Last week Paul and I really enjoyed the 2006 Cuyuse “En Cerise” Syrah. Cayuse was founded in the Walla Walla Valley of Washington in 1996 by Christophe Baron after spotting a plot of land that had been plowed up to reveal acres of softball-sized stones. He became ridiculously excited. This stony soil, this terroir, reminded him of vineyards he had visited in France and Spain. The difficult ground would stress the grapevines, making them produce more mature, concentrated fruit. Christophe Baron had found a new home.
He named his vineyard after the Cayuse, a Native American tribe whose name was taken from the French cailloux–which means, of course, rocks. Hours of back-breaking work later, Cayuse Vineyards farms six estate vineyards encompassing 53 acres: Armada, Cailloux, Coccinelle [Ladybug], En Cerise [Cherry], En Chamberlin and Horsepower.
These highly stressed vineyards average a yield of only two tons or less per acre (30 hectolitres per hectare), resulting in wines true to each vineyard’s unique terroir. Our 100% estate wines include four vineyard designated Syrahs, along with Bionic Frog Syrah, Impulsivo Tempranillo, God only Knows Grenache, Widowmaker Cabernet-Sauvignon, two Bordeaux blends named Camaspelo & Flying Pig, Viognier and Rosé.
AVA: Walla Walla, Washington State
Notes: Very small 203 case production, even the most labor intensive tasks are done by hand. Bottled unfinned and unfiltered. Farmed bio-dynamically.
Very dark color in the stem. On the generous nose dark cherry, dark plum, fresh cracked black, bell pepper, followed by great earthy minerality, graphite, wild game, bacon fat, Cola, Sarsaparilla, burned forrest, leather, and a really cool July 4th, Black Snake component. The wine shows great balance in concentration of fruit, tannins, acidity, and at 14.6% Alc it is not hot. Big and large with an intense, solid, full and concentrated feel palate. The wonderful long generous finish continues for several minutes. This wine will improve with some rest in the cellar where the pepper will subside and spicy nuances will come through more. If you can find it with only 203 cases made, get some.
Rating: 95+ PC, 95 JH