Reynvaan Family Vineyards is nestled up against the Blue Mountains. The winery is located next to one of the family’s estate vineyards, Foothills in the Sun, with the family home a short walk away.

Two things strike me each time I drive out to Reynvaan. The first is the incredible scenic beauty of the area. I now double my estimation of the time it takes to get to the winery to allow for sufficient time to stop and take pictures (NB: Make sure to travel with patient compatriots; click on the pictures here for larger images). You literally feel like you are about to drive up and over the Blue Mountains as you get closer and closer to the winery. The second thing I am struck by is that I always feel lost. You keep going and going and going. The road narrows then turns to dirt. Is this right? And then you’re there.

When I arrive on this visit Matt Reynvaan and his father Mike are out working in the vineyard. Matt is driving a tractor. After catching his attention he comes to greet us, seemingly glad for the momentary reprieve from the sun. And no wonder, Reynvaan has the look of someone who has been spending a lot of time in the vineyard this year with his complexion considerably darkened from when I saw him last.

Reynvaan Family Vineyards was established in 2004. The winery uses all estate fruit for its wines, which have thus far come from the In the Rocks Vineyard located in the southern portion of the Walla Walla Valley AVA; the first fruit from the Foothills in the Sun Vineyard should come this year. Matt Reynvaan makes the wines with Christophe Baron of Cayuse Vineyards serving as consultant in both the vineyard and the winery. The 2007, 2008, and 2009 wines were made at Cayuse’s facility; the 2010 wines will be made at the Reynvaan facility.

The 2008 vintages wines are the second release from Reynvaan. They include a new Syrah offering called The Unnamed. Originally given this moniker because it was, in fact, unnamed, the name stuck. The grapes for The Unnamed come from the newest section of the In the Rocks Vineyard. The two other red wines, the In the Rocks Syrah and The Contender Syrah come from sections of the vineyard that have an additional year of age.

Whether due to additional vineyard age, a year under the belt of experience with the vineyard, or something else, both of these wines are a considerable advancement on the 2007 offerings. While the 2007 wines were already of extremely high quality, the 2008 are pushing up into the stratosphere with the 2008 The Contender one of the best wines I have had this year. The first vintage of The Contender seemed aptly named for a new winery looking to make its mark. For the second vintage, the name now seems quaint and anachronistic. This wine is no longer a contender but rather belongs alongside the best Syrah being produced in Washington State. There is a weight and intensity to the aromatics and the flavor profile on the palate that is breathtaking. Wines like this are, quite simply, the reason why I enjoy drinking wine, for these moments of sheer exhilaration.

Similar to Cayuse Vineyards, Reynvaan offers its wines a year in advance through a mailing list. With the winery receiving its first set of scores from Wine Advocate at the end of last month for the 2007 vintage (a 93, 93+, and 94) as well as recent reviews from Wine Spectator (92, 93), look for the mailing list to close as the winery gets on more people’s radar screens.

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Reynvaan Family Vineyards

Reynvaan Family Vineyards The Unnamed Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $40
Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) Abundant floral aromatics along with jerky, purple fruit, orange peel, and sliced olives. A rich, intense palate loaded with savory flavors and red fruit. 90% Syrah co-fermented with 10% Viognier. 13.8% alcohol. Approximately 450 cases produced.

Reynvaan Family Vineyards In The Rocks Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $45

Rating: ** (Exceptional) Outrageous aromatics of jerky, black olive juice, earth, and high-toned floral notes. An intense – extremely intense – flavor profile with a richly textured mouthfeel. Capped off by an extremely long finish. A huge leap forward from last year’s offering. 92% Syrah co-fermented with 6.5% Viognier and 1.5% Marsanne. 13.2% alcohol. Approximately 450 cases produced.

Reynvaan Family Vineyards The Contender Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $55

Rating: ** (Exceptional) A downright stinky, aromatic, intense nose marked by floral notes, earth, black olive juice, and meat. The palate is rich and layered with abundant umami flavors and roast beef. There is a weight and intensity that is nothing short of breathtaking. Among the best wines I have had this year. 94% Syrah co-fermented with 4% Marsanne and 2% Viognier. Approximately 450 cases produced.

Samples provided by winery.