If the excitement at the the recent Walla Walla Wine Tasting in downtown Portland is any indication, Rasa Vineyards is the buzziest winery in Washington.
At the same moment, on the opposite side of the country, the wine cognoscenti in New York City are waxing lyrical about Rasa as well.
Is it possible that Billo and Pinto's tiny annual production is going go the way of those mailing list/impossible to get wineries? To quote a wine industry attendee: "They blew us away."
From what we've tasted so far, Rasa Syrahs are in the Cayuse-Reynvaan vein - they are more jazz/funk than heavy metal.
Pinto and Billo's wines are complex - and mathematician Billo Naravane knows complexity. He's a computer industry guru turned winemaker, and his wines are as perfect a proof as any mathematical formula that something special is going on at Rasa Vineyards.
At right above, Pinto and Billo Naravane
Rasa's PB (Pinto and Billo) Label - Under $30
PB Red Mountain Kiona Vineyard
Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon 08 $28.75
$25.88 in any 12 bottle order
Wine Spectator 93 points
A blend of mostly Syrah (67%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (33%), the 2008 fruit is from Kiona Vineyards, one of the oldest vineyards in Red Mountain. Kiona Vineyards' profile is not as high as say, Ciel or Champoux, but the grapes are superb.
This is a massive wine, but the complexity keeps it from being monolithic. The fruit flavors are more blackberry than the sweet black cherries of many Washington Syrahs. Coffee, tobacco leaf, field dust and dried herbs, and violets blend with the blackberries.
As the wine evolves, add black currants, black plum, and even a bit of black cherry to the fruit profile. It has tannins that smooth out with decanting, adding a backbone that, in combination with balanced acidity, calls for cellaring -- but who's going to wait for a wine this good and this ready to enjoy?
RASA QED Syrah
QED Syrah 07 $49.95
$44.95 in any 12 bottle order
Wine Spectator 94 points
If Rasa Vineyards' PB wines are their introduction, their QED 07 is the center stage, main course, and the star of the show.
"QED" comes from the Latin phrase "quod erat demonstrandum." It literally translates as "which was to be demonstrated." Billo and Pinto define it as "I've proven what I set out to prove." Yes, they have, and spectacularly.
The 2007 QED is largely Syrah from two Walla Walla vineyards (Les Collines and Seven Hills) and one Yakima vineyard (Lewis). There's also a small amount of Mourvedre and Grenache from Minick Vineyard in the blend.
While the scent will knock you over, the flavors are beguiling - dusty black currant and blackberry let the floral, mineral, and earth qualities follow through.
PB Yakima Syrah 08 $28.75
$25.88 in any 12 bottle order
This was the most talked about wine at the Walla Walla tasting. It is also our favorite of the three Rasa reds. It is clearly in the Cayuse-Reynvaan vein - more jazz/funk than heavy metal.
The PB Yakima Syrah starts with a smoky, gamey nose with an intensely aromatic floral and berry component. This wine has a juicy complexity of blackberry and raspberry fruit. The layers of rich berry fruit meld with hints of pepper, bittersweet chocolate, and bacon fat.
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