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McKinley Springs 2007 Syrah Horse Heaven Hills Review

Reaching for the desired aha moment.

Still grooving on Syrah this month, this wine was recommended to me by a chap from Prosser.

Taking advantage of one of the better sunny days in late January, I combined an afternoon walk with wine tasting.  Happily, two tasting rooms are within easy walking distance of my home. Three more wineries are reachable on foot, if I'm willing to brave traffic and a lack of a walking path. I opted for the nearest tasting room.

Nose deep in my glass, I was soon joined at the wine bar by a fellow lover of wine. Naturally, our conversation was of wine, varietals and wineries. We both commented on the Syrah (which was opened especially for us). My new friend made some comparisons about the Syrah we were tasting and a wine I had not tried, McKinley Springs Syrah. He was surprised when I replied that I had never sampled wines from McKinley Springs, a Prosser winery. I promised I'd look for the wine and try some. My last tasting trip to Prosser was during Spring Barrel Weekend in 2010.

McKinley Springs 2007 Syrah - Horse Heaven Hills.
While out shopping two weeks ago, I purchased this bottle of McKinley Springs 2007 Syrah Horse Heaven Hills. It was priced at $14.99. Hanging out at home with the family on Presidents Day, I decided to open it and have a leisurely taste. This wine was not what I expected. While it was, eventually, very enjoyable, it took almost six hours (6 hours) for this wine to open up and reach that "aha" moment. For a 2007 vintage, this wine is still very closed and likely needs another year or two in the cellar. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but since I drink most of the wine I purchase, I suggest decanting for a minimum of two hours (2 hours) if not longer, before drinking. I did not decant, but poured directly from the bottle.

Here's my time line for this tasting:

1:15 PM 
Closed on opening. Where's the Syrah?

1:25 PM
A gentle nose of violets, sarsaparilla, boysenberry, coffee bean, leather, black licorice, with a hint of tilled soil. Dry, medium tannins and acidity, not a lot of flavor, thin finish. A lovely deep purple color, slightly cloudy.

1:45 PM
Slightly more flavor.

2:15 PM
Starting to fill out, tannins more noticeable between gums, a bit of heat in the back of the mouth, subdued finish but more pronounced.

2:25 PM
Fruit is emerging with flavors of blueberry, coffee, nutmeg, the nose is more prominent.

2:45 PM
A little Syrah funk and bacon fat appear.

3:00 PM
Bright berry, spicy violets, and tarragon on the nose. Opening up, bigger finish.

4:45 PM
Similar to 3:00

I then take a break to prepare dinner. Dinner is ready by about 6:00 PM. The wine goes well with dinner and I notice it is really quite good by then.

7:00 PM 
Really begins to show off as the bottle is emptied. Aha!

This is a compressed wine in need of decanting or more time in bottle. I should note that this wine is
15.2% ABV yet I only noticed the heat at 2:15 PM, after that it was not apparent. The price for this Syrah at the winery is $18. While I enjoyed this wine, it took almost six hours to reach the desired “aha” moment. Not everyone can wait years to enjoy a bottle of wine, but if you can wait a few hours, I think you will agree with me that this wine is very good.

*Recommended - if you decant or cellar a couple more years. McKinley Springs is now on my winery must visit list. Their tasting room opens Memorial Day weekend.

About McKinley Springs

The children and spouses of Louise and Bob Andrews, established McKinley Springs Winery in 2002 with a goal of producing balanced, flavorful wines offering excellent value. Rob Andrews, Grower, tends to the vineyards and Doug Rowell, Winemaker, oversees production at McKinley Springs. Together they make 10 wines, focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chenin Blanc.

McKinley Springs grows over 20 varietals on its 2000 acre estate vineyard in the southern part of Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills. McKinley Springs also supplies 25 noted area wineries with grapes, including Andrew Rich, Northstar, Syncline, Hogue and Columbia Crest. The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is bordered in the north by Yakima Hill, to the south by the Columbia River, and surrounded by the larger Columbia Valley appellation. The winds from the Columbia River protect against vine diseases and provide a cooling effect that concentrates fruit flavors, while the south facing slopes provide optimum growing conditions

McKinley Springs Winery
1201 Alderdale Rd
Prosser, Washington 99350
Phone Number: 509.894.4528

Tasting Room Hours of Operation
Memorial Day weekend - Labor Day weekend, Friday through Sunday 11am – 5pm.
Please call for appointments on off days.
Closed September – May



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