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Wino Magazine, 9/2010

"The palate is rich, as expected, but fluctuating between red and dark fruit, balanced by spice and structuring acidity. The tannin holds up the back, but only as a secondary characteristic to lush fruit and spice."

*Bottle #101: Trust Cellars 2007 Syrah, Columbia Valley

*Price Tag: $25
*Running Tab: $1,386
*Retailer: Trust Cellars Herself

Trust Cellars in Walla Walla is, by definition, a one-man show. Trust’s Steve Brooks doesn’t have bells on his feet, a symbol between his knees, an accordion barreled to his chest or a harmonica wired to his jaw, but he is the janitor, dishwasher, tasting room associate, solo winemaker and owner of Trust Cellars.

Rumor has it, through a genuine leap of faith, Brooks left his Atlanta-based job as a CNN journalist for the rolling agricultural fields of Eastern Washington after reading a New York Times article on the booming new industry. After playing in other people’s wines, Brooks took hold of his first vintage in 2005 at the Va Piano Vineyards cellar, to do his own cork dorking with their juice. Not a shabby start, considering Va Piano’s acclaim and vineyard sourcing connections.

After taking classes at the Center for Enology and Viticulture in Walla Walla alongside of his cellar experience and the connections he had made, Brooks took his show on the road – down the gravel road, to be exact – to open Trust Cellars.

Holding his own as small lot producer in the state, with less than 3,000 cases, Brooks somehow holds onto his sanity as well while maintaining his creation. Brooks has a minimalistic approach on winemaking, only producing three varietals that he deemed best from the fruit provided. All Columbia Valley designations, Brooks’ Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon are sought after and well-placed in the Seattle metro area where as his Syrah, I have seen less of and found it most intriguing…

In his tasting room last Saturday, tasting room associate Brooks was pouring both his 2007 and 2008 Syrahs. Abashedly, I have to say that I am not a huge Washington Syrah fan. This is not quite like saying “I don’t like Merlot” – I hate said statement – it’s more the position that I am yet to be overly impressed by a single-varietal Syrah from this fair state. I’m not against it in the least bit, I will try and try and try until I can find one that I like. One that I “trust…”

With that seamless transition, I bring you my raving review of the 2007 Trust Cellars Syrah. Sourcing fruit from some of my favorites, such as Lewis in Prosser, Sundance in Wahluke and Portteus in Zilah, Brooks got all of the Syrah qualities he was shooting for – a blueberry core, pepper spice and structure, respectively.

Brooks chose several “hands-on” vineyards known for their grape-nurturing reputations so that he could take his minimalistic approach further into the cellar with very little interaction once the wine had been pressed. He kept the tannins easy with soft, hand punchdowns, few rackings and opting out from filtering or fining the wine.

Bold and brawny on the nose, the pepper, scorched earth and deep blueberry, blackberry and black currant come out as promised. The palate is rich, as expected, but fluctuating between red and dark fruit, balanced by spice and structuring acidity. The tannin holds up the back, but only as a secondary characteristic to lush fruit and spice.

Trust that Brooks has his rhyme down, despite all of the instruments he’s trying to play at once. Trust that he knows his wines, just like he did when he moved his life West to do so. Go buy some Trust.

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