2009 Betz "La Cote Patriarche" Yakima Valley Syrah

SKU #1345409 93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 (from Red Willow Vineyard vines planted in 1986): Bright red-ruby. Wild, musky aromas of strawberry, flint, roasted meat, bacon fat, iodine and fresh blood. Lush and sweet in the mouth, with a wonderfully fine-grained texture that almost hides the wine's intensity and complexity today. The long, youthfully imploded finish features sweet tannins and a piquant note of white pepper. (ST)  (11/2011)

93 points Wine Spectator

 Firm and spicy, this intense red bristles with smoky, tarry overtones around a core of blackberry and licorice flavors, persisting nicely against refined tannins. With all that's going on, the flavors have a welcome transparency. (HS)  (12/2011)

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Intensely ripe yet fresh dark cherry and plum mingle with mouthwateringly savory veal stock in the Betz 2009 Syrah La Cote Patriarche, whose typically carnal personality is also revealed in the way its tannic chew seems to segue into suggestions of rare but charred red meat. Crushed stone, salt, and black pepper in a sustained finish add to the interest and metaphorically sinister personality of a Syrah that conveys an exceptional sense of energy and freshness for its vintage, and is likely to be more expressive in a couple of years as well as to perform rivetingly for the better part of the decade. “I don’t think I have ever seen a relationship between grower and winemaker in Washington like what (Red Willow proprietor) Mike Sauer had with the late Dave Lake,” notes Betz, “and I don’t think anyone’s going to replace that, but what Mike’s team does brings to what we do an attention to detail (whereby) nothing happens by chance.” That certainly fits the image Betz conveys of his own approach and explains what led him to name this cuvee with Sauer in mind. (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.


- 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.