by Christina Kelly
Before Cayuse, before the whole "Syrah thing" in the Pacific Northwest, there was Doug McCrea. Beginning way back in 1992, Doug started lobbying vineyard managers to plant the traditional Rhone varietals: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise, Ugni Blanc, et al. Jim Holmes of famed Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, along with others, responded to Doug's clarion call and today a small amount of mature Rhone grapes are planted in Washington State. Most of the best go to Doug.
More About McCrea Cellars
McCrea Cellars is a lowkey gem of a winery that has little publicity, but ranks at the top of many of the best western US chefs' list of red wine sources from the NW. Quietly, McCrea Cellars has become a favorite of famed restaurants across the west, and much of their production goes to them. You may not have heard of McCrea, but check with your favorite sommelier, next time you go out to eat. It's likely they know and admire the wines of McCrea. And might even have a bit in their cellars!
McCrea Cellars Cuvee Oreleans
Once in awhile, you taste a wine that is so dangerously good, you want to keep it for yourself.
Such a wine is McCrea Cellars Cuvee Orleans as is the Ciel du Cheval Syrah. If you like Syrah, this is the ultra-decadent version. There are no wossies in Doug McCrea’s wine offerings.
The 2003 Cuvee Orleans is McCrea’s top of the line Syrah. When opened (and give it an hour before drinking), you get aromas of toasted nuts, black raspberry and plum. And the taste—exotic spice, chocolate and dark, concentrated berries and plums—can turn a person from generous to stingy in a heartbeat. The small amount of Viognier gives it a seductive perfume in the nose, signaling the mouth that something good is coming.
This wine has legs for cellaring, but the wait will be worth it. It is clearly a wine for those who can appreciate the refinement of a handcrafted Syrah blend.
Despite the fact that Cuvee Orleans is the top of the line, the 2003 Ciel du Cheval Syrah is no bridesmaid. Syrah made from this Eastern Washington vineyard has powerful depth and structure.
The 03 Ciel du Cheval is the most powerful of the single-vineyard Syrahs produced by McCrea. This wine has muscle, with white pepper spice and rich blackberry and plum flavors. Not for the faint-of-heart, but the tongue will love you.
The reality is, the two wines are practically gone. The winery is out, and you won’t find them in many Northwest locations anymore.
We have a small stash for our loyal customers. We can’t be responsible for what happens to you after the first taste, but it should be something wonderful!- CK
Winemaker Doug McCrea
The chief creative force behind McCrea Cellars, winemaker Doug McCrea draws on his background as an accomplished classical and jazz musician, composer, arranger and educator. Born in New Orleans and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, he developed an early appreciation for fine food, wine and music.
After a 14-year career in music, Doug moved to
the Pacific Northwest in 1980 to be close to his parents in their retirement.
He began to experiment with small lots of wine and spent several years
working at two Puget Sound wineries while studying the technology of
winemaking through texts and short courses at UC Davis.
"Do not search in a wine for
the reflection of an exact science. The formulas of scientific oenology
are only a thin competition which does not know how to respect the mysteries
of eternal creation."