Robert Ramsay Cellars 2006 Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills
January 25, 2011 by Erin Thomas
His friends call him Bob.
Although his enthusiasts have designated him a “Syrah specialist,” Robert “Bob” Ramsey has flown under the radar from critical analysis and heavy representation on search engines since Robert Ramsay Cellars (RRC) popped their first cork. Grooming his hobby from craft brewing to hard cider and taking his garagiste fermentation to another fruit, Bob cut his full-time winemaking teeth with Coeur d’Alene Cellars in 2001.
Now with RRC, Bob calls himself the chief bottle washer as well as a lesser known role as the sole winemaker.
His modesty can only go so far when his wines boast the title names from vineyard sources like Boushey and McKinley Springs, two of the more revered sites in Horse Heaven Hills. Rightly so, this appellation is riding on the coattails of a few 100-point vintages for Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignons as its only source, with more wineries sprouting up and wanting to soak up a bit of their own Horse Heaven Hills glory.
For the triple-H, long-winded southward-facing slopes hit the chilling breeze from the Columbia Gorge just at the right elevation to kill off rot and fungi, which also manages to stilt the fruit to get balanced acidity from the cold, 50-degree nights yet establish concentrated fruit during the days that average around 100-degrees.
And thus leads to how I find myself behind another bottle of Washington Syrah despite prior posts denouncing juice that falls into the catalog – the promise of equilibrium, thanks to the exalted Horse Heaven Hills fruit. That and it was a free bottle…
The 2006 Robert Ramsay Syrah is all Horse Heaven Hills fruit, but not all Syrah, as Bob prides himself as a blender. With a resume that is now breaching a decade, Bob seems to know what works best for him and he’s not afraid to admit it. His bottles site the varietal percentages used (93% Syrah, 2% Mourvedre and 5% Viognier) the alcohol per volume (14.5%), the oak (100% French, 30% new), the case production (255) and the vineyard (McKinley Springs).
The tasting notes were up to me.
First thing that came to mind was those “Beggin’ Strips” commercials, where the dog is having a verbal spasm over “BACON!!!!” when it’s really just the “Beggin’ Strips” their owner is so kindly fooling them with.
This wine smells like bacon. Not just the pop-cracklin’ breakfast meat but the fatty, piquant (and offensively spendy) pork belly that is on every gastropub’s carte du jour. Dark and dense berry fruit of blackberry, huckleberry and black currant deepen the aromas as a remoulade to the pork belly, topped with shavings of cocoa and nutmeg to the dish.
Like the “other white meat,” when cooked properly, Syrah can be lush and round and Bob’s is both. Robust and bold in tannin to match a similar fruit profile, this full-bodied wine reaches its anticipated stasis with acidity aglow and a richness in the finish.
Sounds like a dish you could order? Me too, too bad the bottle’s empty…