Hello friends. For every year that I can remember of my first eighteen, my family would rent a house in Ocean City, NJ for part of August. And I was one of those kids for whom the anticipation of going “down the shore” was almost the equal of the vacation itself. As the muggy weeks would roll by in the Philly suburbs, I would start to see the boardwalk, smell the salt air, hear the seagulls caw, taste the Kohrs custard, feel the roar of the first wave I would body-surf with my uncles.
Not much has changed in my adult life (well, okay, less bodysurfing unfortunately): the act of looking forward to something brings almost as much pleasure as the thing itself.
And so it is with Gramercy’s 2012 Syrahs. Here’s what Greg Harrington had to say about the 2012 vintage: “Brandon and I have been particularly excited about the 2012 vintage. You have to love when everything goes right. It gets scary when everything is going right. We just stand around the winery waiting for something to happen – a sudden freeze that we didn’t expect, the truck to break – so many things can go wrong. We feel it’s a bit easier to deal with the tougher vintages like 2010 or 2011. We tend to stay on our game all day. In 2012, we just kinda sit around and drink beer while interns process perfect fruit. Put it in the fermenter, its ferments steady and clean, and put it in a barrel. Winemakers end up feeling totally useless. But that is the story of 2012. It’s a fantastic vintage a la 2007… I feel this is an incredible release and a fantastic way to introduce you to the spectacular 2012 vintage.”
I think most of you know by now how I feel about the 2012 vintage in Washington (outstanding) and how I feel about the winemaking team of Greg Harrington and Brandon Moss (operating at the top of their game). That combination, plus Greg’s text above, had me salivating before the corks were popped on Gramercy’s 2012 Syrahs, and that saliva was not ill-founded. This is a marvelous pair of Syrahs from Rhone specialists working at the peak of their powers, must-try wines for those of us who love terroir expression through the prism of Syrah.
[Please note: we also have a small parcel of 2012 Third Man, and we’ll include an offer link at the bottom.]
This is a new wine for Gramercy, so I’ll let Greg introduce it: “As we search Washington for better and more unique Syrah, we see two things happening: First, our upper end wines are becoming more vineyard focused with John Lewis and The Deuce based on Les Collines and Lagniappe based on Red Willow. Second, we love the combination of fruit from the lower Yakima Valley and Walla Walla. We can make earthy wines with both structure and freshness. Third, we want to make a Syrah that has better availability and some potential for growth. Enter the Columbia Valley Syrah. This wine blends 4 vineyards – the northerly Minick and Olsen with two Walla Walla Rocks sources – SJR and Stony Vine. Minick and Olsen provide red fruit and freshness, the Rocks gives pepper, funk, smoke, depth and structure. This wine, aged 18 months in neutral barrel, is about 40% whole cluster. Taste: Blueberry, leather, saline, meat, smoke, funk, raspberry, red cherry, violets, roses, medium body, crisp acidity and energy.”
I think people are going to freak out over this wine. I certainly did. The nose has glorious complexity with obvious Rocks character: earthy and briny, with smoke and mineral and salt and kelp notes overlaying raspberry fruit. There’s a real wildness to this, a sauvage character that is thrilling. It’s the nervier of the two Syrahs texturally (13.7% listed alc), a tightrope walk of savory/umami flavors. For me, this is quintessential Gramercy house style, and it might be the lowest-priced Gramercy Syrah we’ve ever offered. For those of you who have hesitated to dive into Gramercy’s Syrah portfolio because of pricing, I heartily encourage a splurge here. And for those of you who already love Gramercy’s Syrahs, I probably don’t need to say any more.
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[Barrel Sample]; [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]”
Greg’s notes: “We realized a major inequality for our Syrahs in 2012. Every wine has a name, except the Walla Walla Syrah… The Deuce pays homage to our hometown of Walla Walla. So nice they named it yada yada yada… The 2012 Deuce shows the best of Les Collines combined with a bit of Rocks fruit. Fruit & Funk. Each year, Les Collines seems to give us more. We truly believe it is one of the top 5 Syrah vineyards in Washington. We are privileged to have Blocks 50, 46 and 36 on the slope. Most excitingly, our new planting across from the John Lewis Block (46) comes online next year. Fermented with 80% whole cluster, the wine was aged for 18 months in neutral puncheon and 225 liter barrels. The 2012 is the most intense and structured Walla Walla Syrah to date. Taste: Black cherry, funk, salumi, salty meat, soy sauce, cranberry, green olive, pepper, lavender, brine, rocks, jerky, violets, tar, pine needles.”
This combines two of my absolute favorite Walla Walla Syrah vineyards: Les Collines and SJR. Those of you shut out or under-allocated on our Delmas Syrah offer may want to pay attention here, as this is another chance to access SJR fruit, a site of growing importance in the Rocks. And you can see why, as it contributes to a thriller nose, funky and beautiful with flowers and smoldering meat, smoky bacon and blue fruit, brine and salt. Les Collines adds its signature pine nut note for lift, and the whole package is a masterpiece of complexity and intensity. It clocks in at 14.1% listed alc, drinks a bit richer than the CV Syrah but not much, and should easily age for a decade. This has to be among the most successful Syrahs Gramercy has ever bottled.
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck): “[Barrel Sample]; [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]”
Greg’s notes: “The 2012 Third Man is most likely our best to date. It is certainly the richest and most full bodied. Remember we are using the Gramercy Scale when we say ripe. These amps go to 7… In 2012, we finally found that elusive red – black fruit combination of the best wines of the Southern Rhone. In 2012, we decided to switch the usually Minick Syrah for the infamous Les Collines Block 50. The improvement is a momentous change. The black fruit of Les Collines is a fantastic blend with the Grenache and Mourvédre from Olsen and Alder Ridge Vineyards. We fermented each variety with varying degree of stems in open top fermenters for 17-21 days. The wines were blended and aged in 2-7 year old puncheons and 225L barrels. The 2012 Third Man has 57% Grenache, 38% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre. Taste: Combination of red/black fruit, raspberry, blackberry, plum, smoke, meat, black pepper, Provence herbs, ripe, intense mid-palate, floral potpourri, slight vanilla.”
Wine Advocate (Jeb Dunnuck):“[Barrel Sample]; [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]”
Please limit order requests to 12 bottles of CV Syrah and 6 bottles each of The Deuce and Third Man, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.