Tonight we tried a very interesting, ethereal syrah from here in the northern Willamette Valley of Oregon. The 2007 Biggio Hamina Syrah Duex Vert Vineyard is from a site in the Yamhill-Carlton district known for unusal (to our area) grape varieties such as melon de bourgogne. While this vineyard produces pinot noir, I'm most fascinated by its syrah, something you don't see much around here. This must be a warm site to ripen such a grape.
2007 of course was a relatively cool year with a rainy harvest, challenging for earlier ripening pinot noir. One would surmise that local syrah would have been a washout, but not so. Not at all, and I find that particularly exciting given my interest in local alternatives to the lovely but ubiquitous pinot noir.
Here's a wine that's light bodied and translucent in color, a product of the vintage but perhaps showcasing the style of a producer that wants to make "challenging" and delicious wine. They've succeeded here on both counts.
The aroma is all syrah (with 8% viognier actually), smokey with notes of cured meat, cranberries and raspberries, white pepper, flowers and sweet smelling earth. It's not intense and deep, but so complex and savory I could smell this all night.
In the mouth, it's nervy and lean, clearly built for food. It was delicious with grilled copper river salmon on a cedar plank. The wine is light in body, but captivating and piquant with a sense of meat and iodine and nicely gripping tannin. The finish is long and lean, a complete opposite to most domestic syrah that overpower with flavor but lack finesse.
In sum, I love this wine. Yet my wife and a neighbor both found it more challenging than satisfying, at least this night. They didn't hate it, but just make sure you want this kind of thing. If so, you might find again as I do that the future of syrah in these parts is very promising.