I acquired this bottle just a couple of weeks ago and I knew I couldn’t wait to long to crack into it….
So, tonight I did. This Syrah comes from Washington state’s Columbia Valley. Guardian Cellars, is a very small producer at about 2700 cases per year. This particular bottling is 125 cases or just five barrels. Super small production. The owners are a full-time police officer and a journalist for The Seattle Times. This wine caught my eye because of the police connection. I lost a great friend nearly 10 years ago in the line of duty, so when I saw this bottle I knew I just had to try this juice.
I generally like Syrah. It’s usually not as heavy as a Cabernet, but weightier than a Pinot Noir. When I’m grilling, I really like to pull the cork on a Syrah – it’s a natural pairing. Syrah can also have a meaty / gamey quality which works well with BBQ’d meats.
This grape is also unique in that it actually thrives in cool, warm and hot climates. The finished wine from these areas each have their strengths (and weaknesses). Washington, even Eastern Washington is generally cooler than many of Northern California’s growing regions for this grape.
When it’s 100%, cooler climate Syrah is generally what I enjoy the most. I like the darker fruit profile as well as the control and restraint that’s required when growing in the more challenging cool areas. In addition, the mouthfeel tends to be fuller and more velvety. This particular bottle has a deep, dark color and is packed with blackberry, black cherry, cedar, campfire smoke (yum), and a very well-balanced spicy-ish finish.
Also, let’s not forget that Washington state is much further North than Northern California, meaning there is less sunlight per square inch. For a grape like Syrah, it works really well. This is one of the best examples I’ve seen from that state and easily goes head to head with California Syrah and in many cases is much more controlled.
Most Syrah’s I don’t generally just ‘pair with a glass’, but this one has no issues with that. It has enough going on, but isn’t too powerful. I have just a little bit of milk chocolate and it’s perfect. Although I’m thinking about the pork chops I’ll be grilling tomorrow night and I might need to reserve a glass of this for them.