Wallah Wallah Special Series

Professional reviews and tasting notes from prior vintages added as published (Scores within parentheses indicate barrel samples):

2021 Wallah Wallah Special Syrah Series #15

96 Points. Dried flowers, sage, wild cherries, black and green olives, tobacco smoke and peppered meat on the nose. It’s meaty, juicy and delicious, with ripe, well-rounded tannins and a medium to full body. This just screams syrah and brings joy. Only produced in magnum. From biodynamically grown grapes. Best from 2026. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

2020 Wallah Wallah Special Syrah Series #14

98 Points. A gorgeous magnum that contains 100% Syrah that is aged for 18 months in about 15% new French oak barrels. One of my favorite wines of the tasting, this magnum of Syrah explodes with captivating aromas of crushed black pepper, smoked meat, boysenberry, and a crushed stone minerality. An opulent palate with additional flavors of pink grapefruit zest, black plum, and savory cedary herbs merge with the crunchy tannins and perfect levels of mouthwatering acidity. Stop what you are doing and try to find a bottle now if you can. Just 469 magnums were produced. Highly recommended. —Jeremy Young, International Wine Report

97 Points. As always, this magnum-only Syrah is sourced from a range of Christophe Baron’s vineyards which he and director of winemaking Elizabeth Bourcier select together. I can assure you that the 2020 edition is every bit as good as the captivating 2019. This comes off very clean and aromatically gratifying with bacon fat and garrigue notes alongside shades of violets, green peppercorns and shades of iodine on the nose. The palate is plush, refined and comes off very clean with a gorgeous core of huckleberry and wild blackberry fruits that mingle well with the stony and savory elements of the Syrah. This is quite simply a masterclass considering the challenges of the vintage. Enjoy now. —Owen Bargreen, owenbargreen.com

95 Points. Bottled only in magnum, the 2020 Syrah Wallah Wallah Special #14 is another beautiful Syrah from this team that offers everything you could want from the Rocks region of the Walla Walla Valley. Red and black fruits, smoked meats, chocolate, spring flowers, and sappy herb notes all define the aromatics, and it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a layered, opulent mid-palate, some obvious minerality, and a great finish. I love its concentration, it has ample structure, and it should benefit from at least 4-6 years of bottle age. It will have 2+ decades of overall longevity. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

95 Points. Aromas of dark berries and chocolate with dried spicy herbs, ground pepper and wet stones. Full-bodied with plush, chalky tannins, juicy acidity and a blue-fruited, savory center-palate. It’s fresh and crunchy with a flavorful finish, including hints of smoked meat and dark spices. Only in magnum. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

94 Points. The 2020 Syrah Wallah Wallah Special #14 is dark and inward, with savory olive and herbal tones that evolve into crushed blackberry. Supple and round, this washes easily across the palate, coasting across a core of juicy acidity as crunchy mineral tones add traction toward the close. This finishes fresh and with medium length, leaving a gentle staining of concentration as tart blackberries slowly fade. —Eric Guido, Vinous

2019 Wallah Wallah Special Syrah Series #13

97 Points. Released only in magnum and a blend of the single vineyards (Christophe continues to keep the vineyards that compose the blend a secret), the 2019 Wallah Wallah Special #13 offers a textbook Rocks bouquet of meaty red and blue fruits, iron, baking spices, dried herbs, and pepper. This carries to a medium to full-bodied, round, plush, seamless beauty that has remarkable balance, ripe, polished tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It drinks brilliantly already with a decant, yet I have no doubt it will still being singing at age 20. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

97 Points. One of the outstanding Syrahs made in Washington, the Wallah Wallah Special #13 is a rich and layered proprietary blend of Syrah, sourced from a range of Christophe Baron’s vineyards. Slightly lighter than the 2018 edition, this opens with damp chimney aromas alongside blackberry cordial, anise, black truffle shavings and shades of Earl Grey tea. Inviting and soft on the mouth, this shows sterling tension and a light dusting of salinity that runs through the core of medium to full-bodied dark fruits... Enjoy over the next decade. —Owen Bargreen, owenbargreen.com

96 Points. A lovely nose of ground and whole spice, ripe strawberry, red cherry and tarragon. Medium-to full-bodied with slightly firm tannins and driving acidity. So much lovely peppery character here. A bit of mineral nuance, too, adding some earthiness and articulation to the ripe-fruit profile. Hints of spice. Totally delicious. Only in magnum. From biodynamically grown grapes. Best after 2024. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

95 Points. Only bottled in magnum, the 2019 Wallah Wallah Syrah Special is in its 13th vintage and boasts classic Syrah tones with savory and spicy red fruit essences. Medium to full-bodied, the wine is playful with elegant flavors of peppercorn, red and purple flowers and hints of herbs to Provence before juicy and ripe raspberry and black plum notes appear in the mouth. Displaying a balanced structure with succulent acidity and fine-grained tannins, the Syrah delivers a fantastic food-friendly drinking experience that will go the distance. —Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate

94 Points. The 2019 Syrah #13 Wallah Wallah Special, bottled only in magnum, is a blend of Cayuse Syrah vineyards. It bursts from the glass with a bouquet of crushed rocks and dried herbs giving way to mineral-drenched cherries. This is silky yet racy in style, with vivid red-toned fruits complicated by peppery spice and hints of sour citrus that create a wine of contrasts. It finishes dramatically long yet full of energy, as residual acids keep the mouthwatering, while hints of white pepper slowly fade. As lovable as this is already, the #13 Wallah Wallah Special has the balance to mature beautifully over the next decade or more. —Eric Guido, Vinous

2018 Wallah Wallah Special Syrah Series #12

97 Points. Dried blackcurrant, smoked meat, rosemary, peppercorn, moss, oyster shell and tangerine peel on the nose. It’s full-bodied with firm, creamy tannins. Rich, savory and spiced with lasting intensity. Chewy, lingering herb notes. Try from 2022. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

97 Points. The beautiful 2018 Syrah Wallah Wallah Special #12 is a proprietary blend of Syrah sourced from a host of Cayuse vineyards. The palate is plush and silky with light tannins, layers of dark currants, green peppercorns, smoked meats and soot, and an incredible sense of texture. The length is outstanding, as are the viscosity and tension. Gorgeous now, even consumed en magnum, this downright killer wine will cellar well over the next decade. —Owen Bargreen, Vinous

96 Points. A dynamic red, detailed and well-focused, with vibrant black raspberry, crushed stone, bacon fat and green peppercorn flavors that march on the long finish to fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2031. —Tim Fish, Wine Spectator

96 Points. Earth, funk, smoked meat, ash, black olive, peat and medicinal aromas lead to a tour de force of fruit and savory flavors that are flat-out intense. It's the finish of this wine, however, that most impresses. It grabs you and shakes you and refuses to let go. It's shockingly good. —Sean Sullivan, Wine Enthusiast

96 Points. Christophe often releases a special blend in magnum (he never says which vineyards it’s from), and the 2018 Syrah Special #12 is another gorgeous wine. Revealing a deep ruby/plum hue as well as classic Rocks notes of blue fruits, ground pepper, bacon fat, lavender, and violets, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a seamless, elegant texture, ripe yet certainly present tannins, and a great finish. It needs 4-5 years of bottle age and will cruise for two decades. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

95+ Points. Christophe often releases a special blend in magnum (he never says which vineyards it’s from), and the 2018 Syrah Special #12 is another gorgeous wine. Revealing a deep ruby/plum hue as well as classic Rocks notes of blue fruits, ground pepper, bacon fat, lavender, and violets, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a seamless, elegant texture, ripe yet certainly present tannins, and a great finish. It needs 4-5 years of bottle age and will cruise for two decades. Marked as #12 in the sequence of releases, the 2018 Wallah Wallah Syrah Special displays a dark ruby core and seductive dark fruit tones that sway with spiced potpourri, dried flowers, blackberry essence and spiced cherry compote. Medium to full-bodied, the wine offers a delicious array of fresh, ripe fruits that oscillate between an elegant and spicy nature, with flavors of dusty, worn leather, red and black peppercorns, umami and baked earth. The wine somersaults to an elongated, juicy and mineral-laced finish and will undoubtedly bring pleasure for the next few decades. It rested for 19 months in approximately 15% new French oak barrels. Christophe Baron certainly loves magnums, and this should age beautifully. The only challenge will be trying to keep your hands off the bottle while it's resting in the cellar since it's both age-worthy and crushable. —Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate

2017 Wallah Wallah Special Syrah Series #11

97 Points. Soft and luxurious with plums, smoke, spice and hints of earth. Some chocolate, too. Full body, round and caressing tannins and a seductive finish. It’s a wine that develops beautifully on your palate. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

96 Points. Made only in magnum, the 2017 Syrah Wallah Wallah Special #11 comes from some of the exceptional vineyards that go into making some of the bottlings for Cayuse and Horsepower. Displaying with a pale ruby-colored edge, the wine unfolds its wings in the glass showing the elegance of Pinot Noir but with the savoriness of Syrah. Elements of crushed violets, sweet raspberry, lavender and rose petal all capture the attention first before showing subtle savory notions of black pepper, crushed rock and worn leather. Medium to full-bodied, the wine is framed by a well-balanced structure, with energetic acidity and mouthwatering tannins, before ending with a long, lingering finish. A brilliant idea to only bottle in magnum, which forces you to select the appropriate time to open and consume the bottle. Regardless, this is a winner. —Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate

96 Points. …Meat and bacon fat galore as well as a beautiful core of blackberry fruits, leafy herbs, woodsmoke, and ground pepper. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and impressively textured on the palate, it has the fruit and purity to shine today as well as the balance and structure to evolve for 15+ years or more. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

2016 Wallah Wallah Special Syrah Series #10

97 Points. Always from a mix of vineyards and made with the idea of a great Côte Rôtie, the 2016 Syrah Walla Walla #10 offers a huge nose of raspberries, violets, crushed rocks, smoked earth, and salted meats. It’s another seamless, gorgeously balanced, elegant wine that has an awesome character and length. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

96 Points. Made in magnum, this is the only wine in the portfolio to blend across vineyards. The aromas are arresting, with notes of firepit, funk, green herb, potpourri, chimney and black and green olive. Rich, intense but still lithe savory flavors follow. The intensity and length of the finish is captivating. Best after 2026. —Sean Sullivan, Wine Enthusiast

95 Points. It has a fresh core of strawberries on the nose, with a dusty minerality and hints of wild sage over soft, smoky and charcuterie aromas. The wine has a focused and balanced core of fruit and florals on the palate, with violets, dried herbs, black pepper and a taut minerality that is thoughtful and elegant, concluding with attentive tannins on the elongated finish. Magnums age well, so this can be forgotten in your cellar with little to no repercussions to the quality of the wine. This bottling is Washington State's smart wine buy of the year.... Grab some for your cellar! —Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate

94 Points. A blend of vineyards that changes each year, this has a sense of elegance with a distinctly spicy and quite floral edge (there is some viognier) and a lithe, juicy and very drinkable feel. This is more immediate, a wine to celebrate with and only bottled in magnum. Drink or hold. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

93 Points. Svelte and luscious, with effortlessly complex raspberry and blueberry flavors accented by garrigue, smoky beef and cracked pepper notes. The finish is long and elegant, with refined tannins. Drink now through 2026. —Tim Fish, Wine Spectator

2015 Wallah Wallah Special Cabernet Franc #9

98 Points. The first time I've tasted it, the 2015 Cabernet Franc Wallah Wallah Special #9 is all Cabernet Franc from a multitude of vineyards that's released only in magnum. This deeper ruby/plum-hued effort (it's not opaque) offers a complex bouquet of mulled mulberries, blackberries, smoked herbs, old leather, chocolate, and spicy oak. This carries to a medium to full-bodied Cabernet Franc with a supple, elegant mouthfeel, a terrific core of sweet fruit, fine tannins, and a great finish. It shows the warmer, sexy style of the vintage and is perfect for drinking over the coming 15-20 years. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

96 Points. Crushed chalk, black cherries, dusty rose and lavender form a truly captivating bouquet as the 2015 Cabernet Franc Wallah Wallah Special #9 blossoms in the glass. Its warm-vintage fruit is on display. The #9 is elegant and plush on the palate, with ample acidity to balance. It becomes almost salty in nature, showing sour red berry fruits accentuated by hints of orange zest. The 2015 tapers off with dusty tannins and tremendous length, showing nuances of tangerine and mint that echo throughout. What a beautiful wine. This is 100% Cabernet Franc from the En Cerise vineyard. —Eric Guido, Vinous

96 Points. Aged for 18 months in entirely neutral French oak, and only 258 Magnums were produced of this lovely Cabernet Franc, it sports a dark purple and garnet core with a light neon purple rim. A scrumptious meaty quality first appears on the nose alongside notes of black cherry, red plum, iron, and pink peppercorn. Lush on the palate, with silky smooth tannins and a full-bodied mouthfeel, it finishes long and stead. Highly recommended if you can find a bottle. —Jeremy Young, International Wine Report

95 Points. Released in 2023, the Wallah Wallah Special #9 Cabernet Franc offers hoisin sauce, fresh sage, white pepper and plenty of wet stony character on the nose. The palate is soft and inviting with very pure red fruits that mingle well with soy sauce, bulls’ blood, cherry tomato and Satsuma orange zest. Mature and full-bodied with a generous texture, this is beautiful wine to enjoy now and over the next several years. —Owen Bargreen, owenbargreen.com

95 Points. Aromas of blackberries, cassis with very attractive earthiness, dried mushroom and cocoa powder. Medium- to full-bodied, savory and crunchy with juicy tannins, which are well-integrated and melted into the dark fruit. Notes of spices and dried leaves in the end. 258 magnums produced. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

2015 Wallah Wallah Syrah Special #8

(96-98) Points. Made from 100% Syrah, from a mix of vineyards, the 2015 Syrah Wallah Wallah Special #8 is a dead ringer for a traditionally made Côte Rôtie. Pepper, blackberries, bacon fat and assorted floral and violet notes all flow to a rich, full-bodied Syrah that has nothing out of place, with ripe, sweet tannin and a great finish. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

2014 Wallah Wallah Special Cabernet Franc #7

100 Points. The 2014 Cabernet Franc Wallah Wallah Special #7 is cut from the same cloth as the 2015, although it possesses a slightly cooler, more classic profile. Redcurrants, blueberries, acacia flowers, sandalwood, baking spice, and minty herbs all emerge on the nose, and this beauty is medium to full-bodied, has ultra-fine tannins, and an incredibly refined, elegant, seamless mouthfeel that carries notable acidity as well as length. This classic, seamless, absolutely sensational Cabernet Franc needs to be tasted to be believed. I've always loved the 2014 vintage at this château, and this is just another incredible example of the quality of this estate. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

96 Points. The 2014 Cabernet Franc Wallah Wallah Special #7 opens with a sweet and alluring blend of violets and lavender, complemented by crushed raspberries and confectionery spice. Velvety-smooth and medium-bodied, this impresses with a core of saline minerals and brisk acids that add a crisp feel to its ripe blackberry fruits. The 2014 leaves a crystalline coating of fine tannins, tapering off with vivid notes of licorice and tarry blackberry. —Eric Guido, Vinous

96 Points. ...The 2014 Wallah Wallah Special #7 Cabernet Franc is brimming with tension once on the mouth. Beautifully textured, with good depth and concentration, this moves into rich red and dark fruit flavors with seaweed, salty wet galets, salted and white pepper dusted Parma ham and shades of anise. Hugely complex and very novel, enjoy this beauty now and over the next five plus years. No need to wait on this! —Owen Bargreen, owenbargreen.com

95 Points. Aged for 18 months in entirely neutral French oak, the 2014 Wallah Wallah Special #7 Cabernet Franc from Cayuse is an extraordinarily limited production with only 137 Magnums produced. A wonderful deep garnet and purple core with a brickish rim in the glass, this Cabernet Franc gifts enticing notes of black and blue plum, Italian pancetta, crushed peppercorn, and a hint of old leather. I love the complexity and focus of this wine. It’s a decade old but still fresh and nuanced on the palate. Finishing long with a sea breeze component that hits the mid-palate. This will be a very hard wine to find in the wild. —Jeremy Young, International Wine Report

95 Points. Attractively earthy nose of fresh truffles, ceps, dried chilis, blackberries and dried spices. Creamy, mellow and integrated tannins now, with a medium body and deliciously soft, earthy fruit. Savory and delicious. 100% cabernet franc. From biodynamically grown grapes. 137 magnums produced. Drink now or hold. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

2014 Wallah Wallah Syrah Special #6

97 Points. Christophe’s homage to one of his favorite northern Rhone producers, Jamet, the 2014 Syrah Walla Walla Special #6 comes from two of his estate vineyards (he wouldn't say which) and is released only in magnum. Giving up lots of blue fruits, salted meats, violets and underbrush, it has a decidedly sexy, full-bodied, textured profile that still shows restraint, purity and finesse. I never find the Special bottling to be the richest in the lineup, yet it has incredible complexity and purity; and given the magnum format, it should benefit from a decade of cellaring and have two to three decades of overall longevity. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

2013 Wallah Wallah Syrah Special #5

96 Points. One of the most complete, layered and elegant 2013s from Cayuse is the 2013 Syrah Walla Walla Special #5, which is made from two separate parcels that remind Christophe of the northern Rhone’s Jamet brother’s Cote Rotie. He also keeps the price low as a thank you to his customers. Giving up classic cool climate notes of green olives, black cherries, scorched earth, ash and ripe herbs, this beauty hits the palate with full-bodied richness, no hard edges, incredibly fine tannin and a finish that just keeps going. I thoroughly enjoyed drinking it today, but it will be better with 4-5 years of cellaring and have two decades or more of overall longevity. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

2012 Wallah Wallah Syrah Special #4

96+ Points. Made by Christophe as a tribute to Cote Rotie and coming from a blend of estate vineyards, the 2012 Syrah Wallah Wallah #4 Special spent 22 months in older puncheons and neutral smaller barrels before being bottled only in Magnum, of which there’s only 2,500 to go around. Hitting 13.6% natural alcohol, its deep ruby, semi-opaque color is followed by fabulous notes of rose petals, incense, violets, leather and sweet raspberry. These flow seamlessly to a full-bodied, supple and elegant Syrah that has no hard edges, integrated acidity and thrilling purity of fruit. Showing more and more tannin with time in the glass, it needs to be forgotten for 4-5 years and will have an easy two decades or more of longevity. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

2012 Wallah Wallah Grenache Special #2

94 Points. The Cayuse 2009 Grenache Wallah Wallah #2 represents a 181-magnum lot from especially tightly-spaced rows in the Armada, including a few vines of Syrah and Tempranillo. (The name is a 19th century spelling of Walla Walla; while “#2” refers back to the first wine —a 2005 vintage Syrah also reviewed in this report —that Baron was inspired to bottle as a magnum-only “Wallah Wallah” reserve, and calls “#1.”) “We didn’t intend originally to bottle this separately,” explains Bourcier, “and it would have gone into the G(od) O(nly) K(nows), but we just kept going back to the contents of this one puncheon, and it showed so well.” Sandalwood, resin, lightly-cooked strawberry, and hints of game put me in mind of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This is less polished, buoyant, or fine-fruited on the palate than the corresponding God Only Knows bottling, with more evident albeit fine-grained tannins. It’s the depth of carnal—game, red meat, and marrow—savor, and its sheer persistence, that render this jaw-dropping. I would look for at least a dozen years of rivetingly fascinating evolution. —Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate

94 Points. (there are just 181 magnums of this juice): Bright medium red. Musky aromas of moss, peat and spices. Juicy and light on its feet, offering a lovely pliant texture and solid underlying structure. More about subtle pie spices and pepper now than primary cherry/berry fruit, but there's little evidence of new oak here. Thoroughly ripe and very long. Wonderfully soil-driven Grenache. —Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

2005 Wallah Wallah Syrah Special #1

98 Points. The Syrahs start with the 2005 Syrah Cailloux Vineyard Neutral Barrel. This cuvee (25 cases), bottled only in magnum, was co-fermented with some Viognier and aged in neutral oak. The Syrah was a vineyard selection that ripened later. The aromatics receive a floral lift from the Viognier along with mineral, spice notes, meat, game, and blue berry. Layered, succulent, and elegant, the wine has exceptional length and purity. Baron is unsure if and when this wine might be sold. —Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate

97 Points. Representing the first such reserve bottling for Cayuse; filled in magnum only (like its more recent Grenache counterpart); and destined to be released soon, Baron’s 2005 Syrah Wallah Wallah #1 (that’s no misprint: two thousand and five; and two “h”s) was vinified with 8% Viognier. An improbably-haunting bouquet of freesia, mint, bergamot, black truffle, kirsch, and confitured cherry rises mesmerizingly from the glass. Polished, glycerin-rich and liqueur-like not only in its texture but also its expression of ripe red fruits, it offers multi-boned, marrow-rich beef stock and black truffle broth, all laced with saliva-liberating salinity. The finish comes in generous, endlessly-undulating waves of flavor that will practically knock you over with their sheer buoyancy. I’d predict at least 15 years of blissful cohabitation any magnums of this you manage to score; nor will I be surprised if it achieves yet greater beauty. —David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate

96 Points. (there was just one barrel of this juice, bottled entirely in magnums; co-fermented with a bit of viognier) Good deep red-ruby. Knockout nose combines dark fruits, pineapple, peach, violet, woodsmoke, pepper and a saline nuance. Conveys an impression of great density without any excess weight, offering a texture of liquid silk and incredible perfume to its dark berry, pineapple (from the viognier?) and pepper flavors. Finishes with perfectly ripe tannins and outstanding aromatic persistence. This barrel stood out for its "overt aromatic character," noted Baron. —Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

93 Points. Bright and jazzy, with a distinctively red cast to the color and a flavor profile of raspberry and rose petal. Powdery tannins and stony notes add to the complexity and harmony. Finishes with snap. Drink now through 2022. —Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator

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