Tag Archive | "syrah"

Review: 2010 Amavi Syrah

By Duane Pemberton
Winery website: http://www.amavicellars.com

A sister winery of Pepperbridge in Walla Walla – Amavi allows winemaker, Jean-François Pellet, to have some fun with other varietals of grapes that don’t fall under the model of Pepper Bridge. This Syrah from the Walla Walla Les Collines vineyard is showing very well right now – let’s dive into it.

2010 Amavi Syrah

Technical Data:

  • Varietal(s): 100% Syrah
  • Vineyard(s): 52% Les Collines, 35% Seven Hills, 15% Pepper Bridge
  • Appellation: Walla Walla Valley
  • Oak Program: 100% French oak;
  • 14% new, 86% used
  • Harvest Date(s): October 4-27, 2010
  • Finished Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
  • Total Production: 1,281 cases
  • Bottling Date(s): February 16, 2012
  • Release Date: May 4, 2012
  • Price: $29

On the nose: Blackened plum sauce, peppercorn, bacon fat, violet, a hint of pencil lead, licorice and a match stick.

On the palate: A nearly sublime Syrah experience in that it does a splendid job of combing fruit, acid and tannin in a tremendous way. I love the mix of dark fruit, a hint of blueberry and smokiness that comes across on the palate here. It’s an easy pick for marinated beef or wild game. Beautiful mid-palate transition with a finish that hangs out for quite awhile.

W.E.P. Rating: 95%

Posted in Syrah, Washington WinesComments (0)

3 2006 Long Shadows Wines – Review

I can’t think of a more passionate dude in the Washington wine industry than winemaker, Gilles Nicault. His zeal for wine, passion for life and people can only be truly appreciated if you get the chance to meet him in person. One could say that being french-born slanted him to be this way but his level of passion is hard to fake or duplicate. Gilles puts his whole heart into everything he touches and because of that, everyone should have the chance to try his wines – even if at the end of the day your palate doesn’t agree with them.

Long Shadows hires talent from around the world to work with Gilles on various projects – this is part of the success model for the winery as they get to to employ the expertise from some of the world’s most celebrated winemakers.

2006 Pirouette – W.E.P. Rating: 80%

Technical Details:

  • Blend: 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 5% Syrah
  • Alcohol: 14.6%
  • pH: 3.93
  • TA: 0.53 grams / 100ml
  • Release Date: May 2009
  • Production: 1,733 cases
  • Price: $55

Nose: Waves of dark chocolate covered blueberries and blackberries. white pepper, wild game, road tar and spice.

Taste: Nice doses of black and white pepper with fresh deer meat, a touch of baby poo, radishes, blackberry, plusm, anise, and chocolate. This is an interesting wine in that it offers some nice layers of complexity and had good acids, but for a $55 wine the finish seems a bit awkward for me. It finishes with some black licorice, pencil lead and ink but all that goodness gets a bit choked out by being a touch too hot – I’d like to try this wine again in 3-5 years.

2006 Feather – W.E.P. Rating: 90%

Technical Details:

  • 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Alcohol: 14.2%
  • pH: 3.72
  • TA: 0.57 grams / 100ml
  • Release Date: April 2009
  • Production: 2,238 cases
  • Price: $55

Nose: Cherries, dirt, raspberries, freshly-tanned leather, saddle soap and big-league chew.

Taste: Nice dose of what I’m going to call “dirty cherries” – it’s like you took a handful of cherries, dropped them in the dirt and then ate them – Good stuff. Across the mid-palate, I get some cool flavors of lavender, rose petal, charcoal, black raspberries and leather. Good finish that lingers nicely with flavors of black pepper and spice – would be a great pick for a grilled rib-eye steak.

2006 Saggi – W.E.P. Rating: 95%

  • Blend:42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Sangiovese, 19% Syrah
  • Alcohol: 14.6%
  • pH: 3.81
  • TA: 0.55 grams / 100ml
  • Release Date: October 2008
  • Production: 1,725 cases
  • $45

Nose: Crayola crayons, christmas fruit cake, cherry, blueberry,  glue,  star anise and some fresh road-kill.

Taste: Blackberry-laced leather straps that have been covered in molasses, cherries, pie crust, chocolate, nutmeg and wild game. There is a lot going on in the taste of this wine – it’s very complex, offering a great variety in layers of flavors. Good acidity and tannin structure – for me – make this wine an easy pick for lasagna or meat-filled ravioli or any sort of italian-styled meat and red-sauce dishes. Good velvet-action on the palate with a finish that hangs out like that annoying neighborhood kid who doesn’t “get it” on when it’s time to leave.

On the web: www.longshadows.com

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Reviews, Washington WinesComments (3)

2006 Dusted Valley Reserve Syrah

Dusted Valley Wines, headquartered in Walla Walla Washington, came onto the scene a few years ago and most recently won “Winery of the year”  Wine Press Northwest magazine. Its owners and winemakers launched back in 2003, becoming the 52nd winery to open in Walla Walla.

They’re one of the few wineries in Washington that have gone all screw-cap and that hasn’t seemed to bother their fans nor the critics.

Technical Data:

  • 100% Syrah (100% Free Run) N/A – ALLOCATED PRODUCT
  • Vineyard Sources: Alder Ridge, Lonesome Springs Ranch, Spofford Station, Cougar Hills
  • Total Acidity 0.59 grams/100ml
  • pH 3.8
  • Alcohol 14.5%
  • Oak Program: 25 % New French Oak, 15% New American Oak
  • Production: 242 Cases
  • Price: $35

Nose: Blueberry, cinnamon, allspice, cedar, peppercorn, clove, leather and chocolate.

Taste: Excellent attack of black pepper, cinnamon, blueberry and a nice hint of blackberry coming thru for me as well. I get a spicey chocololate note that picks things up across the mid-palate transisition. The finish brings lingering flavors of blueberry, Christmas spice, leather, dark chocolate and tobacco leaf. This is an extremely solid effort and a Syrah that does a good job of showcasing how well WA State can do this grape.

W.E.P. Rating: 90%

On the web: dustedvalley.com

Posted in Reviews, Syrah, Washington WinesComments (0)

A pair of 2007 Reds from John Duval

There is perhaps no more well-known Australian winemaker, in America, than John Duval. The pedigree and fame he acquired back in the glory-days of Penfold’s Estate have been well-deserved and have continued to this day to follow John around. His approach to making world-class wines has clearly spoke for itself over the years – get out of the way, and let great grapes from great vineyards do the talking.

For those not too familiar with John, you should seek out his wines if you get the chance – you’ll most likely be glad you did.

Australian wines – as of late – have unfortunately developed a stereotype over being over-the-top fruit, lots of oak and basically wines that’ll rip your face off. Thankfully, however, there are many quality producers there now who are getting back to the basics of great winemaking and let the grapes do the work.

2007 Plexus – W.E.P. Rating: 90%

Technical Data:

  • Region: Barossa Valley
  • Varieties: Shiraz 51%, Grenache 28%, Mourvedre 21%
  • Shiraz was sourced from vineyards in the Stockwell, Light Pass, Krondorf and Marananga regions.
  • Grenache from old bush vines 50-60 years old from Stockwell, Light Pass and Krondorf regions.
  • Mourvedre from old bush vines, the oldest over 100 years old, from the Light Pass and Krondorf regions.
  • Winemaking: Fermentation with submerged cap in both traditional old open top tanks and small stainless steel fermenters
  • Oak Maturation: 100% barrel matured for 16 months. Some Shiraz finished fermentation in new oak. 10% new fine grain French oak hogsheads (300 litres), balance; 3 years and older mostly French oak.
  • Alcohol 14.5%
  • pH 3.55
  • TA 6.5g/l
  • Price: $40

Nose: Jammy raspberries, blueberries, boysenberry, chocolate, road-tar and elmer’s paste

Taste: Black cherry soda with a healthy amount of dark chocolate-covered blueberries and raspberries. An insane mouthfeel that’s like a piece of velvet slipping across the tongue. Excellent notes of cinnamon, clove and black licorice round-out the ever-lasting finish.

2007 Entity Shiraz – W.E.P. Rating: 100%

Technical Data:

  • Region: Barossa Valley
  • Variety: Shiraz: Sourced from old vineyards in the Krondorf, Marananga, Tanunda, Light Pass and Eden Valley regions of the Barossa Valley
  • Winemaking: Fermentation with submerged cap in both traditional old open and small stainless steel fermenters
  • Oak Maturation: 100% barrel maturation for 17 months with 30% new fine grain French oak and the balance; 2, 3 and 4 year-old French and American oak hogsheads (300 1itres). Some batches finished fermentation in new barrels
  • Alcohol 14.5%
  • pH 3.57
  • TA 6.6g/l
  • Price: $40

Nose: Black tar with wild game and black pepper – plum skin and chocolate.

Taste: Blackberry jam with crushed blueberries toss into the mix and then topped with pepper and spread over venison. A lush wine with great body and mouthfeel, tannin structure and one that should easily lay down for the next 5-10 years under ideal temps. The finish hangs around like a lost puppy at your doorstep and refuses to stop making your tongue its slave. A billiant effort from a winemaker that knows Shiraz like none other.

John Duval website: www.johnduvalwines.com

Posted in Australia Wines, Reviews, ShirazComments (0)

Review: 2005 Boudreaux Cellars Syrah

Winemaker, Rob Newsom, has been getting a lot of press over the past few years and has really done a great job for himself in developing a “cult-like” following in regards to the brand he’s created – and lived.

Rob’s approach – like many of today’s better winemakers – is to leave the grapes alone as much as possible and let them present themselves as plainly as possible. His 2005 vintage uses fruit sourced from both Walla Walla and Horse Heaven Hills – two of the state’s top regions for growing quality fruit.

Review: 2005 Boudreaux Cellars Syrah

Technical Data:

  • Vineyards: Pepper Bridge and Wallula Vineyard
  • Fruit: 100% Syrah
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Production: 150 Cases
  • Price: $50

Nose: Black cherries, leather, candied plums, wet cedar and toasted figs wrapped in prischoto:

Taste: The cherry and candied plum comes across on the front-end of the palate and I get some vicks cough syrup action across the mid palate. There’s also a good amount of dark chocolate-covered blueberries as well. Good finish with some lingering forest twigs, charcoal and berries. This wine, currently, needs a lot of time to open up which means a lot of folks won’t really “get it” – it’s so structured that it needs time to lay down – if you don’t have the luxury of waiting a few more years, then I’d highly recommend a 3-4 hour decant.

 

W.E.P. Rating: 90%

Winery website: www.boudreauxcellars.com

Posted in Reviews, Syrah, Washington WinesComments (2)

2005 Maryhill Syrah

Winery Link: www.maryhillwinery.com
MSRP: $20.00

Maryhill is one of the top wine producers of Washington State when you consider the amount of wine it produces at the quality to price points it charges. While there are going to be better quality wines from ultra-botique producers, few if any can match Maryhill’s quality-to-quantity ratio.

I’m usually more impressed with the Maryhill wines than I am not – namely its Zinfandel has really won me over in a lot. We recently got our hands on a bottle of its 2005 Syrah – this is my first time with a Maryhill Syrah so I was more than curious about tasting it.

Technical Data:
Alcohol: 14.5%
Vineyard Sources: 44% Tudor, 29% Gunkel, 19% Baily, 8% Milbrandt
Barrel Specs: 1-3yr mixed French and American Oak for 14-months
Acidity: 0.64
ph: 3.73
Residual Sugar: .13
Cases Made: 1333

Nose: Fresh game, blueberries, blackberries, black and white pepper, leather glove and some stinky sock are all here.

Taste: Good amounts of blueberry, vanilla and pepper – even pick up the leathery notes in it, however, its finish is too hot for my palate.

Overall Summary:
Not a bad effort on Maryhill’s behalf – in fact, I’m sure it’d smooth out some more if you lay it down for another year or two. It could be a food-friendly wine if you pair it with foods which would help mask the heat a bit – maybe a veal chop or marinated flank steak would be good with it.

The problem for Maryhill and this wine is that there are other Syrah’s in its same price range which I feel deliver a better experience.

W.E.P. Score: 80%

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2006 Saviah Red Mountain Syrah

Winery Website: www.saviahcellars.com
Winery Phone #: 509-520-5166
Richard Funk, winemaker and owner of Saviah Cellars, is one of the more passionate dudes you’ll meet in the Washington Wine industry and his wine typically reflects that. I’ve been familliar with his wine for several years now and have generally held it in high regard as being great quality.

Over the years, Richard has really done a good job of cementing great working-relationships with some of the state’s top grape growers and his latest 2006 Red Mountain Syrah exemplify what a tasty Syrah from this AVA is capable of tasting like.

Technical Data:
Appellation: Red Mountain
Vineyard: Ranch at the End of the Road Vineyard
Benton City, Washington
Acidity: pH 3.64
TA 0.60 g/100mL
Alcohol 14.3% By Volume
Fermentation: 36-hour cold soak; 50% whole berry primary fermentation with
multiple stage yeast inoculation followed by secondary malolactic
fermentation; 100% complete.
Barrel aging: 100% French oak barrels
30% New French oak
Aged 16 months
Cases Produced: 227 cases
Bottling Date: February 13, 2008
Release Date: April 1, 2008
MSRP: $30.00

Nose: Dark cherries, plums, blueberries and loads of blackberries..Some sprinkles of vanilla…

Taste: Excellent mouth-feel – very smooth.. Well structured tannins which finish very smooth. The fruit does a great job of balancing the alcohol. tastes like berry pie. I get the floods of blackberries and black plums which are layered in leather straps and vanilla.

Overall Summary:
Rich has done a good job of nailing down a Syrah which showcases the terrior of Red Mountain – it has a good finish, is very food-friendly and is a Syrah I’d highly encourage all of you to seek out. The fruit on this wine and its structure present a very good overall wine experience.

W.E.P. Score: 100%

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2006 2up Shiraz

Winery Link

I figured it was about time to head across the Pacific and pull in a couple of wines from Austrailia – you know- the land “down under”? Home of the “Crocodile Hunter”, Foster’s “It’s Austrailian for Beer”, Austrailian Rules Football and other famous things? Yeah, those folks – they really do make a crap load of wine down there.

There’s no question that Austrailia’s darling grape is Shiraz (or Syrah as it’s called here in America) – this Rhone grape caught on in with a fever here on the West Coast over the past few years, however, has slowed down a bit in favor of Bordeaux grapes.

Shiraz is really a yummy grape which has proven itself to have good cellaring potential when made with the proper care. I’ve had the taste of this grape be all over the map, depending on the producer and the land from which it was harvested.

2up Shiraz comes to us from Kangarilla Road Winery whose winemaker, Kevin O’Brien, has been producing award-winning wines for years now. Kevin and his wife, Helen, opened the winery back in 2002.

Technical Notes:

  • Alcohol: 14.5%
  • pH: 3.50
  • TA: 6.9 g/L
  • Pressed at dryness and maturation in French and American oak for 12 months
  • McLaren Vale vineyards
  • Bottling Date: 02/2006
  • Price: $15

Nose: Skidmark-stained underwear with floods of black plum, black raspberry and fruitcake followed by cedar.

Taste: This wine tastes as if someone took cedar shavings from a wood mill and laced them over black plums and black cherries (think black cherry Cragmont Soad pop) then proceeded to douse it with black and white pepper. Good fruit-foward with a nice cedar-spice flavor going down the mid-back palate, however, it doesn’t linger for me and finishes a bit too soon.

Overall Summary:
The 2006 2up Shiraz is a very solid effort that would lend itself to be a very food-friendly wine and is one I could recommend to folks for well under the $20 price point. While the finish was a bit shorter than I’d hoped for, it’s overall flavor and aroma’s are still nice.

If you’re tired of the Yellowtail and Alice White and want to step up to see what a better Aussie wine can be like, or if you just want a solid Shiraz, then give this one a whirl.

-duane pemberton

W.E.P. Scale Rating: 100%

Posted in Australia Wines, Reviews, ShirazComments (0)

2005 Longshadows Vintners “Sequel” Syrah

Winery Link:

We once again take a look at a wine that’s been generating some buzz from Longshadows Vintners – it’s 2005 Sequel Syrah. This wine is made by Australian winemaker, John Duval, who has an incredible legacy making award-winning wines from down-under and is now trying his hand at Longshadows in Walla Walla.

Technical Notes:

  • Alcohol: 14.7%
  • pH: 3.73
  • TA: 0.63 grams/100ml
  • Blend: 96% Syrah and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Release date: October 2007
  • Production: 1,489 cases
  • 16 months in 95% French oak; 5% in 300L American oak barrels
  • Horse Heaven Hills’ Alder Ridge and Wallula Vineyards (40%), Red Mountain and the surrounding area vineyards (24%), Yakima Valley vineyards (15%), including grapes from the well-known Boushey Vineyard and a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon from Sagemoor’s Dionysus Vineyard in Pasco
  • $55

Nose: Raw game, butcher-shop smell backed up with massive dark plums. Dark chocoloate and black cherry. Good earthiness component – mud-like in its profile…. A bit of leather straps. A bit of new-car smell as well.

Taste: Obnoxious blackberry, rhubarb, leather mit, black and white pepper on the back end. Good finish which lingers for weeks and has excellent tanin structure. This is an extremely well-balanced Syrah which kicks major ass and should be saught out.

Overall Summary:
I’m well aware that at $55, this wine is at the top-end for what most folks would spend, however, you really do need to find some and try it – I’d even suggest letting it lay down for 2-5 more years as I know it’ll even get better. John Duval and crew really knocked this one out of the park and have presented what very well could be one of the best Syrah’s I’ve had in quite awhile.

Not that I give a rip about ratings, but I think Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast are way too low for this at only 91points. This is yet another reason why I have a hard time giving “points” to a wine as that system really fails the consumer in many ways. You owe it to yourself to try this wine – you’ll thank me.

There are still quite a few online merchants you can check out to source this wine.

W.E.P. Scale Rating: 100%

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Morrison Lane 02′/03′ Syrah

We first met Dean Morrison back in March at this year’s Taste Walla Walla event in Seattle and had some good one-on-one time with him on camera. During that interview we got to know a bit about him and the winery in which he owns with his wife.

Dean likes making exceptional quality wines and is a big believer in not releasing them to the public until their good and ready to go – even if it means they can’t sell them as quickly as they may like.

It’s that slow and steady philosophy which has guided Dean in his approach to wine and life – an approach I found in these two bottles of Syrah.

2002 Syrah $29: W.E.P. Scale Rating: 100%
Nose: Jammy blackberry with white pepper on the finish with hints of blueberry. edlerberry, road-tar, bacon fat and fabreeze freshness.

Taste: Huge blackberry and pepper component going on – petrol, a huge finish with tons of fruit. This is a long-finishing fruit-bomb which does a good job of keeping the tannins in tact.

I’d easily recommend this wine to anyone who can appreciate the more new-world wine styles and wants to see how good a wine in this price-range can be. The 100% Walla Walla fruit does have some differing characteristics from its Columbia Valley brethren, however, it’s one I fully embrace and you should as well. This is a nobel effort on this wine and one that everyone should try.

2003 Syrah $29: W.E.P. Scale Rating: 90%
Nose: Caramel, blueberries, blackberries, tar tobacco with big-league chew

Taste: Lingering blackberries, black cherries, plums and black chocolate. This wine has a good finish
and remains solid while it transitions from the front to back of the palate. Its finish to me wasn’t quite as good as what I had on the 2002, however, it’d be my guess that if you kept it laid down for another year or so, that we’d see the tannins settle down a bit more and become softer.

While I didn’t like the 2003 quite as much as the 2002, it’s still a solid effor and is a wine I’d have no problems serving to mixed company or just drinking it on its own after a couple more years in the bottle. If you do pour it now, I’d highly suggest that you decant it for at least an hour or two before serving.

Foods:
Both of these wines would be great with the following foods
– Grilled Jerk chicken
– Cumin-crusted Salmon
– Beef fajita’s
– Marinated Flank Steak
– Sauteed’ Wild Mushrooms
– Wild Game

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Terra Blanca 2002 Syrah

Terra Blanca Winery, on Red Mountain, is one of the few wineries in the Washington State to have its own cave system for housing its barrels while the wine ages. They have a very cool compound there – tasting room, concert area, eating area etc. and a swanky view.

Its entry-level Syrah is widely available and seems to have good distribution. Unlike many other wineries, Terra Blanca does a great job of holding wine and not releasing it too soon – case in point here is this wine is a 2002 vintage and wasn’t released until last year. I found this at a local store for $14 bux.

Smell:
Bring on the big black pepper, bell pepper and blueberry (presumably from the D21 and D20 yeast). Hints of banana peel, tobacco and some locker-room funk.

Taste:
Tastes like someone took a plastic container full of blueberries and then proceeded to cover then in black pepper and spit in some chewed-up Big-league chew. After they ate the blueberries they proceeded to chill out with a big cigar, taking bites from their childhood baseball mitt between puffs.

Finish:
Pretty solid across to the mid palate and lingers a bit nicely – not too long; however, good for the price.

Bottom line: This is a good bottle of Syrah for the money – far better to me than the C.R. Sandidge than I reviewed last week – especially for the money. Think of the “Cheap-date” back in high-school who was fun to take out, didn’t cost a lot of money but there was no long-term romance there.

Foods:
Grilled burgers
Marinated flank steaks dipped in red curry paste
Cedar-plank salmon with a fire-roasted pepper saffron sauce.

This is my opinion on this wine and I highly encourage you to give it a try should you spot one in your favorite store – as always, embrace your own palate!

W.E.P. Scale Rating: 100%

Posted in Reviews, Syrah, Washington WinesComments (1)

C.R. Sandidge 2000 Minick Syrah

Ray Sandidge is one of the most under-rated winemakers in the state of Washington. He has a pedigree most of his peers would love to have, including training in the old-world. His passion and knowledge of winemaking is very thorough.

He was the former winemaker for Kestrel and Apex Cellars where he had no problems helping each of those wineries wine a plethora of awards.

A number of years ago, Ray ventured out to start his own label called C.R. Sandidge Wines (Charles Ray Sandidge) in Chelan Washington and hasn’t looked back. His wines at Kestrel were among the first “big guns” that got myself and some friends really hooked into wine and we adopted our own little “Cult-like” following of his work.

Not too long ago, I met up with him at a wine pouring at Des Moines Corkscrew Cellars (home of one of the first “ghetto glasses” I ran across) and had him sign one of the bottles. In case you’re wondering why he signed it the way he did was because when I first met his wife, Kristina, I told him to tell Ray that me and my buddy were “not worthy” (think of the movie Wayne’s World when they met Alice Cooper).

I bought this bottle back in 2004 and have been laying it down for awhile now – after talking to the winery about their early use of synthetic corks, I decided it was time to give it a go-around.

STATS:
Alcohol: 13.5%
Vineyard: Minick
Vintage: 2000
Winemaker: Ray Sandidge (yoda)
Production: 465 Cases

APPEARANCE: Very typical of a well-made Syrah with extremely deep purples which look very cool when being swirled around in the glass. One thing you’ll notice is that Ray is not at all a believer in filtering his wines so there’s always a ton of sediment (goodness) in the bottle and sometimes in your glass.

SMELL: Here are a few of the smells I got: Smokey bacon fat, plums, black dirt, Rose pedals, gooseberry, blackberry, bitter chocolate and licorice.

TASTE: A good balance of old-world vegetal action like green asparagus, bell pepper, dirt and earthiness. Top on the huge dark plums, dried cranberries, licorice and a slight taste of home-made apple pie (I know, it’s weird – don’t ask).

MOUTH FEEL: My main complaint with this wine is that the finish is very weak – it’s crackin’ very nicely through the front and mid palate region but the finish peter’s out faster than Michael Moore running for a Big Mac.

FOOD: Would go good with the following:
– Any kind of good cut of grilled or bbq’d Steak
– BBQ Ribs
– Marinated, grilled Shish Ka Bobs

OVERALL: I can really appreciate the old-world effort Ray put into this bottle and to be honest, it was a bit better with food; however, it still wouldn’t be my first choice if I were to go buy a Syrah right now.

I have yet to try some of Ray’s newer vintages of the Minick Syrah and look forward to doing so; if I can find any. Old-world fans should really try this wine out if you can find it (only 465 cases made) because it’s a good example of what Washington Syrah’s can taste like when they’re not fashioned to be new-world fruit/pepper bombs.

W.E.P. Scale Rating: 70%

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