Library Vintages

2011   |   2010   |   2009   |   2008   |   2007   |   2006   |   2005   |   2004   |   2003   |   2002   |   2001   |   2000   |   1999   |   1998   |   1997

2011 Rhone-Inspired Wines

Many years ago during our study in France, we often heard the expression that “August makes the must”, the French way of expressing that August temperatures greatly influence wine quality by building sugar and ripeness in the grapes.

This was clearly the case in Washington’s Columbia Valley in 2011, where April through July saw cooler than normal temperatures, and surprisingly none of the typical mid July heat spikes. August turned the corner on our vineyards as warm to hot temperatures forced the berries to color up, accumulate sugar and move from a marginal to a very good vintage.

Surprisingly, the warmest temperatures came after Labor Day. While coastal California vineyards slogged through buckets of harvest rain, our September and October turned hot and cloudless. Autumn carried on the work August had started and yielded a very fine vintage, indeed.
Syrah La Serenne Bésoleil Syrah La Côte Rousse   Syrah La Côte Patriarche

2011 Syrah La Serenne

La Serenne is the most reflective of the site/vintage dynamic of our three single-site 2011 Syrahs. Lovers of this wine know that its source, the Boushey Vineyard, is the highest altitude of the three vineyards and is typically the latest harvested. This cool site was accentuated by the cooler season and the results reflect the seriousness of this vineyard and its care. An extraordinary, nearly impenetrable black purple color leads to a concentrated, inky aromatic impression: smoky black cherry and wild blackberry dominate, but a litany of supporting aromas is already emerging: smoke, violet, mushroom, roasted meat, Chinese 5 spice and minerals. It has a full attack on entry and a big, rich mouthfeel that goes on and on.

2011 is our 12th harvest from this site and these rows. We continue to be impressed with the chameleon nature of this vineyard, in cool years and hot, in heat spikes and cool springs: it provides us with surprises and opportunities at every harvest. While the themes of deep black fruits and pliant structure always surface, the nuance of this vineyard and its care (thank you, Dick Boushey) make it some of the most satisfying fruit we work with every harvest.


Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • 100% Syrah
  • Boushey Vineyard, mid Yakima Valley

Aging Profile:
  • Best from 2015 through 2022
  • Serve cool, 60-62°F
AVA or Vineyard Detail
Vineyard Detail:
  • 100% Syrah
  • Boushey Vineyard, mid Yakima Valley
Acclaim
Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate, (barrel tasting) 91-93

".. perfectly balanced, elegant and incredibly fresh, the 2011 Syrah La Serenne is 100% Syrah and comes from the cooler-climate Boushey Vineyard in Yakima Valley. Showing a lively, Cote-Rotie-like perfume of blackberry, pepper, thyme, flowers and clean minerality, it is medium-bodied, beautifully pure and has a seamless texture that keeps you coming back to the glass. While already approachable, it possesses enough ripe tannin and depth for 8-10 years of prime drinking. Drink now-2024."

 

2011 Bésoleil

2011 Besoleil
2011 is the first vintage we were able to introduce another southern Rhone red variety into our Bésoleil blend. The little known Counoise had recently been planted in Washington and we had experimented with it before, but it 2011 it came into its own. It’s fragrant, generous and earthy, contributing nuance to both aroma and flavor, and taking us closer to our Chateauneuf du Pape model. It’s similarly colored to Grenache, which it slightly replaces in the final blend, but has more earth, spice and structure, helping Bésoleil take on more weight and authority.

The wine reflects that influence while retaining the essence of its previous vintages. Vibrant ruby with hints of blue color, opens to an intense southern Rhone character. Black raspberry, smoke, roasted dried herbs, black pepper, and floral notes of lavender and rose petal all play their aromatic role. The Counoise adds a note of garrigue, that exotic aroma of the dried, shrubby plants of coastal Mediterranean vineyards. A silky entry leads to a supple mid palate and a structured finish, reflecting the overall cooler vintage. Flavors are ripe cherry, creamy red licorice and cola, with a spice cabinet backup. There’s vitality and weight, with a structure that dances and will certainly reward cellaring.


Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • 54 % Grenache
  • 15% Cinsault
  • 12% Counoise
  • 12% Mourvedre
  • 7% Syrah

Aging Profile:
  • Best from 2014 through 2020    
  • Serve cool, 60-62°F
AVA or Vineyard Detail
Vineyard Sources:
  • 61% Yakima Valley
  • 27% Red Mountain
  • 12% Snipes Mountain
Acclaim
Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate, (barrel tasting), 91-93

Starting off the Rhone blends, the 2011 Besoleil is a perfumed, supple vintage of this cuvee and offers up lively wild strawberry-driven fruit, white pepper, gunpowder and herbes de Provence-styled aromas and flavors. Made from 51% Grenache, 18% Cinsault, 12% Counoise, 12% Mourvedre and 7% Syrah, it is a medium-bodied, elegant and downright juicy southern Rhone-styled blend that will be ready to go on release and age gracefully for 5-7 years. Drink now-2020.

2011 Syrah La Côte Rousse

Classic Red Mountain character defines the Syrah La Côte Rousse, despite being the product of a cooler vintage. The warm site vineyards, Ciel du Cheval and Ranch at the End of the Road accumulated more heat than our other sites and ripened the four Syrah clones to a greater extent; we’ve never seen Red Mountain deliver less than full physiological maturity, every vintage. Nevertheless this vintage retains a vibrancy and energy that isn’t often found on Red Mountain.

That vigor expresses itself from color to finish. There’s the black core, a purple edge and a bit of glass coating color. Sweet, savory aromas lead the way, sort of a mineral-laden black fruit---dark berries and plums. Smoke, dried herbs, violet, meat, wet stones and a hint of ironstone complete the package. It penetrates yet is a broad fragrant expression. I’ve always felt the aromatic range of this wine has its foundation in the four clones we use.

The black fruits continue on the palate, with black cherry, dark plum and spices echoing the aroma. While it’s rich, almost luxurious, there’s a tannic foundation and a structured acidity. Floral and earthy, the dried herbs and stones emerge here too, along with tobacco, thyme and lavender. This is a food-lover’s Syrah, with weight, brightness and dimension.



Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • 100% Syrah
  • Clones 174, 383, 99 and Phelps

Aging Profile:
  • Best from 2015 through 2022+
  • Serve cool, 60-62°F
AVA or Vineyard Detail
Vinyard Detail:
  • 65% Ciel du Cheval
  • 35% Ranch at the End of the Road
Acclaim
Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate, (barrel tasting), 92-95

Always more structured and burly than the La Serenne, the 2011 Syrah La Cote Rousse is no exception and exhibits classic blackberry, currant, iron, wild herb and cracked pepper-like aromas and flavors to go with a medium to full-bodied, balanced and exceedingly pure mouthfeel. Also 100% Syrah, yet from the warmer Red Mountain AVA (which excelled in 2011), this elegant, yet concentrated Syrah will drink nicely for upwards of a decade. Drink now-2024+.

 2011 Syrah La Côte Patriarche

When preparing these notes I tasted the 2010 and 2011 vintages of this wine side by side, and not surprisingly, could have written exactly the same description for this new release as the prior year. We attribute this expression to the 25 year old vines we source it from at the Red Willow Vineyard (the oldest Syrah planted in Washington), where the vines show an element of stability and consistency; solid, even, perhaps more forgiving of vintage variation.

Slight differences are inevitable, but the same density and sense of ripeness emerge in both wines. The list of aromatic descriptors is lengthy: deep blackberry, plum, meat, smoke, rose petal, rock, roasted grain and earth. Even a bit of black licorice or cola.

This is the velvet hammer on the palate, brooding, deep and weighty. Loads of tannin without excess astringency make this a pleasure to enjoy already, but years of cellaring lie ahead. It’s supple, chewy from entry to finish with tobacco leaf, smoked meat and black olive flavors. Bring me a plate of roasted venison….



Blending Detail and Aging Profile
Blending Detail:
  • 100% Syrah from the Red Willow Vineyard, west end of the Yakima Valley

Aging Profile:
  • Best from 2015 through 2024    
  • Serve cool, 60-62°F
AVA or Vineyard Detail
Vinyard Detail:
  • 100% Syrah from the Red Willow Vineyard, west end of the Yakima Valley
Acclaim
Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate, (barrel tasting), 92-94

The most dense, meaty and black fruit-driven of the 2011 Syrahs, the 2011 Syrah La Cote Patriarche (100% Syrah all from the Red Willow vineyard) delivers a first-rate bouquet of smoked blackberry-styled fruit, pepper, bouquet garni, spice box and licorice as well as a medium to full-bodied, balanced and rich palate. Showing the same overall elegance and freshness that can be found in the other 2011s, it has the most mid-palate depth as well as the most age-worthy, structured feel. It should hit prime drinking at 4-5 years after the vintage and have 10-15 years or so of ultimate longevity, possibly more depending on how it develops. Drink now-2025.
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