Senoj Estates Washington State 2007 Syrah
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Senoj Estates Washington State 2007 Syrah

Washington State crops up in my wine consciousness with great regularity. I usually find these crops worth harvesting. In the case of Senoj, the winery was named after its founder Jeff Jones: Senoj is the backward spelling of Jones. I like it. It has a better ring to it than “Namsse.” Jeff started as a full-time techie in Redmond, that is, western Washington, all the while spending several years of weekends learning the wine trade in eastern Washington. Yes, he is a maverick. He makes a Syrah (not this) with a blend of Carmenere, is about to put out a Primitivo (not a Zinfandel, we must stress), and has yet another Syrah that comes to life using only ambient yeast. Further horizons call for experimentation with Malbec.

The Senoj tasting room is in the well-known warehouse district of Woodlinville, in wet western Washington, but like most Woodlinville wineries, the fruit comes from the arid irrigated eastern part of the state. Jones (that's Senoj spelled backwards) cellars the wines in Grandview in eastern Washington. The winery is small, producing just under 5,000 cases a year. The focus is mellow and food friendly and the major market seems to be male millennials.

Senoj Estates 2007 Syrah is 4% Viognier co-fermented with 96% Syrah, a product of grapes grown in South Eastern Washington's Coyote Canyon Vineyard, located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. The $22 wine is quite dark in color, with a pronounced nose giving dark fruit, blackberry, black plum, violet, nutmeg, vanilla and black pepper. This is a dry wine, medium plus body, mid-level acidity, nicely rounded tannins, with flavors of brambly blackberry, dried fruit, licorice and a touch of apricot. The mouthfeel has the bright quality I often associate with the Syrah and Viognier mixture; you get this in many Australian wines and of course in the classic French Côte Rôtie from the Rhône River Valley. Drinks very well and melded seamlessly with London broil.


Verdict: Tasty.


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Washington State winemakers seem to have as much personal character as the wines they produce.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


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