Wine Tasting Dinner: Washington Syrah 2006, Part 2



By Kori ~ May 19th, 2010.

Last Friday, we hosted our monthly wine tasting dinner featuring Washington Syrah from the 2006 vintage. You may remember that we also had Washington Syrah 2006 in our December tasting dinner. Since that was such a stellar tasting, we decided to have another one to try more wines from this vintage that is sometimes forgotten amid the hype about the 2005 and 2007 vintages in Washington State. It is the more challenging vintages like 2006 that really set apart the great winemakers.

It was another fabulous dinner with good wines across the board. All six wines paired well with Mom’s dinner of creamy tomato basil soup, butter lettuce salad with a garlic/Dijon mustard vinaigrette, beef tenderloin shish kabobs, sautéed red kale, cilantro lime mashed sweet potatoes, and German chocolate dessert.

Like Butler making it to the finals of the NCAA tournament, our consensus favorite, the 2006 Four Lakes Syrah from Chelan, was a sleeper that outperformed some better-known wines. We first visited Four Lakes Chelan Winery last summer. Their tasting room, which opened in 2009, boasts gorgeous views of, you guessed it, four lakes: Wapato Lake, Roses Lake, Dry Lake, and Lake Chelan. Founded in 2003, Four Lakes is owned and operated by the Koester family; Don Koester is the owner, and Karl Koester is the winemaker and manager.

The consensus second place wine, the 2006 Watermill Praying Mantis Syrah, is from Watermill Winery in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. Since they are located in the Walla Walla Valley, we take a broad view and include them with Washington wines. The Brown family, a third generation apple-growing family and the owners of Blue Mountain Cider, founded Watermill Winery in 2006. They own some prized land in “The Rocks” and have pulled up some of their apple orchards to plant vineyards.

Rounding out our top three was the 2006 Bunchgrass Syrah. I had not previously tasted any wines from Bunchgrass so was excited to discover this excellent wine, and I look forward to trying others from this small production winery in Walla Walla, Washington.

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2006 Four Lakes Syrah (Columbia Valley, Washington): Dark purple, looks a bit like prune juice. Very aromatic with black plums, prunes, and spice coming through on the nose; chocolate, cinnamon, meat, and earth on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium to high tannins and a long finish. Well-balanced and very complex. This wine has a lot going on.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $29

2006 Watermill Praying Mantis Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Oregon): Deep, dark purple. Has a beautiful bouquet with aromas of dark black fruits, spice, oak, leather, and earth. Black fruits and spice dominate the palate. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium to high, drying tannins and a long finish. Well-balanced.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $30

2006 Bunchgrass Syrah (Lewis Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington): Deep, dark purplish red. Aromas of raisins and cinnamon lead to flavors of bitter dark chocolate and blackberry. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium to high, drying tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Compass Wines (Anacortes, Washington), $32

2006 Five Star Cellars Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): Deep, dark purple. Nose is a bit tight at first, then dark fruits and vanilla show through. Lots of juicy, black fruits on the palate. Fruit-forward, medium to full-bodied, lively acidity, round tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Pete’s Wine Shop (Bellevue, Washington), $25

2006 Saviah Cellars Walla Walla Valley Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): Dark purplish red. Aromas of leather and oak; flavors of black fruits, oak, and licorice. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium to high tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $32 (currently, on sale for $20)

2006 Waters Forgotten Hills Syrah (Forgotten Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, Washington): Deep, dark purplish red. Earth, spice, cocoa powder, and barnyard aromas on the nose; earth, barnyard, and dill on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and smooth with medium tannins and a medium finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $37; Available elsewhere, $17 to $35


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

Reader's Comments

  1. Stevie | May 19th, 2010 at 8:15 am

    I love syrah! And your dinner and syrah wine tasting sounds really fun. Did you try the wines with various courses or mix them up throughout the meal? I weant to have something similar at my home soon.

  2. Kori | May 19th, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Stevie,
    Thanks! We love Syrah too. The wine tasting dinners are a lot of fun. I definitely recommend hosting your own. We taste all six wines before dinner without food, then with each course. It is always interesting to see how the wines change throughout the meal. For a complete description of how we set up our wine tasting dinners, please visit our Tasting Dinners page: http://winepeeps.com/dinner-tastings/. Cheers!

  3. Alex | May 29th, 2010 at 10:29 am

    parkling wine is called sparkling because of those sweet, delightful little effervescence bubbles which are created by trapping carbon dioxide. Sparkling wine is usually the preferred one for special occasions and celebrations. This is probably attributed to the fact that those tiny little bubbles appear to be having their own fun dancing merrily around in your fluted glass.

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