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Syncline Syrah

Geologic Wine Labels


This particular vintage is not from land on or even near an actual syncline, but rather from east-central Washington's Wahluke Slope district. (more below)
From a faux syncline
Photo (c) 2006 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)
Syncline Cellars produces wines from several Washington growing districts, but its home vineyard is in Lyle, on the Columbia River just west of The Dalles near the dramatic Bingen Gap, where the Bingen syncline provides an inspirational geologic setting. A syncline is a folded trough in which the rock beds on the two sides slope downward toward each other; "syncline" means "leaning together" in scientific Latin. I like to think it has a happy connotation for the winegrowers as a place where natural conditions incline toward good wine.

This particular vintage is from the Wahluke Slope district, where warmth and ripeness derive from the geographic setting and the soils are deep and sandy. Volcanic-derived sediments provide the nutrients there. The wine is quite different from the fruity, friendly syrah style familiar from Australia and California—deeply colored and highly extracted, its berry-fruit flavors vie with complex tannins, like the Rhone-style wines that Syncline favors. It deserves a place with savory meats, roasted vegetables, toasted nuts and bittersweet chocolate. It is still tight, requiring more than an hour in the glass to open up, and I agree with the winemakers that it will improve with time. Syncline also produces a Rhone-style blend called Subduction Red.

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