In 1983, with a small truckload of borrowed fruit and a rented cellar, Rob Griffin and his wife Deborah Barnard established Barnard Griffin Winery. Since that time, it has become one of Washington’s most enduring and award-winning wineries. Nearly half of the wine produced comes from their estate vineyard, Caroway, while the remaining fruit is sourced from some of the best vineyards in Washington State. Since inception, Barnard Griffin has cultivated strong partnerships with vineyards and viticulturists throughout the Columbia Valley. These wines are distinctly Washington, with ample weight and expressive fruit, framed beautifully with elegant structure and terrific length.
Columbia Valley was granted AVA status in 1984. Located on the eastern side of Washington, it is the largest AVA in the state, responsible for 99% of total wine production. With its dessert-like conditions (average annual rainfall is only 6-8 inches per year), irrigation is a necessity. The Columbia River, as well as snowmelt from the Cascade Mountains, supplies the region’s water for agriculture. Washington has an interesting dynamic between winemakers and grape growers in that they are often exclusively ‘Makers’ or ‘Growers’. Today, nearly 50% of Barnard Griffin’s fruit is grown on the estate.
Sourced primarily from the Aire Vineyard on Wahluke Slope, well known for its high-quality Syrah production, from vineyards that are farmed sustainably. Rob Griffin has spent decades working these vineyards and knows the land like few others. These soils are some of the most varied and interesting in the world. The Missoula Floods, caused by the movement of a giant continental glacier across Washington State 13,000 years ago, picked up soils from Idaho as they crossed into Washington, depositing this soil haphazardly and carving out the Columbia Gorge.
Syrah is grown throughout the world, producing beautifully diverse and interesting wines. Syrah was found to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. The style and flavour profile of Syrah is greatly influenced by the climate in which the grapes are grown. Moderate climates, such as the northern Rhône Valley and parts of the Walla Walla AVA in Washington State, tend to produce medium- to full-bodied wines with medium to high levels of tannins and notes of blackberry, mint and black pepper. In hot climates, Syrah is more consistently full-bodied with softer tannin, jammier fruit and spice notes of licorice, anise and earthy leather.
Harvested in the early morning, before the heat of the day, the grapes are macerated with twice daily pumpovers before being pressed into large oval European oak Ovals for fermentation and aging. Lightly filtered before bottling.
Classic Syrah aromas of blackberry, white pepper and cassis. On the palate, a little more red fruit comes through, with some cherry, blackberry, cocoa, nutmeg and a savoury element. The tannins are fine and approachable, with some fairly marked balancing acidity. Easy-drinking and smooth now, this has mid-term aging potential. Serve with roast lamb, veggie kebabs or a grilled burger.