Sequel Syrah 2003
John Duval, formerly of Australia's iconic Penfolds Grange, chose the Columbia Valley as his "Sequel" for the continuation of his life's work with Syrah.
Blend: 95% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A generous and concentrated wine of great character, Sequel is notable for its deep purple hue, rich aromatics and layers of flavor. Almond, dark chocolate and cherry notes fill the glass, complimented by hints of black licorice, blackberry, cocoa powder and a touch of smoke.
Carefully selected, hand-harvested grapes are fermented in two to four-ton tanks using a variety of fermentation methods including “rack and return,” a technique John Duval frequently uses in Australia. This allows for gentle handling of the berries while extracting optimal color and richness. The wine is aged an average of 18 months in 65 percent new French oak barrels.
Duval uses Syrah from The Benches at Wallula and Alder Ridge for their dark flavored fruits. Red Mountain grapes provide the structure of the wine and Boushey Vineyard in Yakima Valley brings the elegance to Sequel.
A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!
Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.
Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.
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.
Tasting Notes for Syrah
Syrah is a dry, red wine that typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice 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 Food Pairings for Syrah
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 Secrets for Syrah
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.