Fielding Hills Syrah Vertical Tasting



By Kori ~ November 3rd, 2008.

For those of you who are not familiar with a vertical tasting, it is not a tasting at which you are standing up (although I suppose that you could). A vertical tasting is one in which you taste different vintages of the same wine from the same winery.

You may remember that we fell in love with the 2005 Fielding Hills Syrah back in August. After that discovery, we were anxious to try other vintages of the Fielding Hills Syrah. We were fortunate to get our hands on all six vintages that they have produced, from their very first 2001 vintage to their recently released 2006 vintage.

Fielding Hills Winery, located in Wenatchee, Washington, is a small, family-owned winery run by owner/winemaker Mike Wade and his wife Karen. The grapes for all six of these wines were sourced from the Wade’s Riverbend Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA. However, the 2001, 2002, and 2003 are labeled as Columbia Valley because Wahluke Slope was not established as an official AVA until 2006.

Recently, the four Wine Peeps and our good friends, Ross and Alison, sat down to dinner to enjoy this vertical tasting. While most of our tastings are blind, we decided not to taste these blind. We simply wanted to enjoy the wines and taste them in a logical order. We started with the oldest and worked our way to the youngest before we ate any food to try to get a good baseline for evaluation. This tasting was fabulous! All six of us were amazed at the consistency of quality in these wines and how good they all were considering that Fielding Hills is still a relatively new winery. We were especially impressed with the quality of their first vintage, the 2001. And I’m thrilled to report that we have now tasted two “Wow!” wines in Washington Syrah. The 2004 is different than the 2005 but every bit as good.

You can’t go wrong with any of these wines; they are all excellent. In fact, all six wines received a Quality Rating of at least 4 stars (out of 5). In order of our preference in this tasting:

2005 Fielding Hills Syrah (Wahluke Slope): Excellent once again. Still the best Washington Syrah I’ve had. Classic aromas, flavors, and finish.
Quality: 5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $40

2004 Fielding Hills Syrah (Wahluke Slope): Another “Wow!” wine. Every bit as good as the 2005. Luscious black fruits with spicy notes and a hint of smokiness. Well-balanced with a long, pleasant finish.
Quality: 5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $40

2006 Fielding Hills Syrah (Wahluke Slope): Black fruit aromas and flavors, especially blackberries. Quite a bit of cocoa comes through on the palate as well. Well-balanced with a smooth finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $40; Avalon Wine (Oregon), $42.95

2003 Fielding Hills Syrah (Columbia Valley): Luscious fruit and hints of oak. Nice finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $40

2001 Fielding Hills Syrah (Columbia Valley): Really good for their first vintage. Showing a little age but still has good fruit.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $40

2002 Fielding Hills Syrah (Columbia Valley): A good wine but not as good as their other vintages.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $40


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

Reader's Comments

  1. Jesse Porter | November 11th, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Ideally, you won’t be “standing up” at the end of any successful tasting — vertical or otherwise.

    Thanks for the great notes. Did you find any corrolation between the success of these bottles and the perceived strength or weakness of the particular vintages overall in Washington State?

  2. Kori | November 11th, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Jesse,

    Fortunately, all of the vintages 2001 through 2006 have been very good in Washington, and the yet to be released 2007s may be the best vintage ever if barrel tastings are any indication. I personally believe that 2005 was the best vintage overall for Washington Syrah of the ones in this vertical tasting, so the 2005 Fielding Hills Syrah fits in nicely at the top of that vintage. Overall, the 2003 vintage was probably a little better than the 2004, so I believe the 2004 Fielding Hills outperformed that vintage. Otherwise, the rest pretty well correlate with how I would probably rank the vintages as well.

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