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Library Vintages

A blend of the best elements of the new and the old worlds; wines of dimension and pleasure, wines that allow the character of Washington to shine through.

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2009 Chapitre 3, Syrah

We’ve been making Syrah for 13 vintages at Betz Family, but only once before, in 2005, did we make this wine. Any special blend must be different from, and even better than, the wines we craft each vintage. By definition these wines are made in small amounts, and yield an expression that is unique and compelling.

It all came together once again in 2009, when we saw something special in a blend of barrels that stopped us in our tracks. Unlike the three Syrahs we craft each vintage which are expressions of single sites, Syrah Chapitre 3 (Chapter 3) focuses on the grape character itself, rather than the vineyard origins. I typically view Syrah as a chameleon, expressing itself best as a wine that reflects its vineyard origin. But, hey, we’re not in France, and there are no rules, so we can blend to make the best wine we can.

And that’s what the 2009 Syrah Chapitre 3 is, a blend from three vineyards in two AVAs that sing together to make a most persuasive wine. Two barrels hail from Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard and Ranch at the End of the Road, and two from Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. We know these vineyards well; we’ve been farming most of the Betz Family rows since the 1999 or 2000 vintage. During our frequent barrel tastings several barrels stood out in 2009; but these four fit together seamlessly.

Its purple black color hints at its density, confirmed by the penetrating aroma. This is like a classic from the northern Rhone, with a deep cassis, blackberry foundation. Layered atop are smoke, wild game, and roasted meat aromas, with saddle leather, rock and spice-rack completing the picture. It enters full, has a dynamite mid-palate and simply lasts on the palate. It’s as smooth as baby skin until the steel spine subtly reveals itself. It will be hard to cellar this, but lay some away, at least for a couple years, to bring to light why we make this so infrequently.  

Blending Detail and Aging Profile

Blending Detail:

  • 100% Syrah

AVA & Vineyard Detail:

Two barrels hail from Red Mountain:

  • Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
  • Kiona, Ranch at the End of the Road

Two barrels from Yakima Valley:

  • Boushey Vineyard