Showing posts with label Syrah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Syrah. Show all posts

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Passion Behind Tsillan Cellars

Passion can be found all over the wine world. Those who are willing to put their blood, sweat and tears in tending to the vines, as well as spending countless hours in their production facilities crafting well-structured wines, will tell you it's a labour of love. But the passion that Devon Griffith, Assistant Winemaker at Tsillan Cellars, has for wine is by far the greatest I have ever encountered!

Photo Courtesy of Tsillan Cellars
Born and raised in the nearby town of Manson, Washington, his family has grown world class tree fruit in the valley for the last 100 years. It has been a dream of Devon's from the very beginning to follow in their footsteps, with a history of hard work and passion. The opportunity to work at Tsillan Cellars fulfilled this desire to the utmost degree. After graduating from Washington State University with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, he came back home to the roots of his passion. One day he hopes to own his own winery in the area. He will no doubt succeed with the passion and knowledge he possesses!

Not technically the entrance, but this is some of the beautiful architecture found throughout the winery!

Walking through the well-architectured entrance and into the gorgeous tasting room of Tsillan Cellars, one would think that this is a more upscale, almost intimidating winery. However, this is not the case. The staff warmly welcomes everyone who walks in, and are happy to show all guests the beauty in Tsillan's wines. Here are some of the standouts I was fortunate enough to taste:

1. Nudo Chardonnay 2016

This unoaked Chardonnay opens with aromas of white peach and a stony mineral edge. The lively body contains a refreshing mouthfeel intertwined with notes of gala apples, lime zest and more of that beautiful white peach flavor! Refreshing acidity and a long, zesty finish make this beauty perfect for summer sips on a patio!

A serene moment of reflection with the Bocciolo di Rosa on the dock of the lake!
2. Bocciolo di Rosa 2016 

Meaning "Rose Bud" in Italian, this rose is composed of 100% Syrah and carries a breathtaking flavor profile of strawberries, mandarins, white peach, and a hint of wild roses. A steely mineral backbone adds complexity and body, leading into a pure, clean finish.


3. Tsillan Cellers 2014 Winemaker's Select Malbec

Malbec grows and produces fabulous wines in Lake Chelan, and dare I say - it was better than any Argentinian Malbec I have ever tasted! Deep ruby in color, notes of ripe blueberries, cocoa, black pepper and a hint of flint. The full-bodied, lush mouthfeel contains racy acidity and smooth tannins, and the long, sultry finish will leave you wanting more!

We then toured around the vineyard and production facility. The soils here are granite-based, which is why Rhone varietals like Syrah and Grenache grow so well in Lake Chelan. The sun's aspect into the North Shore of the lake is key for achieving ideal Brix levels. We sampled a few of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on the vine and Devon estimated harvest to be the 2nd week of September. Here are some photos of the production facility and barrel room:




It is clearly evident from the way Devon spoke about both viticulture and the winemaking process how much he loves what he does, which is really refreshing in this day and age. His dedication to his craft and his love for wine is contagious and inspiring! I can't wait to see how far his vine-laced path will take him in the future- in fact, I'm sure he will bring Tsillan Cellars and the Lake Chelan AVA to new heights!


Click here for more information on Tsillan Cellars Winery, including their tasting room offerings, the exquisite Sorrento's Ristorante and much more!

A huge thanks to both Devon and Ashtyn for coordinating my tour and tasting at Tsillan Cellars, I will cherish the memories of that day for the rest of my life. Cheers!

Update from Devon: Harvest began on September 9th, with Syrah grapes destined for our future sparkling rose! It is currently speeding its way through primary fermentation, and will go into terrage for three years before it is released in the traditional Methode Champenoise style. We then commenced picking our Pinot Grigio, which we finished on September 20th. We just picked our first ever Dolcetto! It came from third leaf vines, which although still young yielded amazing fruit!  I just pitched the yeast to it a few hours ago, and as of now it may be included in a blend with another Piedmont native varietal, Barbera, which is set for release in 2019.  If it comes through as a beautiful stand alone wine, we may end up crafting a single varietal wine from it. Up next we plan on picking all of our Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Power Schist: Southern French Reds

At the very Southern edge of France, nestled between the Pyrenees mountains and the Mediterranean sea, lies a wine region of great potential. Once known for only Vin Doux Naturels and red "plonk", both the Cotes du Rousillon and Languedoc AOPs have garnered attention from elite winemakers including M. Chapoutier and Gerard Bertrand. Dry red wines found within these regions are showing incredible structure, depth and intensity that are comparable in quality to some of their Southern Rhone neighbors. I spent the month of May tasting wines from both Cotes du Rousillon, the Languedoc and Corbieres and I was not disappointed!

The Cotes du Rousillon AOP runs from just north of the town of Perpignan, France, to the Spanish border. A hot, dry climate is found here as the sun shines approximately 320 days of the year. Low yielding Grenache bush vines dominate the vineyards, along with plantings of Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan and Cinsault for the red wine blends. The black schist soil is one of the factors that has attracted the attention of winemakers around the world, creating age worthy red wines with power, complexity and structure.


M. Chapoutier's 2013 Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem, meaning "A Secret" in Latin, really reflects the complexity and power of the Cotes du Rousillon Villages with ever-evolving flavors of plum, black fruit, leather, tobacco leaf and licorice. Velvety tannins and mouthwatering acidity combine to create a well structured, expressive blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. This beauty is drinking well now, but could gain even more depth with 3-5 years of cellar aging.


The 2013 Tessellae Old Vine blend from Domaine Lafage (on page 27 of the link) casts a flavor profile of ripe red cherries, dried oregano and a lovely hint of baking spice on the finish. The high acidity establishes a strong backbone that the plush tannins are able to mesh with. This wine is extremely food friendly and would pair well with grilled meats and poultry. Composed of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre.

East of Rousillon lies AOP Corbieres. Although the region is known for its extreme summers and rugged mountainous terrain, a wide variety of soil types are found here: limestone, schist, and clay among others. This helps to create full-bodied wines that marry well with foood. 


Chateau Trillol is located in Corbieres and is owned by the notable Sichel family of France. Their 2011 offering is deep ruby in colour with concentrated notes of raspberry, cherries, resin and black pepper on the palate. A well structured blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, encompassing fine tannins and sharp acidity into the full body. A lovely pairing with cheddar cheese.


Finally, Gerard Bertrand's 2011 Grenache Syrah AOP Languedoc features racy acidity balanced to well integrated tannins amidst a flavour profile of strawberries, cranberries and charcoal. A bright, cherry medicinal finish rounds out the palate. Decant for 45 minutes before enjoying to allow the red fruit flavours to shine.

Each of these wines range in price from $20-$30 CDN, making them a great value. 

All four of these beauties reflected the intensity gained from the schist soil and favourable climate for Grenache, Syrah and other southern French varietals. Now that the Cotes du Rousillon and Languedoc regions are gaining attention from noticeable producers, it's time wine lovers taste these gems for themselves! Cheers! 








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