Poppie and James Mantone met during the harvest of 1997 while working together in the cellar at a custom crush house, LaVelle Vineyards (Willamette Valley, Oregon). Shortly after, they had fallen madly in love, married and began plans for a new endeavor: a winery of their own.
Four years later they relocated their home to the Columbia Gorge, where passion for Rhône wines led them to explore the emerging potential of vineyards in the Columbia Valley, Washington.
Inspired by early efforts of Rhone and Burgundy varieties sampled from Washington wineries, Syncline’s first vintage in 1999, consisted of 76 cases of Celilo Vineyards Pinot Noir from vines planted in 1973. The next year, production was increased to include Columbia Valley Syrah and Grenache. At the same time they began working with vineyards to plant Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise and Carignan. They have kept production under 6,000 cases annually to ensure intimacy with each barrel and every vine.
Syncline Wine Cellars is situated along the Columbia River in southern Washington State. This location, in the eastern Columbia River Gorge, is a unique place for growing wine grapes. The estate vineyard, Steep Creek Ranch, is located on a southern slope, on the very eastern edge of the new Columbia Gorge AVA. Directly west of the vineyard and winery is a series of 300-foot cliffs rising up into the surrounding mountains straight out of the Columbia River. Locally known as the “Coyote Wall Syncline” and to geologists as the “Bingen Syncline,” this dramatic feature gives the winery its name. It is at this point that the rainy western Columbia Gorge transitions to the semi-arid eastern Gorge.
2013 Grenache Blanc, $24.00
This intriguing wine has aromas of Asian pear and wet stone, complemented by flavors of star fruit, green apple and hints of anise. The overall acid structure and enticing aromas make this a standout wine.
NV Scintillation Brut Rosé, $30.00
Pale salmon in color with fine, gentle bubbles, this rosé offers crisp, delicate strawberry fruit with a bright, clean finish. A blend of Pinot Noir (58 percent) and Chardonnay (42 percent), it’s fresh and beautifully balanced.
2013 Rosé, $18.99
The Mantone’s creation of this wine was in direct response to their love of crisp, dry rosé. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvedre, the color is a striking pale pink with aromas and flavors of strawberries and melon skin. Finishing completely dry, this is as serious as rosé gets.
2012 Subduction Red, 21.00
Long inspired by the wines of the Southern Rhone Valley, this is Syncline’s answer to a Washington version of a Côtes-du-Rhône Villages wine. A blend of classic southern French varieties that are unique and expressive on their own, yet each contributes to create a harmonious whole. Ripe and hedonistic, this charming ruby colored wine exhibits black cherry, raspberry, baking spice and black pepper aromas and flavors. The bright, fresh finish provides a wine that is compatible with many foods and occasions.
2012 Grenache Carignan, $26.00
Wild and untamed, this blend of 36 percent Grenache and 64 percent Carignan contains substance and personality; certainly not prim and proper, but rarely are the best of times. Avantgarde meets tradition, in pioneering vineyards, two ancient varieties find a new home in the eastern Washington desert. Meaty, spicy aromas and bramble fruit flavors cavort with a refined texture and persistent finish.
2011 Cuvée Elena, $40.00
Syncline’s Southern Rhône inspired blend ( 37 percent Mourvedre, 30 percent Syrah, 26 percent Grenache, 5 percent Carignan and 2 percent Cinsault) was selected from their most balanced and elegant barrels from the 2011 vintage. Cuvée Elena delivers blackberry and raspberry aromas and flavors, with delicate violet perfume, complemented by hints of spice, garrigue and graceful length. This wine is mouth-filling and intensely satisfying with a fine, silky finish.
2012 Ciel du Cheval Syrah, $50.00
A combination of grace and complexity best describes this intriguing wine. Rich, mouthwatering aromas of blackberry, cherry, clove and allspice unfold in the glass. Purity of fruit shines through with flavors of fresh picked berries, ripe olives and classic nuances of smoke. This blend of 90 percent Syrah and 10 percent Mourvedre will age graciously for many years.