2010 Donelan "Walker Vine Hill" Russian River Valley Syrah

SKU #1164425 94-96 points Jeb Dunnuck

 The 2010 Donelan Syrah Walker Vine Hill, tasted from multiple barrels, is one serious Syrah! Sporting inky black colors, with thrilling aromas of violet, mineral, bacon fat, and meaty, yet vibrantly fresh black fruits, this full-bodied, concentrated wine has a pure silk texture, impressive ripeness, and a classically structured finish. Given the fruit, this will be drinkable on release, but deserves 3-4 years of bottle age, and should age effortlessly for 15+ years.  (12/2011)

95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 A profound effort, the 2010 Syrah Walker Vine Hill (just under 14% natural alcohol) displays blueberry and blackberry liqueur notes intermixed with licorice, camphor and bouquet garni. Full-bodied with stunning richness, a head-turning, flamboyant perfume, and a long finish, it should drink well for at least a decade. (RP)  (12/2013)

94 points Vinous

 The 2010 Syrah Walker Vine Hill is a real knock out. Graphite, gravel, smoke, tar and intense blue/black fruit hit the palate as this explosive, full-bodied wine shows off its considerable personality. Expressive floral notes add lift, precision and nuance. The 2010 is harmonious and wonderfully complete. Another year or two in bottle will only help the 2010 show even better, but the truth is it is already pretty delicious. The 2010 was fermented with 45% whole clusters and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, 25% new. Late season heat spikes took 50% of the crop with them, reducing production dramatically. (AG) 94+  (2/2014)

92 points Wine & Spirits

 The Donelan team gave up half the crop at this vineyard following August heat spikes, but their selection for the final wine is remarkably balanced and refined. A significant portion of whole clusters in the fermentation lends a firm structure to the wine, its tannins providing a mineral fragrance that’s breathable in the finish. The color is a deep, rich garnet, the fruit equally deep red, with highlights of strawberries and jasmine. A compelling Syrah with cool, peppery tension.  (2/2013)

91 points Wine Spectator

 Tightly bundled, with a mix of loamy earth, dark berry, cedar, hazelnut and tobacco, this impresses with detailed flavors that linger on the finish. Drink now through 2022. (JL)  (3/2013)

90 points Wine Enthusiast

 While this lacks some of the immediate appeal of prior vintages, it’s a better structured wine, with tannins and a rich vein of acidity that gives a framework to the flavors of blackberries, roasted meats, currants and pepper. Give this 3–4 years in the cellar. *Cellar Selection*  (4/2013)

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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.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Sonoma County

- Second in fame only to Napa, this "other" valley offers just about every climate and topography imaginable. From its cool and fog-enshrouded coastal regions on the far west, to the sprawling Alexander Valley on the boarder of Napa and the many little dips and peaks in between, Sonoma has been a vital wine-grape-growing region since the mid 1800s. Important sub-AVAs include Chalk Hill (known for chardonnay and sauvignon blanc), Dry Creek Valley (where zin is king) Knights Valley (largely cabernet land), Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast (both celebrated pinot and chardonnay zones).