Syrah Finds a Home in Idaho 

Syrah Finds a Home in Idaho

In the past decade there has been a mini-explosion of new wineries in Idaho, in part spurred by the creation of the Snake River American Viticultural Area in 2007. It takes time and effort to determine what grapes work best where and, while the first modern Gem State vineyards were planted in the 1970s, it's still a work in progress. That said, Syrah is one grape that has found a happy and successful home here. Here are the top picks from the panel's Idaho Syrah tasting:

2014 Cinder Syrah, $28

Classic Northwest Syrah with its intense berry aromas backed by vanilla and soft oak. The ripe blackberry and raspberry fruit flavors are equally intense. This is a chewy, juicy Syrah with a balanced, tangy finish where smooth tannins come into play. Another proof that Cinder's Melanie Krause is crafting world class wines.

2014 Colter's Creek Syrah, $17

The winery is located near Moscow in northern Idaho, but Colter's Creek sources the grapes for its Syrah from the Snake River AVA. It opens with smoky chocolate, anise, coffee and berry aromas. The creamy mocha and dark fruit flavors are colored by a touch of black pepper and a bit of that intriguing gaminess typical of the best Cote Rotie Syrahs. Outstanding effort.

2013 Koenig Syrah, Three Vineyard Cuvee, $22

Greg Koenig's 2010 vintage of this wine was the first from Idaho to garner a 90+ point rating from Wine Spectator. The 2013 is a worthy successor with its fresh baked berry pie aromas. Big and bold but balanced, the complex palate includes pepper, olive, spice, savory meat, mineral, mocha and lots of dark berry fruit.

—David Kirkpatrick

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