Three from Waters

Pickup Calendar Reminder: As you’ll see below, pickups are now closed for the holidays. Our next available pickup date is Thursday January 8.

Thursday, Dec 25: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 1: CLOSED
Thursday, Jan 8: OPEN 10am-7pm
Hello friends. Tomorrow we will send our final offer of the year. For today’s penultimate offer, we have a tremendous (and tremendously rare) opportunity: a chance to delve into the Waters library, into Jamie Brown’s terroir-expressive single-vineyard Walla Walla Valley Syrahs from the wonderful 2007 vintage (the vintage of the century! at least until 2012.)

Because Jamie’s winemaking vision and style are now in the ascendancy, it’s hard to remember how against-the-grain it was back in 2009 and 2010 to produce three different Syrahs from vineyards only a few miles away from one another, to turn them into low-oak, low-alc, high-acid wines, to emphasize naughty earthen savories as opposed to overt fruit.

I’m sure some folks in the trade thought Jamie was nuts. Right up until trying the wines, at which point it became clear that Syrah – when treated delicately like this – could be Washington’s Pinot Noir, a prism through which we can taste particular patches of land.

Of course another advantage to this style of Syrah is that the wines age magnificently. Today’s offer is living proof: it has been more than four years since we’ve offered any of these wines, and the current vintage of Waters’ single-vineyard Syrahs (two of which – Forgotten Hills and Loess – remain in the lineup) is 2012. Each of these three wines is certainly near the middle of its peak drinking window, and I feel very lucky that our list has another chance to access these transparent beauties.

2007 Waters Winery Syrah Forgotten Hills Vineyard

I’m not going to reprint reviews here, because the tasting notes are unlikely to be very accurate this many years on, but this received a 94pt review from Sean Sullivan in Seattle Met Magazine and his highest (Exceptional) rating in Washington Wine Report, along with a stellar 93pt review from Stephen Tanzer (IWC) at the time of its release.

It’s a special Syrah. For me it was one of the early bottles from Washington that got me excited about the idea of making a career writing about this place and its wines. I have my own personal library of this wine that I dip into every now and then, and the wine has just kept getting better and better over the past five years. It comes from a 1996-planted, high-elevation (1000’) site at the base of the Blue Mountains. The vineyard sits on a combination of basalt cobblestones (always a good sign for Syrah), silt loam, and sandy loam.

Here’s what I wrote when we first offered this wine in April 2010: I first tasted this wine during my December [2009] trip to Walla Walla, where Waters was my first stop of the trip. I left Seattle at 6 AM and wandered into the Waters tasting room, bleary-eyed, right after 10 AM. Just sniffing this wine was enough to pull me out of my fugue state. The nose is endlessly complex and layered: peppered slab bacon, damp earth, roasted nuts, minerals, smoke, blue and black berries, braised cabbage; absolutely captivating. The palate has stunning depth and a notably creamy texture; a richness that seems almost impossible given the low alcohol. This is a wine that will please the hedonist and the intellectual (two sides of the same personality for some of us). An absolutely remarkable achievement.

Over the years, the fruit has receded a bit and taken on some dried tones, and the savories have only increased, adding subtleties of charcuterie and mushroom to the mix of goodies. Forgotten Hills might be the funkiest Syrah site in the Walla Walla Valley not located in the rocks, and Jamie did a beautiful job coaxing just the right amount of funk. It’s a glorious wine, one I intend to continue checking in on for the next decade or two.

2007 Waters Winery Syrah Loess Vineyard

This was the smallest production of Waters’ three single-vineyard Syrahs in 2007 (just 190 cases, compared to 514 cases of the Forgotten Hills), and perhaps the cultiest, coming as it does from Leonetti’s estate Loess Vineyard (the Figgins family is not exactly known for selling many of their grapes). It’s the only Syrah of the three to be aged completely in neutral oak (the other two saw a whopping 10% new wood). It’s also the only Syrah of the three to be cofermented with Viognier (3%, and all those grapes come from Leonetti’s estate Loess Vineyard as well).

Sean Sullivan gave it an Excellent rating upon release, and a recent tasting showed a wine in a beautiful spot. The nose combines red fruit (cherry, raspberry) with Kalamata olive, dried herbs, and smoky earth notes. The palate contains an attractive mix of fresh and dried fruits along with cooling minty/medicinal Ricola tones. Texturally, we see grace and power rolled up into one balanced package. Supple, mouthwatering, and long, this bottle has never tasted better.

2007 Waters Winery Syrah Pepper Bridge Vineyard

Waters no longer makes this wine (I think 08 may have been the final vintage), which is a pity, because it certainly had its fans. It’s the strongest-reviewed Waters wine ever published by Harvey Steiman (Wine Spectator), a 93-pointer, and it also earned an Excellent rating from Mr. Sullivan.

Tasting all three wines recently, this was drinking the youngest of the triad, still showing beautifully pure, ripe red cherry fruit, still showing loads of structure (including some fine-grained tannins, which have pretty much completely integrated in the other two Syrahs). It’s just beginning to unwind, just beginning to unlock its secret earthy/mineral core to pair with all the generous, fleshy fruit that remains.

Please limit order requests to 18 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in mid-January, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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