2013 Steelhead Run Vineyard 94 pts. $40, 25 cases made
Smells of whole cluster in a good way on first opening. Takes a bit for the fruit to develop but when it does it’s stellar. Fresh aromas of milk chocolate and plum mixed with salty and meaty notes. It’s just the type of Syrah I like. Not over-oaked, not over manipulated, a little whole cluster, and a whole lot of balanced complexity. The fruit here is from the Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon next to the Applegate River and is also sourced by Herb Quady for his exceptional Quady North Syrahs.
2013 Deux Vert Vineyard Syrah 91 pts. Not-for-release. Two cases made.
Licorice and cola with a tiny bit of heat on the nose, this one smells more seductive. It’s savory, sweet, and meaty at the same time. I don’t smell whole cluster here. The mid-palate is a little short and the tannins more pronounced but it’s still a delicious Syrah that will delight those that love a meaty and brawny style of Syrah. Deux Vert is a Willamette Valley vineyard in the Yamhill Carlton AVA and the coolest site that Twill has worked with but unfortunately will probably not get to work with again. Much of this Syrah went into the Oregon blend. Marcus Goodfellow of Matello and Goodfellow Family Wines also makes a Syrah from this Vineyard.
Minerally nose with a backbone of sweet plum and blackberry. There’s also a bit of umami aromas of mushroom and soy. Slightly fuller mouthfeel than the Steelhead perhaps owing to a tiny bit of new oak in this blend. Not as much whole cluster aroma as the Steelhead. Balanced and energetic on the mid palate with a light finish. Not tannic at all but with good acidity. The Oregon Syrah is a blend of Southern Oregon Syrah from Steelhead Run and the Belmont Vineyard in Bear Creek Valley, and the Willamette Valley Deux Vert Vineyard.
Twill is a new winery run by Chris Dickson who is winemaker and owners Darrell and Molly Roby who planted their own vineyard in the Willamette Valley back in 2000. Chris was the winemaker for their previous project called Ribera Vineyards. Twill is a new project for the three of them and represents an attempt to re-focus and fine-tune their overall vision for the kinds of wines they want to make. Besides Syrah, they also make Pinots and Chardonnays (this is the Willamette Valley after all). The new winery is more focussed on cooler sites and vineyard expression and Oregon fruit (the Ribera winery sourced their Syrah fruit from Washington).
Chris fell in love with Syrah from his time at Landmark Winery in Kenwood, CA and also worked with it in Washington and South Africa’s Swartland. He considers it the variety that speaks to him the most. He feels that it’s a variety with the perfect combination of resilience and transparency. Resilience to produce good wine even in extreme vintage variation but also has the transparency to let that vintage variation shine though.
The Twill team has planted more Syrah at one of their Pinot Noir sites in the Willamette Valley which they hope to get fruit from this coming fall. They’re continuing to keep Syrah at the forefront as they search for new vineyard sources in Oregon.
All the wines are aged almost two years in neutral barrel with the occasional new barrel mixed in over all the lots. The wines are made with ambient yeast and minimal SO2, 100% whole cluster and stay unracked, unfined, and unfiltered. Chris feels that the 22 months in barrel allow the wines to integrate and concentrate flavors and intensity.
Twill is a winery interested in the future of Syrah in Oregon and willing to experiment with cool sites. I’ve always thought that Syrah in cooler sites in Oregon has a chance to be transcendent. This is a project that I’m going to get on Twill’s mailing list for, their wines are made in a way that matches my taste and I’m excited to see how Oregon Syrah remains part of their future.
These wines were provided as samples for purposes of review.