded top wines of this State from the Left Bank of the Columbia Gorge or the southern reaches of Walla Walla - to say nothing of those from the Willamette Valley," writes Wine Advocate's David Schildknecht. "That extraordinary quality and unique personalities can issue from the part of this State is proven definitively by the current releases from Cowhorn, an Applegate Valley vineyard first planted - almost exclusively to Rhone varieties (and relying in part on the latest clonal material from the Perrins at Tablas Creek) - by owners Bill and Barbara Steele in 2005, and from its inception prominently promoting its biodynamic and sustainable bona fides...Collectively, for example, I can't recall experiencing an array of Syrahs so alluringly original from one and the same winery any place other than Edmunds St. John - but Steven Edmunds has historically sourced from a striking array of microclimates, soils, and Californian sub-regions, whereas Cowhorn’s Syrahs all grew in the same vineyard!...Barbara Steele is not afraid to admit how nature and the bank nearly conspired in its first years to put paid to Cowhorn. Savvy and serious wine lovers would do well to give thanks that this didn't happen, and to do themselves the favor while showing their gratitude by buying these wines." (08/12)

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Price: $44.99
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- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- Highly touted for its Pinot Noirs, Oregon is part of the up-and-coming winemaking industry in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Most of Oregon is directly affected by the climate coming off of the Pacific Ocean, giving it mild winters and wet summers. This makes it a difficult place to ripen grapes, but some say that the harder grapes have to struggle, the more complex they will turn out to be. Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are two important and successful grapes grown in Oregon.
Alcohol Content (%): 13.5