Last Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6 was Cayuse Weekend in the Walla Walla Valley when Cayuse Members pick up their allocations and taste the next year's releases. On Friday morning, I went down to the winery on Sunnyide Road, north of Milton Freewater. Here are my notes on the upcoming vintages.
2017 "Edith" Grenache Rosé - This showed a light copper-pink color and enticing aromas of strawberry, cranberry, cherry and currant with scents of cherry blossoms, orange peel and white smoke. The flavors were ripe, juicy and resonant, with distinct minerality and fine structure and acidity. 19+/20 points.
2016 "God Only Knows" Grenache - From the Armada Vineyard the "GOK" came on as a fruit and earth driven Grenache. Brick red colored, it possessed a rich nose of raspberry, black currants, pomegranate, crushed roses, lavender and incense. On the palate, the flavors picked up distinct "Rocks" character, accompanied by notes of roasted berries and nuts, orange peel, and graphite, followed by a chewy yet smooth ripe tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2017 "Widowmaker" Cabernet Sauvignon, En Chamberlin Vineyard - Deep ruby-crimson colored, this possessed an intoxicating nose of wild blackberries, cherries, plums, crushed roses, tobacco, cedar, sandalwood and incense. The dark fruit flavors were precisely structured, with notes of licorice, dark cocoa, French press and damp earth. The back picked up macerated berries, roasted nuts and pulverized charcoal on the way to a lingering satiny tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2017 Syrah, Cailloux Vineyard - From a vineyard planted in 1997 and co-fermented with 5% Viognier, this showed a deep ruby color and a rich, smoky nose of blackberry, blueberry, black currant, crushed roses, mulberry, lavender and smoldering oriental incense. The flavors were thick and generous yet deep cored, with layers of dark fruits that were infused with licorice, cocoa, crushed rocks, pressed berries, roasted nuts, creme de cassis, all followed by a long deliciously juicy finish. 19.5/20 points.
2017 Syrah, En Cerise Vineyard - From a vineyard planted in 1998, this showed a ruby-crimson color and a perfumed nose of wild fruits - blackberries, blueberries, black currants - with scents of pressed roses, lavender, violets and spiced incense. The flavors were medium bodied but plush and deliciously mouth filling, with notes of cobblestone earth, roasted nuts, creme de cassis and charcoal, followed by a lavish, long, ripe tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2017 Syrah, En Chamberlin Vineyard - To me, this came on as the most elegantly styled of the 2017 Syrahs. Deep ruby-crimson colored, it emited lovely, perfumed aromas of fraises de bois, wild currants, pomegranates, rose petals, lavender, violets and wafts of oriental incense. The flavors matched the aromas in allure, with lavish red fruits that displayed incredible finesse, yet still conveying the Rocks minerality. The finish was decadently long and silky, yet forceful. 20/20 points. As I was writing the notes for this wine, Christophe came up to me and I showed him what I wrote. He was pleased.
2017 "Bionic Frog" Syrah - From the Cocinelle ("ladybug") Vineyard, this was another knockout Bionic Frog. Deep ruby-crimson colored, it possessed intoxicating aromas of raspberry, blueberry, cassis, crushed roses, orange peel, tobacco, lavender, violets and spiced white incense. The flavors were generous, savory and mouth filling, marked by licorice, cocoa, French press and Rocks earth. The back picked up macerated berries, roasted hazelnuts and burnt charcoal, followed by a long sweet-dry finish. Combines elegance and vigor. 20/20 points.
2016 Syrah, Armada Vineyard - From a vineyard planted in 2001, this showed a deep ruby-garnet and a rich, smoky nose of semi-dried fruits, raspberries, blackberries, black currants, dried roses, lavender, brambles, garrigue and smoldering incense. The flavors, too, were rich and earthy, typical of Rocks Syrah, marked by notes of licorice, dark cocoa, French roast. lengthening out on the back with framboise and cassis liqueurs and savory elements, followed by ripe tannins on the finish. 19.5/20 points.
2017 "Impulsivo" Tempranillo - Crimson-garnet colored, this showed a rich nose of wild fruits - raspberries, cherries, currants, plums - with scents of Spanish lavender, violets and wood smoke. The flavors were lavish, yet focused, with layers of fruit, chicory coffee and earth along with typical Tempranillo penetration on the back, with notes of pressed fruits, orange peel and marcona almonds on a lingering Rioja-like sweet-dry tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
After Cayuse, I drove back to Walla Walla and up to the end of Cottonwood Road to the Reynvaan Family Vineyards Cayuse Weekend event. Here's what I tasted.
2017 Viognier, In the Rocks Vineyard - Fermented in French oak (50% new) this showed lovely aromas and resonant well textured flavors, Rocks minerality and varietal purity throughout. 19.5/20 points.
2017 Grenache Blanc, In the Rocks Vineyard - Fermented in French balls (60% new) this had lovely floral aromas and strikingly crisp yet round and smooth flavors and a lingering, crystalline finish. 19.5/20 points.
2016 "Queen's Road" White Wine, In the Rocks Vineyard - This 55% Marsanne, 45% Viognier combination spent 22 months in new oak. Enticingly aromatic and floral, it showed simultaneously rich and piercing flavors and a long, faintly honeyed finish. 19.5/20 points.
Full reviews of the above three whites to be in the May issue of the Review of Washington Wines.
2017 "The Classic" Cabernet, In the Rocks Vineyard ($75 - presale) - Tasted from the barrel, this 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 17% Petit Verdot and 11% Cabernet Franc showed a deep ruby color and rich aromas of blackberry, cherr, cassis and plum with scents of roses, cigar box and incense. The flavors were full loaded with layers of dark fruits and a long finish. 19.5/20 points.
2016 "The Classic" Cabernet, In the Rocks Vineyard ($75) - This traditional style blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 13% Petit Verdot and 7% Cabernet Franc showed a deep color and rich aromas of blackberries, Bing cherries and cassis, with scents of crushed roses, sweet tobacco, sandalwood and wood smoke. The flavors were deep and penetrating, authoritative yet elegant, with a long fine grained tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2016 Syrah, In the Rocks Vineyard ($90) - Co-fermented with 5% Viognier, this displayed a semi-opaque ruby color and intense aromas of wild fruits with scents of crushed roses, tobacco, lavender and spiced incense. The flavors were deliciously lavish yet deep and focused, with layers of black and blue fruits that were underlain with Rocks minerals, and followed by a long, complex, savory finish. 19.5/20 points.