2010 DeLille Cellars, Doyenne Signature Syrah
It’s nice to have DeLille Cellars back in the Washington Wine Club. DeLille was founded in 1992 by the Lill family and winemaker Chris Upchurch, and they have made many outstanding wines in their twenty year history, particularly under the guidance of the great David Lake as consulting winemaker. We haven’t seen much of the wines in recent years, as the winery has concentrated more on sales to restaurants and directly to the public at their new Carriage House tasting room in Woodinville. However, industry veteran Jim Gratton has recently been hired to beef up DeLille’s profile in retail shops, and we were blown away when he brought us the latest vintage of the Doyenne Syrah. Two thirds of the fruit comes from their own Grand Ciel vineyard in Red Mountain and the rest from Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. The Syrah is co-fermented with about 2% Viognier from Ciel du Cheval, which helps intensify the complex aromas of black tea, violet, cherry, raspberry, lavender, and grilled meat. The wine is both meaty and a bit earthy, with big, chewy dark fruit flavors. It could benefit from at least a year or so in the cellar and has the stuffing to develop over another five years. It’s a recent release, hence in good supply, and is now only $42, a nice recession-driven reduction from the $49.75 price tag this wine had in 2005 and 2006.
2009 Laurelhurst Cellars, “El Humidor” Petit Sirah
Now here’s something a bit different: a Petit Sirah from Washington! Laurelhurst Cellars was founded in 2004 by Greg Smallwood and Dave Halbgewachs in the basement and garage of a home in Laurelhurst. They soon outgrew that space and moved the winery into a warehouse space in Georgetown. They make wines in small lots and actively search out unique Washington terroirs, with unusual soils or vineyard management. This wine is a classic example. The grapes were sourced from Zephyr Ridge Vineyard, planted in 1997 by Mercer Estates and located on a warm 215-acre site in the Horse Heaven Hills. Greg and Dave hand-picked the grapes and aged 80% of them in new French and American oak barrels. Opaque in color, it has a bold, smoky nose of dark fruit and, of course, notes of cigar box; there’s a reason it’s called “El Humidor!” It has the classic density of Petit Sirah, with notes of dark chocolate and dried berries. There’s less peppercorn than other Washington Petit Sirahs we’ve tasted, but more of the holiday spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It’s $38 and ready to drink. Laurelhurst made only 171 cases, so supply is somewhat limited.