Two Syrahs from K Vintners

Hello friends. We’re fortunate to have dibs today on two rarities from the higher end of the K Vintners lineup that are about to hit Seattle. A few items of note:

1. Our list has first right of refusal on the tiny parcels coming into Seattle. If we want it all, we get it all. We need to place our order on Tuesday morning, so please try to get order requests in by Monday night. Given the quick turnaround, I had to made a go/no-go decision without sampling. Given the love for K Syrahs among our list members and the consistency of my experience with previous vintages, I’m confident that these wines will deliver the goods.

2. As usual with the K lineup, these wines have not yet been professionally reviewed. Unfortunately, the turnaround time for most publications just does not mesh with the speed of sales here. The most recent vintages of these wines to be reviewed are typically one or two vintages prior to the current release. I will include some of those recent-vintage reviews below.

3. I suspect we’ll have to under-allocate here, given the parcel sizes, so a quick reminder of our allocation technique: Our allocations favor breadth over depth, so that everyone gets one bottle before anyone gets two. And our formula for prioritizing allocations includes overall orders, frequency of orders, recency of orders, and list tenure, among other factors.

Now, onto the wines:

2011 K Vintners Syrah “The Beautiful”

K only releases The Beautiful in years where they can harvest Viognier with their Syrah and co-ferment the two. This is the sixth vintage of the wine (following versions in 2002, 03, 05, 09, and 10).

In 2011, they wound up with a full 5% Viognier in the mix, and all the fruit comes from River Rock Vineyard, a site in the rocks of the Walla Walla Valley planted in 2001. This gets ambient-yeast fermented with 50% stems and is then aged for a little over a year in Burgundy barrels (just 25% new). Alcohol is 13.5%, low by K Vintners standards but typical for the cooler vintage. Production was just 250 cases, so there’s very little of this to go around. Expect soaring floral aromatics from the Viognier, and a palate that mixes silky texture with the verve and power of funky, mineral-inflected fruit from the rocks.

Jeb Dunnuck has given 95pt reviews to each of the past two vintages: the 2009 when he was still writing for The Rhone Report, and then the 2010 in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. It will likely be sometime in 2014 that we start to see reviews for the 2011 vintage, and by then, hopefully our bottles are safely tucked away in our cellars or our bellies.

2009 K Vintners Syrah “The Hustler”

Even more rare than The Beautiful is The Hustler, which has only been made twice before – 2003 (97pts Wine Advocate; Jay Miller) and 2007 (96pts Wine Enthusiast; Paul Gregutt) – and only yielded 135 cases in 2009. It seems like Charles likes to make this in especially warm years, pick ultra-ripe fruit, and then tuck it away in barrel for several years.

It comes entirely from Morrison Lane Vineyard, the oldest commercial Syrah vines in the Walla Walla Valley (planted in 1994), and it spent three years in Burgundy barrels (40% new). If The Beautiful is about cool-vintage elegance, finesse, and floral grace, this is the polar opposite. The Hustler is about power, intensity, concentration. It clocks in at 15% alcohol, and we should expect the signature of Morrison Lane Syrah, which is dark dark dark: blackberry and black cherry fruit, tarry asphalt, dark-roasted meat, and pencil lead mineral.

Again, this one will be long gone before its reviews are published, but the track record is quite strong and this is a stylistic match to those previous vintages.

Please limit order requests to 4 bottles of each wine, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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