Stephan Tanzer

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90:  2011 Syncline Wine Cellars Grenache Blanc Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley

Pale straw.  Musky lime, Asian pear, tarragon and quince on the pure nose.  Nicely concentrated, pliant and intense, with a smooth texture to the very pure flavors of candied lemon drop and quince.  This tactile, smooth wine offers an attractive balance of sweet fruit and ripe acidity.

91:  2011 Syncline Wine Cellars Syrah Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley

Good medium bright ruby.  Lovely delicate floral lift to the raspberry aromas.  Silky and pure on the palate, with dark cherry and floral elements perked up by a peppery note.  Very fine-grained wine with a subtly complex, lively finish throwing off savory hints of spices, herbs and meat.  Classy and understated syrah.
90:  2010 Syncline Wine Cellars Cuvee Elena Columbia Valley
(57% grenache, 32% mourvedre, 5% syrah, 5% counoise and 1% carignan; at 14.8%, this is the highest in alcohol of this set of red wines):  Bright medium red.  Enticing aromas of raspberry, strawberry, smoke and spicy herbs.  Lush, sweet and fine-grained but with a light touch; pepper and spice notes give lift to the red berry flavors.  This suave wine finishes vibrant and saline, with dusty tannins and subtle persistence.

91+:  2010 Force Majeure Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Collaboration Series VI Red Wine Red Mountain

(56% mourvedre, 38% syrah and 6% grenache; made by James Mantone of Syncline; fermented in square concrete bins and 500-liter puncheons):  Good bright, medium ruby-red.  High-toned aromas of red berries, red pepper and licorice, plus a whiff of tree bark.  At once sweet and bright, with the red fruit flavors accented by spices and pepper.  Lovely energetic, intense mourvedre here.  A very successful blend with sound natural acidity.  Most of the Force Majeure Vineyard’s mourvedre fruit was stolen in 2010, with the thieves leaving only the outside rows intact.

90+:  2010 Syncline Wine Cellars Syrah McKinley Springs Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills

Bright medium-deep red.  Blackberry, chocolate and smoked meat on the nose.  Silky on entry, then spicy, rich and dry in the middle, with a juicy quality giving delineation to the dark berry fruit flavors.  Deep and mouthfilling but still light on its feet, finishing with firm, youthfully edgy tannins.  This really needs a year or two to expand in bottle and develop more nuance.

90:  2009 Syncline Wine Cellars Viognier Coyote Canyon Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills

($20) Pale straw-yellow color. Attractive aromas of fresh apricot and nectarine lifted by citrus zest and flowers. Then supple and fleshy but firm in the middle; delivers a generous, fat impression but with good grip to leaven the sweetness. The nectarine and peach fruit flavors carry straight through to the echoing finish. I’d enjoy this excellent, varietally accurate viognier within the next 12 months. Incidentally, all of these Syncline samples, closed with glass stoppers, were impeccably clean, pure and energetic: I enjoyed tasting a set of wines untouched by cork.

90:  2009 Syncline Wine Cellars Cuvee Elena Columbia Valley

(a GSM blend):  Bright ruby-red.  Pure, subtle aromas of dark berries and smoky oak.  At once velvety and spicy, with a restrained sweetness to the dark berry and chocolate flavors.  Really spreads out to coat the palate without leaving any impression of weight.  Lovely fruit here.

90:  2008 Syncline Wine Cellars Syrah McKinley Springs Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills

($30; with 2% viognier co-fermented) Bright ruby. Blueberry and violet on the nose. Spicy and tightly coiled, with no shortage of texture to the flavors of dark berries and bitter chocolate. This spicy, firmly built wine finishes with suave, sweet tannins and lovely lingering flavor.

90:  2007 Syncline Wine Cellars Subduction Red Columbia Valley

($18; bottled with a screwcap; a blend of syrah, mourvedre, grenache, cinsaut and counoise) Bright red-ruby. Subtle but highly aromatic nose combines raspberry, pepper, nutmeg and tree bark; there’s a slight candied quality here that reminded me in a positive way of a concentrated Beaujolais cru. Juicy, supple and quite ripe, with lovely intensity to the perfumed fruit and spice flavors; very Southern French in style. Not at all overly sweet but offers good texture, not to mention lovely definition and lift. A very successful and attractive blend with early appeal.

90:  2005 Syncline Wine Cellars Rose Columbia Valley

($14; a southern Rhone blend; all saignee Light, bright pink. Spicy, floral, fresh aromas of strawberry, watermelon and cinnamon. Silky and quite dry, with lovely intensity of fruit and spice flavors and bright firming acidity. Not at all an opulent style of rose but bright, sharply delineated and subtle. Finishes with excellent grip. Uncommonly classy Washington rose.

90:  2005 Syncline Wine Cellars Viognier Columbia Valley

($20; fermented in barrel but not put through malolactic fermentation) Captivating nose combines peach nectar, orange and a hint of banana, all lifted by mineral and gingery high notes. Sweet but dry, with lovely intensity and texture and fresh acids framing its peachy flavor. Serious viognier, with terrific fruit and excellent grip.

91:  2003 Syncline Wine Cellars Syrah McKinley Springs Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills

($30; from a very warm site; vinified with 30% whole clusters) Bright ruby-red. Aromatic nose combines crystallized black raspberry, pepper and musky espresso. Sweet, suave and silky, with superconcentrated flavors nicely balanced by ripe acidity. Gently extracted, generous and sexy syrah, aromatic in the middle palate. Finishes with sweet, fine tannins. Made without any new barrels, and with a bit of co-fermented viognier. A pinot producer’s style of syrah.