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Cayuse Armada Syrah 2009

Syrah/Shiraz from Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
  • RP97
  • WE97
  • WS93
14.7% ABV
  • RP95
  • WE94
  • WS93
  • RP96
  • WE95
  • WS93
  • RP97
  • WS94
  • WE93
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14.7% ABV

Winemaker Notes

2009 Syrah Armada Vineyard leads with a high-toned, penetrating nose that one can scarcely avoid calling Cote Rotie-like: bacon fat, fresh cherry, kirsch, framboise, and violet. But there are also black tea, caramel, and a penetrating note of sealing wax that's reminiscent of mature Bordeaux. Dense, fine-grained but more evident tannins than in most of the present collection appear on the palate with savory salinity, however, are utterly Cayuesque. The interplay of flavors here is kaleidoscopic and at the same time almost eye-squintingly bright. What's more, as the wine opens to the air, a real layering and interplay of carnal elements emerge. This Syrah's phenomenal sense of energy as well as of sheer, sappy, expansive presence, make for a finish whose vibratory intensity shakes-up the entire mouth.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 97
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
A much more voluptuous, concentrated and obviously great Syrah, the 2009 Syrah Armada Vineyard yields lots of plum sauce, spice, licorice and crushed rock aromas and flavors to go with a full-bodied, layered, pedal-to-the-metal style. This is a great wine that will have 20-25 years of longevity. Rating: 97+
WE 97
Wine Enthusiast
Dense and concentrated, this has thick, almost jammy blue and purple fruits, with a peppery highlight and an undercurrent of sweet grain. The palate is tight, featuring layers of cassis, ink, anise, coffee and iodine, with an earthy salinity that runs through the finish. The Armada is perhaps a bit less fruity and more austere than the other 2009 Cayuse Syrahs, but is every inch their equal.
Editors' Choice
WS 93
Wine Spectator
Polished, displaying a sense of restraint to the blackberry and dark plum flavors that float easily over the polished finish and linger enticingly alongside notes of black olive and smoke.
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Cayuse

Cayuse

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Cayuse, , Washington
Cayuse
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.

With a distinctly Mediterranean climate featuring warm days and cool nights, the Lodi AVA in California’s Central Valley provides growers with ideal conditions for grape-growing. As most of the rain falls in winter months while vines are dormant, the risk of disease and pest problems is low and irrigation can make up for the dry conditions during harvest.

By a wide margin, Zinfandel is the most successful and widely planted variety in Lodi. Often made from old vines, these wines are robust and fleshy with ripe, plummy fruit and represent excellent value at the lower end of the price spectrum. Over 100 other varieties are grown here, ranging from the classic (Merlot, Chardonnay) to the obscure and experimental (Portugal’s Touriga Nacional, France's Picqpoul).

Zinfandel

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Unapologetically powerful, heady, and fruit-forward, Zinfandel is often thought of as a truly Californian grape, though in fact it is anything but. This variety has followed an intriguing trajectory to reach its adoptive home, beginning, surprisingly, in Croatia. Originally known as Tribidrag, it first made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. From there it eventually migrated to what is now unarguably its most successful outpost, in California, and has thrived throughout the state. Of course, this is also the grape of White Zinfandel, a sweet pink wine that enjoyed great popularity in the 1980s and 90s. Though White Zin still has a significant following, today the variety is increasingly associated with the red version.

In the Glass

Zinfandel commonly features a bold, plush texture and notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, black pepper, dark chocolate, leather, and licorice, and can often be described as “jammy” and a little bit sweet. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig, or prune. Despite its significant alcohol and weight, Zinfandel has very smooth, gentle tannins.

Perfect Pairings

Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs, or anything barbecued. If care is taken with regards to alcohol levels, Zinfandel’s hint of sweetness can work well with milder Indian-spiced dishes like lamb curry.

Sommelier Secret

Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding vines tend to produce wine that is concentrated, complex, and elegant.

KRY123238_2009 Item# 123238

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