2000 Syrah La Côte Rousse
Sorry about the potential confusion, but this is from the same vineyard as last year's Syrah La Serenne. We changed the name as we thought this French term better described its origin, to say nothing of having some fun with French wine lore.
In the famed Syrah appellation of Côte Rôtie in France's Northern Rhone there are two vineyards whose legend has them named for a long ago vineyardist's daughters, La Côte Brune (the brunette) and La Côte Blonde (the blond). Our wine, from a vineyard on Red Mountain, is La Côte Rousse (the redhead), also a French expression for the Red Slope.
Scott Williams, of Kiona Vineyards fame, grows these grapes for us on one of the highest sites on Red Mountain. The vineyard's weak soil and southwestern facing slope combine to make this an outstanding vineyard for powerful, broadly flavored Syrah. Plenty of black fruit, spice and depth make this wine immediately appealing.
100% Syrah from Red Mountain, Williams/Kiona Vineyard
125 cases produced, bottled December 2001
2000 Syrah La Serenne
This is the new Syrah vineyard for us, despite the old name. The grapes were grown on the Boushey Vineyard outside of Grandview in the Yakima Valley, a sensational Syrah site. It's cooler there during the summer than at Red Mountain so we harvest 10-14 days later. The fruit is more berry focused and spicier, with a bit higher alcohol.
Dick Boushey has the rare combination of a terrific vineyard site and a personal passion for excellence. His meticulous care provides us with bold, deeply colored fruit.
100% Syrah from the Mid Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard
110 cases produced, bottled December 2001
Why two Syrahs? From the beginning the wines from these two sites expressed different character. They made a fine wine when we combined them during our blending trials, but we found they were even better kept separate. They reflect a greater sense of "terroir", the character of their origins. A favorite? We'll keep on analyzing the evidence...
2000 Merlot La Marraine
We have always thought of Washington Merlot as the best produced in America, but never thought we would bottle one as a single variety; we've traditionally used it to add suppleness to our area's structured Cabernets. But 4 barrels of Merlot 2000 stood out during its 14 months in the cellar as something very special: our first varietal Merlot.
The foundation of this wine is the wonderfully deep and fragrant Merlot from Jim Holmes' Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain. Powerful, warm and caressing, it speaks with an authoritative voice every vintage. Three barrels of it made the base of this wine. We blended it with 1/2 barrel of Alder Ridge Vineyard Merlot (loads of berry fruit) and 1/2 barrel Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot (a silky giant). Merlot La Marraine (the godmother) is ripe, sweetly perfumed and enormously satisfying.
We may not make Merlot every year; we'll make that call with every vintage.
75% Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain
13% Alder Ridge, Horse Heaven Hills
12% Seven Hills, Walla Walla
95 cases produced, bottled February 2002