2010 Proper Syrah

Hello friends. What we’ve known all along has now been borne out by a national publication: 2010 Proper Syrah is a special, special bottle of wine.

We first offered this wine on September 12, 2012. Then we reoffered it on November 28. And again on March 31. It is as popular a wine as we have ever offered through Full Pull, and its run is coming to an end:

Fortunately, because of our list’s support of this project from the very beginning, David Houle has agreed to ship us another parcel, even though I imagine they’re getting hammered with requests after this review:

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “($36); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”

Yikes. To put this in perspective, the other Washington Syrahs Jeb reviewed and scored 94pts or higher range from $40-$100, with a median of $65. Which only confirms what we’ve all known since last September: Proper is one hell of a value.

I’ll admit I allowed myself a quick swelling of pride at our list’s early discovery and support of this brilliant wine. That, of course, turned quickly to horror as I realized the increased sales pressure a review like this will put on a winery like Proper. But that’s a problem for another day. Today, let’s reprint some excerpts from our original offering and access this beauty one more time.
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“Baby Cayuse” is the first thought that crossed my (joyously stunned) mind when I opened a sample bottle of today’s wine.

My second thought, after I saw the tariff, is unprintable for a family-friendly wine offering, but it was a two-word phrase, and it started with “holy.”

In a summer that has seen a series of increasingly exciting new entrants to the Washington wine scene, Proper may be the most thrilling of all.

Why? Well, 1) because this wine displays a crystalline expression of funky Walla Walla Rocks terroir that I have only previously seen in wines from Cayuse and Reynvaan; 2) unlike Cayuse and Reynvaan, this winery does not (yet) have a closed mailing list, so the wines are actually available; and 3) did I mention the price?

Run, don’t walk, to this one. Once these wines get submitted to Paul Gregutt, and to Harvey Steiman, and to the slew of other professional critics who have lavished praise on Christophe Baron’s and Matt Reynvaan’s wines in the past, it’s going to be game over. [Ed note: clearly I should have included Jeb Dunnuck in this list!]. Our only advantage is the element of surprise.

What do you want to hear about first: the wine or the story? Let’s start with the wine, because I love writing tasting notes for wines that display that funky rocks character. Here we go on the aromatics: charred meat, blood, green olive, ash, seaweed, blackberry. And then on the palate, we get all of the purity and balance that I’m beginning to associate with the best wines from 2010. But it’s the umami character, the rocks signature, that really takes your breath away here, a savory stew of meat and brine to complement all that wonderful fruit. Super-intense, with a finish that just won’t quit, this is outlandish wine, perhaps the most exciting bottle I have tasted in 2012.

The story starts with two partners (David Houle and Conor McCluskey) from Colorado who love earthy, funky wines. Great admirers of Christophe’s work at Cayuse, they jumped at the chance to purchase a cherry orchard around the corner from Cayuse Vineyards. In 2007, the cherries went out, and the vines went in (all Syrah).

Their next important decision was hiring a winemaker, and they couldn’t have chosen better: Sean Boyd of Rotie Cellars, notorious Rhone freak and lover of earthy, ethereal Syrahs himself. Third-leaf fruit in 2009 produced 50 cases, most of which went to friends and family. The 2010 vintage produced 450 cases.

Here is Sean Sullivan’s writeup of Proper on Washington Wine Report, and here is his review:

Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($36); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. Rating: ****/***** (Excellent/Exceptional).”
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First come first served with no upper limit, and the wine should arrive at the warehouse in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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