Hello friends. We’ve received many an inquiry about today’s wine, I assume mostly from Wine Enthusiast subscribers who opened their March issue and noticed the rare combination of strong review and low price.
A few of you asked about when the last time a Washington Syrah with this kind of tariff received this kind of review from PaulG, which sent me down the research rabbit hole. It wasn’t in 2013, where the Washington Syrahs receiving 93pt-or-better reviews (19 wines total) ranged in price from $34 to $240, with a median of $50. It wasn’t in 2012 (40 wines total; range $24-$140; median $45).
At that point, I expanded the search to the entire Wine Enthusiast database for reviews of Washington Syrah, looking for bottles listed at $21 or lower with a 93pt-or-better review. It turned out to be a lonely query. In all the years covered, the grand total: two wines. The 2007 Rulo Syrah (reviewed in the August 2010 Wine Enthusiast). And today’s wine:
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “($21); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 93pts.”
This comes from Gordon Estate, a hidden gem and an old-school Washington winery (vineyards planted in 1980; winery founded in 1985). Gordon is that rare beast in Washington; a vigneron-driven winery, where the winery is onsite at the vineyards, and the wines come entirely from grapes grown on the estate. You can see the location on our vineyard map here. That U-shaped area formed by the Columbia and Snake Rivers has some of the best old-vine material in Washington. East of the Yakima Valley, west of the Walla Walla Valley, and north of Horse Heaven, it has remained part of the generalized Columbia Valley all these years, but it wouldn’t be hard to argue for a sub-AVA that would encompass Gordon’s sites, along with Sagemoor, Bacchus, Dionysus, Mirage.
I took the chance on delaying this offer until I could actually taste the wine, and it is indeed a fresh little marvel. Done all whole cluster, and clocking in at 13.9%, it certainly evokes some of the stylistic notes of wineries like Gramercy and Waters. There’s a piercing core of marionberry fruit, streaked with tar and espresso, silty earth and cracked black pepper. In the mouth, you first notice the vibrancy and energy, the taut nerviness of the texture, the salty mineral tang of the cool 2010 vintage. This is not an over-the-top fruit bomb. It seduces with subtlety. There’s also a wildness, a “sauvage” character, that whole-cluster fermentation (stems and all) seems to impart. A lithe, elegant beauty, this should have a fine aging curve ahead of it.
For those of you looking for huge bang-for-the-buck for spring/summer parties or weddings, let’s open this one up: first come first served up to 72 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.