Hello friends. We have the inside track on a funkystunning as-yet-unreleased rocks Syrah today.
I know I already posited that 2014 is going to be the year of value Cabernets, but since it’s only February, will you allow me to suggest another potential theme?
I’m beginning to think that 2014 is going to be the year when the Cayuse/Reynvaan stranglehold on funky Walla Walla Valley rocks Syrah really begins to loosen its grip.
There have been signs in recent years. Rich Funk’s rocks vineyard (which has been bottled by Rich himself and by Trey Busch) was an early indicator. But things get really exciting when we start to see these single-vineyard bottlings offered out at tariffs in the $30s.
Add today’s wine to the 2012 Proper Syrah, whose release is expected later this year, and we already have two. All we need is one or two more releases in 2014 and we can officially call it a trend.
Now let me be clear: I don’t think these upstarts are ready to challenge Christophe for the throne. Until folks are willing to take on his obsessive farming regimen, he will remain the undisputed king. But still, there is real joy in this, and the joy comes from accessibility. One of the frustrations of recent years has been that both Cayuse/No Girls and Reynvaan have had closed mailing lists. For those of us not on those lists, our only real options to taste rocks Syrah have been to pay exorbitant prices at restaurants or to pay exorbitant prices at auction. Lousy options both.
But now, as this most recent wave of rocks plantings comes online, I suspect we’re going to see more and more wonderful bottles like this. I certainly hope so.
I first tasted this wine at Full Pull’s holiday party in December, and we can all thank Matt Tessler for that. Matt had spent a day working with Morgan out at Two Vintners, and he returned with this bottle, which he decided to save for our dinner. Now, let me just say that this was not the first bottle tasted over the course of the evening, so when I woke up the next morning, I didn’t really trust my initial notes (which can be summed up as “holy expletive!”)
So I did what any solid wine professional/curator would do: I asked for another free bottle. This time, it was my first taste of the day, so I’m much more trustworthy of my notes. And the first line in my notes is: “Nose reminds me of first Cayuse I ever tried (Cailloux Vineyard 2004).” Which actually makes some sense, considering the Cayuse vine age at the time is similar to the Stoney Vine vine age now. And check out what this vineyard (a Dusted Valley estate site planted in 2007) looks like, with vines growing right out of the river cobbles.
There’s huge meatiness here – smoked ham hock, bacon fat – and it’s lifted by these beautiful floral notes (violet). Blueberry fruit and black olive brine make appearances as well, but above all it’s meat meat meat. The palate possesses terrific richness for the cool vintage, a mouthful of sanguine minerality, bloody and delicious (and bloody delicious). It’s a thrilling mouthful, an honest expression of a truly special part of Washington. Those of us who tried Two Vintners Columbia Valley Syrah from 2011 sensed Morgan’s promise in working with funkier Syrah sites (that one was 80% Yakima Valley fruit). This bottling is promise fulfilled, a total thrill-ride for those of us who love the funky side of Syrah.
Now, a quick word on logistics. This wine has not yet been released, and lucky for us, I don’t think anyone else in town really knows about it yet. There were just 100 cases produced, and Morgan has set aside a hefty chunk for his wine club release on Feb 21 (as he should). But good news: we have dibs on the entire remainder. If our list members want it all, we get it all. Unless I over-order, I suspect this one will not be available for reorder, because if this gets tasted more broadly, it’s going to fly.
Let’s not let that happen. Please limit order requests to 36 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. 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.