ESTATE GROWN — Columbia Valley
• COMPOSITION: 100% Syrah, Estate Grown
• pH: 3.80
• TA: 6.6g/L
• ALCOHOL: 13.9%
• PRODUCTION: 2,308 cases
In 2009 we had serious concerns about our Syrah ripening by harvest time as cold weather persisted well into May. Our hopes for the weather played out as the cool spring quickly transitioned into a hot summer, with record-breaking heat in July and August. However, as the midsummer heat wave persisted, it brought worries of overripe wines with little acid. Again the worst was avoided, thankfully, when temperatures eased in early September and remained rather cool except for a brief heat spike at mid-harvest. We patiently waited for flavor development and began harvesting our Syrah on the 1st of October.
For our Gordon Estate 2009 Syrah we utilized successful techniques from vintages past for the development of structure and complexity, most notably diversified yeast strains and the drain and return method of cap management. For the first time we also incorporated whole cluster fermentation. A tried and true technique in Burgundy and the Rhone valley, whole cluster fermentation utilizes the grapes directly from the field without de-stemming and crushing. With crushed fruit, the grape is gently broken open allowing the yeast immediate access the deliciousness inside. In whole cluster fruit the yeasts have to work their way inside of the grape and fermentation proceeds for several days before the skin of the grape is broken down and the yeasts are released. In this way, each and every intact grape acts as a micro-fermenter bringing a unique fruit character to the wine. To our surprise, the stems from the whole clusters also brought about an unexpected benefit—typically, stems are considered a negative in wine fermentations and American wineries will go to great lengths to remove any and all pieces of stem. The key to successful whole cluster fermentation is that the stems are not in pieces, which can impart bitterness to the wine; instead the intact stems add structure and length to the palate. With all of the tools in place, the wines were fermented in our open top tanks with a 10 day average fermentation time. Wines were pressed and settled in tank prior before racking to small oak barrels for aging. We aged individual wines for 22 months prior to making the final cuvee which was blended in October with bottling in December of 2011.
Aromas of our 2009 Gordon Estate Syrah evoke images of rolling hills covered with spring herbs and flowers. Lavender, sage, roses and mint with touches of oregano and violets all waft from the glass. The texture of the wine is soft with firm but gentle tannins providing elegant structure. Flavors of plum and raspberry mix with prosciutto-wrapped dates; at its core, the wine is juicy and crisp, finishing subtly with hints of toasted marshmallows.