Force Majeure SJR Vineyard Syrah 2018
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A full-on Rocks bouquet of leafy herbs, black pepper, black olives, sweet earth, and bloody blue fruits emerges from the 2018 Syrah SJR Vineyard, which is 100% Syrah from a notable vineyard in the Rocks region of the Walla Walla Valley. Hitting the palate with full-bodied richness, it has a gorgeous mid-palate, ripe, silky tannins, almost perfect balance, and a great, great finish. I'm not sure it matches the magical 2016, but it surpasses the 2017 and is one of the wines of the vintage in 2018. Hats off to winemaker Todd Alexander.
This Herculean effort involved the careful matching of varietal and clonal selections, trellising and irrigation to the nine distinct soil types formed by the ancient Missoula floods, winds and volcanic activity. The outcome is a vineyard articulated into many small "micro-blocks," to meet the management demands of this unique and dynamic site. Due to the rough, rocky nature of the acreage and elevations ranging from 960 to 1,230 feet, mechanization is virtually impossible in the upper portion of Force Majeure, requiring true "farming by hand." Yet the lower blocks of the vineyard are comprised of deep, well-drained Warden soils.
Thus, the diversity of our vineyard results in a versatility that allows us to grow a variety of compelling fruit characterized by stunning intensity, depth and concentration, complex flavors and fine tannins. We nurture a variety of Bordeaux and Rhone varietals at this special site and look forward to sharing, quite literally, the "fruits of our labor" with you.
A coveted source of top quality red grapes among premier Washington producers, the Red Mountain AVA is actually the smallest appellation in the state. As its name might suggest, it is actually neither a mountain nor is it composed of red earth. Instead the appellation is an anticline of the Yakima fold belt, a series of geologic folds that define a number of viticultural regions in the surrounding area. It is on the eastern edge of Yakima Valley with slopes facing southwest towards the Yakima River, ideal for the ripening of grapes. The area’s springtime proliferation of cheatgrass, which has a reddish color, actually gives the area the name, "Red" Mountain.
Red Mountain produces some of the most mineral-driven, tannic and age-worthy red wines of Washington and there are a few reasons for this. It is just about the hottest appellation with normal growing season temperatures commonly reaching above 90F. The soil is particularly poor in nutrients and has a high pH, which results in significantly smaller berry sizes compared to varietal norms. The low juice to skin ratio in smaller berries combined with the strong, dry summer winds, leads to higher tannin levels in Red Mountain grapes.
The reds of the area tend to express dark black and blue fruit, deep concentration, complex textures, high levels of tannins and as previously noted, have good aging capabilities.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”