Tag Archives: idaho syrah

Wine in Idaho? Coiled Wines Excels at Riesling, Syrah

LesliePreston

COILED WINES

Leslie Preston was living in Napa when she first started an Idaho wine label. “Oh, the spud wine is here” her friends would joke when her truck of Idaho grapes would cross the California border (similarly confusing Ag border guards who’d ask why Idaho grapes were coming in and rather than California grapes going out).

Prior to getting involved with spud wine, however, Leslie had a 20 year career in California that serendipitously started with landing a teaching job at U.C. Davis – for French literature.  Surrounded by winemaking students, her interest in wine grew to the point of completing an MS in Enology at Davis. After graduating, she worked in Carneros before landing a dream job at Stags’ Leap Winery.

However, a baby conceived with her husband while in New Zealand, nine months later born a boy, led Preston to prioritize that she wanted to be a mom and a winemaker and she needed a simpler way to do both. She stayed home with her son for six months contemplating how to produce juice on a small yet meaningful scale. She had grown up in Idaho, and felt the grapes had potential. In 2006, she came to “play with grapes” and made an Idaho Syrah which led to four years of trucking grapes across the border to Napa to make the wine before finally relocating to Boise permanently.

The name “Coiled” refers to the shape of a wound-up snake, and is an homage to the animal and river referenced in the state’s first AVA, Snake River.

Her work was rewarded in 2014 with the announcement she’d won Idaho Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest; Preston’s Dry Riesling landed in The Seattle Times’ top 50 wines of the Pacific Northwest last year.

Signature Wines and Prices:

  • Sidewinder (Sryah): $15
  • Dry Riesling $17
  • Sparkling Riesling (coming soon)
  • Black Mamba (Red Blend) for $35

IdahoMerlot

To what other region in the world, if applicable, would you compare the Snake RiverAVA? There are definitely parallels to Eastern Washington. I’ve also heard people compare the Snake River to Amador County in California.

What grapes do you think have the greatest potential in the region? Given our ability to tweak the water, the growth, and sun exposure, I think Riesling and Syrah would do well here. Rhone varietals should thrive.

What are the pros and cons of working in Idaho? I wouldn’t choose to make wine anywhere else. It’s a small industry, and I love surprising people with my wine. I think what’s great here is the bulk of my wine is drunk within the local community and its thrilling the product is local.

A definite negative is the lack of fruit and lack of infrastructure. I came from Napa and had access to everything I needed there, while making wine here requires more planning and logistics. For example, last spring, I was bottling in this facility and I bottle under screwcap. I had used a truck from Precept, but when suddenly it wasn’t available, I had to go to California, rent one, and drive it back myself (I didn’t have to drive it, but I am a bit cheap; justifiably so, I think.)

What are your primary markets? Outside of Idaho, I have a small-scale distributor in Oregon. For your readers in New York, they can order wines online!

Any other thoughts? We had a happy life and I would’ve had a happy career in Napa, but I found the fruit here so compelling, so it was simply a not-to-be-missed opportunity.

My Tasting Notes: I highly recommend visiting Preston at East 44th or finding her wines in a Boise restaurant, if in the area. She’s got training and talent and is an Idaho winemaker to watch. She makes the best Riesling I tasted in Idaho and her prices, like most in Idaho, and very reasonable.

Dry Riesling 2013 $17: Fruit comes from Block 17 at Skyline vineyards. Although called “dry” the wine has 3.5 g/l RS (to balance the exuberant nose says Preston). I’d prefer a hint lower RS, but like the lime-citrus, apricot, tropical fruit, and honeysuckle notes aromatics and flavors. A vibrant, medium-bodied wine with a crisp finish.

Sidewinder 2012 $25: Plump and approachable with black pepper spice, meat and earth on nose and palate. Black fruit core, soft tannins, broad mouthfeel, and a  pleasing bitter edge to the finish. Fruit comes from Sawtooth and Skyline Vineyards.

EAST 44th STREET TASTING ROOM HOURS

Cinder: 7 Days a week, 11-5 p.m.

Telaya: Fri. – Sat., 12-6 p.m.

Coiled: Fri. – Sat., 12-5 p.m.

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Wine in Idaho: Cinder Wines Spearheads Urban Wine Expansion

East44Wineries

Continued from People Make Wine in Idaho. I’ve Got Proof!

Garden City, a former Chinese community that once served as Boise’s Chinatown, was so named because they grew vegetables for the pioneers.  The main drag is still called “Chinden Boulevard”.  Now, artists, breweries, and wineries have been finding refuge in the cheap cost of warehouse space and the East 44th Street building leased by Cinder Winery is no different.

CINDER WINES

MelanieKrause

Winemaker Melanie Krause, a former assistant winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle, returned to Boise in 2006 with her husband Joe Schnerr, a chemist at the time (although Joe admitted to being involved in wine from a very young age as an altar boy). She started a winery consulting business which gave her inside access to “visit the vineyards and taste through the cellars of most of the producers in Idaho.”

Krause’s first attempt making Idaho wine was a small amount of co-fermented Syrah and Viognier. Encouraged by the results and her observations of the region’s potential, Krause decided to start the label Cinder with her husband, a reference to the layers of volcanic soil found in Idaho’s vineyards. By 2007, she and Joe had added white wines to their red-strong line-up. They now produce nearly 5000 cases spread over 9 different wines. All of Krause’s growers are within an hour from her winery; she purchases fruit from six different vineyards.

This year, Krause was acknowledged for her contributions to the Idaho wine industry and achievements in general with a 40 Under 40 Tastemaker award from Wine Enthusiast.

Signature Wines and Prices

  • Viognier $18
  • Syrah $28
  • Tempranillo $28

Which grapes do you think grow especially well here? Viognier attracted me most of all the whites due to its amazing aromas. I find that many regions have difficulty preserving its delicacy, but here in the Snake River AVA, I am able to get precision and fruit expression with grace and high acid.  Syrah does really well in this type of region too, as does Tempranillo. I think we should see more Spanish varieties planted here.

To what other region in the world would you compare the Snake River AVA? I’d say Ribera del Duero and Washington State. Ribera is a better match in that it’s at a higher elevation; both have a continental climate: hot, dry summers and cold winters.

What are the pros and cons of making wine in Idaho? The cost of land here is significantly less than other wine regions, and pest management is a bit easier given our dry climate. We are the next great American wine growing region, and thus on the cutting edge. We’ve got the excitement and freedom to explore and be pioneers. Of course being a new region is a double edged sword, and we don’t have as many vineyards planted as we need.

Are there any water issues out here?  Of the western states, Idaho has one of the best water management programs. As of now, they don’t have the pressures of, say California, although having water rights is key for growers.

What are your primary markets? We are distributed throughout the state; we also have a wine club with members from 20 different states plus a small market in Jackson Hole, WY and Montana.  As for the East Coast, we need a distributor if you know of one! For now, we can ship directly to customers in New York. Go online to CinderWines.com to order.

Any other thoughts? It’s fun if people can get to Boise, to have them come out and visit us. In addition to the other wineries, we have an art gallery upstairs. The artist movement in the region has been going on for about 15 years, but the beverage industry has really picked up with wineries and breweries moving in, plus two new musical performance venues.

My tasting notes I found Cinder’s wines well-made, showing the exciting potential of Idaho. The wines had fruit depth tempered by a savory edge; no jam bombs in the mix. I particularly liked:

Dry Viognier 2013 Peach and citrus notes on a vibrant palate. Some floral character and almond on the bright finish. The majority of the fruit comes from the Williamson Vineyard and was picked a little earlier to retain freshness.

Tempranillo 2012 Dark and spicy, with a deep red and black fruit core, a frame of  dusty tannins, and a hint of earth and bitterness on the finish.  Not common yet, Melanie thinks Tempranillo and other Spanish grapes will do well in Idaho.

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