From: Walla Walla, Washington
Blend: 95% Syrah, 5% Marsanne
Taste and Critical Acclaim: Co-fermented with 5% Marsanne and aged 18 months in 35% new oak, the Syrah-dominated 2017 The Contender is another ruby/purple-hued effort from this estate that offers a complex bouquet of black raspberries, smoked game, spring flowers, and hints of violets. Beautifully textured, medium to full-bodied, and ethereal on the palate, it shines for its complexity and nuances just as much as its richness and length. It's going to evolve for at least 10-12 years.
94+ points, Jeb Dunnuck (Apr 2020)
Impressive for the deep yet polished structure and distinctive crushed rock accents that highlight the richly layered black raspberry, licorice and smoky cracked pepper flavors. Drink now through 2031. 635 cases made.
94 points, Tim Fish, Wine Spectator (Aug 2020)
Bright ruby-red. Reticent aromas of dark raspberry and prosciutto are lifted by topnotes of nectarine and flowers (from the Viognier component?). Thick and concentrated but also juicy on the palate, offering terrific intensity and a touch of sweetness to its flavors of red and black fruits and minerals. Most impressive today on the savory, building finish, which features suave tannins and palate-staining persistence. (this was aged in about 30% new oak, including a puncheon)
93 points, Stephen Tanzer, Vinous (Dec 2019)
Rocks syrah meets a dollop of marsanne in this wine. It smells of creosote branches, tobacco and walnut skin, and tastes of sweet fig and blackberry, with enough acidity to pair with barbecue.
92 points, Patrick J. Comiskey, Wine & Spirits (Oct 2020)
Brooding aromas of sea breeze, umami, olive and struck match are followed by lighter styled olive flavors. Floral notes persist on the finish.
91 points, Sean P. Sullivan, Wine Enthusiast
Pairing: As a general rule Syrah pairs very well with grilled meats, vegetables, wild game, curries and beef stew. Examples include barbecue (especially spareribs), braised beef, chicken & duck (especially barbecued and braised), grilled meats and vegetables, hamburgers (check out J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe for Oklahoma Onion Burgers below), lamb (roast leg of lamb) mushrooms, Osso Bucco, pork, sausage, steaks and chops, and venison. You’ll want to avoid certain foods like seafood (sole, shrimp or lobster), delicate dishes, and dishes that incorporate citrus and vinegar.
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