- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Covey Run, Syrah, Washington state, 2002, $9

Syrah is taking Washington state wine to new heights. Whether yielding wines in a Rhone-inspired french style or a fruity, more forward Australian style, this grape variety thrives in the Pacific Northwest. Cabernet and merlot still dominate Washington’s red wine vineyards, but the high quality of today’s syrahs suggests that this may change before long.

The very best Washington syrahs, from producers such as Cayuse and McRea, distinguish themselves because of their impressive structure and balance. The combination of firm tannins and tight acidity provides a stage on which the flavors, sometimes fruit-dominated but sometimes surprisingly earthy, can perform to full effect.

This syrah from Covey Run is not as complete or complex as Washington’s finest, but it displays a similar profile at a fraction of the price. The fresh, bright fruit flavors, resembling plums and red berries, are supported by notes of pepper and spice, all in a firm but not at all astringent structure.

The result is a wine that tastes simultaneously serious and lively without being hot or heavy.

A bargain-priced syrah, this wine will prove versatile at the supper table. It is light enough to complement roast chicken but sufficiently substantial to pair with burgers. Few syrahs made anywhere can match it for value.

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