2019 Hiyu Tzum Lúnasa, Columbia Gorge Red

2019 Hiyu Tzum Lúnasa, Columbia Gorge Red


Nate on this wine: “This is an example of the unusual qualities of the 2019 vintage. Lunasa is typically one of our richest wines. It’s a blend of Grenache and Syrah and in past years reminded one of what an Australian GSM might taste like if it was grown in the Southern Mediterranean. The wine has the fruit and texture that we associate with Rhone-style wines from the colonized world, but with the ineffable wildness of the Southern Italian hinterlands. In 2019, the early frost and cool conditions rendered a wine more reminiscent of Northern France than what is usually possible here. This parcel was grafted over to white grapes in 2020 and so this is the last vintage (the massive 18 is still slumbering in puncheons) of what was one of the first wines we produced from the Gorge.”

All the names of the parcels on this site come from Gaelic/Irish; Lunasa is the name of a traditional Gaelic harvest festival.

Grapes: cca 65% Syrah, 35% Grenache

Vineyard: Lunasa, a 2-acre parcel with Grenache and Syrah at the 9.83-acre site Hiyu farms in the desert east of Lyle, Washington State (30 miles east of Hiyu). The site is on the banks of the Columbia River at sea level and the vines are planted in black (basalt) sand with basalt monoliths. This particular parcel is in a part of the vineyard where the top of the rows have more cobble and the bottom of the rows are in deep sand.

Making of: The hand-picked grapes are fermented as whole clusters, then trodden by foot 2 or 3 times during a short 11-day fermentation. Aged in old barrels for around 13 months, bottled unfined and unfiltered, with a tiny dose of sulfur.

Personality: a full-on trip through the Rhone Valley, as Nate puts it: “Hypothetical wine crossings are always fun and in this case it’s as if Rayas had grown the grapes for their Fonsalette Cotes du Rhone in Cote Rotie. The flavors are of the South, but with the precision, rigor and purity of the cool, steep slopes that lie further up the Rhone river. The Grenache gives the Syrah a shimmering, vanishing quality, quenching its dark heart and rendering it more transparent, pure and ethereal.