Wow! A First for Us in Washington Syrah



By Kori ~ August 8th, 2008.

In a blind tasting of six excellent Washington State Syrahs, we tasted what we rated as a “Wow!” wine, the first Washington Syrah we’ve ever given a 5-star (out of 5) Quality Rating, the 2005 Fielding Hills Syrah. We had heard good things about Fielding Hills but had never tasted one of their wines until this tasting.

Fielding Hills Winery is a small producer based in Wenatchee, Washington, owned and operated by Mike and Karen Wade. They began planting their vineyards in 1998 and 2005 marked their sixth vintage.

“This winery [Fielding Hills] is a superstar in the making.” –Paul Gregutt, Washington Wines and Wineries

While we have only tasted their Syrah so far, we have heard positive things about their other reds as well and are looking forward to tasting them in the not-too-distant future. The Wades are longtime apple and cherry growers who have turned a middle portion of their orchard near Mattawa into a vineyard. Their Riverbend Vineyard is a sandy site with some rocks, gently sloping to the south in the warm Wahluke Slope AVA.

The other five wines in this tasting were no slouches either. In fact, all six wines received a Quality Rating of at least 4 stars (out of 5). You can’t go wrong with any of these. Here’s a rundown of the six wines, in order of our preference in this tasting:

2005 Fielding Hills Syrah (Wahluke Slope): Best Washington Syrah I’ve had. Amazing, pleasant aroma that makes me relax when I smell it. Luscious black fruits and black pepper on the palate. Extremely smooth and well-balanced with just the right amount of fruit, acidity, and tannins. Excellent finish.
Quality: 5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Avalon Wine (Oregon), $39.95; Winery, $40

2005 Waters Pepper Bridge Syrah (Walla Walla Valley): Very pleasant nose with hints of buttered popcorn and green bell peppers. Black fruits and black pepper come through on the palate. Smooth and well-balanced with good acidity and tannins.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Avalon Wine (Oregon), $37.95; Bedford Wine Merchants (New York), $38.99

2004 Dunham Cellars Syrah (Columbia Valley): Aromas of vanilla latte and blackberries. Lots of black pepper and black fruits. Bold tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $45; Available elsewhere, $34 to $48

2005 Stephenson Cellars Syrah (Washington State): Black cherry, baker’s chocolate, and chocolate-covered cherries come through on both the nose and the palate. Smooth tannins and a nice long finish. Improves the longer the bottle is open.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $32; Compass Wines (Washington), $31.99

2006 Mark Ryan Winery Wild Eyed Syrah (Red Mountain): Aromas of buttered popcorn and black fruits. Bitter tannins and a medium-plus finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Avalon Wine (Oregon), $45.95; Available elsewhere, $45 to $48

2006 Dusted Valley Stained Tooth Syrah (Columbia Valley): Very fragrant with aromas of Andes chocolate mints. Blackberry and pomegranate dominate the palate. Smooth with a medium-plus finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $24; Available elsewhere, $22 to $28


Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Five-Star Quality Wines, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Jared | August 12th, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Peeps,
    Wow, that’s high praise for the Fielding Hills Syrah. Best WA syrah you’ve tasted? That would put it above Cayuse and Betz. Must be the best wine deal going!

  2. Kori | August 12th, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Hello Jared,

    Yes, the Fielding Hills Syrah is the best WA Syrah that I’ve had. I would rate the 2005 Fielding Hills Syrah above the Betz Syrahs that I’ve tasted.

    The bottle of Cayuse that we had was a bad bottle so I would not use it for evaluation purposes. And technically, Cayuse is an Oregon winery anyway. Even though their tasting room that is only open a couple days a year is located in Walla Walla, their vineyards and production facilities are in Oregon.

    Thanks for reading!
    Kori

  3. Bottled Up | August 13th, 2008 at 8:12 am

    I’m really excited to read your review of the Fielding Hills Syrah, as I have fallen in complete love with that winery in the last year. Other must try bottles from them are the Merlot and Cab Franc. The Cabernet Sauvignon was very good as well.

  4. Kori | August 13th, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Hello Bottled Up,

    So glad to hear that you have enjoyed some of the other Fielding Hills wines. I’m looking forward to trying them.

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