Monday, August 30, 2010

Bunchgrass Winery: Columbia Valley Syrah - 2007

It was great news when we heard Bunchgrass Winery had returned to life after the original owner, Roger Cockerline retired with the last of his 2005 vintage.  Roger started his wine career in the 1980's when he planted the small vineyard on his family's farm. The fruit was eventually sold commercially, along with Roger and three of his friends also using some of the fruit for their own home wine projects. In fact two of the friends, Gordy Venneri and Myles Anderson, would eventually start up their own winery Walla Walla Vintners.

Entering the Walla Walla wine scene in 2002 was William vonMetzger who pursued his love of the grape at the Institute for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College. Not only was William attending classes but also began working part-time at Walla Walla Vintners where he would eventually become production winemaker. The timing couldn't have been more perfect as William was looking at his future and the possibility of starting his own winery.  Gordy Venneri supported William's interest and also knew of Roger's interest of retiring.  To make a long story short, William started making the wines for Bunchgrass in 2006.  Walla Walla Vintners was used as their production area for the 2006 - 2008 vintages.  However in 2009, crush returned once again to the Bunchgrass Winery on Highway 12.   

The wines of Bunchgrass Winery are limited and yet still moderately priced.  If you have an opportunity to grab one - - do it.  I had an opportunity to "grab" a bottle of their 2007 Syrah.  In fact, it was just listed last week in the Seattle Metropolitan Magazine as one of their Top 100 Washington Wines:

Bunchgrass Winery Syrah, Lewis Vineyard, Columbia Valley - 2007
The Lewis Vineyards are located southeast of Prosser in the Yakima Valley AVA.  Summers are hot in that region and the Lewis Vineyard has the distinction of a higher elevation. The location on a southern slope allows the cool night's air to flow away from the vineyard allowing the fruit to have an extended hang time.  Longer hang time on the vine develops the maximum of concentrated flavors. 

The nose of this wine didn't seem to me the typical smokey and espresso notes that I often find with local Syrahs. Instead the inky black liquid spoke of sweet cherries and floral notes of lilacs. The fragrance was elegant and not so bold on the nose, but fooled me on the palate with its deep flavors of dark brambleberries and a lingering of spicy black pepper.  The tannins were noticeable, but the oak was not.  I later found out it was aged  in only 20% new French oak.   Only 260 cases were produced. For the quality this Syrah is priced excellent at $28.00.

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