2013 Tertulia Cellars, The Great Schism Reserve, $49.75
Winery info: Tertulia was established in 2005 in the Walla Walla Valley, just north of the Oregon border. Their goal, from the beginning, has been to produce terroir-driven wines from Walla Walla Valley fruit. The winery takes its name from a Spanish word meaning “a social gathering of friends.”
Winemaker: Ryan Raber
Grapes: 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 7% Cinsault, 3% Mourvèdre. Aged in large neutral French oak foudre for ten months—less time than usual for their red wines so as to preserve the fruit character.
Vineyard source: Their Riviere Galets Estate Vineyard in the Walla Walla AVA, planted in 2009 on an ancient dry riverbed carved by the Missoula floods. It is strewn with round stones like those in Châteauneuf-du-Papa (known as galets), which absorb heat during the day and radiate it back to the vines during the night.
Flavor profile: The rocky Riviere Galets site produces ripe, concentrated fruit that makes wonderfully complex wines. This one is rich and full, yet very velvety textured with soft, stony minerality. It has lovely fruit flavors that continue to evolve in the glass for hours.
Production/Availability: 330 cases.
Drinkability: Drink now through 2020
Food Pairing: Roast beef or pork, lamb tagine, or hearty bean dishes, such as cassoulet.
2014 Isenhower, River Beauty Syrah, $34
Winery info: Brett and Denise Isenhower founded their eponymous winery in 1999. We were big fans of their wines from the start, but during the recession they stopped distributing their wines and we couldn’t get them for a while. We’re thrilled they’ve ramped back up and are readily available again!
Winemaker: Brett Isenhower
Grapes: 100% Syrah, aged in French oak (30% new). They fermented 20% of the fruit whole cluster to soften and focus the texture and add length to the wine.
Vineyard source: 60% Dutchman Vineyard, planted in 1991 near Grandview (the second oldest block of Syrah in Washington). 40% Olsen Ranch Vineyard, planted in 2009 in the Yakima Valley.
Flavor profile: Smooth and supple, with soft, elegant texture, yet good focus and intensity. Its aromas and flavors of red and blue fruit, white pepper, and gravelly earthy linger long on the finish.
Production/Availability: 251 cases. It is sold out at the winery but the distributor has a little bit left.
Drinkability: Now, or over the next five or six years.
Food Pairing: Try it with grilled lamb or mushroom risotto.