Cellar Management

Pick My Next Bottle – 2011 Syrah

The September Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on iconic Syrah from the 2011 vintage. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this weekend and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.

2011 was an average vintage at best in both Washington and the Central Coast region of California. As is always the case you should track a wines progress over time in less than ideal vintages. Both vintages were characterized as early drinking vintages by Robert Parker.



The Contenders:

  • 2011 Lillian Syrah – Made from fruit grown in the White Hawk, Bien Nacido and Stolpman vineyards. Bright purple. Heady black and blue fruit aromas are complicated by woodsmoke, candied violet, black cardamom and licorice, with a hint of white pepper adding vibrancy. Broad and palate-staining, with sappy, spice-tinged cassis and blueberry flavors displaying liqueur-like intensity but surprising vivacity as well. Smooth, slow-building tannins give shape to the long finish, which hangs on with echoing floral and spice notes.  93 points from Vinous.
  • 2011 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard – Pomegranate, plum, exotic spices, smoke and graphite are some of the many notes that are found in the 2011 Booker Vineyard. An exceptionally beautiful wine, the 2011 possesses remarkable depth and intensity. Expressive floral and citrus overtones develop in the glass, adding considerable brightness and aromatic nuance. Even though the 2011 is gorgeous today, my sense is it is holding back much of its potential. 94 points from Vinous.
  • 2011 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard – Good full red. Wild, musky, expressive aromas of raspberry, game, woodsmoke, pepper, bacon fat, squid ink and black olive tapenade. Plush and salty on the palate, with raspberry and smoked meat flavors accented by subtle minerality. Finishes with plush tannins and lingering notes of smoke, game and spices. For all its fleshiness, there’s something a bit ungiving about this Syrah: is there more to come? (I should note that an earlier bottle was much more backward and gripping, showing little in the way of easy sweetness to its reticent flavors of singed raspberry, peat and briney olive juice. 93 points from Vinous.

Which 2011 Syrah Should I Open?

  • 2011 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard (38%, 14 Votes)
  • 2011 Saxum Syrah Booker Vineyard (35%, 13 Votes)
  • 2011 Lillian Syrah (27%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 37

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the October installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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