Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard 2006

179.00 €

(1 l = 238.67 €)
incl. VAT plus delivery
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One of New World's best Syrah

Syrah Armada 2006


Walla Walla, Columbia Valley, Kalifornien, USA

Wine Advocate #215 (Dunnuck/Parker)


Another 2006 that flirts with perfection, the 2006 Syrah Armada Vineyard doesn’t put a foot wrong and shows incredible notes of dried herbs, beef blood, marine-like saltiness, game and loads of sweet fruit. A wine that starts out reserved and elegant, yet continues to build in depth and richness with time in the glass, it’s full-bodied, layered, seamless and concentrated, with a blockbuster finish that keeps you coming back to the glass. It’s ready to go now with a quick decant, but has another decade or more of life in the cellar.

Just as the cobbled soils around Milton-Freewater captivated Champenois Christophe Baron’s imagination on what he calls “a fateful April morning in 1996,” so the 100% estate-bottled wines he has grown in them since have amazed and inspired oenophiles to the extent of creating a veritable cult. “I’m here because of the rocks,” says Baron, who, although he loved the Rhone as much as he did Burgundy, was at the time planning to grow Pinot in the Willamette Valley, “and because I just happened to open a book and show a friend in Walla Walla what vineyards look like in Chateauneuf. ‘I know where we have rocks like that,’ he told me, and I said: ‘Take me there tomorrow!’” “The only way to tell how deep” the striking carpet of stones in his vineyards extends, says Baron “is to go down a well.” Baron – who emphasizes that he is conservative but at the same time scientifically rigorous about when and how much water to drip onto his vines – was one of the few Washington growers I met who spoke about, much less offered some specifics regarding root penetration. “In the summer – after crop-thinning (is done) and the (bird) nets are on, we get bored, so we rent a backhoe and we dig holes. And by the third leaf (i.e. year) the roots are already ten feet down.” Laura Pursley – who assists Baron in the vineyards (her fellow “assistant vigneronne” and counterpart in the “wine studio” – Baron’s name for his facility – is Elizabeth Bourcier) – notes that “opposite to what you’d think, it’s our sites with the highest clay content, with a bit more soil and less rock, that dry-out soonest.” From the inception of Cayuse, Baron commenced the painstaking work of generating his own vine selection from the clonally monotonous Syrah and Grenache material then available. From 2000 on, he has been taking advantage of the new diversity of clones available stateside and begun grafting these onto rootstock, explaining “I believe that sooner or later phylloxera will make its way to Washington.” Baron’s most recent plantings of up to 4,840 vines per acre are, he believes, as high-density as any in North America and are horse-tilled, typically eight times a year. “That’s how to get fruit ripe at lower brix; get unbelievable (tannic) structure; and unlock the gates of terroir,” he opines (offering elucidation I won’t detail on this occasion). Farming biodynamically since 2002, Baron’s approach – which involves 25 full-time staff, one person per hectare – appears as labor-intensive and detail-attentive as I have encountered anywhere in the world. The inaugural, 2011 Syrah from The Tribe – his ultra-densely-planted latest vineyard – is bound to attract intense scrutiny and devotion, and I suppose there is no point in withholding my opinion, based on tasting it from barrel in March and July, that both will be deserved. Another self-described “epiphany” of Baron’s while bicycling into the Blue Mountain foothills in 2004 led to his latest vineyard start-up. “A little heaven,” he calls it – with the Walla Walla River rippling by; pastureland for his beloved vegetables and animals (some participants in biodynamics; some destined for the table); and vertiginous rocky slopes with vines trained to stakes (en echalas), make it the image of Cote Rotie. He unabashedly says he intends to make this “one of America’s jewels in terms of viticulture; that every American wine aficionado knows; and a place I can be proud of. After this, I’ll have nothing to prove.” First crop: next year. I’ll have more to say on another occasion (as well as in certain of my tasting notes in this report) about the approach Baron and Bourcier take in the cellar, but a critical part of the big picture is his announcement that “This year is it: I’ve bought my last barrique” used or new. The result – even with Baron’s wines based on Bordelais cepages – will be a regimen consisting of fermentation in wooden foudre or concrete tank and elevage in 600-liter demi-muids supplemented by foudre. And a trend begun already five or six years ago will continue: toward utilizing decreasing percentages of new oak. “There was a trend – especially in Washington and California – toward all new barrels” from the most fashionable couple of tonneliers, notes Baron, “but what we found out is, the new wood dries out the wine.” (“Well, duh!” would have to be my own smart-ass reply.) “And,” adds Bourcier, “we’ve found that a wine can go quite quickly from well-balanced to overly oaky and drying, which is why we often take them out of barrel early,” i.e. well ahead of bottling. (Notes on Baron’s small-volume project known as No Girls will be found under that name, as it refers to a self-standing winery.)

Additional product information

Contains Sulfites
14,5% vol.
Bottle Size
0,75 Liter