...huge, unctuous effort that exhibits crazy notes of Asian spice, soy, shiitake mushroom, blackcurrants and tar.... ...like a young Hermitage la Chappelle... ...lots of tannin, blood, minerality and smoke, a huge mid-palate...
Hors Categorie Vineyards is new winemaking venture from the Christophe Baron, one of Washington state’s most enterprising and admired winemakers. Baron founded Cayuse Vineyards in Walla Walla Valley in 1997, and since then he has also started Horsepower Vineyards and No Girls Wines. In 2005 Baron discovered another Eastern Washington site that he believed had outstanding vineyard potential. He cleared and planted the 2.5-acre vineyard, which he named Hors Categorie, a French term meaning “in a class of its own.” The debut wine was a 2014 Syrah that the Wine Advocate compared to “a young Hermitage la Chappelle from Jaboulet…”
Walla Walla Valley AVA likes to call itself the Napa Valley of Washington, and given the concentration of well-reviewed wineries in the appellation, the comparison is understandable. The Walla Walla appellation is comprised of 340,000 acres, of which 1,200 acres are vineyards. Walla Walla is located in the southeastern corner of Washington and it extends slightly into northeastern Oregon. It is named after the Walla Walla River Valley, and the city of Walla Walla is the commercial center of Washington’s wine industry. The city was founded in the 1840s by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a trading post, but as early as the 1850s farmers were planting grapes for winemaking. Prohibition shuttered winemaking in the early 20th century, but a winemaking renaissance started in the 1970s when Leonetti Cellars, still one of the state’s most acclaimed wineries, started producing acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon. Walla Walla’s AVA status was awarded in 1984 and today there are more than 100 wineries. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most frequently planted grape, followed by Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese Chardonnay and Viognier.
This grape is grown in milder climates and produces a medium-to full-bodied wine. It is also known as Shiraz, but should not be confused with Petit Sirah, which was developed by crossing Syrah with Peloursin.