Nefarious Cellars 2007 Estate Syrah, Defiance Vineyard
October 6, 2010 by Erin Thomas
Long time, no write. I have a whole alphabetical Rolodex of excuses if you’re interested but more importantly, I’d like to pick up where I left off… Washington Syrah. Remember, the stuff I said I wasn’t the fondest on? Try, try again!
This time, we’re moving from the greater regions of the Columbia Valley to the freshly established Lake Chelan AVA.
How to identify newly active winos in the biz:
- The Web sites are atrocious.
- The wineries still do complimentary tastings (and God bless them!).
- The names reflect the area (i.e. Tsillan Cellars, Chelan Estate Winery, Chelangr’La Winery, Lake Chelan Winery, etc.).
- Everyone still likes each other and recommends visiting neighboring competition.
Aged day-tripper venues have picked up a smidgen of jadedness in Washington’s 20+ years of tourism in the wine industry but Chelan (although it has been producing grapes for over 10 years now) is still so fresh and so clean-clean that it has become one of the most popular wine tasting regions in the state.
One of my personal favorites (see this little number) is Nefarious Cellars, home of one of the most panoramic views on the lake and home to one of the most amiable couples in the trade, Dean and Heather Neff. Esteemed wine writer Paul Gregutt had been there tasting with the grape-crushing, nuptial-ed duo the week before and they were just as animated to see this nobody last summer who wanted to write a diddy on them too.
While visiting, I purchased more wine than I should have (Visa Signature was angry!) and the 2007 Estate Syrah is what I had saved last to drink from my collection of Nefarious booze. The Syrah had recently been bottled when I took it home with me in the summer of 2009 and was the first vintage to be pulled off of their second estate vineyard, Defiance, planted in 2005. The property is about 6.5 acres, with 4.5 of that consisting of Syrah (the smaller portion to Viognier).
Assuming you have all read my preceding (and above listed!!!) feature article on the Neffs, you now know that Heather and Dean named their winery as a play off their name, not that they are necessarily malevolent beings. They do, however, strive to make “wickedly good” wines.
The 2007 Estate Syrah is 86% Syrah (just making the grade as a varietally-labeled wine in this fair state), 9% Grenache and 5% Viognier. The nose is abounding. Period – there are a lot of juicy berry aromas as well as some non-fruit tones like cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking spices and graham cracker. The latter leads into a blackberry pie note with the dark berry fruit, red currant and overall berry nectar bouquet.
The palate is much like you’d expect it with juicy bursts in the attack, dark and fleshy berry on the mid-palate with lively and balanced acid, catered by alleviated tannins in the berry-induced finish.
The wine leaves you salivating, creating an effortless break for food pairing as you already think you’re hungry. I’d go the pork tenderloin route – here’s a personal favorite recipe of mine.
For the first run on this estate-grown Syrah, Nefarious Cellars is putting themselves on Lake Chelan’s radar as merited grape-growers and winemakers, a distinction that is sometimes far and few between in the world of grape-sourcing and crushing.
Although a year behind, welcome to Washington wine (officially), Lake Chelan. We’re happy to have you and your quippy winery names.