Hors Categorie vineyard

HORS CATEGORIE

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.”

2016 HORS CATEGORIE VINEYARD SYRAH

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

 

2015 HORS CATEGORIE VINEYARD SYRAH

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

 

2014 HORS CATEGORIE VINEYARD SYRAH

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