Waters Winery 2005 Forgotten Hills syrah

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on June 29, 2008:

Yeah, I can empathize with Warren “I’m not Jimmy’s brother” Buffet’s bids for lunchtime. I mean, peeps around the world often bid for watching me down a pastrami sandwich at deLaurenti’s, just to hear my uneducated gasps about the local wine. Lucky for you winchatr readers who unknowingly clicked my reviews, you get that bid-free, cuz you’re SUCH a wonderful audience! All three of ya. jk!

Well, I stepped into another super duper discovery of sorts. I blindly picked up this laggard at QFC, thinking I was rescuing the wine department of this albatross only to behold that this bottle was a diamond in the rough. Waters Winery was founded only in 2005, yet has a strong pedigree and lots of qualified press to back it up. Oenologist Jamie Brown (formerly of James Leigh Cellars and Pepper Bridge Winery and a partner in Wines of Substance and 21 Grams) and business partner Jason Huntley found that the syrah grape was especially expressive of terroir in the Walla Walla Valley so they rolled the dice. They now have 5 “estate” vineyards in their portfolio at Waters and a growing lineup of wines.

Forgotten Hills was planted back in 1996 by Jeffrey Hill at the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Sitting at 950 feet in elevation, this vineyard is not as exposed to the elements as its lower counterparts. Avoiding the late summer heat allows for later harvests and consistent ripening of the fruit to develop its complex aromatics. The soil consists of cobbles, deep silt loam and sandy loam. The cobbles radiate heat during the evenings, the sandy loam reduces pest potential residences, and the silt loam allows the roots to go deep and tap native water sources.

Tonight’s Wimbledon pairing matched up against my comfort food…goofy good chili from Wild West Cafe, Ballpark DeliMaster beef hot dogs, and rice, with a dessert of leftover Pike Place Market fruit. Syrah is a natural with plump steak so it was reasonable to think it could match up with the juiciest, meatiest hot dogs on the national market. What I didn’t expect was this wine would be so phreakin’ good. While the hot dog provided that plump, juicy, salty and spicyness to my senses and the chili added the savory, beefy, beany, and chunky smooth texture, this wine did a Josh Brown and kicked the flavors right up the middle of the goalposts with its scrumptous, elegant and balanced fruit. Definitely one of the best matches of the year.

Alcohol: 13.8%. 180 cases. Pure syrah. pH 3.83. Total acids: 0.62. Aged 14 months in neutral French oak and another year in bottle. Unfined, unfiltered. Released in November, 2007. Mimics a northern Rhone. Forgotten Hills Vineyard. Walla Walla Valley AVA.

Nose: red plum, freshly dug mushrooms. Color: deep, inky dark purple. Mouthfeel: heavyweight but smooth. Tail trail: 8 seconds. Flavors of blueberries, marionberries, plum, peppered beef jerky (Oberto’s, of course), and dark cherry.

Rated: 92. Value: $50. Paid: $40. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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