Hello friends. The list of successful sub-$20 Washington Syrahs is not a long one: Southard, For A Song, The Jack. (I’m sure there are a few more we’ve offered that I’m forgetting). And then there’s Morgan Lee’s Columbia Valley Syrah for Two Vintners, which in just three short vintages has become a list staple, offering terrific stuffing and complexity at a sub-$20 tag. Today it returns with a new vintage, and please note that below the Syrah, we’ll be offering the new releases of two whites from Morgan, both quite limited.
This one has also become limited, and it’s mostly a price point issue. Somms around town have sniffed it out as a potential glass pour candidate, and once a wine ends up on a few glass pour lists, it tends to deplete and deplete and deplete. Last year, we only got one shot at the 2012 vintage, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same for this one.
It’s a real pan-Washington Syrah, coming from five vineyards in five separate AVAs: Olsen (Yakima Valley), Discovery (Horse Heaven), Klipsun (Red Mountain), Stonetree (Wahluke Slope), and Stoney Vine (Walla Walla Valley). It also sees a 2% Roussanne coferment, which always adds one more layer of complexity to an already-complex wine. It was raised in large French puncheons (almost all used or neutral), and it clocks in at 14.4% listed alc.
Sniffed blind, I think I would have pegged this as Owen Roe’s Ex Umbris. It has that same insistent smoky quality; just lovely. Those wafts of smoke surround a core of blackberry and blueberry fruits, dark loamy earth, and smoldering charcoal. That nose practically cries out to fire up the barbeque and grill something. In the mouth, this is intense, deep, openly delicious, another fine example of the easy charm of the 2013 vintage. There’s great presence and palate-weight here, complemented by bright acidity, and it finishes with an earthy kick of soft dusty tannins. Pass the smoked brisket. Pass the pulled pork.
We offered this for the first time last year, but that was at [TEXT WITHHELD]. Morgan has offered us a nice price drop for this year, which will hopefully make this lovely white more accessible to our list members. Add up a series of factors – all stainless steel, no malo, 13.1% listed alc – and you begin to get a sense of a bright, energetic version of Roussanne (all from Olsen Vineyard fruit). The nose has that wonderful Roussanne combination of stone fruits (nectarines, apricots) and nuts and mineral, and that combination continues on the palate, which is full of verve and intensity. Roussanne wants to be fleshy by nature, and especially in a warm year like 2014. Even with all the factors noted above, there is still a sense of generosity to the fruit here. But that flesh is well balanced by juicy acid and a nervy texture. It’s Roussanne as a summer-into-autumn vin de soif.
There are a few producers (Syncline, Kerloo, Two Vintners) doing exciting work with Grenache Blanc, which is still a real rarity in Washington. This version comes entirely from the inimitable Boushey Vineyard, and it begins with a compelling nose of honeydew melon, peppermint, and chalky mineral. This is another crisp white, clocking in at 13.2% listed alc and seeing no malolactic conversion. All juicy citrusy acid on the attack, this picks up weight and richness in the mid-palate before rolling into a saline, mouthwatering finish. All the components are well-balanced here. This one almost goes down too easily.
First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in the next few weeks, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.