How can two Syrahs from the same vineyard taste wildly different? This question has been on my mind since a recent tasting of two Syrahs from Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley, each vastly distinct from the other yet equally delectable. Read on for more insight about the winemaking behind these fantastic wines, quotes from the winemakers, and tasty pairing recommendations.
Sample bottles were graciously provided by the wineries, Damsel Cellars and Two Vintners.
The Two Syrahs from Boushey Vineyard
Beyond the grape and the vineyard name, the similarities for the most part end. Although grapes for these wines grew up on vines across the road from one other, each has a unique personality. Is it due to that concept of terroir? Winemaker Morgan Lee proclaims that Syrah absorbs its sense of place, even at such a short distance. Or, perhaps it’s a reflection of each winemaker’s style. Long story short, when it comes to flavor profiles, WOW is there a contrast between these wines!
“If you’re at all artistic or creative, Syrah will go there with you.” ~ Mari Womack on working with Syrah
Have you ever wondered if the shape of a glass influences the tasting experience? Read on to learn about how Karen MacNeil Flavor First™ wine glasses impact the wines consumed from them.
Personally, I am convinced that the shape of a glass can amplify a wine’s aromas and affect where the wine lands on the tongue. That’s before we even get into how the aesthetics of a beautiful wine glass can elevate the overall encounter with a precious beverage.
Accordingly, I was elated when my work as a Washington Wine Ambassador for the Auction of Washington Wines presented an opportunity to take part in a special tasting for the AWW’s Private Reserve Club. The event was led by wine expert Karen MacNeil, of whom I am a big fan! She’s the AWW Honorary Chair, author of the award-winning book The Wine Bible, creator of Flavor First™ stemware, as well as a brilliant wine educator. For about an hour we experimented with the three signature tasting glasses in the set, along with three accompanying wines, and chatted with the premier winemakers who provided the bottles for our pleasure.
When I posted about Walla Walla Valley Wine Month on Instagram, a friend commented that she wasn’t even aware that such a month had been declared. So, here’s some insight as to why you may not have heard about it, a run-down on what to know about the month, and recommended bottles to open.
First, let’s solve the mystery of why this vinous month is less than well known. Consider that April 2020 was the first Walla Walla Valley Wine Month. Well, the pandemic unexpectedly threw a monkey wrench into the inaugural event. It was a fine idea when originally planned, however, born from the notion that the vineyards come back to life in April. It’s also tied to Spring Kick-Off Weekend. That’s the special time of year when many wineries open their doors to showcase their latest releases. The hubby and I have certainly enjoyed our share of winery visits during April. I mean, it’s our duty as Washingtonians, right?
2nd Annual Event Offerings
“Walla Walla Valley Wine Month is an unparalleled opportunity to experience Walla Walla Valley Wine, whether you are near or far,” says Robert Hansen, Executive Director of Walla Walla Valley Wine. If nothing else, simply follow along on social media to learn about the Walla Walla Valley AVA.
For those interested in a visit to the region, wineries have special offers for intimate experiences including elevated tasting options. If you plan to visit a winery in person, be sure to make a reservation due to limited capacity.
At VinoSocial we’ve been celebrating Walla Walla Valley Wine Month while simultaneously tackling the Washington Syrah Challenge! First, with a Gramercy Cellars 2010 Walla Walla Valley Estate Syrah. The 2010 vintage was a cooler one. The result is a wine that is still vibrant and loaded with mouth-watering, spicy goodness. If I had to use one word to describe this wine it would be, “Mmmmmm!”
A bottle of 2018 Proper Walla Walla Valley Estate Syrah was our next selection. With less age, this one needed to decant several hours before dinner. Plum, baked blackberry, and cinnamon were part of the intensely colored wine’s beguiling profile.If you’re a Syrah fan, Walla Walla has numerous delectable options that are worthy of a celebration.
Next up, we’ll open a bottle of Northstar Red Blend received as a gift from the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.
My secret sauce for pairing red wine with food is Romesco sauce. The trick is that the sauce is what gets matched with the wine. Ingredients may be tweaked to best match Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or even a red blend. In other words, this is one way to go meatless and drink red wine, too!
True confession: I am a lazy cook. The original recipe from chef and acclaimed cookbook author Joanne Weir calls for additional steps to fry the bread, roast red peppers, and toast the nuts. However, I usually don’t. Instead, everything goes in the food processor and gets blitzed up. This dish is ready in a flash!
Have you ever tasted Tempranillo from Washington State? How about Nebbiolo? Or Lemberger? Or perhaps you didn’t even know such a diverse range of wine grapes grow in Washington State. After all, these grapes are typically associated with Spain, Italy, and Austria respectively. However, if you’d like to go beyond the typical Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah here are 20 fun red Washington wine varieties to explore.
Give yourself one point for each Washington grown variety you’ve tasted in a blend or two points for each variety you’ve experienced in its untainted glory.
More closely associated with southern Italy, Walla Walla’s first family Leonetti Cellars crafts a bottling of this variety. I hope to experience it myself someday!