The SOMM Journal

August / September 2018

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70 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 { tastings } JAMES BEARD AWARD–WINNING author and wine writer Anthony Dias Blue has found a new love: Syrah. To celebrate and share his latest obsession, the SOMM Journal Editor-in-Chief recently hosted an impressive vertical tasting of enigmatic cult wines by Cay- use Vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington, inviting a few fortunate sommeliers, influencers, educators, and journalists to his home in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. There, they tast - ed and shared their thoughts on the 2007 through 2014 vintages of Cayuse founder Christophe Baron's Cailloux Vineyard Syrah. Through the tasting, Dias Blue set out to give sommeliers and collectors who may have these wines in their cellars an opportu - nity to see how they're drinking firsthand without having to crack open their own bottles. "This is such a cult wine, so we get very little in California," Dias Blue says. "They're very expensive, very rare bottles. I would have to say that in my long 40 years of tast - ing wine I tend to have things I like and it changes. I'm coming to realize, though, that Syrah has some of the greatest potential and that Cayuse is really pushing the envelope." While Dias Blue believes California Syrah—with the exception of some greats in Santa Barbara—can trend toward the mono - lithic and overripe while generally demonstrating a lack of finesse, he says Baron and his team clearly have "an idea of what Syrah should be and how it shows itself in the Northern Rhône." Cayuse currently produces 12 estate wines from fruit harvest- ed on 51 acres of vines on ancient riverbed rock; in fact, "Cayuse" references the Native American tribe named by French-Canadian traders from the French "cailloux," which means "stones." Baron developed a passion for farming while growing up in his family's centuries-old Champagne house, Baron Albert. Cayuse, the first winery in the Walla Walla Valley to fully implement Biody - namic farming methods in its vineyards, crushed its first Biody- namic certified fruit for the 2004 vintage. The general consensus of Dias Blue's assembled group was that these extraordinary wines exhibited great power and should prove to be incredibly ageworthy. Attendees also concurred that they pos - sess a unique blend of New World fruit character with distinct terroir that only becomes more established as the vintages progress. These wines are highly allocated and the mailing list for Cayuse Vineyard is beyond full—but if you can find them, or if you have some, enjoy! SOMM Journal Editor-in- Chief Anthony Dias Blue with Olivera Markovic of The Bellini Buzz. Perpendicular Stones TASTING THROUGH A CAYUSE VERTICAL WITH ANTHONY DIAS BLUE story and photos by Albert Letizia

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