Our view of Owen Roe’s Chapel Block Syrah has remained consistent: it is one of the finest Washington Syrahs each vintage. While so much hype and resulting attention is paid to vineyards east of Red Willow (specifically those in Walla Walla’s Rocks region), we often prefer the purity and power of Chapel Block. The 2014 is classic Syrah: violets, crushed rock, peppercorns, tobacco, and black fruits greet your olfactory senses before an engaging, lively burst of blueberry and cocoa show up on the concentrated yet supple palate. This blockbuster wine can be opened now and given some breathing room; it will age for well past a decade. Only 200 cases made.
Owen Roe winemaker/proprietor David O’Reilly participated in a special event at Taste Washington 2016, in which Washington Rhone-style wines were paired blind against a celebrated French wine. Owen Roe’s Chapel Block Syrah (2013) was paired with the famed La Chapelle Vineyard in Hermitage. The Chapel Block was unmistakably New World with bright ruby color and fresh flavors. However, it also showed finesse and balance along with perfume and gorgeous lifted fruit and acid. It was clearly an example of balance and focus.
When both wines were unveiled the crowd was blind tasted against the most cherished and expensive wine in the entire line-up - Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle 2009. That both wines belonged on the same table was supported by crowd applause! Exactly 30 years after Mike Sauer’s inaugural planting of Syrah in Washington State, his Chapel Block Syrah and his inspiration in Hermitage were enjoyed as equals.
2012 vintage notes
This is loaded. Droves of rich dark red and black fruit followed by dried roses roll out of the glass. Cola spice, bittersweet chocolate, and dried herbs weave together a absolutely stellar wine that was a joy to taste over three days hinting a the long life ahead.
2011 vintage notes
The 2011 has extraordinary intensity while remaining balanced. Highly recommended. - Marcus
2010 vintage notes
Saturated and powerful, this broad-shouldered Syrah is filled with mouth-coating black fruit and violets, with bacon and cracked pepper accents. 2010 Chapel Block is built for the cellar. Sourced from Washington's oldest Syrah vines, planted in 1986 in the Red Willow Vineyard.
The 2008 Chapel Block received 97 points and the 2009 received 93 points, both from Wine Spectator. The 2010 Chapel Block Syrah is cruising for another well deserved high score.
2009 vintage notes
How do you follow up a 97 point wine? (Open Chapel Block 09, pour, sniff, taste.) That's how! Like the 08, this is pretty tight upon release and really struts on day two. Exotic black cherry, plum, and the tiniest ribbon of mountain strawberry meshes with smoke and violets. Silky and supple, powerful and vibrantly fresh. Considerably more limited than the 2008, with a little over 100 cases made. And it tastes great with a grilled burger topped with 8 year aged Hook's Cheddar, by the way. - Marcus
Wine Spectator 93 points: Dense and juicy, with lots of ripe flavors balancing against lively acidity, making the licorice-accented blackberry, boysenberry and dark plum notes pop. The finish lingers effectively, hinting at mineral character. Best from 2013 through 2018. - H.S.
Follow up to David's first vintage of this wine, which received a 97 point score from Wine Spectator. Much more limited than last year - tiny production.
A tiny stone chapel at the top of a dusty hill in central Washington marks the source of the famous Owen Roe Chapel Block Syrah. Positively antique, the few grapes harvested each year from these old vines are prized for their intense flavors. A wine for the serious Syrah lover.
Only 100 cases made
2008 vintage notes
Wine Spectator 97 Points!!!
We sent this wine to our Wine Club
several months before the 97 point review was published.
Intense and mouth-filling. Peppered bacon, black fruits, crushed violets, vanilla bean and five spice stain your tongue while they caress it. Even with its viscous, fleshy nature, the Chapel Block retains freshness and finishes with integrated tannins. - Marcus
This is the famous first vintage of Owen Roe's Red Willow Chapel Block Syrah. Outside of the winery, we are the only source for this wine, and it sells out within a few days of its release.
Wine Spectator 97 points: Warm, inviting and impressive for the purity of its plum, blackberry, and currant fruit, sailing easily over a bed of fine tannins, finishing silky and seamless, with hints of espresso and violet. This has extraordinary balance and finesse without sacrificing an ounce of power. Drink now through 2016. From Washington. - H.S.
Super-limited: only 360 cases made.
From the winery: Red Willow Vineyard has emerged as one of the premier sites for Syrah in the Pacific NW and our new 2008 Red Willow Chapel Block Syrah is an expression of this very special place. Most of the soil in Yakima Valley was formed 12,000 years ago by the Lake Missoula floods, which occurred at the end of the ice age. Due to Red Willow's higher elevation, 1200-1300 ft, the peninsula vineyard was above the water and thus not affected by the glacial deposits. As a result, Red Willow soils are more shallow and ancient than those of lower elevations. This forces vines planted here to produce especially low yields of densely concentrated fruit with very unique flavor profiles; some of the best Syrah we've ever seen. This wine is bold and complex with inky colors, fragrant aromas of lavender with blueberry notes, cedar smoke and a hint of vanilla and licorice on the finish.