It was a Saturday night in a quarantine facility in South Korea in the middle of my 14-day isolation and I happened to have a couple of bottles of wine from a duty free shop. 2015 K Vintners Powerline Syrah was one of them.
🍇 100% Syrah
🌎 Walla Walla Valley AVA, Washington, United States
⭐ JS 96
There's a lot of exciting and interesting things to tell about this 2015 bottle of 100% Syrah from House of Smith winery, which represents all that a powerful, rich and bold Syrah is.
It all starts with the story of the winemaker—Charles Smith, who grew up in California and famously managed rock bands in Europe for a number of years, most notably the Danish indie rock duo, The Raveonettes, before returning to the States to work in the wine industry. Today this "rockstar winemaker" is regarded as a visionary behind iconic brands like K Vintners and Substance. He has received 198 scores of 95 points and above and 768 scores of 90 points and above. K Vintners was started in 1999 as Rhone-centric winery to produce single-vineyard Syrahs.
Powerline Vineyard is the winery's premier estate. This 30-acre estate vineyard was planted in 2012 in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, just south of Walla Walla in the Walla Walla Valley AVA. The soils are well drained with cobblestone river rocks and underlying layers of sand and gravel deposits, allowing vines to develop very deep and strong roots. The cobblestone rock was brought down river from the Blue Mountains and deposited on top of the ancient river bed. The deep sand and silt below the stones bring a great purity to the grapes, while high elevations keep acids high, producing very well-balanced wines with remarkable complex characters.
"A very regal Syrah that has a sturdy feel and a quite earthy set of aromas with a fragrant edge, delivering attractively focused and intense style. The dark roasted spices pervade blackberries and dried plums and the palate carries a suave, assertive brand of tannin."
James Suckling, who gave the 2015 vintage 96 points described this wine as "A very regal Syrah that has a sturdy feel and a quite earthy set of aromas with a fragrant edge, delivering attractively focused and intense style. The dark roasted spices pervade blackberries and dried plums and the palate carries a suave, assertive brand of tannin."
To me this Syrah was a bit of an unusual colour—rather intense garnet than a typical ruby. Typical spiciness, prunes, chocolate with notes of tobacco and later on—big ripe fruits. Really smooth and very nice balance between tannins and acidity. For food, I didn't have much choice other than dosirak (a Korean bento box) that included stir-fired meatball veggies, pork curry and stir-fired kimchi, and interestingly, spicy and fermented Korean food went very well with a spicy Syrah.
And, of course, when you happen to taste it, listen to The Raveonettes!