The 2019 season was a wild ride; there was snow on the ground well into March: cool temperatures delayed budbreak and flowering. The summer displayed normal temperatures largely devoid of heat spikes; ripening proceeded slowly with fruit left vulnerable to frost, which came in late September, followed by a prolonged cold snap in mid-October. Yields were down nearly 25 percent compared to 2018; growers reported lower Brix and higher acids, resulting in vibrant syrahs and crunchy mourvedres, with the stuffing to grant the wines a cellar window of a decade or more.
Considered a warm vintage, 2018 began with a cool April, followed by one of the warmest Mays on record; following this, there was a cool June before July and August saw record-setting heat. The early autumn months returned to a more typical Columbia Valley pattern: Indian summer days and cool nights. The flux between warm and cool months made for a long season, with higher-than-average yields and good acids. The wines’ natural acidity keeps them vibrant and youthful, with an ageability for syrah, even in the warmest regions.
Click here to return to the Regional Tasting Report on US syrah & Rhône varieties.
Patrick J. Comiskey covers US wines for Wine & Spirits magazine, focusing on the Pacific Northwest, California’s Central Coast and New York’s Finger Lakes.
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