2008 Charles Smith "Royal City" Columbia Valley Syrah

SKU #1075873 99 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2008 Royal City Syrah was sourced from the Stoneridge Vineyard. It displays a soaring perfume of sandalwood, garrigue, lavender, smoke, bacon, game, blueberry, and black raspberry. Super-concentrated, it deftly marries power and elegance in a seamless wine that should see its 20th birthday in peak form. I met up with Charles at his new wine bar in Walla Walla before we drove out to the winery in his 1949 Cadillac, a picture of which is on the web-site (not the deluxe model like my grandfather used to drive). It is always a highlight of my annual trip to Washington because in addition to the tasting, you get a performance but, after all is said and done, when it comes to making wine, Charles Smith is all business. He knows where the vineyards are, he believes in amazingly low yields, and in the winery he is a non-interventionist. All of the following wines were made with native ferments and were bottled without fining or filtration. (JM)  (8/2011)

98 points Wine Enthusiast

 An Amaro-like mix of bitters and herbs; this is exceptionally dense and dark. The fruit is a grace note; the big flavors come from herb, earth, rock, barrel and more. Licorice, baking spices, smoke, black cherry, Bourbon barrel, and on it goes. Huge and dense and seemingly endless. (PG)  (12/2011)

96 points Wine Spectator

 Savory, with layers and layers of flavor on a deftly balanced frame. The velvety style emphasizes black olive, green olive and roasted meat flavors around a subterranean core of blackberry, tar and spice. The finish rolls along unimpeded by polished tannins. (HS)  (11/2011)

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Price: $149.99
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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.