Wine Review: 2011 Sawtooth Estate Winery Syrah

Sunday, funday.

Sunday is when we do most of our wine reviews. Each week we make an effort to bring in new bottles or dust off some that we’ve been saving for a while, and Sunday is usually the best day for sampling.

So, we’re off!

This last Sunday we were grilling burgers on the patio and popped open a bottle of Syrah from the Sawtooth Estate Winery in … wait for it … Idaho.  More specifically, from the Snake River Valley, which is a relatively new American Viticulture Area (AVA) in Southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon.

I don’t think either of us had any idea that Idaho grew anything but potatoes. (I’m going to wager a guess that Emma couldn’t find Idaho on a map…)  It turns out, though, that the soil is perfect for it. In wine, it’s all about the dirt, and in Idaho the dirt is primarily volcanic ash.  Vines go ga-ga for volcanic soil and its mineral richness, which gives the wines a rustic, dense and spicy character. The takeaway here is that when life gives you volcanoes, make wine.

Idaho’s great dirt combines with ideal growing conditions.  Cold winters allow the wines to rest in the dormant season, while warm summers daylight hours and cool summer evenings work together to concentrate the fruit flavors, but also to give the wine good acidity (acidity is what keeps the wine from feeling flat and flabby in your mouth; it also helps a wine to age).

Sawtooth Winery did a wonderful job of letting Idaho, its soil and its climate speak for itself in its 2011 Syrah.

On sight, the wine was a deep purple with that velvety opaque quality that lets you know you’re in for a solid first sip. After the first glass, we couldn’t think of a better bottle to round off a gorgeous weekend and ease us into the workweek. The Syrah was rich and lovely, opening with black plum, blackberry jam and following with some black olive, chocolate and a little lavendar. Emma was convinced that it tasted like pie, warm pie at that.

Even better, it paired beautifully with the burgers. This wine is versatile enough for the heat of summer, but would also probably be great in winter with stews, chili or roasted pork.

We at Clō Wines don’t really care about “points” (we think you should just drink what you want and like what you like) but for those so inclined, the 2011 Sawtooth Estate Syrah received 91/100 from Wine & Spirits Magazine.

Bottom line, the wine for our first review was a keeper.