Category Archives: Syrah

Domaine Lombard Grand Chêne Côtes du Rhône

Braised Impulse

Domaine Lombard 2014 “Grand Chêne” Côtes du Rhône Brézème, France

Fellow wine lovers, within the Southern Rhone Valley of France there lies a specific village known as Brézème. It’s name is derived from the French word for “braise”, in reference to the area’s baking warm weather. Brézème bears the soils of the Southern Rhone (where Grenache blends are the standard), but the climate of the Northern Rhone (where single varietal Syrah wines are the norm). This unique confluence of climate and soil makes the village one of few places in the Southern Rhone from which you can grab a 100% Syrah wine, such as those of Domaine Lombard.

Domaine Lombard 2014 “Grand Chêne” Côtes du Rhône Brézème $22.99

Decades ago, the wines of this village were nearly made extinct by phylloxera, a bug that likes to eat the vines and their roots. Sylvette Lombard was a key contributing in helping to restore Brézème, ensuring that it doesn’t disappear from the wine map for good- while also establishing Domaine Lombard’s place in winemaking history.

Domaine Lombard’s “Grand Chêne” Côtes du Rhône is sourced exclusively from the Les Chassis Vineyard, within the village of Brézème, and is 100% Syrah. It’s fairly nimble on its feet, not overly heavy, making a great red wine for warmer weather and backyard entertaining. It sees no oak treatment, rather it’s aged for 12 months in large concrete vessels, to help soften its structure and build depth of character. The nose has hints of violets, hickory, and freshly steeped tea leaves, while the smooth and medium bodied palate offers notes of cured meats and dark cherries, with a bit of blood orange and sandalwood chiming in on the background. A well balanced and classically styled Rhone red- right up my alley!

Domaine Lombard 2014 “Grand Chêne” Côtes du Rhône Brézème

Domaine Lombard 2014 “Grand Chêne” Côtes du Rhône Brézème

Click here to order the Domaine Lombard Côtes du Rhône Brézème

Region: Côtes du Rhône AOC, Southern Rhone Valley, France

Vineyard(s): Les Chassis Vineyard. Elevations as High as 900 ft, Vines as Old as 20 Years

Grape(s): 100% Syrah

Aging: 12 Months in Concrete Tanks

Drinkability: Now through 2020

Body: Medium

Drink This if you Like: Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Food Pairing: Rack of Lamb


Damsel Cellars Stillwater Creek Syrah

Damsel Impulse

Damsel Cellars 2013 Syrah, Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, WA

Fellow wine lovers, not every Damsel is in distress. In fact, today’s Damsel seems to have things pretty well in order. Damsel Cellars is a new winery started by owner and winemaker Mari Womack. She spent a several years working and volunteering at boutique Washington wineries such as Obelisco, Bear, and Darby, before having the gumption to start her own project. Now into her second vintage, she’s making some wines worth sharing on Impulse.

Damsel Cellars 2013 Columbia Valley Syrah $34.99

Mari Womack is focusing on making all 100% single varietal wines, such as this Syrah, which is also a single vineyard Syrah, all from Stillwater Creek Vineyard in the Columbia Valley. Over the past 10 or so years, Stillwater Creek has become a favored site for Syrah, and other varieties, among boutique winemakers in Washington. I myself had the pleasure of working with their Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and other grapes, when I was making wine at Matthews back in the day. It’s a very well managed vineyard, growing excellent wine grapes.

The Damsel Cellars 2013 Columbia Valley Syrah is aged for 14 months in 25% new French oak barrels. Mari Womack also included 25% stems in the fermentation, which bring a bit of earth tones to the profile, as well as adding texture and a bit of tannin. It’s a smooth wine, but does have a bit of grip to the palate, and those extra tannins will go a long in making this an ageable and food friendly wine, especially with a fatty meat dish. The nose reminds me of the sweet smoky essence of a barbecue pit, with notes of black raspberry, cured olives, and hints of tobacco and dried leaves. The color is deep and dark, and the palate is full bodied, with flavors of vanilla, cherries, blueberries, and hints of toast. It finishes with a hint of game and palate cleansing acidity.

Click here to order the Damsel Cellars Syrah

Damsel Cellars 2013 Syrah

Damsel Cellars 2013 Syrah

Region: Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State Wine

Vineyard(s): Stillwater Creek Vineyard

Grape(s): 100% Syrah

Aging: 14 Months in 25% New French, 25% Stem Inclusion

Drinkability: Now through 2021

Body: Full body

Alcohol: 14.5% by volume

Drink This if you Like: Darby Cellars, Mark Ryan, DeLille Doyenne

Food Pairing: Burgers, Steaks, Summer Sausage

Production: 104 cases

Force Majeure “Parabellum” Syrah

Major Impulse

Force Majeure 2013 “Parabellum” Syrah, Red Mountain, Washington

Fellow wine lovers, you may have heard of a cult winery in Washington’s Red Mountain region, called Force Majeure Vineyards- formerly known as Grand Reve. They’re known for having the highest elevation vineyard currently producing wine on Red Mountain. They’re also known for turning out big, highly-sought-after, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from their estate vineyard. Force Majeure’s flagship wines can go for as much as $90 upon release. Luckily for us, today we’re able to debut their brand new second label, Parabellum, which comes at a much more approachable price of entry. This inaugural vintage features very small quantities, as only 120 cases have been produced, of which they’re offering us just about a handful.

Being new, the Parabellum wines aren’t yet review by any major wine critics, however Jeb Dunnuck of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has been quoted as saying the following about Force Majeure’s wines in general, “I’ve raved about this producer in the past, and I continue to do so… I urge you to taste through this lineup as the quality of the fruit shows in each wine…I’ve put these wines in numerous blind tastings with the best wines in the world and they always hold their own.”

Force Majeure 2013 “Parabellum” Syrah $44.99

Interesting story about how the folks at Force Majeure came to choose the name for their new wine. Purportedly they found the word “Parabellum” stamped on some shell casings which they discovered at the vineyard site during excavation and planting of the vines. I did a bit of research myself, and learned that Parabellum is the name of a German firearms manufacturer. Hence the crosshair style imagery on the wine’s label.

The wine itself is 100% Syrah sourced from Force Majeure’s estate vineyard, high atop Red Mountain. It’s aged for 18 months in 30% new French oak barrels, is a bright fuchsia color in the glass, and medium-full bodied on the palate. It has an enticing nose, with hints of vanilla, ripe and berries, and notes of smoke. The palate is very gratifying, with velvety texture and delectable flavors of cookie dough, bright raspberry and blueberry, and hints of that signature Syrah meatiness. Overall, a very satisfying wine right out the gate, and I think it will development in complexity with another year or two in the bottle, can keep for several.

Force Majeure "Parabellum" 2013 Syrah

Force Majeure “Parabellum” 2013 Syrah

Click here to order the Force Majeure “Parabellum” Syrah

Region: Red Mountain AVA, Washington State Wine
Vineyard(s): Force Majeure Estate Vineyard
Grape(s):100% Syrah
Aging: 18 Months in 30% New French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2020
Body: Medium-Full
Alcohol: 14.6% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Force Majeure, DeLille Cellars, Mark Ryan
Production: 120 case
Availability: 6 cases



Secret Squirrel 2012 GSM

Secret Squirrel Impulse:

Secret Squirrel 2012 Rhone Style Red, Columbia Valley, WA

Fellow wine lovers, there has been a really strong response to our Impulse offering of the Secret Squirrel Cabernet Sauvignon. Judging by your positive feedback and reorders, this is our most popular wine thus far. It’s not surprising, given that it’s an outstanding bottle of wine, with great packaging, for only $24.99- and coming from the same people who do Corliss Estates in Walla Walla for over $70 per bottle. If you like the Secret Squirrel Cabernet Sauvignon, then you’ll love their GSM!

Secret Squirrel 2012 GSM $24.99

Corliss now has vineyards all over Washington State; in Walla Walla, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain, and as of recently in the Columbia Gorge. This means they have the ability to blend wines from varied terroirs to produce something affordable and complex. Much of the fruit for the Secret Squirrel wines comes from their vineyard on Red Mountain, which they purchased from Sandhill Vineyards several years ago. I think that Sandhill Vineyards may not have known what an outstanding vineyard they were letting go of, as it’s now turning out these excellent Secret Squirrel wines.

Today’s Secret Squirrel GSM is a classic Rhone style blend of 48% Syrah, 32% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre. Coming from Washington’s top rated 2012 vintage, it has a lovely nose, exhibiting bits of candied red fruits, pretty floral notes of lavender, and hints of spice. The structure is exceptionally easy drinking, with a very smooth texture on the palate, and medium body. Up front, it shows flavors of soft berries, with hints of jam and cherry lozenge. The background is filled with light suggestions of tobacco, tar, dried leaves, and herbs. Overall, it’s a very pleasurable wine, mostly dominated by tasty berry notes, with slight tertiary earth notes.

Secret Squirrel 2012 GSM by Corliss Estates

Secret Squirrel 2012 GSM by Corliss Estates

Click here to order the Secret Squirrel GSM

Region: Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State Wine
Vineyard(s): Corliss Estate Vineyards
Grape(s): 48% Syrah, 32% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre
Aging: 24 Months in French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2019
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Numbskull by Mark Ryan, Kevin White, Secret Squirrel Cabernet Sauvignon
Food Pairings: Roast Beef, Wild Boar



Luke Lambert 2011 “Crudo” Shiraz

Crudo Impulse

Luke Lambert 2011 “Crudo” Shiraz

Fellow wine lovers, we have one more softball of a great deal on wine today. As far as I can remember, we’ve yet to feature a wine from Australia, and today we have one that’s a great value by Luke Lambert Winery, discounted over 50%.

Luke Lambert’s style of making Shiraz is different from that of what we think to be a typical Australian Shiraz. Where most Aussie Shiraz tends to be big and ripe, with lots of jammy fruit and new oak, Luke Lambert’s wines skew to the opposite side of the spectrum. He aspires for a style of wine more closely related to that of the Northern Rhone Valley of France, and the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, where he spent some time learning their methods in the village of Barolo. His wines can be significantly lower in alcohol, with today’s wine coming in at just 13%. Luke Lambert uses a hands off approach in viticulture and in winemaking, with vineyards which are managed without pesticides and herbicides, incorporating organic viticultural practices, without being certified.

Luke Lambert 2011 “Crudo” Shiraz $18.99 (Regularly $40)

A question that is often asked is, what’s the difference between Syrah and Shiraz. The simple answer is, they are the same thing. Shiraz isn’t ascribed to a specific Aussie clone of Syrah or anything like that, it’s just what the Australians call the grape.

If you like a more savory style of Shiraz/Syrah, then you’d like Luke Lambert’s wines. I could compare it to something like Cayuse, or Reynvaan, or the wines of Cote Rotie and Hermitage in the Northern Rhone of France. The Luke Lambert “Crudo” is made using 40% whole cluster fermentation, which results in a wine with notes of savory herbs, tobacco, and hints of meaty quality. Luke Lamberts prefers wild yeast fermentations, and bottles his wines without fining or filtration in order to maintain their rustic aesthetic. There is no new oak used, in order to keep from covering up those more subtle qualities, instead the Crudo is aged 50% in 27 year old 318 liter puncheon oak barrels, and 50% in large oak tanks. There are still some nice fruit notes, of course, showing flavors raspberry and boysenberry, peppery spice, a bright cola aromatic, and a rocky mineral finish. Stephen Tanzer of the International Wine Cellar gives the Crudo 92 and says the wine has “A highly aromatic, heady bouquet… Deeply concentrated but energetic… impressive clarity and lift, the floral and spice notes repeating.”

Luke Lambert 2011 "Crudo" Shiraz

Luke Lambert 2011 “Crudo” Shiraz

Click here to order the Luke Lambert “Crudo” Shiraz

Region: Yarra Valley, Australia
Grape: Shiraz (aka Syrah)
Aging: 50% in 27 Year Old 318 Liter Puncheon Oak Barrels, 50% in Large Oak Tanks
Drinkability: Now through 2018
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 13% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Result of a Crush
Press: 92 Points from Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
Food Pairings: Herb Roast Meat
Production: 800 Cases



Kevin White 2014 Red Wine

Kevin White Impulse

Kevin White 2014 Red Wine, Yakima Valley, WA

Fellow wine lovers, Kevin White Winery is on fire! White hot, if you will… Last year Kevin White was named “Winemaker to Watch” by Seattle Magazine’s Washington Wine Awards, and for those of you who have ordered his wine from me in the past, you have already discovered why. He’s just now launching a brand new Red Wine, and for only $17.99 – as if his previous wines were not already a killer deal, at around or under $30. His main line of wines are so small in production that you’ll recall we’ve typically only had 1 or 2 cases to offer on Impulse. Today’s new Red Wine is still only produced in finite quantity, 388 cases, but at least we’re able to get enough to let everyone stock up on this perfect everyday drinker

Kevin White Winery 2014 Red Wine $17.99

Seattle Magazine referred to his wines as being, “remarkable for their purity and freshness,” and called Kevin White himself a, “winemaker on the ascendancy”. This is undoubtedly a winery on the rise, but for now Kevin White is operating at a near microscopic production level. He makes so little wine, that it’s hard to find any around town. If you’ve had Kevin White’s other wines, you know his style to be delicate and very smooth, and this Red Wine is right in line with that. It showcases beautiful, clean, bright fruit, with hints of spice, and very little oak. It’s a blend of 54% Syrah, 23% Grenache, and 23% Mourvèdre, aged for 16 months in only 10% new French oak barrels.

It’s medium bodied, well balanced, and very easy drinking. Packed with plenty of complexity, especially considering the price, and is also very food friendly. The nose is full of bright berry notes and hints of tobacco. The palate shows blueberries, black plums, vanilla bean, a bit of cigar box, and preserved bing cherry. If you prefer your wines to not be heavy, with little to no oak, and no aggressive tannins, you’ll certainly love the Kevin White Red Wine.

Kevin White 2014 Red Wine

Kevin White Winery 2014 Red Wine

Click here to order the Kevin White Red Wine

Region: Yakima Valley AVA, Washington State Wine
Grape(s): 54% Syrah, 23% Grenache, and 23% Mourvèdre
Aging: 16 Months in 10% New French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2020
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Côtes du Rhône, Perrin Family Wines, En Hommage, La Fraternité
Press: Kevin White name “Winemaker to Watch” by Seattle Magazine
Food Pairings: Very versatile, Duck, Red Meat, Grilled or Roasted Veg
Production: 388 cases



Les Trouvés Red Wine

Trove Impulse

Les Trouvés 2013 Red Wine by Avennia

Fellow wine lovers, the wine industry has a-buzz this week with everyone raving about a brand new offshoot label by the good people of Avennia Winery – winemaker Chris Peterson and business partner Marty Taucher. They’re introducing a completely new set of wines called “Les Trouvés”, named for a French expression meaning found or discovered. They’ve been giving some some sneak previews of the wines, ahead of its official release, and we are among the first to have the pleasure of trying it.

Les Trouvés (by Avennia) 2013 Red Wine $24.99

The idea with this new wine is to keep things simple and easy drinking, modeling it after the wines of Southern France, specifically Provence. There, the the warm Mediterranean climate (not unlike our current climate here in Seattle) calls for a more refreshing style of red, with less oak and a more relaxed disposition. This is a traditional Provencal style blend of Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah, about half of which comes from declassified Avennia juice, while the rest is source by Chris Peterson, négociant style, from the Rocks in Walla Walla, Red Mountain, and the Horse Heaven Hills.

It’s a completely different style than what we’ve seen from Chris Peterson in his Avennia and Passing Time wines, but still holds the same high standards in quality and value. The nose is aromatic with hints of flowers, juicy red fruits, and a touch of bubblegum-like character. The palate is easy, medium-bodied, and holds flavors of brandied cherries and herbes de Provence, backed by a bit of meaty gamey quality and hints of lavender. This is a perfect wine to enjoy at a bistro in Provence, or in the comfort of your own patio on a beautiful day.

Les Trouvés 2013 Red Wine

Les Trouvés 2013 Red Wine

Click here to order the Les Trouvés Red wine

Region: Columbia Valley, Washington State
Grapes: Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah
Drinkability: Now through 2018
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Southern Rhone, Provence, Côtes du Rhône
Press: Seattle Metropolitan Magazine Weekly Wine Pick by Sean Sullivan
Food Pairings: Antipasti on the patio
Production: 400 cases