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Twelve great Syrahs from Washington State, California and Chile

Written By | Apr 24, 2014

SEATTLE, Wash. – April 24 – Without question, Syrah is the most popular Rhone red varietal. It is full-bodied with nice tannins and presents some nice “meaty” flavors that have wine lovers around the globe falling in love with it.

Even though California has been producing wines based on Syrah for decades, Washington State’s Syrah have gained popularity quickly because of its many cool-climate vineyards.  Even though Syrah grows good in moderate climate areas such as Rhone and the Walla Walla Valley, it’s a grape that subjectively provides better flavors from cooler locations.

In this round-up, we take a look at quite a few from Washington State, two from California and three from Chile:


2010 B Cellars Stagecoach Vineyards:
On the nose: Fabulous notes of Kobe beef jerky, peppercorns, violet, blackberry, Marion berry, dark chocolate and coffee.

On the palate: A wine that needs awhile to open up and come around but once it does, you’ll be rewarded with a smorgasbord of various flavors which all culminate into a very rewarding experience. Lightly smoked meat, black peppercorns, violet and dark fruit will take your tongue on a thrill ride.

2009 Spring Mountain Vineyards:
On the nose: Bramble, blueberry, earl gray tea, white blossom, black raspberries, black cherries, leather and dark chocolate:

On the palate: A still very young, vibrant Syrah which shows no signs of slowing down in the aging process any time soon. Well-structured layering of flavors going on in the glass with inviting berry flavors, spiced overtones, leather and some mushroom action as well. A solid wine all the way from the first sip to the finish line.


2010 Matetic EQ:
On the nose: Bacon fat, blackberry, beef jerky, blueberry, black pepper, toasted oak, forest floor, tree bark and mushroom.

On the palate: A very full-bodied Syrah and one that needs an hour in the decanter or run through an aerator. Lush, blackened fruit abound with overtones of spiced oak, venison and bacon drippings. Good attack of the fruit, solid mid palate and a beautiful lingering finish.

2010 Santa Carolina Reserve:
On the nose: Spiced plums, tobacco, dark cocoa, jerky stuff (you know, that “chew” in the can?), allspice, bramble and a hint of blueberry.

On the palate: A rather tasty Syrah that has good fruit, acid and tannin, however is a bit too heavy on the oak. While this should mellow out a bit with a few more years of bottle age, some people may enjoy that element.

2009 Undurraga T.H. Syrah:
On the nose: Fresh herbs, pencil lead, raspberry, huckleberry, peppercorns, leather, saddle soap and cocoa powder.

On the palate: A good bottle of vino for the money as it carries with it a good sense of fruit, acidity and tannin, however, it’s relatively short finish keeps it from being “great”. Nonetheless, it’s a good value for what it brings to the table.

Washington State:

2011 Amavi Les Collines Vineyard:
On the nose: Dried plum, fig, cigar wrapper, leather glove, blackberry, Marion berry and peppered jerky.

On the palate: An incredibly young wine that has been released way before it should have. While the wine shows a great deal of promise, you’ll want to aerate or decant for a few hours if you open it now. The firm tannins – left unchecked- really kick in the pucker factor on the end of the palate but the overall balance of the wine is good and should be great with several more years in the bottle.

2011 Betz Le Cote Rousse:
On the nose: Blackberry, bramble, dirt-laced black raspberry, clay, beef jerky, ink and smoked almonds.

On the palate: A gorgeous infusion of black fruit, spice, pencil lead, wild game, plum sauce, herbs and stellar minerality all combine to do a tidal wave of a love offering on your palate. The combination of acids and tannins hold a sublime structure on the fruit and help this wine make your tongue feel like a rock star. Pair’s great with mutton, wild boar, pulled pork, or stewed meats. Drink now after a 2-4hr decant or hold for 8-15 years.

2011 Betz La Cote Patriarche:
On the nose: Blueberry, pink peppercorn, leather, tobacco, licorice, plums and a bit of that lovely “beef jerky funk” that’s so adorable about Syrah.

On the palate: An incredibly young Syrah which could use another 5 years minimum in the bottle to start coming around a bit with cellar potential of 12-16 years. Very nice fruit, good “meatiness” on the palate with the acidity of the 2011 Washington vintage that’s admirable. This wine has the glitz, glamour and finesse that Syrah is all about.

2011 Betz La Serenne:
On the nose: Bramble, caramel, cherry, cola, leather glove, chocolate, bacon, squid ink, violet and beef jerky.

On the palate: Insanely gorgeous flavors of bramble, bacon, ink and smoked meat in a most classic Boushey vineyard kind of way. A very approachable wine now and one that’ll continue to get better over the next 8-12 years or more. If you’re after a very well-structured Syrah that has beautiful fruit, acids and tannin than look no further.

2010 Corvus Syrah-Petite Sirah:
On the nose: Black pepper, quince, blueberry, blackberry, Marion berry, beef jerky and leather with a sprinkle of dark chocolate.

On the palate: Spiced blueberry-plum sauce with flavors of dark chocolate, licorice, ink and leather with a dried beef stick. A very luscious wine that offers up a nearly sublime combination of fruit, tannin and acid with a mouth feel that you’ll want to keep plowing into time and time again.

2010 Efeste Ceidleigh:
On the nose: Bramble, blueberry, Marion berry, beef jerky, pepper corn and plums.

On the palate: An incredibly well-structured Syrah that showcase why Washington State does so well with this grape. There’s a great deal going on here, including leather, plums, blueberry, peppercorn, jerky and a hint of tobacco. From start to finish, this is one of the best Syrah’s you’ll find, anywhere, in its price range.

2010 Saviah Cellars Walla Walla Valley:
On the nose: Pencil lead, plum, tobacco, ink, bramble, a hint of violet and blackberries with peppercorns.

On the palate: 2010 being the cooler year it was allows this wine to have some very nice, balanced acidity while keeping that beautiful, dark, rich fruit that the Walla Walla Valley is known for. Easily a wine that’ll keep you going back to tap it again and again.

2011 Sleight of Hand Cellars Levitation:
On the nose: Nice notes of bacon fat, bramble, beef jerky, smoke, big league chew, pencil lead and pepper.

On the palate: A very young Syrah that shows tons of potential with a good amount of tannin and acidity. Even in its youth, however, the fruit isn’t totally squandered by the acids and tannins – it still comes through. If you decant this wine, you’ll be rewarded with lingering flavors of blueberry, bramble, bacon, plum and peppercorn.

2011 Sleight of Hand Cellars Funkadelic:
On the nose: A lovely amount of earthy-driven blackberry, blueberry, Marion berry, bacon fat, pink peppercorns, plums and shoe polish.

On the palate: Being the cooler year that 2011 was, this wine has some better than normal acids than what we’d normally see from the “rocks” area of Milton-Freewater. This is a Syrah that’s lush, full-bodied without being flabby, has a very nice mid palate with a lingering finish that entices you to pound it.

2010 VA Piano Columbia Valley:
On the nose: Lightly charred blackberry bramble, licorice, leather, black pepper, wild game and jerky.

On the palate: Tart blackberry, violet, bramble and blueberry/blackberry coming thought. There’s also a hint of vanilla, venison jerky and pink pepper. A very solid effort that needs several more years in the bottle or a few hours in a decanter.

2008 Woodhouse Cellars Kennedy Shaw Reserve:
On the nose: Bramble, cigar wrapper, bitter chocolate, spiced blackberry compote, leather and the sole of an old shoe.

On the palate: Still very young on the palate as the tannins are still on the tight side. There’s plenty of acidity to go around and the complexity of this wine lingers on the palate like a well-fit pair of jeans.


Duane Pemberton

Duane Pemberton is a lifestyle writer and CDNs Auto Editor. Pemberton loves anything that helps bring people together which is why he writes about food, wine, cars, and travel.