|Cayuse and Quilceda Creek Tasting at Esquin|
Terroir or Wine Flaws?
|Cayuse tasting room that is always closed|
I confess that I went into the Esquin tasting as a skeptic. Then I tasted four of his wines; Bionic Frog Syrah, Cailloux Syrah, Widowmaker Cabernet Sauvignon, and God Only Knows Grenache. It was not hard to pick up the unique flavor profile across the different varietals. What Voorhees would call pickle brine and cooked cabbage, I called kimchi. However, I found the umami in the wines oddly pleasing with a well-rounded complexity.
I was sold! (And yes, I love kimchi too.)
Rocks or Stones?
Fast forward five years from the tasting, the Rocks District was established as an AVA and continues to attract a lot of attention from both wine critics and wine collectors. The number of wineries that offer or increase wine offerings in the Rocks District AVA has also grown exponentially.
Sleight of Hand Cellars, for example, added two Syrahs from the Rocks District (Funk Vineyard's Funkadelic and Elevation Vineyard's Spider from Mars) to its popular Stoney Vine Vineyard's Psychedelic. All three single vineyard Syrahs are offered in the newly formed "For Those Who Love the Rocks" club.
|Sleight of Hand Cellars' Single Vineyard Syrahs from the Rocks District|
Regardless of the AVA listed on the label, the Rocks District produces beautiful wines. I want to share with you three from my cellar that I am super excited about.
|Force Majeure's SJR, Rasa's Primus Inter Pares & Reynvaan's ITR Syrah|
2017 Rasa Primus Inter Pares Grenache is such a fun and fascinating wine. I tasted it during this past Spring Release in Walla Walla. Made with 100% Grenache from Monette's Vineyard, the wine is fruit-driven with cherries and berries and yet savory with the minerality that is typical of the region. International Wine Report gave it 95 points.
2016 Reynvaan Family Vineyards Syrah In the Rocks is just stunning. In fact, Baron sold the Reynvaans the parcel of land that would become the estate In the Rocks Vineyard. A protégé of Baron, winemaker Matt Reynvaan is a star producer of Rhône-style varietals. I tasted the Syrah also during the past Spring Release in Walla Walla. It has well-balanced layers of fruit, meatiness, and umami. Jeb Dunnuck gave it 97 points.
My Verdict: I have definitely been converted from a Cayuse skeptic to a big fan of the Rocks region. I do not disagree with Voorhees' blog post about the lab test results, and I certainly do not think that the Rocks District wines taste anything like Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I do, however, have a different perspective of what constitutes wine flaws. After all, there is no accounting for taste. I would encourage anyone to keep an open mind and try a wine from the Rocks District. I'd love to hear your thoughts!