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Cotes de Ciel Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah 2013

Syrah/Shiraz from Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
    14.78% ABV
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    14.78% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    The 2013 Syrah is a deep inky purple color. The first sniff reveals spices, pepper, and licorice on top of blackberries. As the wine opens up, notes of dark chocolate and an iron streak are added to the aroma. The juicy palate shows dark fruits and spices. There is substantial lift to the flavors, providing liveliness to the wine.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Cotes de Ciel

    Cotes de Ciel

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    Cotes de Ciel, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
    One Saturday morning in April of 1975, five families—the Williams, Johnson, Ward, Lovell and Holmes families—drove to the south slope of Red Mountain and followed a rutted track to where the first vineyards on Red Mountain would be planted. Preparations had been underway for more than two years. Deep water wells had been dug. Electricity had been brought to the site. Land had been cleared and irrigation systems installed. Now it was time to plant. For the next week, the five families planted the first vineyards on the mountain.

    In 1975, Red Mountain was a primitive place. A mixture of grasses, desert wildflowers, and sagebrush dominated the landscape. Most of the year it was brown and dry, with a few weeks of green in the spring. The land was bereft of anything that resembled topsoil. The wheat farmers from the nearby Horse Heaven Hills took one look at the place and turned away. It wasn't worth their effort. Sheepherders had tried to use it as grazing land. They quit. The land didn't bear the kind of fodder that could support a thriving sheep operation. Everything that had been tried had failed. The place was not suited for traditional agriculture.

    It was a risk to plant wine grapes on Red Mountain, but there was some evidence that it might work. The soil was well-drained, something wine grapes prefer. The soil also had high calcium carbonate concentrations, a trait that is common in the great wine-growing regions of the world. Common sense held that if vineyards in Washington were going to be successful, they would have to grow white grape varieties from northern Europe. As a result of this thinking, Chardonnay and Riesling dominated the first plantings, with a smattering of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

    Sunrise over Red Mountain vineyards, WashingtonIt was a risk to plant wine grapes on Red Mountain, but there was some evidence that it might work. The soil was well-drained, something wine grapes prefer. The soil also had high calcium carbonate concentrations, a trait that is common in the great wine-growing regions of the world. Common sense held that if vineyards in Washington were going to be successful, they would have to grow white grape varieties from northern Europe. As a result of this thinking, Chardonnay and Riesling dominated the first plantings, with a smattering of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

    Over the years, the vineyards thrived. They learned that they grew remarkable Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cunoise, Viognier, and Roussanne. While the Riesling and Chardonnay were good, they no longer grow them, as they prefer to grow only those varieties that produce truly exceptional wines.

    Red Mountain

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    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 most common red grape varieties here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, among others. Limited white varieties are grown, namely Sauvignon blanc.

    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.

    Syrah/Shiraz

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    Marked by unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.

    Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.

    In the Glass

    Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.

    Perfect Pairings

    Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.

    Sommelier Secret

    Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.

    NWWCL13SY_2013 Item# 207984