2011 K Vintners "River Rock" Walla Walla Valley Syrah

SKU #1168354 95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The first vintage for the cuvee, the 2011 Syrah River Rock Vineyard is a rocking Syrah that gives up classic northern Rhone like aromas of black olive tapenade, blackberry, currants and toasted spice to go with a medium to full-bodied, layered and elegant profile on the palate. A resounding success in the vintage, it can be enjoyed anytime over the coming 10 to 12 years. One of the highlight (and largest) tastings for this report, the team at K Vintners consists of wild man himself, Charles Smith, and Andrew Latta and Brennon Leighton. Despite the rock star persona, when it comes to the wines, these guys are dead serious, source grapes from some of the top sites, and simply get out of the way once they’re in the winery. All of the single vineyard Syrahs are fermented with native yeasts and 100% whole cluster, and see an extended time in mostly neutral French oak puncheons. Starting with the 2013s, I was able to taste a few from barrel, and they showed plenty of fruit, with ripe, textured personalities. This was a hot vintage, and the style is closer to the 2012s than the 2011s. Moving to the 2012s, these were all still in barrel at the time of this tasting. As with most producers, these are a step up over the 2011s and possesses gorgeous richness while still showing the purity and freshness that’s common in the vintage. The 2011s, which were all tasted out of bottle, come from a cooler, more difficult vintage, yet show solid ripeness and good textures. (JD)  (6/ 2014)

93 points Wine Spectator

 Velvety, open-textured and inviting, with plum, fresh currant and apricot flavors. Hints of crème brûlée complement the deftly balanced finish. Drink now through 2021.  (10/ 2014)

K&L Notes

Planted in an old riverbed of well-drained, rocky soil, the River Rock Vineyard Syrah created some magic in 2011 from what is a warm site in an otherwise cool vintage. The wine was fermented on native yeasts and aged for 22 months in 25% new French oak, so the firm and structured profile with very modest alcohol is allowed to show through without being marked with too much new wood. From winemaker Charles Smith: "Cured meat, camphor, forest floor, undergrowth and cool stone saturate the palate. And oh so refined tannins. A great wine for your glass or for your cellar."

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Price: $44.99

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Varietal:

Shiraz/Syrah

- 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.
Country:

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.
Sub-Region:

Washington

- 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.
Alcohol Content (%): 13.5