Friday, April 05, 2013

A Rocky Start: Proper Wines

Wouldn't you know, the Eastside girl is often the last one to tout about one of the newer, and most distinctive wines around. That Sullivan character from the Westside beat me to it. 

The word on the street is they're calling the Proper Syrah, "Baby Cayuse." When I received a bottle, not only was I intrigued with the simplicity and style of the packaging and of course, the stone on the label, but I also wanted to know the story of these five men from Colorado. I wanted to know more about the rock on the label and yet, I didn't realize how close to home I was. 

In Colorado Springs, during the year of 2005, two friends, Conor McCluskey and David Houle were sharing the #3 with egg roll, as well as sharing visions and potential business ventures. You know how, as friends do. 

I've heard of crazier ideas, but eventually, after a visit to taste the wines of Walla Walla,  McCluskey and Houle's thirst for adventure brought them the opportunity to purchase a small eight-acre parcel of cherry trees at the state line in the Walla Walla Valley and Milton-Freewater area. Now it just so happens this cherry orchard wasn't located in just any area, but in the famous area in the Walla Walla AVA, known as "The Rocks." 

The Rocks area is known for its vineyards that are planted in ancient riverbed rock, or rather Oregon’s answer to Châteuneuf-du-Pape. The Rocks is home to the world class wines of Cayuse Vineyards, and most recently, the celebrated wines of Reynvaan Family Vineyards.

In 2007, the old orchard was replaced with vines soon to bear grapes of syrah. A few years later, the duo would be joined by other close friends, Kevin Dibble, Billy Adams and David Kunstle. Enter a former geologist, who understands rocks, with a reputation for producing wines with Old World style of the Rhone region, Walla Walla winemaker, Sean Boyd. Long story short, the wines of "Proper" were born with the first release of  2010 Syrah and Rose'.

The name of their winery defines that when something is “done proper” it’s done in the same style of its origin, paying homage to its roots. The goal of the quintet is to showcase the uniqueness of the Walla Walla Valley and keep the integrity, as much as possible.  

So the burning question is, how does the wine taste? 

I just happened to share the bottle with two other fellow wine industry and eno/vit grads, and once the bottle was opened, I wished I had not been so generous and kept the bottle for myself - - kidding. The three of us just sat around for several minutes and kept our nose in the glass. The aromas were compelling. We discovered notes of blueberries, bacon, blackened meats, strong coffee and briny black olives. The taste was earthy and rich with a touch of minerals - wet rocks. The dark purplish-black and inky liquid brought flavors of blueberries, espresso and almost a bloody quality, again of blackened, but rare roasted meats. The wine was smooth and supple on the palate. Distinguished.

Typically, when I reach for a syrah, I expect a lot.  Therefore, I don't reach for syrah very often, unless the syrah is done 'proper." With that said, this syrah is worth reaching for.  

100% Syrah - 2010. Aged 16 months in 20% new French oak. Approximately 450 cases produced.

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