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Gramercy Cellars Walla Walla Syrah 2008
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Prior to founding Gramercy Cellars, Greg spent what seemed like a lifetime as a sommelier and wine program director for top chefs such as Joyce Goldstein, Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck. Since becoming the youngest American to pass the Master Sommelier Exam at the age of 26, Greg has been passionate about someday making his own wine. His Washington odyssey began in the Spring of 2004, at a backyard picnic in Brooklyn, hosted by the Walla Walla Wine Alliance. There, Greg and Pam tasted wines that surprised them. They were very different from what they had come to expect from American wines. These were wines that displayed earthy characteristics and balance. A marathon tasting trip in Walla Walla later that spring (and Pam's discovery of the term "palate fatigue") convinced them that Walla Walla was in their future. First, this meant "when they retire." That quickly became "5 years from now." Meanwhile, Greg worked harvest in 2004 in Walla Walla and was more convinced than ever that Walla Walla was the place in the United States to make the wines he loves. Soon thereafter, Pam gave him the green light to leave his restaurant industry job to seize the opportunity to finally follow his dreams full time, resulting in Gramercy's first harvest in 2005. In 2006, Greg and Pam moved to Washington to establish and build the legacy of great Washington wine at Gramercy Cellars.
2010 was a watershed vintage for Gramercy. Vineyards, vintage and style have all come together as clearly evidenced by wines of amazing personality and quality. Tempranillo and the red Rhone blends - The Third Man and L’Idiot du Village showcase intense, pure fruit with rich textures and fine acid-tannin structure. The bright, intense, blue-black fruited Lagniappe Syrah is co-fermented with a dollop of Viognier and aged 18 months in 85% neutral French oak. In New Orleans, Lagniappe, means, a little something extra. The Walla Walla Valley Syrah is whole cluster fermented, aged in neutral oak and is fatter and meatier. The Cabs have both power and finesse and are built for an extra long haul. Finally, the Rosé is a full-bodied but not heavy Rhone blend that marks a new quality high for WA pink. Walla Walla native, Brandon Moss, worked harvests at King Estate and in New Zealand. Upon returning to Walla Walla be became cellar master at Waters Winery before joining Gramercy as assistant winemaker. In 2011 Brandon became a partner in Gramercy Cellars. This is a very important, world-class producer!
Responsible for some of Washington’s most highly acclaimed wines, the Walla Walla Valley has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years and is home to both historic wineries and younger, up-and-coming producers.
The Walla Walla Valley, a Native American name meaning “many waters,” is located in southeastern Washington; part of the appellation actually extends into Oregon. Soils here are well-drained, sandy loess over Missoula Flood deposits and fractured basalt.
It is a region perfectly suited to Rhône-inspired Syrahs, distinguished by savory notes of red berry, black olive, smoke and fresh earth. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot create a range of styles from smooth and supple to robust and well-structured. White varieties are rare but some producers blend Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon, resulting in a rich and round style, and plantings of Viognier, while minimal, are often quite successful.
Of note within Walla Walla, is one new and very peculiar appellation, called the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. This is the only AVA in the U.S. whose boundaries are totally defined by the soil type. Soils here look a bit like those in the acclaimed Rhône region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but are large, ancient, basalt cobblestones. These stones work in the same way as they do in Chateauneuf, absorbing and then radiating the sun's heat up to enhance the ripening of grape clusters. The Rocks District is within the part of Walla Walla that spills over into Oregon and naturally excels in the production of Rhône varieties like Syrah, as well as the Bordeaux varieties.
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.
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.