“A truly stunning wine of amazing complexity. It has layers of depth rarely found in any Washington wine.”
—Harvey Steiman,
Wine Spectator

Armada Vineyard Syrah

Produced: 2003 - present

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

2016

(96-99) Points. From a higher density planting just beside the estate, the 2016 Syrah Armada Vineyard is unquestionably the most unevolved, backward, and tight of the Syrahs. Blackcurrants, plums, lavender, and ash all emerge from this full-bodied, powerful, classic, almost old-school Syrah that has high acidity, beautiful fruit, and a tight, closed, firm feel on the palate. It’s going to require 2-3 years of bottle age and evolve like a great Côte Rôtie. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

2015

97 Points. The 2015 Syrah Armada Vineyard is superb, wafting from the glass with a complex and savory bouquet of dark chocolate, peat, candied violets, plums and marinading meat. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, rich and layered, with a deep core of sapid fruit framed by powdery, fine-grained tannins and concluding with a saline finish... —William Kelley, Wine Advocate

(95-97) Points. The 2015 Syrah Armada Vineyard is a classic expression of this vineyard and offers that wild, gamy, meaty style for which it’s known. Peat moss, dried cherries, earth and cured meats all give way to a full-bodied, rounded, gorgeously textured red that has an open, opulent feel on the palate. I suspect it will close down once bottled, but it was open and singing on this occasion. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

2014

99+ Points. From the highest density vineyard planted under the Cayuse label, the 489-case 2014 Syrah Armada Vineyard is about as umami and earthy as it gets. Smoke, fireplace, mushroom, black cherry, currants and olive notes all emerge from this rich, backward, tight and structured Syrah that has incredible purity of fruit, a saline/bloody, meaty character that develops with time in the glass, and tons of tannic bite on the finish. Forget this incredible wine for 4-5 years and enjoy over the following two decades. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

2013

95 Points. From a vineyard that has the highest clay content of all the estate vineyards, the 2013 Syrah Armada Vineyard is a classically built Syrah that has lots of northern Rhone-like meaty, gamey notes as well as ample dark fruits, beef blood and savory herb-like aromas and flavors. Possessing a rich, multidimensional, layered mouthfeel, fine tannin and notable acidity, give bottles 3-4 years in the cellar and enjoy through 2033. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

95+ Points. Bright ruby-red. Blueberry, blackberry, huckleberry and a hint of peat moss on the nose, lifted by high notes of licorice and pepper. Extremely youthful and tightly wound but already delivers outstanding fruit intensity and compelling sweetness leavened by strong salinity. More horizontal than vertical in the mouth, finishing wonderfully broad, dense and long, with a whiplash of savory raspberry and spices and a sexy hint of incipient truffle. Like the Pacienca vineyard, which supplies the fruit for Christophe Baron's No Girls wines, these vines are planted to a dense 6-by-4-foot spacing. —Stephen Tanzer, Vinous

93 Points. Lithe and delicately layered, with expressive bacon fat, blueberry and cracked pepper flavors that glide into a rich finish of refined, stony tannins. Drink now through 2023. 512 cases made. —Tim Fish, Wine Spectator

2012

96 Points. Another longer-term prospect is the 2012 Syrah Armada Vineyard. One of the more burly, structured releases from this estate, it's always poured after the Bionic Frog and is the last Syrah we taste in a vintage. The 2012 gives up lots of iodine, raw meats and floral notes that are balanced by a core of distinct black raspberry fruit, which in most vintages veers more toward the darker, more plummy side of the spectrum. Full-bodied, tight and yet nicely concentrated, with good tannin, it should be at its best from 2018-2028. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

93 Points. Polished, round and open-textured, featuring blackberry and cherry flavors layered with savory overtones of black tea and tar. Picks up a black olive note as the finish lingers easily against refined tannins. Drink now through 2022. 498 cases made. —Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator

94+ Points. (13.6% alcohol): Bright red color. Highly aromatic nose melds red fruits, blueberry, violet, smoke, lavender and caramel, accented by white pepper. Wonderfully sweet and smooth but with a strong mineral underpinning to its flavors of berries, spice box and peat moss. A serious tannic spine currently cuts off the finish, but this youthfully tight wine has terrific aging potential. Lay this one down. —Stephen Tanzer, Vinous

95 Points. This wine displays …. aromas of plum leading to crushed rock, cracked pepper, olive, herbs and smoked meat. The texture is captivating, both elegant in its styling yet rich, commanding attention with floral notes on the finish. —Sean Sullivan, Wine Enthusiast

2011

97 Points. The 2011 Syrah Armada is probably my favorite of the 2011’s. Deep, rich and layered, with phenomenal black plum, damp earth, pepper, mushroom, charcuterie and spice-driven aromas and flavors, this beauty tastes like the essence of this unique terroir. Full-bodied, rich and layered, it too should flesh out beautifully with short-term cellaring and have upwards of two decades of longevity. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

94 Points. Soft and ripe, layering plum and mulberry fruit with tarry, rocky overtones. A hint of roasted meat develops as the finish lingers, with polished tannins. Offers an open, almost weightless feel. Drink now through 2025. 532 cases made. —Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator

93 Points. (13.5% alcohol): Good full red. Wild, musky, expressive aromas of raspberry, game, woodsmoke, pepper, bacon fat, squid ink and black olive tapenade. Plush and salty on the palate, with raspberry and smoked meat flavors accented by subtle minerality. Finishes with plush tannins and lingering notes of smoke, game and spices. For all its fleshiness, there’s something a bit ungiving about this Syrah: is there more to come? (I should note that an earlier bottle was much more backward and gripping, showing little in the way of easy sweetness to its reticent flavors of singed raspberry, peat and briney olive juice. I rated this one 92+? and thought it needed a good six or seven years in the cellar.) — Stephen Tanzer

2010

97+ Points. The 2010 Syrah Armada Vineyard saw 22 months in puncheons and a second-fill foudre. It offers gorgeous purity in its black raspberry and cassis fruit, crushed rock and spice-laced aromatics, yet is relatively closed and backward at the moment, with an almost granite-like tightness and focus on the palate. It could flirt with perfection at maturity, but it needs 3-4 years of cellaring at the moment. — Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

97 Points. The most round, smooth and full in terms of mouthfeel of all the Cayuse Syrahs, this is excellent in every way. Dark and meaty, it’s tightly wound and dense with black and roasted fruits, smoke, carpaccio and cacao. The Armada Syrah offers outstanding length, depth and complexity. — Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast

95+ Points. (vinified with 60% stems): Good deep red. A deep cherry aroma is lifted by rose petal and minerals. Tight, fresh and primary, with a strong spice quality to the flavors of redcurrant, framboise and minerals. A hint of maple syrup adds another dimension without compromising the wine's juicy character. Saturates every square millimeter of the palate and echoes on the long, firmly tannic, virtually weightless finish. I love the influence of ripe stems here. Brilliant Washington syrah. — Stephen Tanzer

2009

97+ Points. A much more voluptuous, concentrated and obviously great Syrah, the 2009 Syrah Armada Vineyard yields lots of plum sauce, spice, licorice and crushed rock aromas and flavors to go with a full-bodied, layered, pedal-to-the-metal style. This is a great wine that will have 20-25 years of longevity. –Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

98 Points. From his high-density 2001 planting, Baron’s 2009 Syrah Armada Vineyard leads with a high-toned, penetrating nose that one can scarcely avoid calling Cote Rotie-like: bacon fat, fresh cherry, kirsch, framboise, and violet. But there are also black tea, caramel, and a penetrating note of sealing wax that’s reminiscent of mature Bordeaux. Around one quarter of the 600-liter barrels in which this was raised (following fermentation in a mixture of cement and wood) were new. Dense, fine-grained but more evident tannins than in most of the present collection appear on a palate whose savory salinity and saliva-inducement, however, are utterly Cayuesque. The interplay of flavors here is kaleidoscopic and at the same time almost eye-squintingly bright. What’s more, as the wine opens to the air, a real layering and interplay emerges of diverse carnal elements alone: smoked meat, game, bloody roasted red meat, marrow and bone meal. This Syrah’s phenomenal sense of energy as well as of sheer, sappy, expansive presence, make for a finish whose vibratory intensity shakes-up my entire mouth. A truly awesome effort, it will surely be worth following for at least 15 years, though I’ve a hunch – without knowing how Baron’s earliest wines (which were surely different in important respects anyway) have matured – that it will reward for significantly longer. (And if you wonder what Baron can do for an encore to such a performance, just sit tight for a year or two!) I’m relieved I didn’t consider it necessary to “score” this wine any higher, otherwise I’d have left no room to express symbolically that the best is yet to come. –David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate

97 Points. Dense and concentrated, this has thick, almost jammy blue and purple fruits, with a peppery highlight and an undercurrent of sweet grain. The palate is tight, featuring layers of cassis, ink, anise, coffee and iodine, with an earthy salinity that runs through the finish. –Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast

93 Points. Polished, displaying a sense of restraint to the blackberry and dark plum flavors that float easily over the polished finish and linger enticingly alongside notes of black olive and smoke. Drink now through 2020. 494 cases made. –Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator

92(+?) Points. The Good deep red with ruby highlights. Distinctly decadent aromas of superripe plum, dried berries, mocha and smoked meat. Extremely dense, lush and thick, offering sweet, wild flavors of black raspberry, mocha and brown spices. Finishes very long, with big, ripe tannins. This large-scaled, mouthfilling, saline syrah will need time in bottle to express itself. –Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

2008

95 Points. More fresh and elegant than the 2009, yet also without the back-end depth, the 2008 Syrah Armada Vineyard has pretty notes of blackberries, black raspberries, crushed flowers, savory herbs and distinct minerality on the nose. Full-bodied, pure, fresh and long, it’s already approachable, but will evolve gracefully on its purity, balance and freshness. –Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

98 Points. The 2008 Armada Vineyard Syrah takes the longest to come around according to Christophe Baron. It was aged in puncheon for 22 months. Smoked meat, game, Asian spices, lavender, and blueberry are just some of the scents composing the wine’s aromatic array. In the glass it opens to reveal a pure, rich, elegant but powerful wine with a 60-second finish. It, too, will drink nicely for 10-12 years... –Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate

97 Points. Right out of the chute, the garrigue and wild herb flavors are amazing. This is Northern Rhône in a glass, but with New World power behind the fruit. Bright and pungent, a mix of herb and tart berry and rock. Still youthful, and already packed with nuance and flavor. There has never been a Cayuse vintage that needed to be cellared more than these 2008s; this is a 20-year wine. –Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast

95 Points. Full red-ruby. Explosive aromas of black cherry, minerals, flowers, brown spices and pepper. Wonderfully dense and penetrating, with compelling sweetness to its dark berry and spice flavors. Finishes with silky tannins and outstanding length. Like a topnotch Old World wine in the way it spreads out horizontally to saturate the palate without leaving any undue impression of weight. –Steven Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

2007

98+ Points. Checking in at the same alcohol level of 14.2% as the 2008, the 2007 Syrah Armada Vineyard is a noticeably bigger, richer, more full-bodied wine that exhibits thrilling white pepper, underbrush, cedary spice and sweet dark fruits on both the nose and palate. Big, full-bodied, decadent and massive, yet still balanced and even elegant, it has surprising tannic grip through the finish and certainly doesn’t lack for length. It’s beautiful now for sure, but will be even better in another 2-3 years. –Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

98 Points. The 2007 Syrah Armada Vineyard (100%) was aged in Rostaing puncheons, one of them new, for 30 months. Aromatically, it is the most brooding and Cote-Rotie-like of these Syrahs with notes of smoke, meat, game, garrigue, lavender, and blueberry. The most tightly wound of the Syrahs, it is the one that will most profit from several years of cellaring. It should offer prime drinking from 2014 to 2027. –Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate

2006

99 Points. Another 2006 that flirts with perfection, the 2006 Syrah Armada Vineyard doesn’t put a foot wrong and shows incredible notes of dried herbs, beef blood, marine-like saltiness, game and loads of sweet fruit. A wine that starts out reserved and elegant, yet continues to build in depth and richness with time in the glass, it’s full-bodied, layered, seamless and concentrated, with a blockbuster finish that keeps you coming back to the glass. It’s ready to go now with a quick decant, but has another decade or more of life in the cellar. –Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

97 Points. Silky, supple and complex from the first sniff to the last echo on the long, expressive finish, this drips with character, offering black olive-accented blackberry, plum and cherry fruit mingling with hints of unsweetened chocolate, bacon-stewed greens and haunting spices. –Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator

98 Points. The 2006 Syrah Armada Vineyard was aged in barrel for 30 months in 20% new Rostaing barrels. Aromatically, it is the most brooding of these Syrahs with notes of smoke, meat, game, garrigue, and blueberry. The most tightly wound of the Syrahs, it is the one that will most profit from several years of cellaring. It should offer prime drinking from 2012 to 2021. –Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate

96 Points. Baron’s 2006 Syrah Armada Vineyard displays bay, mint, and black tea accents to smoked meat, game, and concentrated, confitured dark berries. For all of its sheer confitured – nearly confectionary – sweetness, this preserves a remarkable (if for this address fairly typical!) sense of energy not to mention mouthwatering carnal depth in a superbly prolonged finish to which suggestions of peat, fruit pit, and stone add further complexity. Look for at least a half dozen years more of awesome performance. –David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate

2005

100 Points. The 2005 Syrah Armada Vineyard is the wine of the vintage. Incredible on all accounts, with jaw-dropping purity and complexity in its chocolate covered fruits, truffle, roasted herb, smoke and beef-blood-driven bouquet, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a seamless, stacked and concentrated mid-palate and still present, yet sweet tannin. One of those rare wines that can marry incredible decadence with incredible purity and elegance, drink it anytime over the coming 15+ years. –Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

2004

98 Points. The 2004 Syrah Armada Vineyard is still overflowing with character and offers blockbuster levels of flavor and intensity. Possessing a steak tartare, olive (and caper), cured meat, spice and sweet black-fruit-filled bouquet, it’s exuberant and sexy on the palate, with bright acidity (the only hint of the cooler vintage), fine tannin and a great finish. It’s drinking brilliantly today. –Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

98 Points. The 2004 Syrah Armada Vineyard spent 30 months in puncheon. Yields were under 1 ton per acre. Floral notes, mineral, scorched earth, meat and blueberry make for an enticing mix. An amalgam of black fruits, tar, and licorice appear on the palate. It seems improbable that a wine of this scale could be thought “racy” but it is, quite an achievement. Kudos to Christophe Baron for another amazing set of wines! –Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate

92 Points. Ripe, round and generous with its cherry, red berry and dusky spice flavors. Hints at tomato and savory notes as the finish persists, although the fruit just doesn't quit. Drink now through 2015. –Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator

2003

99 Points. The first vintage from the vineyard and coming from third-leaf fruit, the 2003 Syrah Armada Vineyard is up with the crème de la crème of Syrah and turns the whole vine-age argument on its head. Full-bodied, decadent, massive and yet always seamless, layered and elegant, it has awesome flavor authority in its blackcurrants, plums, green olive and spice-laced aromas and flavors. This is a tour de force in Syrah and it’s one of those wines that I wish I could hand every reader a glass of. It’s an incredible wine. –Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

97 Points. A truly stunning wine of amazing complexity. It has layers of depth rarely found in any Washington wines, beginning with dense black fruits, black licorice, smoke, pepper and charcoal. The trademark Cayuse herbal/green tea elements are there also, more as hints than as layers. The aging in big neutral barriques has buffed it out; as it breathes in the glass the wine opens beautifully, gaining flesh and density. A genuine tour de force, deeply aromatic and fascinating. –Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast

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