Les Collines Vineyard is one of Walla Walla Valley's premier vineyards for Syrah but for other grapes as well. As the name suggests, the hill offers a gentle slope from the foothills of the Blue Mountains down towards the town of Walla Walla, ranging from 1370 feet to 1140 feet. Along the foothills of the Blue Mountains and in the adjacent Walla Walla Valley, basalt bedrock is overlain by a thick layer of weakly cemented basalt cobblestone gravels, derived from the erosion of the Blue Mountains, as they were rapidly uplifting around 5 million years ago. These gravels are informally known as the “old gravels” to distinguish them from the gravels that comprise the alluvial fans of the modern-day streams. The old gravels are often capped by a 4-foot thick section of carbonate-cemented sediment (caliche), the remnant of an ancient soil formed under arid to semiarid conditions. But 2018 was the kind of vintage (hot and sunny) that could make our style a challenge. Still there were fairly cool temperatures that cooled things off late in the season, right behind some rain right after Labor Day. We were happy with the condition of the fruit, with only a moderate amount of sorting reqiured, mostly for leaves, and we included about 75% of the stems.
Our Syrah was harvested a bit less ripe than many of our neighbors. We're not criticizing others; we're just trying to make something that is modest in acohol and has a nervier, racier side to it.
We foot-stomped the grapes and fermented in small bins over several weeks, using native yeasts only. 75% of the stems were included in the fermentation and 2-3% Viognier from Les Collines Vineyard was co-fermented in each of the bins as well.
The wine was aged (and completed malo-lactic) in large (500L) French oak puncheons for just over one year.