2005 Betz "La Serenne" Columbia Valley Syrah

SKU #1133755 94 points Wine Enthusiast

 This 100% Syrah, all from the Boushey vineyard, sends up fragrances of sweet fruit, moist earth, leaf and smoked meat. Nuanced and evocative, this changes minute to minute in the glass. The mouthfeel can only be called voluptuous, wrapping the generous blue and purple fruit flavors in sweet, toasty oak. The alcohol is just under 15%, but the fruit carries it without losing some of the detail that this outstanding vineyard can offer. Flashes of pepper and rock continue to light up the smooth, seductive finish.  (5/2008)

93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2005 La Serenne comes from the Boushey Vineyard, a cooler site. Its aromatics are at least as impressive as its sibling’s with aromas of smoke, meat, chocolate, and blueberry leaping from the glass. Velvety-textured, dense, and rich, the wine has remarkable concentration and great integration of the oak, tannin, and acidity. It has enough structure to evolve for 4-6 years and should drink well through 2024. (JM)  (8/2007)

92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Good saturated ruby-red. Sexy aromas of black raspberry, woodsmoke and bacon fat. Sweet, silky and utterly seamless, with captivating notes of brown spice, coffee bean and smoked meat. (Betz is starting to use some Darnajou barrels for his syrah and it shows.) Showing more texture than mid-palate nuance now but this backward wine simply needs time to express itself. Finishes with plenty of sweet oak and superb persistence. Don't make the mistake of opening this one too soon. Betz expressed an opinion similar to that of Paul Golitzin when he told me that "2005 is as ageworthy a vintage as I've ever made." 92(+?) points.  (11/2007)

91 points Wine Spectator

 Lithe and appealing for its bright raspberry and blueberry flavors, wrapped softly in a blanket of fine tannins. The fruit persists against white pepper notes on the long finish. Drink now through 2012. 370 cases made.  (3/2008)

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Price: $39.99
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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.


- 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.