B. Leighton Olsen Brothers Vineyard Syrah 2016
This wine makes me happy. It’s so pure, so restrained, yet soon... it explodes with black plum, black olive, black pepper and licorice. It doesn’t stop there... it explodes Asian floral prettiness that moves into forest floor, cured meat, charred herbs and clove. The texture is warm and inviting and just feels... like a celebration.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2016 Syrah comes from a site in the Yakima Valley that was planted by Leighton. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by classic Syrah notes of dark berry fruits, smoke tobacco, olive tapenade, and ground pepper. Medium to full-bodied, with both freshness and richness, it’s impeccably balanced, with beautiful fruit and a great finish. It’s another seriously good wine from Brennon that delivers the goods.
Mourvèdre makes up 70% of this wine, with the rest Grenache and Syrah. The aromas aren’t ready to reveal themselves on first pour, with aromas of raspberry, orange peel, smoked meat and herb emerging over time. The palate shows a lovely sense of purity and detail. Yum.
Brennon Leighton is the Director of Winemaking and Viticulture at Charles Smith Wines where he oversees all viticulture, vineyard relations and winemaking for all Charles Smith brands, including K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines, ViNO, SIXTO, Wines of Substance and Casa Smith. Considered to be one of the best winemakers in the state of Washington by wine critics and connoisseurs alike, Leighton has nearly 20 years of experience in winemaking and viticulture.
Leighton grew up in Santa Cruz, California and moved to Seattle when he was a 21-year-old punk rocker, who exclusively drank cheap beer and whiskey. He was first introduced to wine while employed at a high-end restaurant and decided, at the age of 25, to go to college and earn a degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California at Davis.
Prior to working at Charles Smith Wines, Leighton worked in vineyards in California, eventually returning to Seattle to work for Chateau Ste. Michelle and later as Head Winemaker for Efeste. After first meeting in the early 1990s, Leighton and Charles Smith reconnected, and Smith hired Leighton as a consultant to help with his well-known wine, Kung Fu Girl Riesling. Two years later, in 2012, Charles Smith hired Leighton as the winery’s full-time Winemaker, and partner in his new Chardonnay project – SIXTO. Leighton’s thoughtful, kind, and intense passion for wine made him perfect for the job. In 2014, Leighton was promoted to Director of Winemaking and Viticulture where he now manages all vineyards and winemaking teams.
In 2012, Leighton created B. Leighton Wines to showcase the world-class terroir of Washington State. B. Leighton Wines are authentic, classic and alive. The wines have received 90+ points by wine critics such as Wine Spectator and Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, who most recently noted, “If you haven’t heard of Brennon Leighton, now’s a good time to fix that!”
As the first recognized wine-growing region in the Pacific Northwest, Yakima Valley is centrally located within Washington’s vast Columbia Valley. The region also includes Washington’s oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines, Otis Vineyard, planted in 1957, and Harrison Hill Vineyard, planted in 1963. Yakima Valley contains three smaller sub-regions: Rattlesnake Hills, Red Mountain, and Snipes Mountain and is ideal for both red and white wine production. In fact, Yakima Valley is Washington’s most diverse region, boasting more than 40 different grape varieties over about one hundred miles.
But its warmer locations yield a large proportion of Washington’s best Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The finest Yakima Valley reds are jam-packed full of red cherry, currant, raspberry or blackberry fruit, as well as cocoa, herb, spice and savory notes, and exhibit a supple texture, great body, focus and length.
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 Blends of Southern Rhône, 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.”