What we’re drinking: 2008 McCrea Syrah

Brynn writes:

Oh how I love birthdays, especially when they involve my friends and their wonderful husbands who like to spoil them on their special day.

This past Saturday we gathered to celebrate my friend Lauren, whose husband Greg threw her an intimate birthday dinner to celebrate her departure from her 20s into the 30s. Lucky for us Greg and Lauren love wine, so the catered evening included five wine pairings.

We started with sparkling wine from the California coast — I started with sparkling apple cider — and were encouraged to add a sprig of herbs. The chef prepared a sweet pea shooter with crème fraîche and salmon caviar to compliment the sparkling wine. I didn’t try this because of the raw fish eggs and unpasteurized crème fraîche, however it looked intriguing.

For dinner we had braised lamb, broccolini, radicchio with bechamel sauce and gnocchi that was prepared more like a polenta patty, and freshly made focaccia bread. The wine that was poured included a pinot gris from Oregon, a Pomerol from Bordeaux and a 2008 McCrea Cellars Syrah. We finished the night with Dow’s Fine Tawny Porto.

As I said before, because this is Washington Wine Month, I’ll be highlighting the McCrea Cellars from this meal. We’ve actually written about McCrea before, having sampled them at other tasting events — including the recent Kitsap Wine Festival where I listed McCrea as one of my favorites from the day.

The McCrea 2008 Syrah had the best nose between the two reds we sampled. It might have appeared the floral notes were from a co-mingling with viognier, but according to the winemaker’s notes, this was a 100 percent Syrah blended from four vineyards. The wine was a deep purple color and the body lived up to the nose. Black cherry and berry flavors were prominent in the wine, which left a smooth finish.

Here’s what winery says about the 2008 syrah:

Since we began the Syrah trend in Washington it has exploded in popularity – from about 10 acres in 1997 to about 4,000 today! Ours is handled very carefully, developing intense berry and black cherry flavors without over extraction or heavy tannins. It has licorice, cedar and mushrooms on the nose and finishes with black pepper and, particularly in 2008, great acidity. Our goal is to achieve a balance between New World intensity and Old World elegance. It will cellar well – ten years or more.

Aged eleven months in French oak, approximately 20 percent new.


  • Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain
  • Boushey Grande Côte Vineyard, Yakima Valley
  • Elephant Mountain Vinyard, Yakima
  • Sugarloaf Vineyard, Yakima

The 2008 syrah won a gold medal at the Seattle Wine Awards; 454 cases were produced. I’ve seen McCrea in the grocery store, so see if you can find it, if not ask for it. It’s not cheap, but it’s a splurge that’s definitely worth it if you have a special occasion coming up.