Cayuse Bionic Frog Syrah 2009
Syrah/Shiraz from Walla Walla Valley, Washington
The Wine Advocate - "Cayuse’s 2009 Syrah Bionic Frog originates in the Coccinelle Vineyard, planted in 1998, which features iron-rich clay with significant fine earth run-off from the nearby Blue Mountains, and, paradoxically, dries out quickest. In more ways than one, it’s the opposite of En Chamberlin. “This is, 90% of the time, the Syrah that we pick first,” notes Baron, “which was September 24 in 2009.” Vinification was in concrete (though future vintages will ferment in recently-arrived wooden uprights), and the mix of barrels – all Dominique Laurent’s self-styled “magic barriques” (which until 2011 was the favored medium for this bottling) – was around 20-30% new. Baron and Bourcier explain how they like what these barrels have done for the Bionic Frog, but, adds Baron: “My style of wine should not be based on a cooper, and I don’t want to be dependent on one man’s barrel.” Red and black raspberries as well as cherries – seemingly simultaneously in confitured, fresh, and distilled formats – are mingled with nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, black tea and salted caramel on the nose; and then again on a strikingly bright, sappy palate, leading to a finish of rapier penetration and compulsive saliva-inducement. The charm, mystery, and intricacy exhibited by a couple of other splendid wines in the present collection might be missing here, but the sheer energy, persistence, and, for lack of a better word, umami-savor are amazing. It’s a brave man who would want to forsake the “formula” behind this bit of alchemy, even if it depends on barrels whose alleged secret is guarded by an almost eccentrically passionate Burgundian winemaker! Almost unbelievably, Baron informs me that he thinks this wine is “shy and in its shell” right now; but I’m not buying that to the extent of including a plus sign or a plus with question mark after my score! Only around half the fruit was destemmed for this, incidentally; Baron says it was Verset who inspired him to the potential of vendange entier. This should be well worth following for 15 or more years. "
International Wine Cellar - "Bright dark red. Multidimensional nose delivers black raspberry, brown sugar, smoky cardamom and black olive. Superconcentrated, sappy and rich, showing a rare blend of power and delicacy. No single element dominates this outstanding syrah; flavors of red and black fruits, pepper and spices wash over the palate in a wave. Finishes with very fine tannins and great persistence."
Wine Enthusiast - "The Frog is a bit reductive, a bit shy in 2009 and needs extra decanting. With proper breathing time, it shows inviting notes of violets and strawberries, and it gains concentration through the midpalate, with additions of cherry and an almost liquid minerality. An almost delicate version of this wine."
Wine Spectator - "Focused, with nice density to the juicy blueberry and black plum flavors, hinting at black pepper, Lapsang souchong tea and tar as the finish sails on and on. Shows presence and depth, deftly balanced on the finish."
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An adventure in the new world
Christophe Baron grew up among the vineyards and cellars of his family's centuries-old Champagne house, Baron Albert. His sense of adventure, however, led him to become the first Frenchman to establish a winery in Washington State.
While visiting the Walla Walla Valley in 1996, Christophe spotted a plot of land that had been plowed up to reveal acres of softball-sized stones. This stony soil, this terroir, was just like that of some of the most prestigious French appellations. The difficult ground would stress the grapevines, making them produce more mature, concentrated fruit.
He named his vineyard after the Cayuse, a Native American tribe whose name was taken from the French cailloux--which means, rocks. Hours of back-breaking work later, Cayuse Vineyards has become five vineyards encompassing 41 acres.
The majority is planted with Syrah, and the rest dedicated to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Roussanne, Tempranillo and Viognier. All of the vineyards are planted in rocky earth within the Walla Walla Valley appellation. Cayuse was the first winery in Washington State to use biodynamic farming methods. View all Cayuse Wines
About Walla Walla Valley
Sharing part of the valley with Oregon, Walla Walla is on the southeast side of the Columbia Valley. It is primarily red grape land, with Cabernet Sauvignon leading in the vineyards, followed by Merlot and the ever-growing and very popular, Syrah.In the 1990's, as Washington State was gaining more acclaim for its red wines, Walla Walla was hailed by wine critics for its quality and sense of place. That has not changed. Many red wines from Walla Walla show not only great complexity and elegance, but ageability. Though the region is known for the red wines, the most planted white grape here is Chardonnay.
About WashingtonRelated Links:Now the number two producer in the United States, Washington State has also grown in quality.
So how does a state known for rain and coffee produce high quality wines? They plant their grapes on the east side of the Cascade mountains, away from that ever-present rain cloud that sits along the coast. Perhaps wine grapes do well since the sandy loam soils east of the Cascade range give way to an almost desert-like land, saved from drought only by the helpful rivers that run through the area – and the good irrigation systems.
Thinking that the state would do best with typical northern growing grapes like Riesling and Gewurtztraminer, turns out the apple state is well-suited for reds, namely Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and, more recently, Syrah. Of course, whites have not been forgotten - Washington State Rieslings range from bone-dry to sweet, are well-structured and high quality, and Chardonnay dominates most of the other white plantings, making a range of wines. But the reds of the region, Merlot in particular, have made Washington State a quality force to be reckoned with.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.