I’ve tasted these wines on numerous occasions, from their debut–to much fanfare–through most releases at events and gatherings. I’ve never been super-impressed, always feeling them too big, too powerful, too concnetrated, too California-y, or–more specifically–too Paso-ish. They never seemed to match up with either their very specific labeling of *place* or the Syrahs I am comfortable with. So with great curiosity I pulled this bottle headed into a decade, to see if the power can translate into positive things down the road. Other than the brick developing at the rim of the glass, not much has changed. Greasy of nose, shoving an asphalt-version of rotund funk at you where one might appreciate rusticity and vegetal briar. It’s all burnt, oily grunge, layered on fruit FAR into the maceration-scale, going chubbily maraschino and not particularly fresh.

The stand-a-fork-up-in-it viscosity translates effortlessly onto the tongue, and I understand the appeal of these wines–I really do–and Justin Smith, Russell From and Manfred Krankl–plus innumerable disciples–have taken this style all the way to the bank and #winebro will never understand the gall of those of us who criticize. Awash in toasty berry, the gobb-stopping advancement of which quells any intelligent nuance on the palate. there ARE vagaries of brilliance contained: plentiful acid and tannin enliven New World fruit in clean, copious ways, bitter body alive with heat and structure at the expense of complexity. The fruit peachy-sweet while driven by grainy under-pinnings, it strikes me as an incredibly unbalanced wine, even with tertiary here beginning to take a foothold.

2014 ROTIE CELLARS ‘Northern Blend’ SY/VG 95/5 Walla Walla Valley Washington 14.5

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