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Sleight Of Hand Levitation Syrah 2012
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Born out of a chance meeting at the Sun Valley Wine Auction's trade tasting that developed into a deep friendship, and a shared passion for outstanding wine, rock and roll, and fun, Sleight of Hand Cellars is the brainchild (love child) of Trey Busch and Jerry Solomon. Following that initial meeting in 2002, Trey, Jerry, and the winery's third partner, Sandy Solomon, started doing annual wine dinners in Sun Valley while Trey worked as the winemaker at another local winery (a job he had taken after training under Eric Dunham of Dunham Cellars beginning in 2000). Those dinners continued for four years, until in 2006 Trey finally convinced Sandy and Jerry to come over to Walla Walla for a visit.
That visit proved to be life-changing for the three partners. In less than 24 hours after their arrival in Walla Walla, the Solomons had not only fallen in love with Walla Walla and its unique charm, but a deal had been struck to start the winery. In June of 2007 the winery officially opened its doors with a small storefront tasting room in Downtown Walla Walla, while renting space at another winery for production purposes. But great press, and outstanding scores from critics, soon changed those minimalist beginnings.
Sleight of Hand Cellars has two basic goals in its vision statement, to make world class wines and to have fun while doing it—a visit to the winery is all the proof anyone needs to confirm that the winery, and its partners, are succeeding on both fronts. The winery has been open for less than ten years, but in that time Sleight of Hand Cellars has been named one of "The Next Generation" of up and coming wineries in Washington State, as well as one of "The Next Cult Wineries" by Seattle Magazine. We have had numerous wines make the top 100 of Wine and Spirits Magazine, as well as Seattle Met Magazine.
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 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.