Private Tasting: Saviah Cellars Syrah

By Kori ~ December 1st, 2009.

2006 Saviah Cellars Walla Walla Valley Syrah and 2006 Saviah Cellars Stillwater Creek Vineyard SyrahSaviah Cellars is a family-owned winery located south of downtown Walla Walla, Washington, near the Oregon state line. Founded in 2000 by winemaker Rich Funk and his wife Anita, Saviah Cellars currently produces about 9,500 cases per year. The name Saviah is a family name from Anita’s great-grandmother.

Rich is a very talented winemaker and an extremely nice guy. He is a native of Montana and moved to Walla Walla in 1991 to take a job as an Environmental Health Specialist for the Walla Walla County Health Department. Through his work at the Health Department on water quality and wastewater issues, he got a firsthand look at the vineyards in the area and developed a relationship with a number of local winemakers who helped him get his start in the industry.

Recently, we had what turned out to be a Saviah Cellars Syrah showdown in one of our double blind private tasting dinners featuring two wines from the 2006 vintage, the 2006 Saviah Cellars Walla Walla Valley Syrah and the 2006 Saviah Cellars Stillwater Creek Vineyard Syrah. For a more complete description of how we set up these private tastings, please refer to How We Taste.

What impresses me the most about Saviah Cellars is the quality of fruit Rich is getting from vineyards not only in the Walla Walla Valley but also in Red Mountain and the Columbia Valley. I found it especially interesting to compare these two wines, from the same vintage and made by the same winemaker, but made with fruit from two different AVA’s within Washington State. We enjoyed both wines but preferred the Walla Walla Valley Syrah made with fruit from Les Collines Vineyard and Va Piano Vineyard.

If you are in the Walla Walla area, Saviah Cellars is a winery that you should definitely visit.

2006 Saviah Cellars Walla Walla Valley Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): Deep, dark red and very aromatic. Aromas of black fruits, earth, coffee, and spice lead to flavors of blackberry, black cherry, black pepper, vanilla, and baker’s chocolate. Full-bodied with good acidity and silky tannins. Improves with food and the longer it is open. Well-balanced and smooth with a very long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $32

2006 Saviah Cellars Stillwater Creek Vineyard Syrah (Columbia Valley, Washington): Deep, dark purple. Nose is a bit tight at first. Fresh black fruit aromas gradually come through. Red and black fruits and pepper on the palate. Medium-bodied with medium tannins and a long finish. Smooth but seems somewhat thin.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $30

Filed under: American Wine, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

Reader's Comments

  1. @nectarwine | December 1st, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Interresting how the terrior played a factor in this tasting. Same grape, same winemaker, same processes…

    I can tell that the Walla Walla one was more enjoyable just from your notes, more descriptive.

    Will have to add this to the list when we’re there in June for the bloggers conference…you’re going, right?

  2. Kori | December 2nd, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    You should definitely put Saviah on your must-visit list. Yes, we’re going to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla next summer. Look forward to seeing you there!