Cayuse ‘Armada Vineyard’ Syrah 2005

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Is this wine gross? The cayuse monodimensional style is unlike any other wine. It couples copious levels of extract with an overwhelming walloping umami bomb of candied dried mushrooms, fermented Japanese pickles and Chinese herbs. The wine shows on first impression as almost sickly sweet, though it is in fact dry. Tannins are secondary to the fruit power and the texture is creamy. Vineyard distinctions at Cayuse are mostly irrelevant in my experience, with minor, uninteresting differences.

Drinking this wine, as I do, with a human scale dinner with fresh, local ingredients is off-putting. It doesn’t work with simply prepared vegetables and turns meat (even lamb) from savory to opulently sweet. I found the experience unpleasant.

Drinking the wine alone, as many others do, it becomes more enjoyable. If you enjoy the strange combination of sweet fruit power and umami and look for massive high octane wines that are yet balanced enough to be enjoyable, then I can understand why one would drink these. The wines are not dissimilar from the very modern style Chateauneuf du Pape that some drinkers and critics enjoy. I, on the other hand, am not a CdP drinker with a few exceptions (Beaucastel, Vieux Telegraph and Rayas).

With all that context, I return to the opening question: is this wine gross? In part, yes, it is. I cannot and do not understand the attraction of Cayuse or the price point. For me, the wines are uninteresting and don’t become more interesting with age. They don’t taste like Syrah or represent the best qualities of the grape. Syrah should not be ‘creamy’. It should not give an impression of sickly sweet, especially when it tastes like pickles and candied mushrooms. They are drinkable alone, without food, and bring a modicum of enjoyment. They should be $50 tops.

100 points from Robert Parker.

Very Good from me

$200+ USD


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