2012 Waters Winery, Syrah Loess, $48
Winery info: Jamie Brown has been crafting wines under his Waters label since 2003, and they have graced our shelves for just as long. With access to some of the top vineyards in the state, Jamie produces beautiful single-vineyard offerings as well as blends, “aimed at reflecting the unique character of each varietal and the qualities of the land that they come from.”
Winemaker: Jamie Brown
Grapes: 96% Syrah co-fermented with 4% Viognier. Aged 20% in new 500-liter French oak.
Vineyard source: Leonetti’s estate Loess Vineyard, planted in 2001 by the Figgins family. Located in the foothills of the Blue Mountains on a steep, south-facing slope and farmed with low intervention and low irrigation. Named for the vineyard’s main soil structure, wind-blown, silty sediment.
Flavor profile: 2012 was a nearly perfect vintage in Washington. This Syrah is utterly smooth and luxurious, with notes of dark fruit, cocoa, and a bit of black pepper. It has an elegant sense of restraint that makes it very food friendly.
Production/Availability: 275 cases. There is still some available.
Drinkability: Drink now or over the next three to five years.
Food Pairing: Lamb or pepper steak.
2013 Forgeron Cellars, Merlot, $29.75
Winery info: After studying and training in her native France, Marie-Eve Gilla came to the U.S. to further her winemaking experience. She worked at several northwest wineries, including Argyle, Hogue, and Covey Run, before founding Forgeron Cellars in Walla Walla in 2001. She says she creates “substantial wine of eloquent American character—with just a hint of French accent!” Marie-Eve announced her retirement in 2018. We will miss her (and her French accent!).
Winemaker: Marie-Eve Gilla
Grapes: 91% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot
Vineyard sources: Minnick Hills, Birch Creek, and Candy Mountain (Merlot); Stone Tree (Malbec); and Dionysus (Petit Verdot) vineyards, all in the Columbia Valley AVA
Flavor profile: A big hit when Marie-Eve poured it at a tasting in the shop a while back, this Merlot is warm and inviting, with elegant aromas and flavors of dark fruit and bittersweet chocolate, and inviting notes of spice. With balanced tannins and a long, silky finish.
Production/Availability: 557 cases. It should be available for a while.
Drinkability: Now or over the next three or four years.
Food Pairing: They suggest pairing it with Asian-style marinated flank steak.