2021 A.D. Beckham, Amphora Syrah, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley AVA, Washington State.
The Beckham Estate Vineyard winery, based in the Willamette Valley’s Chehalem Mountains, has been creating a buzz in wine geek circles and I was thrilled to try my first wine from them, with the wines produced under the A.D. Beckham label having been exclusively fermented and aged primarily in Andrew Beckham’s hand-made clay amphorae. He says it was a convergence of his life’s passions to do theses wines with farming, ceramics, and winemaking being his reason for being. This Syrah comes from the ancient sedimentary soils and terroir of the Red Mountain AVA in Washington State and shows the deep flavor profile you’d expect, but with no oak influence and a beautiful transparent nature with luxurious, ripe and supple blackberry, blueberry and damson plum fruits leading the way. The full bodied palate shows offers richness galore stopping just short of prune/fig, but because of the whole cluster fermentation, there’s a nice savory crunch, hints of chalky loam, minty (stems), anise, tobacco and violets, along with a long bitter coco and cassis finish. While unique and distinctively their own, there is also a real sense of place here, it was always going to be a Washington State wine and it as true as is gets. At just a tick over 14% natural alcohol, things are well balanced and this wine will be great with hearty Winter cuisine, especially lamb!

The now famous Red Mountain district in the Yakima Valley AVA and greater Columbia Valley, is a premier wine region in southeast Washington that is high regarded for world class Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, as seen here, along with Merlot and the other Bordeaux grapes, as well as some other rare varieties. The first vines in Red Mountain were originally planted back in 1975, and the AVA is celebrated for deep fruit density and a powerful, but luxurious tannic structure and is now home to many of Washington State’s finest vineyards. The Red Mountain, that officially became a full AVA in 2001, as I learned, was formed by the repeated ice-age flooding of the Glacial Lake Missoula over 10,000 years ago. The flood waters redesigned the landscape here, in what now seems like a hight desert, making soft mountain slopes and depositing nutrient rich top soils over sand, silt and gravel, which certainly the Cabernet and Merlot especially love, while the Syrah gets inky rich and voluminous. Beckham adds that occasionally he works with other vineyards, as seen here, that share his farming philosophies in order to explore the expression of different grape varietals in Andrew’s Novum (clay terracotta, like you see on the Greek Isle of Crete). All the wines are fermented with native yeasts, are un-fined, and as he continues, they contain minimal added sulfur. Now, I’m looking forward to tasting the rest of the A.D. Beckham lineup, which includes Pinot Noir, Gris, a mixed white, Gamay and a Oregon version of Syrah!
($50 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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