Hors Categorie vineyard


An American jewel

The wines of Hors Catégorie Vineyards are unlike anything Christophe has created before.

“Bravo to the team for this incredible effort,” said Jeb Dunnuck of The Wine Advocate after tasting the first vintage, a 2014 Syrah. “This deep, ruby-colored barrel sample yields a masculine, even austere character in its smoky, early, shiitake mushroom, and bloody meat-driven aromas and flavors.”


99 Points “The 2016 Syrah is from an up and coming terroir located on the north fork of the Walla Walla River, in Oregon, and comes from two steep hillside slopes on broken basalt soils. Not destemmed and brought up in all neutral demi-muids, it has a Côte Brune-like style in its smoked red and black fruits, crushed violets, cold fireplace, bloody meats, and ground pepper aromas and flavors. Concentrated, medium-bodied to full-bodied, incredibly layered, and pure, it has an ultra-classic, mineral-laced Syrah style that’s just magical to behold. Give bottles 2-4 years of bottle age and enjoy over the following 10-15.” –Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com



100 Points “The 2015 Syrah from Hors Catégorie is spectacular, bursting from the glass with a stunning bouquet of smoked charcuterie, blackberries, licorice, dried violets and rich forest floor. Structured around beautifully velvety tannins on the palate, the wine is full-bodied, layered and immensely concentrated, yet it manages to remain weightless. While there's plenty of fruit here, it's this Syrah's mouthwateringly savory qualities that define the protracted, penetrating finish and make the wine so exciting. Cropped at a mere 0.8 tons per acre from a steep hillside vineyard that's trained on stakes à la Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie, this was matured in neutral oak, with the exception of one second-fill puncheon that was eliminated after the first racking, demonstrating that when it comes to new oak and Syrah, less is emphatically more.” –William Kelley, The Wine Advocate

97+ Points“From Christophe Baron and the team at Cayuse, the 2015 Syrah is only the second vintage from this steep, rocky vineyard located south of the town of Milton-Freewater, in the North Fork of the Walla Walla River. Despite coming from a different terroir than the Rocks region, it certainly has some classic gaminess that’s common from that region. Blackcurrants, bloody meats, ground pepper, lavender, and exotic spices all emerge from the glass, and it needs lots of air time to show at its best. Deep, full-bodied, and seamless, with sweet tannin, it’s a singular Syrah that needs 4-5 years of bottle age and will knock your socks off over the following 10-15 years.” –Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

94 Points“Boldly expressive and rich with personality, offering smoky peppered meat, black raspberry and stony mineral flavors that take on dimension toward polished tannins. Drink now through 2027.” –Tim Fish, Wine Spectator



99 Points “...the inky colored 2014 Syrah is a huge, unctuous effort the exhibits crazy notes of Asian spice, soy, shiitake mushroom, blackcurrants and tar. Tasking like a young Hermitage la Chappelle from Jaboulet (from a great vintage), with lots of tannin, blood, minerality and smoke, a huge mid-palate, and tons of tannin, it's a tour de force in Syrah I wish I could pour for every reader. Forget bottles for 4-5 years and drink over the following two decades or more.” –Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

97 Points “(14.1% alcohol; made entirely with whole clusters and aged in neutral puncheons): Impressive saturated ruby color. Tight, brooding nose combines blackberry, licorice, lavender, flint, black pepper and brown spices; I would have picked this blind as Hermitage, and a very good one at that. The palate boasts exceptional fruit intensity and finesse, with lovely floral lift, but this strongly saline wine is wound tight in the early going despite showing some superripe notes. The palate-staining finish features serious but suave tannins and unflagging purple fruits. Utterly seamless, bulletproof fruit here. This remarkable wine, representing a yield of under one ton per acre, comes from a 2.2-acre Syrah vineyard planted in 2011 (!) by owner Christophe Baron on a very steep slope in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. I predict that this bottling will become one of the New World's greatest and longest-lived Syrah bottlings as the vines mature.” –Stephen Tanzer, Vinous