High Contrast Vineyard Syrah | Horsepower Vineyards Horsepower Vineyards - Pure Wines from the Walla Walla Valley
A bottle of High Contrast Vineyard Syrah

Syrah High Contrast Vineyard

Produced: 2016-present

Professional reviews and tasting notes from prior vintages added as published. Scores within parentheses indicate barrel samples:

2021 Horsepower Vineyards Syrah High Contrast Vineyard

99 Points

The astonishingly good High Contrast Syrah comes from a vineyard that is set on a combination of ancient cobblestones and silty loam soils... this shows plenty of stony nuances on the nose alongside citrus rind, charcuterie, black olive tapenade and shades of dark truffle crudo. The palate shows great length, weight and salty undercurrents, as the weight of this wine alongside the mouth-watering acidity really makes this shine. There is little doubt that this is the finest edition of this wine made yet as this stunning Syrah flirts with perfection. Enjoy now and over the next eight plus years. —Owen Bargreen, owenbargreen.com

96 Points

Grown in a vineyard where rocky soil alternates with ribbons of more fertile topsoil, the wine exudes hickory-smoked bacon, singed herb and pepper aromas before deep blackberry, beef jus and grilled plum flavors coat the palate. It’s moderately tannic, medium-bodied and long on the finish. From biodynamically grown grapes. Best from 2028. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com


2020 Horsepower Vineyards Syrah High Contrast Vineyard

97 Points, Editor's Choice

This is one of those delightful wines where elevated acidity matches the brawniness of the tannins. Black-and-blueberry fruit on the nose is joined by hints of fresh straw, fresh-cracked white pepper and peanut brittle. Sweet black cherry, quince paste, black tea and lardo flavors just keep building on the midpalate. Joy and happiness. —Michael Alberty, Wine Enthusiast

97 Points

The Horsepower 100% Syrah from the High Contrast Vineyard sees all neutral oak for a period of 18 months. It’s another stellar wine from the winemaking team of Cayuse. More earthy and mineral on the nose than its siblings, it gifts notes of crushed boysenberry, black plum, ground mushroom powder, black Spanish olives, and smoked game. Structured and precise, it finishes long and with a meaty and earth-driven finish. It’s not a wine for everyone, but everyone should try it. Only 466 cases were made. Highly recommended. —Jeremy Young, International Wine Report

96+ Points

The 2020 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard is youthfully restrained, with blackberry and clove offset by wet stone and sage. This is soft and enveloping, with silken textures and ripe black fruits, all energized by brilliant acidity. This finishes with a salty flourish, gripping the palate with youthful tension. Spiced citrus mingles with silty tannins as savory hints of rosemary fade. This is so giving today, yet also beautifully balanced for the cellar. —Eric Guido, Vinous

96 Points

This has aromas of black fruit, brewed tea, bitter cocoa, cracked pepper and five spice. The inky depth to this is impressive. So deep and dark, with a medium to full body and polished, silky yet very present tannins. Seductive and brooding. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink from 2024. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

96 Points

… this displays very rocky soil character once on the nose, with asphalt, salted black olives, dark currants and espresso ground tones on the nose… marionberry and wild blackberry fruit flavors that mingle well with the stony, salty and very savory tones on the palate. With more air the Loess soil character emerges, as this beauty is already drinking marvelously now and will continue to provide enjoyment for another eight to ten years. —Owen Bargreen, owenbargreen.com

95 Points

Similarly translucent purple-hued, the 2020 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard has a brilliant perfume of cassis, leafy herbs, ground pepper, and smoked meat, with some background iodine, lavender, and assorted Rocks funk all developing with time in the glass. The palate is terrific as well, with a dense, concentrated mid-palate, building tannins, and a great finish. This meaty, smoky, gamey, exotic Syrah will benefit from a few years of bottle age and evolve for 10-15 with ease.—Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

2019 Horsepower Vineyards Syrah High Contrast Vineyard

98 Points

More iron, beef blood, and foresty, mushroom, almost metallic notes all emerge from the 2019 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard, another savory, powerful, incredibly impressive wine in this lineup. Deep purple/plum-hued, this full-bodied beauty has both black and blue fruits, ripe, building, yet polished tannins, a great mid-palate, and one heck of a gorgeous finish. There's a liquid rock-like minerality as well as a meaty, leathery character that's not far off a great vintage of La Chapelle. It's certainly the richest and most concentrated of the trio of Syrahs in 2019. Give bottles 3-5 years and enjoy over the following 25-30 years. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

98 Points

Year after year this the Christophe Baron's Horsepower Syrah is one of the most impressive examples of Syrah to be found, and 2019 is certainly no exception. This stunning Syrah bursts open with a gorgeous aromas starting with beautiful array of red berries that are shrouded in bacon, smoke, salty minerals, soy infused mushrooms and warm river stones… Impeccably structured with silky tannins and remarkable overall balance and concentration... Displaying a wonderful sense of elegance, this Syrah is extremely appealing today, it should continue to drink exceedingly well for many years to come. —Jeremy Young, International Wine Report

97 Points

From a site partially set on silty loam and ancient cobblestones, the 2019 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard shows beautiful stony character on the nose, alongside soy sauce, marionberry compote, asphalt and black olive tapenade, plus shades of smoked bacon. The palate is seamless and very elegant with a silky texture. Light tannins line the beautiful core of pure black fruits, alongside salty and savory tones. Utterly sensational to enjoy now, this beautiful wine will cellar well for another decade. —Owen Bargreen, vinous.com

95 Points

Aromas of nutmeg, black cherry, blackberry, smoke and stone. Full-bodied with melting tannins. Very concentrated and layered on the palate. Crushed dark fruit and coffee. Lovely baking-spice complexity. Savory. Balanced, with excellent intensity and depth. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

94 Points

Coming from sandy loam and rocky soils, the 2019 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard is soft and savory with a focused nose, showing aromas of worn leather and fresh dusty red fruit tones in the glass. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is firm with flavors of cured meat before shifting toward savory herbs with a mineral tension as waning fruit tones take a backseat. Seemingly a little moody now, the Syrah offers hints of olive and turned earth before ending with a long, spicy, meaty finish. Give it another year in the bottle and drink over the next 10 to 12 years. —Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate


2018 Horsepower Vineyards Syrah High Contrast Vineyard

97+ Points

Last of the Syrahs, the 2018 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard reveals a deep ruby/purple color as well as a wonderfully complex, classic Syrah nose of red and black fruits, cured meats, mushrooms, bacon fat, iron, and forest floor, with a touch of flowers emerging with time in the glass. With its medium to full-bodied richness, firm, focusing tannins, and great finish, it's another wine that takes savoriness to the nth degree. I love its texture, and there's almost a Burgundian style here that keeps you coming back to the glass. Hide bottles for 4-5 years and enjoy over the following two decades. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

96 Points

Planted in 2013, the property follows the contour of what was once the Walla Walla River. The property captures where the stones of the region end, as the vineyard has quite different soil types, and is considerably less stony as you head west in the vineyard. Despite this, the nose shows quite a stony profile, with layers of ripe wild blackberry, white pepper, peat moss and shades of smoked brisket that all take shape in the glass. The palate shows less stony character and delivers a great purity of dark fruits with remarkable tension and finesse. Black olive tapenade, iodine and smoked BBQ pork ribs make this remarkably savory, with salty and damp earth tones. This is remarkably soft and round, as this beautiful wine gives off a seamless effect. With remarkable length, this rich yet elegant new Syrah will show well for the next decade. —Owen Bargreen, owenbargreen.com

96 Points

Notes of blackberry with coffee, nutmeg and smoke undertones. It’s full-bodied with fine tannins. Elegant and balanced on the palate with a creamy texture and supple, smoky character. Long finish. Drink in 2024. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

94 Points

With grapes coming from a vineyard where the stones of the ancestral Walla Walla River and the surrounding silty loam meet, the aromas bring notes of raspberry, funk, ash, blood orange, black olive and potpourri. Palate-coating, intense flavors follow, showing layers of complexity. It's more overtly rich in style than prior vintages but with no shortage of grace. —Sean Sullivan, Wine Enthusiast

93 Points

Dark ruby with a magenta rim, the 2018 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard offers the darkest and broodiest nose of the range this year, with elements of teriyaki beef jerky, roasted plums and black peppercorn spice. Full-bodied, the palate is dense and chewy with a firm tannic edge, offering a gripping mineral tension and elements of blackberry skin, turned earth and worn leather. Give this another year or two in the bottle and drink until its 15th birthday. —Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate


2017 Horsepower Vineyards Syrah High Contrast Vineyard

96 Points

The nose is wonderfully high-toned with orange blossoms that connect with smoked meats, black olive tapenade and shades of boysenberry cordial that all mingle in the glass. The palate is fresh and vibrant with gobs of mouth-watering acidity and a seamless texture. Very pretty kirsch and Satsuma orange rind connect with roasted dates, wet gravel and seaweed on this complex palate. Finishing very long, this beautiful new wine will enjoy another eight to ten years ahead of it. —Owen Bargreen, owenbargreen.com

96 Points

Showing with a deep ruby core that fades to a purple edge, the 2017 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard explodes from the glass with pronounced smoky aromas that waft with delicate notes of dark chocolate-covered blackberries, then show hints of roasted coffee bean, notions of petrichor, baked earth and dried herbs. Medium to full-bodied, the wine is elegantly powerful, showcasing a balanced chassis of youthful tannins that evolve with the complex nature of the wine. There is a velvety firmness to the mid-palate before moving onto an elongated finish that grows in complexity and amplitude as the expression resonates harmoniously, confirming yet another blockbuster Syrah from the ever-so-talented Christophe Baron. —Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate

95+ Points

…Backward notes of chocolaty black fruits, toasted spice, mulled plums, cured ham, and sweet mulch all developing with time in the glass. Full-bodied and concentrated on the palate, with plenty of tannins… This is certainly for those who like a big dose of funk in their Syrah! —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

95 Points

Aromas of brambleberries and wet earth with some smoke and green cloves. Full body, round and succulent tannins and a juicy, earthy aftertaste. Savory. Delicious now or hold. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com

2016 Horsepower Vineyards Syrah High Contrast Vineyard

100 Points

From a vineyard planted in 2013, the 2016 Syrah High Contrast saw loads of stems and mostly neutral barrels. This thrilling wine has a Chave Hermitage-like purity and class as well as gorgeous notes of cassis, black raspberries, smoked earth, and graphite. It’s deep... incredibly layered, pure, and long, with a finish that won’t quit. This isn’t for those looking for an inky, massive wine, but it’s pure class, complete, amazingly long, and elegant. Give bottles a few years in the cellar and it’s going to shine for 15-20 years —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com

96 Points

The 2016 Syrah High Contrast Vineyard initially wafts from the glass with a rocky dustiness, then reveals an elegant black and red-fruited core of aromas, oozing with seductively bright and focused black raspberry notes, followed by red and purple flowers, a line of stemminess and dried herbs de Provence on the lifted and aromatically complex nose. Medium-bodied on the palate, the wine is ethereal at first, then compounds in the mouth with a mineral tension, the fruit turning a touch tarter across the mid-palate, showing incredible precision and balance. The wine continues to evolve with a fantastic expression and long, drawn-out finish for this young vineyard that was just planted in 2013… If you can afford it and you can find it, buy it! —Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate