Helioterra 2014 syrah wine bottle, glass, and cork

Helioterra Columbia Valley 2014 Syrah

Here’s a Washington syrah with typically bright acidity, but more body — a Great Big Reds drinker’s Washington wine. Only 112 cases were made, so you’ll be lucky to find some.

Washington wine makers call August ‘Washington Wine Month’. This is our last-minute effort to join in the fun.


What I noticed first was the bright acidity. But underneath that, there’s plenty of body: 14.3% alcohol, according to the label.


I enjoyed this very much. It’s fine to drink on it’s own. People who like acidity for food-friendliness will be happy with it, too.

A bit of dark earthiness and a bit of dark fruit. It’s the high end of my tolerance for acidity, but I suspect many sophisticated wine drinkers will appreciate the acidity much more than I do. Overall, what struck me is that it feels ‘fine’ — as opposed to mass-produced. I drink a lot of $10-$15 wine, so I hope for much more finesse (and/or ‘oomph’) in a $30-ish wine, and I’d say the 2014 Helioterra Columbia Valley Syrah delivers on the finesse side.


This is dry, some fruit, lower tannin, higher acidity, 14.3% ABV, with some of the full-bodied feel reduced by the acidity.


Here’s what the wine maker says about the wine:

“One of our bigger, bolder wines, the Columbia Valley Syrah is not for the faint of heart or palate. The aromatics bring to mind a decadent night of lakeside camping, with notes of dusty blueberries, split wood, and coffee, plus just a hint of sage, while the full palate is a lush blend of rich berry notes – think blueberry and plum skins and berry cobbler – and graham tethered by hints of chocolate and leather, and firm, layered tannins.”

Being fairly new to winetasting, I still have trouble detecting flavor distinctions such as ‘old saddle leather’ vs. ‘worn saddle leather’ or ‘decadent camping’ vs. regular camping, but it’s easy to think of pairing this with especially relaxed and happy times.

Next Day

It held up well over night. Perhaps the acidity mellowed a little, but otherwise it was just as good a day later as when we opened it.


Also noteworthy is the description of the vineyard and grapes from Oasis Vineyard – Horse Heaven Hills Syrah:

“Oasis Vineyard’s farming philosophy is one of managed minimalism; while Oasis is committed to doing everything that needs to be done, they remain wary of over-managing. In other words, they let the plants do what they are designed to do, or, as Oasis explains it, “We are here to shepherd that process rather than determine it.” Oasis planted the vineyard, including their first block of Syrah, in 1999. Helioterra’s 2012 release is sourced from this – the oldest – block of Syrah on the farm. With that age, the block has settled well into maturity.”

Some background on Anne Hubatch, the winemaker:

“How did a gal from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, grow up to become one of Oregon’s up-and-coming winemakers? It all started with her love for the land.”

Also: Wine-searcher link. Not terribly helpful because the wine seems to be fairly rare. I found it at The Bread Garden, in Iowa City.