Washington State Syrah is coming under the spotlight in a new transatlantic joint venture involving Chateau Ste Michelle linking the Pacific north-west with the Rhone Valley.

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Tenet Wines, a partnership between Chateau Ste Michelle and Rhone-based winemaker Michel Gassier and consultant Philippe Cambie, has so far yielded three wines, including two from Washington’s Columbia Valley and one from Costieres de Nimes.

‘I believe that because of its latitude, basalt soils and access to water, Washington State is the perfect spot in the US to produce Rhone varietal wines that are balanced, vibrant and have a sense of place,’ said Gassier, winemaker at Chateau de Nages in the southern Rhone.

Syrah is still a relatively small player in Washington State. Cabernet Sauvignon last year overtook Chardonnay and Riesling as the state’s most widely planted grape variety, according to US government figures.

‘We’ve been working with Syrah and other Rhone varietals in Washington State for a long time,’ said Chateau Ste Michelle winemaker Bertheau. ‘But Philippe and Michel brought an interesting exchange of ideas that helped us look at Syrah in new ways.’

The three Tenet wines, all from the 2013 vintage, include Tenet GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre), priced in the US at US$70, and The Pundit Syrah (US$24.99), both from Washington State; and Le Fervent Syrah ($21.99) from Costières de Nîmes.

Just over 1,000 cases of Tenet GSM have been made, along with 8,113 cases of The Pundit and 5,000 cases of Le Fervent.

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Written by Richard Woodard