2019 Hundred Suns Wines, Syrah “Super Moon” Vidon Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Grant Coulter and Renée Saint-Amour’s Hundred Suns Wines, founded in 2015 and based in McMinnville, is a micro winery focused on Pinot Noir as you’d expect in the Willamette Valley, but they also produce some very interesting other wines including a fantastic Gamay, a Chablis like Chardonnay and even a Grenache and this Super Moon, which is lighter natural style whole cluster Syrah. This is a totally unique version of Syrah, a grape not known for its presence in the cool climate Willamette Valley and made in a gentle way as to allow for a transparent raw freshness of details that delivers a spicy, soft fruited, tangy, earthy and savory wine, but with an elegant quaffable personality. This wine was made from, what winemaker Grant Coulter, the Ex Beaux Freres man says, a warm Willamette Valley area, but in a more classically cool year that played a major role in how this delightful Super Moon Syrah turned out and making it a true reflection of time and place with vibrant layers of tangy pomegranate, juicy plum, crushed raspberry and dusty cherry fruits along with wild herbs, baked earth, leather, ground peppercorns, seeped flowers and fennel notes. The textural quality is more Pinot like than what you’d expect from a more tannic and meaty Syrah with a smooth structure behind the vibrancy of the fruit, the pulsating acidity and crunchy mineral tones, which are spotlighted by the whole bunches and the use of neutral barrels that didn’t impart any overt flavoring on the medium bodied palate. Grant and Renée believe this vintage has created a very singular wine and explain that a Super Moon is a rare and beautiful lunar event that occurs when the full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit, making the moon seem brighter and more close than usual. They add that Super Moon felt like an appropriate name for this wine, as its personality shows, that could only have come to being in this particular vintage.
The Hundred Suns Super Moon Syrah was sources from the Vidon Vineyard, which as mentioned is a warmer site for the Willamette Valley where Syrah can be grown and get ripe in most years, though it was right on the edge during this vintage. To achieve the goal for this wine It was fermented 100% whole cluster in a sealed tank, in a Beaujolais Cru style, for 12 days with native yeasts before Coulter opened the tank and then foot-stomped the Syrah clusters, with full stem inclusion one time before pressing it off to used or neutral French barrels for eight months. This unfined and unfiltered Super Moon Syrah came in at 12.8% natural alcohol, making for a subtle red wine that opens up nicely in the glass, but one that really needs some time and food to unfold and give its full potential. Hundred Suns has become one of my new favorites and I have been hugely impressed with the last three vintages and especially the latest set of Pinot Noir releases, including the awesome single vineyard 2018 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir, the Sequitur Vineyard Pinot, from the legendary Beaux Freres founder Mike Etzel’s prized Ribbon Ridge estate and the stunning entry level Old Eight Cut Pinot, which is one of Oregon’s greatest values. The Vidon Vineyard, which was founded in 1999 by Don Hagge and Vicki Lewis, but is now owned and managed by Dru and Erin Allen, is planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah, and Tempranillo, is in the Newberg area of the in the Chehalem Mountains AVA and set on complex series of soils witch is lead by the classic the red Jory mineral rich volcanic/basalt based soils. This Super Moon has a distinctive profile, that is interestingly like a Georgian Saperavi or a Mondeuse from the Savoie, the Alpine region of France close to the Swiss border, that is rather different than most Syrah(s) which are usually much darker and densely rich. With air this garnet ruby colored wine loses some of its edgy and taut angular sharpness, it certainly grew on me over a few hours, but again it benefits greatly with protein heavy cuisine and or hard cheeses.
($30 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive