2011 Proper Syrah

Hello friends. I feel like a broken record, but the same intro for Monday’s VdP offer applies here: Today we have an encore to one of our most popular wines of the year:

We first offered the 2010 vintage of Proper Syrah in September 2012, where I mentioned that the term “baby Cayuse” came to mind. We proceeded to reoffer it again in November ’12, March ’13, and July ’13, amidst strong reviews from Sean Sullivan, Rand Sealey, and Jeb Dunnuck, before it finally sold out. We still get reorder requests that we have to zero out; the wine was that popular.

Now I really feel for David Houle and Conor McCluskey, the two partners involved in Proper. 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). They built great momentum with outstanding harvests in 2009 and 2010, and then.

Then came the Thanksgiving freeze of 2010, which knocked out their entire vineyard for the 2011 vintage. They’ll be back with estate fruit for the 2012 and 2013 vintages (both of which went fine), but for 2011, here’s what the winery had to say:

“For the 2011 growing season we chose to focus our energy on helping our young vineyard recoup from the stressful freeze rather than farm it to produce a crop for winemaking. Fortunately we were able to procure fruit from another vineyard in the rocks, just a ‘stone’s throw’ from our estate property.”

Oh the mystery! Which vineyard is it? I’m not sure. Even if you assume “stone’s throw” is a hint, about 80% of vineyards in the rocks have “stone” or “rock” in the name, so that’s not very helpful. [One important note: this has nothing to do with Nefarious Cellars’ estate Stone’s Throw Vineyard, a Riesling site in the mouth of the Methow Valley.]

Whichever neighbor they purchased from, they chose wisely, because the rocks signature is present for certain, with its savory/funky mix of bacon fat, green olive, and boysenberry fruit. It’s lighter, in both color and body, than the 2010, clearly coming from a cool vintage. Pretty nifty to see a low-alc (13.8% listed) expression of rocks Syrah. The flavor character (briny olives, meatiness, blue/black fruits) is all there, but texturally, this is more ethereal, all lightness and grace. It picks up weight with longer oxygen exposure, so drop it in the decanter if you’re looking for more heft, or just enjoy it for what it is: an honest expression of cool-vintage rocks Syrah.

Unlike last vintage, there will almost certainly be no reoffers. We’ve already received the only shipment we’re going to get, and it’s about (gulp) 20% of the overall amount of the 2010 vintage ordered by our list members. I’m going to set the upper limit for order requests to 4 bottles, but allocations may end up maxing out at more like 1-2 bottles; it’s hard to gauge how much pent-up interest there is in Proper. Regardless, we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests, and the wine is in the warehouse and ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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