2011 Gorman "The Devil You Don't Know" Columbia Valley Syrah

SKU #1139788 93 points Wine Spectator

 A supple, expressive wine, featuring ripe fruit aromatics that veer toward savory, smoky flavors, touching on grilled vegetable notes before returning to the dark berry and spice at the core. Focused finish. Syrah, Mourvèdre and Petite Sirah. Drink now through 2020. 525 cases made. (Web-2013)

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Price: $27.99
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Staff Image By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/18/2013 | Send Email
About five years ago, Mike Jordan and I took a trip to Washington and Oregon. On the trip we found some really cool producers that we’ve worked with off and on ever since. One of the most fortuitous days was the day we hung out in a business park in Woodinville, Washington. I know that sounds a bit odd but there we met a core of the up-and-coming young winemakers of the state at the time, all of which have seeped into differing levels of the spotlight over the last 5-6 years. Chris Gorman was one of the people we met that day. His wines have always struck me as being big, bold and extracted in a wonderfully rare and precise way. Somehow he always manages to take his wines to the edge of a cliff, look over it, and then take two steps back, never being dangerously excessive. The Devil You Don’t Know is a great example of this. It is in a heavy new bottle and has a super slick label, but what's in the bottle is wine of the highest rate coming out of Washington. Airy, smoky, perfectly ripe cherries and wild berries lead the nose with the slightest waft of dry-rubbed pork shoulder meatiness in the nose. As this airs out (I recommend a quick decant), it builds fruitiness aromatically and yet is never mistaken for anything but Syrah. Seamless with velvety texture and a weightlessness that is rarely seen in Syrah this is packed with spice cake, dried lavender, carob and fennel pollen while a return of the wild berry fruit adds generosity and roundness on the palate. Long and energetic this is a wine that is drinking so great right now, and it will be hard to keep some around to see just how good it can get. I think it's going to get even better over the next 3-7 years. The best part, the wine is also completely affordable coming in at under $30. If you want to see what the young guns of Washington are up to this is a perfect place to start!

Staff Image By: Jim Boyce | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 9/15/2013 | Send Email
I had the privelage of meeting Chris Gorman a year or so ago in Washington and tasting through a majoity of his wines. As Bryan mentioned, he has a very distinct style of winemaking along the thin line of brazen and bold yet refined. The dark berry aromatics jump from the bottle upon opening, leading to some great black pepper spice. This carries over on the palate, joining some hefty dark raspberry, clove, and mineral notes with a hint of game to wrap it all up. This wine has quite a bit of power while staying fresh and bright.

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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.


- Washington has become one of the most important wine producing states in the United States, and development continues to grow rapidly. In 1969, when California was exploding as a wine producer, Washington had only two wineries, but by 2000 that number had passed 100. Most of Washington's grape crop goes to uses other than wine. Merlot and Chardonnay have been the most successful in Washington. It's interesting to note that Washington's prime wine regions are located at 46° north, along the same latitude as the legendary French wine districts of Bordeaux and Burgundy. During the summer, Washington averages more than two hours more sunlight each day compared to California.