2009 Betz Family "La Côte Rousse" Red Mountain Syrah

SKU #1345411 94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 (age in 50% new and 50% once-used barrels): Good bright medium ruby. Tight, pure aromas of black raspberry, strawberry, white pepper and flowers, complicated by a sexy apricot quality. Suave on entry, then spicy and aromatic in the middle, with firm acidity and a repeating note of white pepper contributing to the impression of sharp definition. This dense, supple wine is very long on the aftertaste. (ST)  (11/2011)

92 points Wine Spectator

 A savory style that emphasizes tobacco and brown sugar notes over fruit, but the blackberry and dark plum flavors come through strong, becoming lavish as the finish lingers. Gets better with succeeding sips. Drink now through 2019. (HS)  (11/2011)

91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Lightly-salted cooked plum and blackberry as well as charred red meat dominate Betz’s 2009 Syrah Le Cote Rousse, whose impressions of mid-palate density and fine-grained tannin are even more pronounced than in the corresponding 2010, yet at the same time the sheer ripeness and richness of fruit here more than compensate for anything that could resemble austerity. Piquant fruit pit and a bite of black pepper add to the stimulation of a sustained finish. Betz maintains that his Cote Rousse bottling is nearly always his most reticent, and this could use a couple of years undisturbed before being revisited over the remainder of the present decade. (DS)  (12/2012)

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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.