2014 Hors Categorie Walla Walla Valley Syrah

SKU #1355283 99 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The first vintage for this new vineyard (they made a 2013 but kept it all in magnum... if you get a bottle, call me), the inky colored 2014 Syrah is a huge, unctuous effort the exhibits crazy notes of Asian spice, soy, shiitake mushroom, blackcurrants and tar. Tasking like a young Hermitage la Chappelle from Jaboulet (from a great vintage), with lots of tannin, blood, minerality and smoke, a huge mid-palate, and tons of tannin, it's a tour de force in Syrah I wish I could pour for every reader. Forget bottles for 4-5 years and drink over the following two decades or more. (JD)  (6/2017)

97 points Vinous

 Impressive saturated ruby color. Tight, brooding nose combines blackberry, licorice, lavender, flint, black pepper and brown spices; I would have picked this blind as Hermitage, and a very good one at that. The palate boasts exceptional fruit intensity and finesse, with lovely floral lift, but this strongly saline wine is wound tight in the early going despite showing some superripe notes. The palate-staining finish features serious but suave tannins and unflagging purple fruits. Utterly seamless, bulletproof fruit here. This remarkable wine, representing a yield of under one ton per acre, comes from a 2.2-acre Syrah vineyard planted in 2011 (!) by owner Christophe Baron on a very steep slope in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. I predict that this bottling will become one of the New World's greatest and longest-lived Syrah bottlings as the vines mature. (ST)  (10/2017)

96 points Wine Enthusiast

 This is a new project from Christophe Baron. The aromas pop, with notes of earth, plum, nori, iron, sea salt, herb, olive tapenade, black pepper and smoked meat. The palate is concentrated and structured, with rich yet restrained bacon fat and smoke flavors that bring a sense of vibrancy and richness along with a near endless finish. It brings a fair amount of tannic heft that will benefit from some additional time in the bottle. Best from 2024-2028. *Cellar Selection* (SS)  (10/2017)

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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.
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.