Wine Tasting Dinner: Washington Syrah



By Kori ~ February 11th, 2008.

Our February wine tasting dinner last Friday night proved to be an eventful one. The evening began with much anticipation as all we were told by John was that the six wines that we would be tasting were Washington Syrahs that ranged in price from $7 to $70. Given the Wine Peeps love of Australian Shiraz, we were excited to explore more Syrahs from our home state.

Since this was the 57th wine tasting dinner that we’ve hosted, we have gotten the process down pretty well. However, no matter how prepared you are, sometimes things just don’t go as planned. At some point the oven was accidentally turned off during the dinner preparation, a full glass of wine was knocked off the table and spilled onto the off-white carpet, and one of the wines (unfortunately the $70 bottle) turned out to be a bad bottle so we had to make a last minute substitution. Thankfully we had four wonderful friends joining us who are all veterans of our wine tasting dinners, so they were very understanding. Despite all of our false starts, we ended up having a very enjoyable dinner and some good wines. And we’ll all have some great memories to laugh about as we look back on it.

20080211_colcrestshiraz.gifWith four first-place votes, the 2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Shiraz was the evening’s big winner. And given that it costs $7, it is an amazing deal. I found it very interesting that Columbia Crest calls this particular bottling Shiraz instead of Syrah as most Washington wineries identify this varietal. From the back of the bottle:

“Columbia Crest Shiraz has the concentrated plum and berry flavors, and spicy aromas typical of wines of the same name made ‘down under.’ Our Shiraz is a bold new style of our traditional Syrah building on the quality reputation that Washington has earned for this variety.”

This probably explains why I enjoyed it so much.

Thankfully, except for the bad bottle, there were no duds in the bunch. All of the wines were quite enjoyable. Here’s a rundown of the wines from 1st to last in the group consensus rankings (I have not listed the bad bottle as I do not want to presume that this particular bottle is indicative of the wine’s quality):

2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Shiraz: Bright with a lot of fruit up front, especially plums. Smooth tannins and a nice long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: MadWine (Washington), $6.99 [2004 is the currently available vintage]; probably can also be found at your local wine outlet

2005 Icicle Ridge Reserve Syrah: Fresh and fruity with distinct vanilla notes. Medium body and a medium finish. A very good wine from this young winery in Peshastin, Washington, near Leavenworth.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $30

2004 Dunham Cellars Syrah: Smooth with aromas and flavors of dark berries. Well-balanced with a fairly long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Compass Wines (Washington), $47.99

2005 Barnard Griffin Syrah
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $14.99

2005 Milbrandt Legacy Syrah
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $23.99

2004 Januik Lewis Vineyard Syrah
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $30


Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wine Tasting Dinners, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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