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Ode to Walla Walla: Of Syrah, Savage beauty, and Stones.
By L.M. Archer, FWS
I learned a few things last weekend attending Celebrate Walla Walla Syrah 2014.
As a pinot-swilling, Burgundy-burnished, less-is-more type of wine lover, I had my doubts about problem child syrah.
Syrah...a varietal the Wine & Spirits critic and guest speaker Patrick Comiskey so brilliantly calls “the right amount of wrong” and “a bit sauvage”, introduced itself with personality and wit and balls-out brashness. And it was good.
Toto, we’re not in Kansas, or Burgundy, or the Willamette Valley anymore.
We’re in Walla Walla. And I’m here to tell you that Walla Walla syrah has stones.
I kept thinking about that ‘problem child’ moniker. Syrah…the Rhone varietal introduced in the United States by California’s Rhone Rangers, then over-produced with homogeneous monotony by its various ‘adopted’ regions. The problem child varietal mishandled, mismanaged, misunderstood – like so many adoptees.
Until Walla Walla.
Walla Walla beckoned like anyone who understands a wild thing. Carefully. Patiently. Without expectation.
Walla Walla unhobbled this varietal, giving it free reign upon the lilting hills and valleys, lulling it with its breezes and soft summer sunlight.
And it was good.
The wild child did what any wild child does. It balked, taking, but not giving.
And then, as time unfolded, it understood. It was safe here. Safe to dance, sing, grow upon the vast landscape.
And so…it started giving back to the hands that tend it.
The hands that tend it, but never tame it.
For syrah cannot be tamed.
No, syrah will always be Walla Walla’s wild child.
The one most likely to arrive early and leave late on that 3-day weekend to Vegas… maybe with a pet tiger.
The houseguest with the most colorful stories to tell, mainly raunchy.
The wine you choose to crack open with your friends, not to impress your boss.
The wine with backbone and bravado, castanet-clicking its flamenco-fueled frenzy across your palette.
The wine belting out a sensory aria that blows your mind, breaks your heart and busts your gut.
The wine sure to tattoo a one-two punch across your taste buds.
Syrah. A little bit ‘sauvage’ indeed. At least in Walla Walla.
Walla Walla syrah has stones. It’s rocked my world.
Celebrate Walla Walla Syrah cast, crew, and winemakers
Heather Bradshaw – Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance
Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. All images courtesy the author.