2011 Waters Syrah Washington State

Hello friends. “Always toward absent lovers love’s tide stronger flows.” Sextus Propertius, Elegies.

True enough in 25 BC. True enough two thousand years later. Oh, how we long for that once had, and now gone.

Today, then, we present the return of an absent lover:

Yes, our lover has returned by a different name, but we recognize it nevertheless. This is the bottle that used to be Waters’ “Columbia Valley Syrah.” The last time we offered it was the last time it was bottled: the 2007 vintage, offered in October 2010.

What was brilliant about this bottling back then: it was treated with the same care and attention as the Waters single-vineyard Syrahs, but at a much more accessible tariff. Oh, and it was a (hidden) single-vineyard itself.

Nothing has changed in the interregnum. This 2011 is the same single-vineyard Syrah that it was for the 2007 vintage, and for the 2006 vintage: Minick Vineyard, a cool, high-altitude site in the Yakima Valley (see location here). But now, instead of that single vineyard being masked by the generic “Columbia Valley” label, it is masked by the more generic “Washington State” label (a better marketing tool, I suspect, in markets outside the Pac-NW).

Jamie Brown has been making savory, earthy, vineyard-expressive Syrah in Washington for so long now that it’s easy to forget how reactionary his winemaking style was in the early days. I still remember my first experience with one of his single-vineyard Syrahs – a Spofford Station bottling under the old JLC label – coating my palate like a funky, snug old pair of boots. I haven’t stopped admiring Jamie’s winemaking since.

But rare indeed is the opportunity to taste his Syrahs at this tariff anymore, as this bottling disappeared during the 2008, 09, and 10 vintages. I’m thrilled to see it back, and I have no clue whether it’s here to stay. Nothing to do, I suppose, but embrace the present, and the cooler 2011 vintage seems to mesh perfectly with the type of Syrah Jamie wants to make.

Minick Syrah, when kept from getting overripe, tends towards this lovely smoky orange-peel note: like Campari around a campfire. That’s in full effect here, mixed with notes of boysenberry and smoked sausage. Vibrant and complex, this has classy, silky texture to go with the flavors of red berry fruit and smoked meat and earth. It’s true to the house style: low alcohol (13.5%), acid-driven structure, and emphases on purity and transparency.

First come first served up to 12 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be available for pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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