Owen Roe's Ex Umbris Syrah $24.98
was inspired by the motto "Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem" (From shadows and symbols goes the truth). Owen Roe owner and winemaker David O'Reilly was moved by the stark contrast between the forest fire-blackened land in the Yakima Valley and the verdant grapevines full of fruit, located literally at the edge of the wildfire.
Ex Umbris was originally crafted to reveal the effects of the forest fire smoke on the Syrah grapes. It heightened its inherent smokiness, a flavor that comes through even without Mother Nature's assistance.
If you remember back to the first release of this wine in 2005, the forest fire made the first vintage so strongly flavored with smoke that some people found it atypical ... and many people loved it. Each vintage thereafter has showed less of the smoky quality imparted from the fire, and this vintage has just an intriguing hint of bacon fat-laced smoke.
Ready to drink, "refreshing", "appealing", "lively" are some of the words tasters have used to describe it. David continues to make the price super competitive - this is an Owen Roe "Best Buy".
Ex Umbris Syrah 2011
$24.98 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case* ($27.75 retail)
For the 2011 vintage, David O'Reilly stepped up the quality of Ex Umbris even higher. He added fruit from his flagship Red Willow and St. Isadore Vineyards to the wine, resulting in a rich, dense, dark, ready to drink hedonistic big red wine. At $25 it is an Owen Roe Best Buy, and a Washington Syrah that's hard to beat for price and quality.
The nose alone on the 2011 Ex Umbris makes me giddy. Aromas of warm pie berries and caramel beckon from the glass. A seamlessly smooth body leads to juicy dark red fruit and a subtle savoriness on the palate. Ready to drink now. Highly Recommended! - Andy
The 2011 Vintage of Ex Umbris is 100% Columbia Valley Syrah:
17.5% from the Yakima Valley AVA : 11.5% from the Red Willow Vineyard, & 6% from Outlook Vineyard
77% from the Columbia Valley AVA : 15% from the Lewis Vineyard, 24% from the Six Prong Vineyard & 38% from the Erickson Vineyard
5.5% from Walla Walla AVA: St Isidore Vineyard (Source for Owen Roe's Lady Rosa Syrah)
2010 Vintage Tasting Notes
Washington's best value Syrah - and our most popular wine of 2011 - is back! The nose of the Ex Umbris 2010 is pure Syrah, with a smoky, mouthwatering black fruit. Plush flavors of dark plums and cherries partner with sarsaparilla and cream, adding hints of cherry tobacco and peppery bacon on the finish. I recommend opening it up early or decanting it - on day 2, Ex Umbris 2010 really starts singing.
The 2010 Ex Umbris is a mix of fruit from the western Yakima Valley's Red Willow, Erickson Road, and Slide Mountain Vineyard. Grapes from Oregon's Lewis Vineyard across the Columbia River in The Dalles add a blueberr ynote, and Elerding Vineyard's jammy, sweet Syrah character adds a juicy richness.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar 90 points: Bright red with ruby highlights. Plush and sweet but sappy too, with a distinctly low-pH mouthfeel to the cool flavors of berries, licorice, flowers and garrigue. Very suave syrah in an approachable style, finishing with restrained sweetness, rather light tannins and very good length.
Wine Spectator TOP 100 #25! 93 points
Owen Roe's best value red. I know, the Abbot's Table is popular but to me, the Ex Umbris really shines. It has tons of delicious, smoky Syrah character and is so easy to drink. - Marcus
2009 Wine Spectator - 93 points - Supple and round, this red is layered with plum, currant, sassafras, cream and spice flavors that keep sailing through the long, vivid finish. This has style and grace to go with its undeniable power. Drink now through 2018. - H.S.
Stone and mineral flavors come from vineyards along the Columbia River in The Dalles. Big, juicy cherries and smoke flavors from Yakima fruit fill out the blend. The smokiness that has always characterized this wine comes from Lewis Vineyard, where flavors from the forest fire a decade ago continue to show up in the grapes.
The new vintage of Ex Umbris reminds us of the complexity of the '07, but with robustness of the 2008! Amazing, pervasive scents of Bing cherry pie, bacon wrapped dates, green peppercorns and molasses. Rich, warm flavors of late summer strawberries, dark plum and dates expand on the palate and finish with sarsaparilla and black licorice. Serve alongside herb roasted pork, game dishes and savory stuffing. Drink now through 2016. - David
Yakima Valley Vineyard
Columbia Valley AVA
Erickson Road Vineyard
Horse Heaven Hills AVA
Six Prong Vineyard
Red Willow Vineyard
Yakima Valley AVA
Slide Mountain Vineyard
Union Gap Vineyard
Ex Umbris Syrah 08 - has rich aromas of smoke, flint, meat and heaps of black fruit. A nice vein of red berry weaves through the black fruit heart, with accents of lavender, hoisin, and cocoa on the finish. - Marcus
Fantastic reviews often lead to price increases. Not so with Owen Roe. Ex Umbris' price has stayed the same through raves, like when the 2005 was #69 on Wine Spectator's Top 100 in 2007 and last year's WS 92 for the 2007 vintage.
Avalon has sold every vintage of Ex Umbris Syrah and 2008 is the best yet. Now is your time to beat the critics to the new Ex Umbris Syrah. Stock up before the frenzy. The 2007 vintage received 92 points from Wine Spectator.
2007 Vintage Tasting Notes
Wine Spectator says: "Velvety, offering a plush mouthful of spicy cherry and red berry flavors, playing against plush tannins and hints of milk chocolate on the long, vivid finish. Syrah. Drink now through 2014." - H.S.
The 2007 Ex Umbris Syrah is the best Ex Umbris yet. Gobs of marionberries and black raspberries are interspersed with licorice, milk chocolate, and coffee. A superbly rich, supple texture helps carry lingering sweet fruit, violets, and white pepper through the finish. - Avalon
at right, winemaker and owner David O'Reilly
2006 Vintage Tasting Notes
Ex Umbris's 2006 vintage was the Wall Street Journal's Number One pick in their Dow Jones Washington Syrah Index. They described the 2006 Ex Umbris Syrah: "Delicious. Best value. Awesome, intense fruit, but an amazing amount of acidity and balance. Big, explosive, very American wine, with terrific structure and finesse."
Wall Street Journal continued: "Comparing a huge American wine to elegant first-growth Bordeaux is high and unusual praise indeed. It turned out that No. 1 was from Owen Roe, an Oregon-based winery that also makes excellent Pinot Noir ... David O'Reilly, the co-owner and winemaker at Owen Roe, says his wine is made from very low-yielding vineyards in the Columbia Valley with sparse, rocky soils. That explains why the wine has both density and acidity. Density and acidity -- that seems to us like a pretty apt description of many of these wines." 2005 Vintage Tasting Notes
Ex Umbris's 2005 vintage was Number 69 in Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2007.
Aromas of blackberries and marionberries, entwined with the wine's trademark smoky scent, make this a Syrah standout from the moment it's opened. This is a juicy, fresh and lively Syrah that shows layers of berry fruit flavors. It's structured with balanced acidity and well managed, fine grained tannins that are present but never intrusive.
Last vintage, Wine Spectator gave the 2004 Ex Umbris 91 points and said: "Smooth and ripe, with juicy blueberry and plum aromas and flavors that keep on sailing through the long, harmonious finish. Picks up delicate spicy notes as the finish goes on. Syrah. Drink now through 2012." - H.S.
By Jean Yates