Two Syrahs from Saviah Cellars

Hello friends. We recently had the chance to taste through Rich Funk’s lovely lineup of Syrahs for Saviah Cellars, and two of the bottles were standouts. Each is expressive of the AVA where it was born, and each has enough bottle age to be showing beautifully right now. In a market where we’re seeing mostly 2010s and 2011s (and the 2012s won’t be far behind!), it’s a pleasure to dip back into the 2008 and 2009 vintages.

2008 Saviah Cellars Syrah Red Mountain

Although it’s not labeled as such, this is single-vineyard. All the grapes come from Scott Williams’ Ranch At The End Of The Road. The name of the vineyard is apt. You can see on the map that this is among the highest-elevation sites on Red Mountain.

It’s a fantastic, underappreciated Syrah site, one that has for years formed the spine of Bob Betz’s La Cote Rousse Syrah (there blended with Ciel du Cheval fruit). Syrahs from this site, as proven by Rousse, can take years to unwind completely, showing walls of structure and minerality in their youth.

That’s why it’s so exciting to taste this at five years past vintage, just as it’s beginning to reveal its hidden riches. The first thing you notice is the color: an inky, inky, blood red. Aromatics include woodsmoke, red cherry, black pepper, and braising beef. It’s a deep stew of a nose. The palate, even at five years, is still all about power, bringing depth and richness to the spicy flavors, which mix red raspberry and red cherry with savory beef stock, Red Mountain minerals, and mapley barrel nuance. It’s a complex, still-evolving wine, with enough structural heft to see it through several more years.

For some reason, this seems to have never been reviewed; not by the nationals, not by the locals. No matter: that probably has contributed to the fact that this wine is still around, and I’m stoked that we can access it at this point in its development.

2009 Saviah Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley

We originally offered more than a year ago, back in March 2012. I recently had a chance to taste another sample, and was very happy with a) this wine’s development; and b) the fact that it’s still available for a reoffer.

It comes from a trio of southern Walla Walla Valley vineyards, two of which are in the rocks. Watermill Estate (see location here) is literally across the street from Cayuse. Rich Funk’s Funk Estate Vineyard is a bit further to the southeast, and it is the source of Trey Busch’s much-loved, funky-funky Funkadelic Syrah for Sleight of Hand. The third site is also in the not-yet-annexed Oregon portion of the Walla Walla Valley: Anna Marie Vineyard (location here), in the neighborhood of Seven Hills Vineyard and Abeja’s Heather Hill Vineyard.

This only sees about 30% new oak, which helps to allow the rocks terroir to shine through. Here are my original notes from last year: “The aromatics start with roasting pork belly and green olive and earth, then with time and air move onto truffles and blackberries. It’s a swirling aromatic mass of fruits and savories, and it sends your nose back into the glass time and time again before you take your first sip. And that sip? Breakfast in a glass: bacon, coffee, toast, side of mixed berries. A seamless sip, this easily carries its flavors across the entire palate. It’s a wonderful, honest expression of this part of the Walla Walla Valley, seen through the prism of Syrah.”

My recent tasting yielded similar notes. I’d say the briny olive notes have moved a little more to the forefront, and the texture has only grown more silken. It remains a lovely mix of fruit and umami character.

Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “($32); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”

First come first served up to 24 bottles (mix and match as you like), 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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