Review: 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2011 Syrah/Mourvèdre, Eagle, Idaho

My first Idaho wine review.

Last week I met Gary Cunningham owner/grower of 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards. Gary was showcasing his Idaho wines at the Kennewick, Washington Costco. Yes, I believe this is my first Idaho wine review.

photo: Gary Cunningham.
Gary had a good display of the wines he makes. While my wife continued shopping, Gary and I had a chance to talk. With over 50 wineries in Idaho, 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards is the largest producer at over 10,000 cases annually. To keep up with demand, Gary is planting more vineyards. Gary apologized for not being able to share his wine with me; in Washington you cannot taste wine at Costco, you can eat food samples, but unfortunately not wine. I had to wait until I got home.

Planted in 2003, Gary grows his grapes in the newly formed Snake River Valley AVA, in Eagle, Idaho. His vineyards are Certified Organic - Farmed Sustainably. Some of the wines he makes include: Syrah, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, Roussanne, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Mourvèdre. Gary recommended I try his 2011 Syrah Mourvèdre. After all, I'm a big Syrah fan.


3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2011 Syrah/Mourvèdre
Tasting Notes.

Color: Ruby, clear rim.
Nose: Enticing, licorice, black pepper, red currant, touch gamey and floral.
Palate: Bright, backed up with enough tannin to keep it food friendly. A little heat on the lips. Light bodied with distinct licorice and tarragon, flavors focused to the front. A little disjointed on opening and definitely light bodied with some heat. After an hour the wine expanded a bit, offering richer aromas and fuller palate. Still disjointed.

After 3.5 hours the wine had fleshed out. I was greeted by a distinct Syrah funk mid-palate. It had an interesting earthy, deep blueberry, mushroom component on the nose and front palate. Violets, licorice and some difficult to identify, yet intriguing aromas showed up too. And my tongue was stained dark purple. This was when the wine showed best for me. My smile was silly big.

At opening this wine drank more European in style; light body, food friendly. Okay, this is a young wine, a young Idaho wine. If I was to pour this wine for friends, I'd decant it for three hours and then bask in the glow of all the happy faces. I have to admit I'm kind of jazzed by 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards. This wine showed well after 3.5 hours and hints at the longevity and developing character of this wine. I encourage you to seek out the wines of Gary Cunningham. Recommended.


3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2011 Syrah/Mourvèdre
Snake River AVA
Blend: Syrah 83%, Mourvèdre 17%
Estate fruit, hand harvested
ABV: 14.3%
Closure: natural cork
Paid: $18.89

Winery Notes: Winemaker Greg Koenig began making wine in his home town of Lustenau, Austria. After a year in Italy, he is now winemaker for 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards. The painting on the wine label was commissioned by the Cunninghams. It was painted by Idaho artist Polly Barrett, and pays homage to the cave paintings of Lascaux on the northern slopes of the French Pyrenees. The center horse is an Appaloosa, Idaho’s state horse. The horses are surrounded by prehistoric Idaho petroglyphs, bringing the tradition of French culture together with Idaho’s historic past. The blending of French Vitis Vinifera varietals with the Idaho terroir found in their wine is reflected on their label.

3 Horse Ranch Vineyards
5900 Pearl Road
Eagle, Idaho 83616
Tasting Room: Open Wed - Sun 12 pm - 6pm


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