In a class of its own
From Christophe Baron, Vigneron
In 2011, Hors Catégorie was the first vineyard planted on the steep slope along the North Fork of the Walla Walla River. Hidden in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, Hors Catégorie Vineyard is located where the North Fork converges with the Walla Walla River. The Syrah vines cling to the hillside beneath ragged cliffs and surrounded by rocky outcroppings. Their roots struggle for nourishment in the fractured basalt.
It’s a rare terroir, absolutely unique in America, with a climate, exposure and topography creating an incomparable wine-growing estate. “This combination of expressiveness, power and weightlessness is rare in American syrah,” said Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman, who visited the site for the first time in 2006.
After tasting the first wine straight from 600 liter Demi-muids, Steiman wrote “The first thing that struck me was the open, almost weightless texture." He noted "...mineral notes galore, reminiscent of wet stones and hot bricks” and “hints of cinnamon, fresh-baked bread and a field of flowers.”
“Baron is right. Hors Catégorie looks like a jewel,” he continued after barrel tasting the 2014 vintage. “This combination of expressiveness, power and weightlessness is rare in American syrah.”
“Tasting like a young Hermitage La Chappelle from Jaboulet (from a great vintage).” —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
“This is proof that you should take all of the marketing spin around old vines with a grain of salt, as it comes from incredibly young vines, yet is unquestionably a blockbuster Syrah. It is going to stand by the best in the world.” —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
“Despite the young vines and unknown terroir, these have to be some of the more impressive and exciting releases in the wine world today. The only bad thing about them? There’s not enough to go around.” —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
"Baron is right. Hors Categorie looks like a jewel....This combination of expressiveness, power and weightlessness is rare in American syrah." —Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator