Satisfaction Syrah is 100% Amalie Robert Estate grown Syrah. Among our 30 acres of Pinot Noir, we have planted 0.80 acres (1,188 vines to be exact) of Syrah. This planting represents 4 clones selected for the cool Northern Rhône area of Côte Rôtie, and now Dallas, Oregon.

We grow Syrah right alongside Pinot Noir, and most of the vineyard work is very similar. The primary difference is that we have to wait until November to harvest. We think it is worth the wait.

Syrah is a very adaptive variety, and much like Pinot Noir, reflects its growing conditions. Syrah is grown in the hottest parts of the southern Hemisphere where it is known as “Shiraz” and a bit farther south into the cool climate of New Zealand as well. The entire west coast of the United States grows Syrah from California, to the warm areas of eastern Washington and now very small plantings in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

However, the birthplace of Syrah seems to be the Northern Rhône Valley. Recent DNA research shows Syrah to be a cross between Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche.  Both of these varieties are indigenous to France. Syrah is planted from the cool regions of the Northern Rhône where it is bottled as a single varietal, to the tip of the Southern Rhône where it is often blended with other varietals.


The Vintage: The 2014 vintage will be remembered as the (lucky) 13th harvest at Amalie Robert Estate. The controlled chaos known as “The Great Cluster Pluck” began, as it always does, in “Earnest,” on Monday, September 29, 2014. Harvest operations continued through October 19th when we brought in the buxom berries of block 13 (Syrah.) Home at last.

The 2014 vintage caps the run of three warm vintages in the Willamette Valley. Once again this year we were faced with the dilemma of when to harvest. The growing season was warm and the vines built sugars quickly in response to the heat. However, flavor development is more a function of time on the vine and was lagging.

While harvesting on flavor is the ideal situation, once sugar development reaches a certain concentration, you have to bring them in. Or, you can wait for the pre-harvest rains to replenish the soil moisture and rehydrate the berries, thus lowering the concentration of sugar.

And for the third year in a row, that was our decision. We waited for Mother Nature to give us a little shower to rehydrate the berries and lower the alcohol potential of our wines. Another overlooked benefit of waiting for a little rain, was the increased hang time. A few more days on the vine helped to further develop our aromas and flavors. Who’s your farmer?

You can read the full Harvest After Action Report (AAR) at:

http://amalierobert.blogspot.com/2014_11_01_archive.html


Tasting Notes: Alluring Belladonna berry red. The call of the Sirens lures you into the deeply perfumed bouquet of intense jasmine, incense, smoked meat and an endless array of suggestive aromas permeating your subconscious and vying for your favor. Once committed to the glass, you become the submissive. Deeply textured and broadly defined Syrah coats the palate while wave after wave of berry and spice plunge you deeper into the abyss. Stem tannins join with cool climate acidity to provide enduring restraint prolonging your odyssey. Once you have, you cannot unhear the Sirens’ call. Unfined and unfiltered.


Culinary Inclinations: Mustard and sesame oil encrusted rack of lamb alongside sautéed chanterelle and Yukon gold potatoes seasoned with fresh rosemary and braised Brussels Sprouts with bacon lardoons. While blue cheeses represent a rather large category, they are obligatory.


Satisfaction Syrah Accolades:

​​​​2013 Satisfaction

​Ambuscade red. A full frontal lobe assault of cracked black peppercorns, rosemary, bacon fat, tar and minerals permeate the olfactory senses. A seamlessly ending barrage of repeating red and black fruits invade the palate with a firm grip and luxuriously integrated stem tannins equally unyielding and unapologetic. It’s kinda like that… Unfined and unfiltered.

​          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Bright ruby. Fresh cherry and dark berries on the nose, along with hints of incense, olive paste and candied flowers. Energetic and focused in style, offering bitter cherry and cassis flavors and spicy touch of cracked pepper that appears on the back half. Finishes very long and precise, displaying repeating spiciness and dusty tannins that lend gentle grip.

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, February 2018 - 90 points​

2012 Satisfaction

Exuberant red leads you to grilled bacon wrapped black olives on a freshly tarred country road adjoining a lavender farm on a warm afternoon.  A gentle breeze directs precision to intention and the unique ripening curve of cool climate Syrah is revealed. Lissome yet assertive flavors permeate and are buttressed with focused acidity. Ever present stem tannins assert discipline and foretell of a return to this place befriended by the passage of time. Unfined and unfiltered. 60 cases produced.​

​          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Vivid ruby. Heady spice- and mineral-accented raspberry and cherry scents show excellent clarity and pick up subtle woodsmoke and cola nuances as the wine opens up. Alluringly sweet and precise on the palate offering intense red fruit liqueur blood orange spicecake and violet pastille flavors that show a suave blend of richness of vivacity and no rough edges that I can detect. Finishes very long sappy and smooth with fine-grained tannins lending gentle grip.

          - Josh Raynolds, Vinous, January 2017 - 92 points

2011 Satisfaction

Deeply hued dried blood red taunts “Are you sure?” and arouses more than just a passing interest. Heady and exotic scents trigger primal hunger. Black olive tapenade, rosemary, ripe crushed blackberries, bridle leather and smoked bacon rind mask pheromone. You suddenly imagine an English riding crop. Layers of deeply expressive fruit captivate while the velvet glove of acidity enforces discipline in a cool climate conquest. Unfined and unfiltered. 98 cases produced.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

The 2011 Syrah Satisfaction includes 50% whole-cluster fruit of four Rhône clones (plus a touch of co-planté Viognier vines). Not picked until November 14, it has an attractive bouquet with macerated red cherries, Provençal herbs, juniper berries and a touch of melted wax. The palate is medium bodied with ripe red berry fruit mixed with blueberry, Seville orange marmalade and a healthy pinch of white pepper lending the finish that Rhône “vibe.” Very linear at the moment, the finish is quite tight. I would actually cellar this for one or two years as it should replay handsomely.

          - Neil Martin, The Wine Advocate, March 2015 – 91 points

2010 Satisfaction

Deeply hued dried blood red allures. The full frontal lobe assault is cinnamon, clove, blackberry jam, incense and savory smoked meat, immersing your senses in cool climate Syrah with a stolen kiss of Viognier. Phasers on stun. The palate is clean and delineated, transcending dark cocoa, 5 spice, blackberry compote and olive tapenade integrated with fines herbes. The lengthy, taunting finish is a testament to the mélange of finely grained stem tannins mixing with brisk acidity. Unfined and unfiltered. 70 cases produced.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

Even with a November harvest – which seems to be de rigeur for these vines, given that even the 2009 was picked in that month – the Amalie Robert 2010 Syrah Satisfaction barely reached 12% alcohol. (And that’s even with some – accidentally – inter-planted Viognier, for more about which and about this project generally, consult my Issue 202 review of the 2009.) That sounds like a recipe for ripeness-deficient trouble, but instead was one for a Syrah unlike any other I can recall, and whose ilk I have only remotely approached from Schneider Vineyards on Long Island or in Saint Joseph and Cote Rotie of three decades ago. Smoky Latakia tobacco and peat; burley tobacco and beef blood; plum and cherry; grapefruit rind and bittersweet floral perfume combine for a brightly juicy, if lean; dazzlingly diverse and interactive show. The tannins here are perfectly placed to invigorate without engendering roughness, and the combination of salinity and marrowy depth captivates the salivary glands in a sustained finish. But bear in mind my initial comment: this is certainly unlike any contemporary Syrah, and those drawn to it will probably think my score miserly while others will think I got carried away. How this will evolve in bottle can only be guessed at, but I would certainly encourage anybody lucky enough to make its acquaintance to follow at least a couple of bottles through at least 2018.

          - David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate, October 2013 – 92 points

2009 Satisfaction

Unending legs sheathed in a penetrating blackberry hue stain the glass. A co-fermentation with 2% Viognier and whole clusters provides lift to a scintillating mélange of heady blackberry compote, savory smoked meat, black olive, coriander and a dusting of bittersweet cocoa providing nuance to pungency. Full bodied, silky and viscous, yet showing restraint on the palate, vacillating between deftly balanced red and blue fruits and rich Moroccan spices. A purposeful transition to fully developed stem tannins controlled by firm acidity lingers hauntingly. The hunter becomes the hunted. Unfined and unfiltered. 55 cases produced.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

The vines for Amalie Robert’s 55 cases of 2009 Syrah Satisfaction – a very early example of clonal diversity stateside for this cepage, and mixed by accident with some Viognier – were planted in response to Pink’s love of Cote Rotie and his having studied and drawn parallels between the climate of Dallas Oregon and that of Ampuis. It was not picked until November 7 – but still finished at a moderate 13.6% alcohol – and was vinified with 50% whole cluster. Dark berry fruit is garlanded with violet and gentian, then suffused with mouthwatering salinity and fitted with a stimulating peppery bite. The overall effect here is at once polished – with tannins finer than in several of the estate’s Pinot Noirs of the vintage – vibrant, and persistent. This ought to be worth following for the better part of a decade, during which I suspect some animal and additional mineral aspects will emerge.

          - David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate, August 2012 – 91 points

2008 Satisfaction

Intense and deep ruby red. Smoky grilled meat on the bone, black olive, coriander and fennel exude from the glass. Layers of flavors and textures relentlessly struggle for control of the palate while obeying firm acidity. Black raspberry, Asian spices and underbrush give a moment of pause before a taught and commanding finish. Unfined and unfiltered. 50 cases produced.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

The aromas are exotic and pulse quickening, exhibiting a Northern Rhone palette of smoke, tapenade and a hint of menthol. The palate is light and lean, as dry as a cool wind and racy - maybe a bit too racy, in fact, as it more or less finishes before any of the cool lavender and menthol can really register. But give it time: There's an exciting wine here needing bottle age to knit.

          - Patrick Comiskey, Wine & Spirits Magazine, February 2012 – 92 points, Year’s Best American Syrah

2007 Satisfaction

Intense black red hue in the glass. Pungent aromas offer white pepper, black olives, sweet dried plums, citron, vanillin, and dried lavender. The palate is vivacious with blackberry, smoke, dried herbs, a core of rich earth, and a hint of tar. The finish shows no sign of yielding with everlasting dried herbs, rich tannins and punctuating acidity. Unfined and unfiltered. 25 cases produced.

          - Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes

The intoxicating scent of this wine reveals classic aromas of peppercorn, olive, smoke and tree bark. Those savory scents lead into flavors of firm black plum. The cool-weather quality of the wine pinches the texture slightly, but that is likely to resolve in time; then serve with a wild mushroom risotto.

          - Patrick Comiskey​, Wine & Spirits Magazine, February 2011 – 92 points, Year’s Best American Syrah

Satisfaction Syrah