Wine Tasting Dinner: 2008 Washington Syrah



By Kori ~ May 9th, 2012.

Washington Syrah compares favorably with the best in the world. Washington Syrah generally falls somewhere in between the jammy Shiraz of Australia and the more austere Syrah of the northern Rhone. It generally has good acidity and tannins. The common denominators of our favorite Syrahs from Washington have been deep, dark purple color and luscious black fruits, with hints of green bell peppers, black pepper, and spice.

Last Friday, we featured Washington Syrah from the 2008 vintage in our wine tasting dinner. All six wines paired perfectly with Mom’s dinner of tomato basil soup, candied walnut gorgonzola salad, grilled beef tenderloin steaks, braised kale, rosemary roasted sweet potatoes, and topped off with a German chocolate dessert with whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Four of the six wines received a Quality rating of 4.5 stars (out of 5), and three wines received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5). Even though these wines are not inexpensive, they are well worth the money.

The 2008 Betz Family Winery La Côte Patriarche Syrah came out on top in this stellar lineup. Bob Betz is one of the most well respected winemakers in the State of Washington. He is one of only 297 Masters of Wine in the world. As a winemaker, Bob strives for purity, elegance, and balance in his wines, and he certainly hits the mark with this wine. The fruit for La Côte Patriarche comes from the 1986 Syrah block at Red Willow Vineyard, the oldest Syrah planting in Washington State. The name of this wine, which translates as “the founder’s slope”, is a nod to Red Willow owner/grower, Mike Sauer, and former Columbia Winery winemaker, David Lake, who planted those original Syrah vines.

Really, you can’t go wrong with any of these wines. Washington State produces fabulous Syrah, and the winemakers who made these six wines are among the state’s best.

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2008 Betz Family Winery La Côte Patriarche Syrah (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): 100% Syrah. Beautiful, inky purple-black. Gorgeous nose with smoked meat, black fruit, licorice, and spice aromas. Luscious black fruit, smoked meat, and black pepper come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and high, dry tannins. Well-balanced with great complexity and a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $55; Available elsewhere, $69 to $100

2008 Rasa Vineyards QED (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): 83% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, and 2% Viognier. Deep, dark purplish red. Beautiful bouquet with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, floral notes, and a hint of game and earth. More black fruit as well as black pepper and a touch of cinnamon come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high, silky tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity and a very long, smooth finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $50; Available elsewhere, $40 to $90

2008 DeLille Doyenne Signature Syrah (Yakima Valley, Washington): 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier. Deep, dark purplish red. Aromatic with cinnamon and game on the nose. Black pepper, cinnamon, black cherry, and blackberry come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and high, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a very long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $39; Available elsewhere, $38 to $47

2008 Grand Rêve Collaboration Series III (Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain, Washington): 100% Syrah. Winemaker Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery. Deep, dark purplish red. Nice nose with red and black fruit and spice aromas. Black cherry, Red Vines, and spice come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity and high, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a very long finish. The 2008 Collaboration Series III is the last wine to carry the Grand Rêve label; the winery has since been renamed Force Majeure.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $50; Available elsewhere, $50 to $69

2008 Fielding Hills Syrah (Riverbend Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): 94% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark red. Aromatic with black plum, clove, violets, and dill on the nose. Black plum, blackberry, clove, and a hint of black pepper come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a very long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $38; Available elsewhere, $38 to $40

2008 K Vintners Morrison Lane Syrah (Morrison Lane Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley, Washington): 100% Syrah. Deep, dark purplish red. Smoked meat and earth come through on the nose; blackberry, black plum, game, and earth on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $41; Available elsewhere, $53 to $80


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. Troy | May 10th, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    The Betz and the QED are probably my favorite Syrahs right now. I’ve only got one ’08 La Côte Patriarche and I’m saving it for a special day. I’ve had the Grand Rêve and the the Doyenne before, but they just weren’t as memorable to me as the others. I’ve always wanted to try the K Vintners Syrahs, but just haven’t brought myself to purchase them yet. I guess I should get out there and try them at least once, right?

  2. Kori | May 10th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Troy,
    Glad to hear that you enjoy the Betz and QED as well. Both are outstanding wines! La Côte Patriarche is definitely worthy of a special occasion. I would encourage you to try some K Syrah sometime. There are many to choose from, even though the one in this tasting didn’t fare as well as the others. Cheers!

  3. RJ | May 20th, 2012 at 8:51 am

    How did you account for the Grenache and Mourvedre added to the QED Syrah?

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