Hello friends. Syncline is perhaps Washington’s most quietly thrilling winery. Quiet only because of their location (the Columbia Gorge, where they’re the flagship winery; an amazing region that any serious student of northwest wine would do well to visit), and because James and Poppie Mantone are such unassuming, salt of the earth types.
James and Poppie have been part of the Washington vanguard since they launched their winery. They were early adopters of Rhone varietals, are one of the few producers able to coax something lovely out of Washington Pinot Noir, and in recent years have pushed the boundaries of white varieties and sparkling wines in the state. For freshness, for purity, for transparency, Syncline is tough to beat. Not to mention consistency. There’s a reason we’ve offered a whopping 53 wines from Syncline in Full Pull’s history; there never seems to be a dud in the bunch.
Today our focus will be on the new vintage of Syncline’s outstanding value Rhone blend, Subduction. We’ll also include a pair of whites: a new offer for their Boushey Vineyard Picpoul, and a reoffer for their outstanding Gruner Veltliner.
2015 Syncline Subduction Red
I think we can all agree that one of the best trends to come out of the past decade of Washington winegrowing and winemaking is the emergence of Rhone blends as a very strong category for the state. But price point has been a serious challenge. I guess how I’d put it is: we have our Chateauneufs and our Gigondas, but where are our Cotes du Rhones? Fortunately, in recent years, we’ve seen some movement on that front. Ryan Crane’s Majestic for Kerloo (and more recently, Wingman for his Sodo Cellars label), Sean Boyd’s VdP for Rotie, Kevin White’s outrageous blends for his eponymous label, Jon Meuret’s Metis Rouge.
But before all of those: Syncline’s Subduction Red. We’ve been offering it since the 2009 vintage, but I think it had already been around for at least five years then. In 2015 it is a six-variety blend: 52% Syrah, 21% Mourvedre, 11% Grenache, 10% Cinsault, 4% Carignan, 2% Counoise. It is fermented and aged in a combination of French oak (10% new) and concrete Nomblot cube tanks, bottled after just about a year to capture the freshness and vitality of the vintage. It clocks in at 14.2% listed alc and begins with a fresh, expressive nose: blueberry and espresso, sagebrush and rose petals; just lovely. What a brilliant wine this is for youthful drinking. It is chockful of character, of pleasure, offering supple, open-knit texture and a plush mix of fruit and earth tones. For a winter-into-spring house red, it’s tough to beat Subduction.
Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 92pts. [Sullivan context note: of the 107 Rhone reds reviewed by Mr. S. for Enthusiast, only ten have earned stronger reviews (two 94pt reviews; eight 93s), and those ten range in price from $30 to $85, with an average price of $52.50.]
2015 Syncline Picpoul Boushey Vineyard
The name for this variety essentially translates to “lipsmacker” or “lip-stinger”, a reference to the grape’s copious natural acidity. All from Boushey Vineyard and done entirely in concrete egg, this is micro-production at 178 cases and is rarely seen at retail. It clocks in at 14.2%, and this particular lip-stinger is wonderfully intense and saline, mixing melon and passionfruit with salty mineral tones. It’s medium-bodied, with good fleshy fruit to balance all that bright acid. The one (memorable) time I had dinner at Dick Boushey’s house, a Picpoul (from McCrea, I believe) was the one bottle from his own vineyard that he chose to serve. Make of that what you will.
2015 Syncline Gruner Veltliner
Originally offered June 22, 2016. Excerpts from the original: The first Gruner vines in the Gorge came online for production in Syncline’s 2008 vintage, and we have offered every vintage since. When David Schildknecht, the great lover of Austrian wines, first got his hands on Syncline’s Gruner (the 2011 vintage), he called it “as good as any I have witnessed from a North American Gruner Veltliner.” High praise from a man not prone to it. On the vineyard front, there is some sad news and some happy news this year. The sad news is that the Gruner vines have been pulled out at Celilo Vineyard, so this will be Syncline’s final Gruner vintage containing Celilo fruit. The good news: a new Gruner Vineyard came online with the 2015 vintage. Here is what James and Poppie have to say: At 1,000′ in elevation, Bloxom Vineyard lies East of Yakima and North of the Rattlesnake Hills. This cooler site with loess soils is an exciting new planting of Gruner Veltliner. 2015 was the vineyard’s first crop, and we are thrilled to be part of this new venture.
The overall vineyard mix for the 2015 is 38% each Bloxom and Underwood Mountain Vineyards, and 24% Celilo. Ageing took place in a wide variety of vessels: concrete eggs, neutral oak, stainless steel, and acacia barrels. Nifty! Total production in 2015 was 440 cases, and listed alc is 13.7%. The nose kicks off with wonderful savory notes of green lentil and sweet corn, paired to a core of peach fruit. The palate is dry, potent, and *very* earthy/savory. The evolution of this bottling has been dazzling to watch, and it has now reached the point where you could legitimately confuse it for one of its Austrian brethren. I love Gruners like this because they are such outstanding food-pairing wines. Because of their savory side, they pair with tough-to-complement foods like artichokes and asparagus. They’re also beautiful oyster wines, for those of you so inclined.
First come first served up to 36 bottles total, and the wines should arrive at the warehouse in a week or two, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.