2012 Proper Syrah

Hello friends. We have what is sure to be one of the most eagerly anticipated offers of the year today: the return of estate-bottled juice from a winery that I called “baby Cayuse” in their inaugural vintage:

What a roller coaster ride for the folks behind Proper. Great admirers of Christophe Baron’s work, they jumped at the chance to purchase a cherry orchard around the corner from Cayuse Vineyards (location here). In 2007, the cherries went out, and the vines went in (all Syrah). They built great momentum with outstanding harvests in 2009 (mostly a friends and family wine) and 2010 (the first Proper Syrah we offered), and then.

Then came trouble. The Thanksgiving freeze of 2010 knocked out their entire vineyard for the 2011 vintage. To keep the brand alive, they used purchased fruit from a neighboring rocks vineyard and did a small 2011-vintage release. That 2011 was lovely, but I think all of us who fell in love with the 2010 were eagerly anticipating our next chance to watch this evocative vineyard evolve.

And there were many among our list who loved that 2010. By my count, we offered it four different times – Sept 2012, Nov 2012, Mar 2013, and Jul 2013 – simply because its reorder rate remained off the charts. That last offer in July 2013 coincided with Jeb Dunnuck releasing the first national review of the wine – a 94pt praise-bomb in Wine Advocate – and the wine quickly disappeared after that. This time, Jeb’s review came out well in advance of the wine’s release, and it is just as positive:

Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.” [Note: the only Syrahs to receive stronger reviews from Jeb this year come from an all-star list of wineries: Cayuse/No Girls/Horsepower, K Vintners, Reynvaan, Gramercy, Betz, Corliss; heady company!]

It’s Sean Boyd from Rotie Cellars who is behind this wine. A notorious Rhone freak and lover of earthy, ethereal Syrahs, Sean has crafted a crystalline expression of funky Walla Walla Rocks terroir that is rare to see outside the domains of Cayuse and Reynvaan. And of course, unlike Cayuse and Reynvaan, this Syrah is actually available without a multi-year stay on a waiting list! Someday I’m sure this wine will command prices commensurate with the best Syrahs in the state, but for now, it remains a fine value for lovers of funky rocks Syrah.

The nose contains lovely streaks of pure marionberry and boysenberry fruit, but you’re not here to hear about fruit, are you? Okay, so the savories (and they are legion): there’s a great brackish marine kelpy umami note. There is a whole host of briny green olives. There is a full plate of smoky salumi. It’s a funky, smoky, earthy nose, lifted by notes of wild flowers and herbs to keep things fresh. Just lovely. So alluring. The palate continues the mix of rich fruit and naughty savories, all on a pillowy silky frame that hits the back of your throat before you realize what’s happened. There’s nothing else to do but take another sniff, take another sip.

This remains one of the most exciting new projects coming out of Washington these days, and we’re on it nice and early (the winery just had their own release). First come first served up to 36 bottles, and the wine should arrive in about two weeks, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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