2011 K Vintners "River Rock" Walla Walla Valley Syrah
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)
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."