Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2012 Fausse Piste "Garde Manger" Syrah

My first taste of this wine was at my regular poker game, where I shared a bottle with my good friend Adam of Wine Zag. We both were impressed with this wine. I then had a second bottle with dinner one evening, pairing it with a beef dish, and I was still impressed. And at its price point, I think this wine is a great choice for any wine lover seeking an affordable wine to intrigue their palate.

The Fausse Piste winery is owned by Jesse Skiles, who began his career as a chef, having graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Upon graduation, he returned home to Portland, Oregon, and started working in a number of different kitchens. He eventually started cooking at Owen Roe winery, where he was exposed to wine making. That sparked a new passion within him, and he decided to start his own label, Fausse Piste. Jess states that "fausse piste" roughly translates as "wrong road," referring to how he started down the chef path but diverted toward a wine-making path instead. He now has an urban winery in Portland, purchasing grapes from the Colombia Valley, which covers sections of Oregon and Washington.

In some circles, it would be said he engages in natural winemaking, though he prefers to refer to what he does as "traditional winemaking." His primary goal is to make wines of place, reflective of terroir. In that regard, acidity is very important to him, and he has also started moving away from commercial yeast to spontaneous fermentation. Jesse wants to make wine approachable too, which is why the back label of his wines lack any descriptors about the wine. He is more concerned about whether someone loves his wine or not, rather than if they can detect certain flavors or aromas. He doesn't want to discourage wine drinkers who feel intimidated if they cannot smell or taste a specific descriptor.

The 2012 Fausse Piste "Garde Manger" Syrah ($25) is a blend of Syrah from five vineyards in the Columbia Valley AVA, including Outlook, Ambassador, Riverrock, Marcoux and Elephant Mountain. There might be a tiny percentage of Viognier in the blend as well, as there was 3% in the 2011 blend. The Syrah was all sustainably grown, hand picked, and selected more for their acidity and balance than sugar ripeness. The wine was aged for about 11 months on the lees in neutral French oak, and then bottled unfined. Only 333 cases were produced and the wines has an alcohol content of 14.3%.

I was tempted to not write a tasting note for this wine, except to praise and recommend this wine. That would be in line with Jesse's philosophy. I'll compromise though, and tell you not to read the next paragraph if you don't want to read my tasting note. For those people, please just know that this wine is absolutely delicious and garners my highest recommendation. For everyone else,please read on.

From your first sniff of the aromas of this wine, you'll probably be hooked. It possesses an alluring nose, a complex blend of appealing aromas, including lush fruit and a prominent earthiness. It brought to my mind wines from the Rhône. The taste of this wine lived up to the promise of its nose, and initially you'll be impressed by the depth of flavor within this wine, the complex melange of flavors that will flood your mouth, seducing your palate. Black fruit, spice, earthiness, minerality, and even more can be found within each sip. Silky tannins lead to a lengthy and satisfying finish. Everything is in balance in this wine, and it is absolutely compelling. At this price point, it is an excellent value, and it earns my highest recommendation.

I definitely need to taste more Fausse Piste wines.


Anonymous said...

Delicious wine... good to come across the info here and article about the wine makers inspiration...

And the inspiration for the name is wonderful... 'False Track' (Fausse Piste). Happy things often happen from mistakes.

Lisa King said...

Just opened a bottle of this. Aroma was very plummy and the initial taste was tight on the tannins. It's like taking the thin peel of a black plum and chewing on it. It does have a nice, soft feel on the palate. It had a strong ammonia quality to it but I thought it might need some time to round out. I don't mean that in a bad way. It's like the alcohol was still evaporating on my nose so I didn't feel turned off by it, but was intrigued by it's very robust, bright presence. I meant "ammonia as in acidic and bright". It's very very plummy, if you're into that. I can almost taste an underripe peach pitt. Yep, underripe peach with the pitt. Reminds me of a valdiguie wine.

Luke Ringland said...

Hey thanks for this review. I'm newish to the United States and am really on the hunt for French style wines in the US. Your comments really hit the nail on the head.