Eventually, Walla Walla is going to crush Napa Valley. It’s not just climate change; it’s the culture of the place. Rotie Cellars is a case in point. I’ve never seen winemaker/owner Sean Boyd in a spotless pair of pants or sporting a manicure. This dude works. He’s a natural winemaker, but his background was in oil and gas exploration. There’s a grittiness to winemaking in Washington State that seems a bit more in keeping with the times we live in.
This Northern Blend is Sean’s homage to the Côte-Rôtie region of the Northern Rhône Valley of France: as such, it’s a deep-throated Syrah co-fermented with 5% of Viognier. Like traditional Côte-Rôtie, it is aged in older barrels for up to 16 months.
The grapes are sourced from southeastern Walla Walla Valley. This corner of the AVA (American Viticultural Region) is revered for its cobblestone soils and has always produced stellar Syrah. Since 2015, this sub-region has been officially an AVA in its own right, “The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater.” It doesn’t flow off the tongue, but what part of Washington State does?
The Wine Review
A full-throated experience, both aggressive and jubilant. Aromas of bouquet garni and Texas BBQ are layered with dark fruit and black pepper. On the palate, it’s a textural pleasure, full-bodied and lush. An attack of Sauvage herbs, game, and blackberry coulis evolves into white pepper and tapenade. In the finish, an oaky sweetness and orange zest come through.