Six from Syncline

Hello friends. Syncline is among Washington’s most thrilling wineries. The flagship winery for the Columbia Gorge (an amazing region I wrote about for Seattle Magazine last year), Syncline has released a number of fascinating wines in 2013. We’re a little behind with Syncline offerings, so we’re rolling them into a MEGA-Syncline offering today (we’ll at least limit it to single-varietal wines and skip the blends, but that’s still *six* wines!).

James and Poppie Mantone have been part of the Washington vanguard since they launched their winery. They were early adopters of Rhone varietals, are one of the few producers able to coax something lovely out of Washington Pinot Noir, and are now really pushing the boundaries of white varieties in the state.

For freshness, for purity, for transparency, Syncline is tough to beat:

2012 Syncline Gruner Veltliner Underwood Mtn Vineyard

The great, savory white grape of Austria has found a home in Washington, on the southern slopes of Underwood Mountain Vineyard (see location here). The vines first came online for production in 2008, and we have offered every vintage since. When David Schildknecht, the great lover of Austrian wines, first got his hands on Syncline’s Gruner (the 2011 vintage), he called it “as good as any I have witnessed from a North American Gruner Veltliner.” High praise from a man not prone to it. Gruners are outstanding food-pairing wines. Because of their savory side, they pair with tough-to-complement foods like artichokes and asparagus. They’re also beautiful oyster wines, for those of you so inclined. Picked after Halloween and still only coming in at 12.7% alc, this was fermented in concrete (cool!) and presents a balanced triangle of citrus (lemon, lime), savory (lentil, celery, snap pea), and saline. A total live-wire wine, intense and precise.

2012 Syncline Picpoul Boushey Vineyard

All from Boushey Vineyard, this is typically a blending component in Subduction White, but James got enough in 2012 to bottle it on its own. The one (memorable) time I had dinner at Dick Boushey’s house, a Picpoul (from McCrea, I believe) was the one bottle from his own vineyard that he chose to serve. If it’s good enough for Dick Boushey, it’s good enough for us! Done all in stainless and coming in at 14.4%, it offers a great mix of richness with the vibrancy Picpoul is known for (the name for the variety essentially translates to “lipsmacker” or “lip-stinger”, a reference to the grape’s copious natural acidity). This has lovely tree fruit (pear mostly), along with lemony acid and chalky/mineral cut. A curiosity, but a lovely one at that.

2011 Syncline Grenache

Frequently a club-only wine for Syncline, in 2011 it’s being released a bit wider. James sources Grenache from all over Washington: Ciel du Cheval and Force Majeure on Red Mountain, Northridge on the Wahluke Slope, McKinley Springs in Horse Heaven. It’s pan-Washington, and I love this style of Grenache: lighter-bodied, and all about being fresh, pure, and clean. Aromas and flavors mix classic Grenache notes of raspberry, green strawberry, and white pepper, and the texture is lovely, with a creaminess emerging in the mid-palate after a brisk, nervy attack. A delicious summer red.

2011 Syncline Mourvedre

From Coyote Canyon, Ciel, and Heart of the Hill, this offers a nose of brambly berry fruit, plums, leather, and grapefruit peel. A great core of plummy fruit sits at the center of the palate, shaded by complexities of meat and leather spice. This has zest and flair, a certain spiciness to its palate and personality.

2011 Syncline Pinot Noir Underwood Mtn Vineyard

This is the first time Syncline’s Pinot has come entirely from Underwood Mountain Vineyard (see the Gruner above for the link to the map). All the Celilo Vineyard fruit that formerly formed the spine of this wine has been transitioned into Syncline’s sparkling program (yum). With a listed alc of just 12.7%, this drinks like something at the intersection of Pinot and Gamay, of Oregon and Burgundy and Spatburgunder. Or maybe it drinks like Washington Pinot! It’s all crunchy black raspberry and blackberry and pomegranate fruit, interspersed with streaks of gravel and black pepper and clover. A vin de soif, with racy energy, taut texture. Should be fascinating to watch this one develop.

2009 Syncline “Scintillation” Blanc de Blancs Celilo Vineyard

Shocked that there’s any of this left, but a small amount remains. Originally offered on May 4, 2012. Original offering text: All from Celilo, this is a Blanc de Blancs, a 100% Chardonnay, and it smells like it (and a lot like BdB Champagne), all lemony and leesy. All that lees contact imparts the bready, biscuity aromatics that those of us who love Champagne hold so dear. The palate has a fine mousse, and there is wonderful length and intensity here. This is a fine opportunity to taste a collaboration between a vineyard manager and a winemaker deeply committed to making as fine a sparkling wine as Celilo’s terroir will allow.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (David Schildknecht): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

First come first served up to 48 bottles total (mix and match as you like, with the possible exception of the Scintillation, which may get allocated), and the wine should arrive at the warehouse in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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