Saturday, January 11, 2014

Washington Mystery Syrah Match

Love him, or hate him, one thing is for sure, Jon Rimmerman has created a cult-like online wine buying experience with his Garagiste website and "exclusive" email list.  Once you subscribe to the Garagiste email list you will begin receiving some of the most over the top wine missives you have ever read.  If you are anything like me, you will find these offers hard to resist.  Then, one day you will wake up with a cellar full of French wines that all taste like you are licking minerals from rocks strewn on a pathway running with streamlettes of acid rain.

If that isn't enough to make you question your will power, Rimmerman introduced his Mystery Wine series a few years back.  I repeatedly confirm P.T. Barnum's observation that there is a sucker born every minute by succumbing to far too many Mystery Wine offers that appear in my inbox.  Luckily, I have probably enjoyed about a 90% success rate with my Mystery Wine purchases.  The 10% failures?  They are failure like you could never imagine!  Search for Garagiste Mystery Wine on Google and you will see what I mean about failure, love and most of all hate.

This week's matchup features two Washington Syrahs that were Garagiste Mystery Wines.  Both of these wines fall into my mystery wine addiction success bucket.  They are also excellent Washington Wine representatives for this month's Monthly Wine Writing Challenge.  The Drunken Cyclist won last month's challenge and earned the honor of picking this month's theme - Mystery.

On to the matchup!

2007 Basel Cellars Syrah v. 2007 McCrea Cellars Boushey Vineyard Syrah

Tale of the Tape

2007 Basel Cellars Syrah

100% Syrah from vineyards in Walla Walla and the Columbia Valley AVA

2007 McCrea Cellars Boushey Vineyard Syrah

100% Syrah from the Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA

Round 1.  First opening

The Basel Cellars Syrah is showing some intensity, firing off with a burst of power the nose shows smoked meats, dusty dark fruit, blueberries, peat bog and candle wax.  The palate features more dark fruit, smoke, a hint of white pepper, cola and coconut that repeats on the finish.

McCrea is countering with some complex kung fu moves.  The nose is showing some smoke, earthy pepper and dusty dark fruit.  The palate boasts dark fruit and floral overtones along with menthol and cracked pepper leading to a finish of dried flowers and light cracked pepper.

The first round gets off to a quick start with both luchadors going on the offensive.  Basel Cellars takes the points for a 1-0 lead in the match.

Round 2.  One hour after opening

Basel Cellars is mixing up its attack, looking to confuse the McCrea luchador.  The nose is showing smoky raspberry, loganberry and dusty pepper .  The palate is bulking up with dark fruit, blueberry and light cracked pepper that trails on to the finish.

McCrea isn't phased by change of pace.  The luchador from Yakima is circling the ring with a nose featuring tart smoke, cedar, raspberry and dried flowers.  The palate is drier with dried flowers, smoke, blueberries and light cracked pepper.  The attack wraps up with a finish that includes pepper and some coffee bean tartness.

McCrea takes the second round by exploiting the Basel Bruiser with a variety of quick spinning attacks.

Round 3.  One day after opening

The match is all tied up at 1 point apiece.  Which one of these luchadors is going to take the final round and the match?

It looks like the Basel Cellars Bruiser is going all in with a wicked drop kick to the chops of the McCrea challenger.  Basel cellars is showing some major stamina with a nose of roasted meat, smoky sandalwood, dusty cedar and dark berries.  The palate is going strong with notes of raspberry, tart coffee bean and light pepper notes leading to a tart slightly hot finish.

McCrea isn't backing down.  This luchador features an earthy, pungent nose, dark blue berry and some bacon fat.  The palate is building complexity with dried flower petals, raspberry, cracked pepper and some Asian spice that leads to a dry finish with some hints of cocoa powder.

The McCrea Cellars luchador recovered from a wicked drop kick, but not well enough to challenge the brute force of the Basel Cellars Bruiser.  Basel takes the final round and the match by a score of 2-1.

Wrap up and overall observations

Once the identify of these Mystery Wines was revealed I was looking forward to throwing them into the ring.  Both luchadors lived up to their reputations and delivered the goods in an entertaining bout.

These syrahs are showing off the style from their respective regions of Washington State.  Basel Cellars represented the Walla Walla AVA with rich ripe full bodied style, while the McCrea Syrah comes out of the Boushey vineyard in the Yakima Valley with some cooler climate character. 

Both of these wines are showing well right now and I would highly recommend either one of them.


  1. Very enjoyable read!

  2. I wish I could get mystery wine deliveries - I'd put up with 10% duds for the enjoyable remainder. Enjoyed this post