Dark ruby with a magenta rim, the 2018 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard offers the darkest and broodiest nose of the range this year, with elements of teriyaki beef jerky, roasted plums and black peppercorn spice.
Full-bodied, the palate is dense and chewy with a firm tannic edge, offering a gripping mineral tension and elements of blackberry skin, turned earth and worn leather. Give this another year or two in the bottle and drink until its 15th birthday.
The wine rested for two years in a mixture of demi-muids and foudre. Just under 6,200 bottles were filled.
Drink 2022 - 2033
Anthony Mueller, Wine Advocate (July 2021)
Notes of blackberry with coffee, nutmeg and smoke undertones. It’s full-bodied with fine tannins. Elegant and balanced on the palate with a creamy texture and supple, smoky character. Long finish.
Drink in 2024
James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (July 2021)
Last of the Syrahs, the 2018 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard reveals a deep ruby/purple colour as well as a wonderfully complex, classic Syrah nose of red and black fruits, cured meats, mushrooms, bacon fat, iron, and forest floor, with a touch of flowers emerging with time in the glass.
With its medium to full-bodied richness, firm, focusing tannins, and a great finish, it’s another wine that takes savoriness to the nth degree. I love its texture, and almost a Burgundian style here keeps you coming back to the glass.
Hide bottles for 4-5 years and enjoy over the following two decades.
Drink 2025 - 2045
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (May 2021)
Bright, ruby-red, the darkest of these Horsepower bottlings. Aromas of blackberry, blueberry, menthol, bitter chocolate, crushed rock, violet and liquorice are more Hermitage than Côte-Rôtie. At once dense and lively, conveying more energy and black fruit intensity than the Sur Echalas Syrah.
Boasts lovely inner-mouth verve and definition for such a rich wine and a captivating balance of sweetness and acidity. Also purer and sweeter than the Sur Echalas, with more subtle salty and balsamic tones. Finishes firmly tannic, ripe and very long, with complicating hints of violet and black olive. I particularly like this wine’s balance of acidity and sweetness.
It has the spine to evolve positively in bottle, but its subtle sweetness gives it early appeal. Incidentally, the Horsepower wines are fermented in concrete tanks and aged in neutral demi-muids and foudres, with this bottling getting some second-fill demi-muids.
Drink 2024 - 2033
Stephen Tanzer, Vinous.com (June 2021)
About this WINE
Located in Walla Walla Valley, Washington, USA, Horsepower Vineyards was founded by Christophe Baron, a French vigneron and winemaker regarded for his dedication to traditional winemaking techniques and biodynamic farming practices. Baron is also the proprietor of Cayuse Vineyards, another esteemed regional winery.
The vineyards, predominantly Syrah, are situated on the southern side of the Walla Walla Valley. The unique terroir of the area, characterised by well-drained, stony soils and a distinct microclimate, contributes to the production of exceptional wines.
One key feature that sets Horsepower Vineyards apart is its commitment to using traditional, labour-intensive methods in winemaking. The vineyard is known for using draft horses to plow the fields, hence the name "Horsepower." This dedication to old-fashioned techniques and the utmost attention to detail in both the vineyard and the cellar contribute to the distinctive character of their wines.
Walla Walla Valley
In the southeastern part of Washington State, USA, Walla Walla Valley is a prominent and acclaimed wine-producing region extending into northeastern Oregon. The valley’s viticultural roots date back to the mid-19th century, making it one of the oldest wine regions in the Pacific Northwest.
A semi-arid climate with hot summers and cold winters characterizes the region. It also benefits from the Cascade Mountain Range to the west, which shields the valley from excessive rainfall, creating an ideal environment for grape cultivation. The dry and sunny conditions contribute to the development of ripe and flavorful grapes, while cool nights help to preserve acidity, resulting in balanced and vibrant wines.
The valley’s diverse soils, primarily composed of loess (wind-blown silt) and well-draining basalt, create a patchwork of terroirs that add complexity and character to the wines. Additionally, ancient flood deposits contribute to the valley’s fertile landscape, further supporting grapevine growth.
Walla Walla Valley is renowned for its red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, which thrive in the region’s climate and soils. These red varieties are known for their rich fruit flavors, supple tannins, and aging potential. Excellent white wines, such as Chardonnay and Riesling, are also produced, which benefit from the valley’s diurnal temperature variation and well-drained soils.
The wine is characterized by a strong sense of community and collaboration among winemakers, fostering a culture of quality and innovation. Many wineries in the region are small, family-owned operations dedicated to handcrafted and sustainable winemaking practices.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.