Rasa Vineyards 2007 Principia reserve syrah

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on Aug. 17, 2010:

Rasa Vineyards is one of the latest “trendy” wineries to be called out in the blogosphere by Walla-bes, but this time, they may have gotten it right.

Rasa Vineyards , LLC is owned by: Makrand A. Naravane (“Pinto”), Britt Kim, Yashodhan A. Naravane (“Billo”), and Cynthia Marie Fox. Both of the Naravane brothers previously made their fortunes after 15 years in the computer industry and are “lifelong” vinothusiasts, with Billo finishing his MS in Viticultre and Enology from UC-Davis in June, 2008. They purchased the assets of Colvin Vineyards in late 2007 and will be moving their winery next to the former Colvin winery on Power Line Rd; basically the last home before intersecting with State Line Rd. (the WA-OR border).

Rasa is a Sanskrit word (whereas the Naravane’s native tongue is Maharati) with complex meanings such as: taste, essence, flavor, the best part of anything, divine enlightenment, and even “ultimate emotive existence evoked by literary work.” The Naravanes, being Francophiles, want you to think “terroir.”

The Naravane’s goal is to produce world-class, terroir-specific syrah from both their estate (Crimson Lane, 28 acres in “the rocks” area of Milton-Freewater) and select vineyards such as Les Collines and Seven Hills. Remember that term, “world-class.” Conventional wisdom says a startup winery needs immediate cash-flow, which interprets to selling “value” wines on the cheap to get the name out, then broadening toward bigger premium wines to catch some beefy ratings and, finally, a luxe wine to capture national and international attention. This approach normally takes many years due to, again, that cash-flow thing. Well, throw that recipe out the window with this group.

Rasa’s first release in early May, 2009 was the 2007 QED (quod erat demonstrandum, or “that which was to be demonstrated”), which is utilized at the end of a mathematical proof to signal the conclusion of proving what the paper originally set out to prove. QED is 97% syrah (Les Collines, Seven Hills, Lewis), with the remainder grenache and mourvedre (both Minick). The original release price was $65, but due to the historic recession, they cut the price down to $50. Fifty dollars is what you can get away with if your name is Bob Betz, Master of Wine. However, from reviews, this syrah appears worthy of the hefty price.

Other wines set for future release or were recently released include: 2008 Vox Populi (“voice of the people”) mourvedre that was too good to be blended into QED; 2008 DuBrul cab/merlot blend that aspires to touch triple-digits in both price and rating; and 2009 The Composer riesling sourced from Bacchus and Dionysus, $30. New vineyards will include Portteus and Kiona. They are still on the hunt for some Boushey fruit.

On to this wine. Principia (pronounced Prinkipia) is named after Sir Isaac Newton’s seminal three-book work, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica , that blended physics and mathematics and gave new life to the field of calculus. My only memories of calculus are that the honeys were a lot cuter in business calculus than math calculus. This wine is the first in Rasa’s “Celebrate Excellence Series” and is 100% syrah from five vineyard sources: Les Collines (Block 35), Seven Hills (Block 10), Double River, Lewis, and Portteus. The grapes from Les Collines and Seven Hills were picked at 27 Brix. The barrel program included Demptos, Seguin Moreau, and once-used barrels from Pepper Bridge.

Check out their blogs: winerasa.com (Pinto) and vinrasa.com (Billo).

Food pairing was a full throttle bounty off the grill: corn, red potatoes, yams (topped with brown sugar and butter), eggplant, zucchini, brussels sprouts, Walla Walla sweets, bell peppers, Agaricus bisporus (aka portabella), and marinated short ribs. Excellent call.

Tasted at 60-65 degrees F on the IR gun. An earthy, dark violet in the glass with scents of purple flowers, blue flowers, rose petals, black cherry, and a warm lump of raw bacon. Silky on the palate, followed by layers of flavors: black plum with smoky bacon fat upfront, ripe black fruits and black pepper in the mid, and baker’s chocolate and citrus rind on a long, lingering finish.

Alcohol: 14.9%. Walla Walla AVA. 70 cases. Aged 23 months in 100% French oak (30% new). Rated: 95. Value: $60. Paid: $77. Released in late December, 2009. Music pairing: “Deep Purple” by April Stevens and Nino Tempo. “Rasyate Anena Iti Rasah (Asvadyatva)”… “That which is relished is Rasa.” Twitter: @winenut (Billo), @winerasa (Pinto). This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.


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