2011 Two Vintners Syrah

Hello friends. Morgan Lee visited the new warehouse on a recent Thursday evening, and I’ll admit, I was tired in body, spirit, and palate. It had been a busy Thursday, made busier still by the fact that Matt was off getting married in Texas. We still didn’t have a dishwasher (apparently you need plumbing first; who knew?) and had run out of stems, so we were pouring out of our “rustic” blue Solo cups. I was pulling wines for my mother-in-law, and three of her bottles of sparkling wine had magically gone missing. I was a grumpy ol’ grouch.

And then Morgan Lee began pouring his wines.

Our list members have been on the Morgan bandwagon for some time, and this tasting was a good reminder why. Is there a more compelling young winemaker in Washington right now? Two Vintners is a total hidden gem, a Washington insider’s label.

Morgan cut his teeth at a winery that knows a thing or two about value: Columbia Crest. He was then hired by Covington Cellars in 2007 and helped launch Two Vintners, a sister-label, soon thereafter. Two Vintners is a label where Morgan can take a few more chances, be a little more playful, and the results have been some of the finest values we have offered, perhaps none better than what we have today:

I’m racking my brains, trying to think whether I’ve tasted a more compelling sub-$20 Syrah out of Washington this year. What makes it so compelling is that it answers an age-old question in Washington Syrah:

What do you get when you add YakFunk to RocksFunk?

We have a huge contingent of funkheads (read that word carefully; I don’t want anyone getting offended!) on our list, those of us who love the wild, savory side of Syrah. The only problem, traditionally, is that funky Syrahs have been mostly the domain of $35-and-up bottles. What excites me so much about this bottle is the price point, because I know that it’s going to allow folks who have never tried this style of Washington Syrah to wet their collective whistles, and I know that it’s going to allow folks who already love this style to go deep.

When I think of sources for funky Washington Syrah, my mind wanders to two places: Boushey Vineyard, and the rocks portion of the Walla Walla Valley. And nary the twain shall meet, at least until today. Morgan’s 2011 Syrah is about 80% Yakima Valley fruit, split between Boushey and Olsen. That 80% also includes a 5% co-ferment with Olsen Roussanne (at this point, I’m in full-on “Your Head A Splode” mode). The remainder is split between Stoney Vine (Rocks), Stone Valley (Rocks), and Discovery (Horse Heaven).

As you’d expect with those proportions, it’s YakFunk to the fore, with notes of earth, mushroom, smoked ham, and blueberry fruit. The RocksFunk (briny green olives, beef stock, sanguine notes, minerals) supplies all the subtleties, the grace notes. Now it would be one thing if this were a one-trick pony, but this has more than just a bevy of savory/saline Syrah aromas. It is also a textural marvel, seamlessly coating the palate with Syrah’s savory goodness. It’s a rich stew of flavors, and it lingers on the palate and in the memory. We’re entering the season of dark afternoons, of kitchens with bubbling pots containing slowly braising meats. We’re entering savory Syrah season, and this is a hell of savory Syrah.

First come first served up to 24 bottles, and the wine should arrive 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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