Cristom Estate Syrah 2014
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Cristom Vineyards began a quarter of a century ago as a collaboration between an engineer and a biochemist who each possessed a deep-rooted respect for the land, the natural winemaking process, and Pinot Noir. 25 years later, second-generation winegrower and owner Tom Gerrie leads winemaker Steve Doerner and our tenured viticulture team in tending our Estate vineyards, and producing elegant, dynamic wines, recognizable by our hallmark style of whole-cluster fermentation by native yeasts.
Our winemaking philosophy begins with respect for our land and estate vines. We're proud to be Certified Sustainable by Low Input Viticulture & Enology (LIVE), both in our winery which we run responsibly, and in our fields, that are thoughtfully and meticulously farmed with a focus on quality.
The four estate Pinot Noir vineyards - Eileen, Jessie, Louise and Marjorie, named for Gerrie family matriarchs - each possess natural variances in soil, elevation and exposition. With minimal intervention during the winemaking process, Tom, Steve and team strive to craft wines that are an honest recording of both the vineyard and the vintage, producing the ultimate expressions of the stellar fruit we’re fortunate enough to work with. Recognized globally as a leading producer in our beloved Willamette Valley, our wines continue to be a unique blend of tradition, modernity and finesse.
Running north to south, adjacent to the Willamette River, the Eola-Amity Hills AVA has shallow and well-drained soils created from ancient lava flows (called Jory), marine sediments, rocks and alluvial deposits. These soils force vine roots to dig deep, producing small grapes with great concentration.
Like in the McMinnville sub-AVA, cold Pacific air streams in via the Van Duzer Corridor and assists the maintenance of higher acidity in its grapes. This great concentration, combined with marked acidity, give the Eola-Amity Hills wines—namely Pinot noir—their distinct character. While the region covers 40,000 acres, no more than 1,400 acres are covered in vine.
Marked by an 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.
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.
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.