Full view of the Hors Catégorie Vineyard


An American jewel

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

“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.”


98+ Points "As always, the 2018 Syrah turns the savory dial up to 11, offering an incredible array of smoked blackcurrants, blueberries, cured meats, shiitake mushroom, violets, and ground pepper-like aromas and flavors. Coming from two steep hillsides of broken basalt off the north fork of the Walla Walla River, I've often compared this cuvée to a wine from the Côte Brune side of Côte Rôtie, and that still holds, yet this certainly has its own style. Medium to full-bodied, pure, and layered on the palate, it has gorgeous tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish. There's nothing else in the world like it. Give bottles 2-4 years and enjoy over the following 15+." –Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

98 Points "In just a few short years, this wine has distinguished itself as one of the very best in the world. The only wine coming from this site in the North Fork area of the valley and harvested at barely a ton per acre on slopes that go up to 60% grade, the aromas rise from the glass, with notes of sea breeze, firepit, medicine, olive and fresh herb. It explodes on the palate with intense, rich savory flavors with crushed flowers on the finish. As always, beyond the intensity, it is the structure that truly separates this wine. The finish also refuses to quit. It a wine that grabs you, shakes you and refuses to let go." –Sean Sullivan, Wine Enthusiast

97 Points "Another impressive bottling for Hors Catégorie, the 2018 Syrah opens with a seductive and aromatic nose filled with smoked lavender, black raspberry skin, umami, hung meats, black olive, red and black peppercorn and spiced plum reduction. Medium to full-bodied, it explodes on the palate, revealing a generous profile with complexity, elegance and finesse. Flavors of turned earth, smoked cherry pie filling, spicy potpourri and worn leather sway across the mid-palate with impeccable balance that will remain a champion for almost two decades. The wine ends with a long, winding, expressive and complex finish that has me coming back for second and third helpings. This comes from a steep vineyard planted on a 60° slope that has been farmed with a biodynamic approach since its inception. Bravo, I want more! If you are lucky enough to find some of this wine, buy it!" –Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate

97 Points "This has an intense, savory nose of barbecued meat, tar, grilled mushroom, dried herbs, burnt orange and black fruit. It’s full-bodied with sleek, velvety tannins. Very silky and seamless. Smoky, spicy layers with bitter-herb and saline undertones on the long, flavorful finish. Some tobacco and iodine. Try from 2023" –James Suckling, jamessuckling.com


98 Points "Bursting from the glass, the 2017 Syrah has a mineral essence with aromas of summer sausage, black raspberry, blackberry and dark plum with savory aromas of black pepper spices, potpourri, touches of cocoa powder and freshly roasted coffee bean. The wine has a focus and precision that presides with the top bottlings from around the world. Aromas of newly tilled earth explode from the glass with floral notions of lilac and rose nuances that waft with spicy tones. Medium to full-bodied, the wine is seamless, bounding forth with complexity and a velvety richness that is exponentially compounded by the power the resides at its core. Devastatingly gorgeous, it takes my breath away, as the wine ends with a tightly wound, complex expression that continues to evolve over the elongated finish. With only 1,800 bottles made, good luck finding some, for if you do, you will undoubtedly be the envy of your wine treasure-hunting friends." —Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate

97 Points “ …Tastes like a wine from the La Landonne lieu-dit in Côte Rôtie, offering a huge nose of blackcurrants, wood smoke, chocolate, cured meats, violets, and damp earth. Rich, full-bodied, and powerful, it’s a singular, incredibly meaty, truffly Syrah that has a great mid-palate, ripe tannins, and a blockbuster of a finish. It’s another killer wine from this label that’s going to evolve for decades… ” –Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

97 Points "Lots of blackberry, tar, spice and wet-earth aromas and flavors. Tight and focused. Smoky undertones. Full-bodied, compact and flavorful. Shows pretty length and intensity. Lots of burnt citrus in the aftertaste. Better in a year or two. Try after 2021." —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

94 Points "Bursts with smoky meat and pepper aromas that open to multilayered and polished cherry and raspberry flavors, building richness on the finish. Drink now through 2027." —Tim Fish, Wine Spectator


99 Points “The 2016 Syrah is almost shy on the nose, compact and focused, waiting to hit the palate with red fruit that is mineral and floral at the same time. The real magic happens when you taste the wine. It's like watching a jumbo jet land for the first time and wondering how something so massive could literally appear weightless as it lands. The wine glides across the palate effortlessly with focus and precision and evolves with layers, showing depth and breadth in an instant. The Syrah quietly explodes with textural appeal and peppercorn notes that linger and linger, turning to soft smoky meat with blackberry jus. Long and drawn out, the finish is long and contemplative, continuing to wind down an ever-changing path with tones of mineral tension... The finish continues to be pulled longer and longer as if it were made of taffy... Absolutely stunning, bravo!” –Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate

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

99 Points “The 2016 Hors Catégorie Syrah is a scintillating wine that flirts with perfection... Aromatically this Syrah shows insanely good range from white pepper to red cherry preserves and potpourri with shades of white truffle that all shine brightly on the nose. The palate has incredible texture with gorgeous black fruits that collide with Umami, white peppercorns, wet stone, Kalamata olive tapenade and black cherry cordial. The mouthfeel is insanely good and the wine has a seamless quality that makes this truly one of a kind and almost reminds me of a great La Landonne. Showing marvelously in its youth, this will evolve well over the next fifteen years. Only a slightly more than two thousand bottles produced of this incredible, one of a kind wine. Drink 2019-2033.” –Owen Bargreen, Washington Wine Blog

98 Points “This project from Christophe Baron comes from a newly planted area of the valley on the north fork of the Walla Walla River. Brooding, tightly wound aromas of firepit, black pepper, black olive and ham hock are followed by an action-packed and layered palate. Despite this power, there's a sense of elegance that provides a fascinating contrast. Lingering floral and saline notes captivate on the long finish. Best after 2025.” –Sean Sullivan, Wine Enthusiast

96 Points “… Tight but already incredibly complex nose offers classic northern Rhône (Hermitage?) scents of dark raspberry, licorice, black pepper and brown spices. Robust and densely packed but also savory, smooth and magically light on its feet, with its flavors of crushed blueberry and blackberry, spices and saline minerality conveying remarkable urgency… Finishes with serious but harmonious tannins and outstanding palate-staining length and lift… A knockout… —Stephen Tanzer, Vinous

94 Points "This red shows simmering intensity and sleek complexity, with vibrant blackberry, crushed rock and peppered bacon notes, building speed toward medium-grained tannins. Drink now through 2029." —Tim Fish, Wine Spectator



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

98 Points “The 2015 Hors Catégorie Syrah is an absolutely stunning effort that shows a wonderful stony character along with smoked meats, raw meat, blood orange zest and red cherry candy on the nose. On the palate the silky mouthfeel and precision is simply incredible. The range of flavors continues to entice the senses with red cherry preserves, blood orange, white truffle oil, black pepper and green olive tapenade. The mouth-watering acidity and wonderful lifted character makes this nearly impossible to resist in its youth. This is another utterly captivating effort by Christophe Baron in this vintage.” –Owen Bargreen, International Wine Report

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

96 Points “The domaine name means “without category”, and it is no doubt apt. The nose offers compelling notes of ember, olive tapenade, blackberry bush, flowers, ham hock, broken rock and smoke. The palate is full, rich and layered, showing an impeccable sense of balance and structure that carries through the extremely long, salty, meaty, smoky, tapenade-filled finish. A profound wine, with a long life in front of it. Best from 2025-2034.” –Sean Sullivan, Wine Enthusiast

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 “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