2009 Dunham Syrah

Year: 2009
Appellation: Columbia Valley
Country: USA - Washington
Wine Spectator: 92
Wine Advocate: 88
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.8%
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"Polished and supple, brimming with gorgeous blackberry, plum and mocha flavors, gliding easily into the long, expressive finish. Drink now through 2016. 602 cases made." (WS)

"Bottled at just under two years after maturing in a mixture of new French and American oak, the Dunham 2009 Syrah evokes root bear laced with cherry and vanilla syrups and a macaroon on the side. The palate impression - full and expansive as is clearly usual at this address - doesn't display quite such superficial sweetness as that description might suggest, but certainly the appeal here bypasses any animal or mineral dimensions of its cepage and offers an almost sticky sense of mouth coating. I suspect it will be best enjoyed over the next 2-3 years but can't pretend to any direct experience of Dunham Syrah maturation.

Eric Dunham - a Walla Walla native whose family has farmed here for generations and whose parents were among the earliest investors in Canoe Ridge - opened Dunham Cellars in 1999 after several years as assistant at L-Ecole 41, where he made on the side the 1995 Cabernet that was to become his first release. At the time, there weren't even ten Walla Walla wineries, and Dunham nowadays (with winemaking assistance from Daniel Wampfler) enjoys a reputation as one of his region's and Washington State's veterans and benchmarks, in light of which I was a bit underwhelmed by my first experiences. Reds here spend up to 26 months in half to (more usually) 100% new barrels divided between French and American, and an intrusive or obtrusive oakiness - occasionally with consequent drying - concerned me as I tasted. That said, I hope that it will be possible for those more attracted than I am to an overtly sweet (often downright confectionary) and woody style to recognize in my descriptions wines that they will especially appreciate. In Dunham's own words - I want (to bottle) approachable wines, not monsters or wines designed for keeping. - He collaborates with Ken Hart's vineyard management group on three sites now closely associated with this winery: Lewis Estate Vineyard in the foothills of Rattlesnake Ridge, whose reputation as a then new vineyard began with Dunham's 1999 introduction of a single-site Syrah; and two Walla Walla vineyards, Frenchtown and Double River Estates." (WA)

Winery Notes:
Warm lavender, graham cracker and freshly cracked red peppercorn on the nose, with cherry cobbler and fresh vanilla ice cream in the rich, full mouth. One of our best yet!