For this month, a couple of wines from the warm and wonderful 2012 vintage.
2012 Waters, Old Stones Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $45
Winemaker: Our old friend Jamie Brown lives in West Seattle and has been making wine in Walla Walla for 15 years, originally with James Leigh Cellars. We have previously put in the club his excellent single vineyard Syrahs, particularly from the Forgotten Hills and Loess (Leonetti) vineyards.
Winery info: Founded by Jamie in 2005, and the wines are now made in partnership with Tero Estates and Flying Trout.
Grapes: 100% Syrah, aged exclusively in large format puncheons to give it a rich and round mouth feel.
Vineyard source: Old Stones is one of the oldest vineyards planted in the new AVA, “The Rocks of Milton Freewater.” This 13.5-acre site was originally an apple and plum orchard, and is located along an ancient river bed covered with massive basalt cobblestones, much like the Rhône River Valley in France.
Flavor profile: The northern Rhône comes to Washington! Jamie mentions flavors of “meat, bacon, cigars, sandalwood, cumin, turmeric, saddle seat, raspberry jam, garden soil, and strawberries.”
Production/Availability: 225 cases. While the distributor doesn’t have much, we can still get the wine directly from Jamie. Compared to wines from this area by Cayuse and Reynvaan, it’s a great value!
Drinkability: Showed very well at the Waters tasting in the shop in July, but Jamie also notes, “This one will cellar as long as you can stand it.”
Food Pairing: Excellent match for grilled meats, lamb chops, roasted wild mushrooms, or similarly hearty food.
2012 Saviah Cellars, Big Sky Cuvee, $37
Winemaker: Rich Funk, another of our old and dear friends from Walla Walla. Rich has a strong background in chemistry and soil science and originally became acquainted with wineries in 1991 through his job with Walla Walla County helping them work through the complex issues of water quality
Winery info: Rich started Saviah Cellars in 2000.
Grapes: A true Bordeaux blend: 51% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec, and 3% Petit Verdot. Aged for 18 months in small French oak barrels, 38% of them new, giving it a lush mouth feel and a long finish.
Vineyard source: Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills, Columbia Valley AVA. Originally planted in 2000 on a south-facing slope consisting of mostly fractured rocks (for reds) and fine sandy loam (for whites). Known for smooth, elegant wines.
Flavor profile: Superbly balanced, with beautiful aromas of black cherry and rich dark fruit plus notes of dark chocolate and cinnamon.
Production/Availability: 221 cases but in good supply at the distributor.
Drinkability: Basically ready to drink, although you could hold it for a couple of years to let the tannins integrate.
Food Pairing: Rich recommends drinking the Big Sky with a Montana style meal: seared elk or bison with a rich berry sauce like huckleberry.