Cerebella 2014 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $25

Two branches of the military team up for the wines under the banner of Zimmel Unruh Cellars – Robb Zimmel, a former Army medic, and Jon Unruh, a U.S. Marine. This Syrah from their joint project based in West Richland, Wash., is a product of their second commercial vintage, and it began in McB Vineyard – a Lowden, Wash., planting that’s a chip shot from the historic schoolhouse. One of the three barrels used was new, and the results of the 100% whole berry fermentation are impressive. Aromas of elderberry jam, dried blueberry, Death By Chocolate and pepper lead to dense flavors of black fruit with dark toast, Jolly Rancher grape candy and cola. The rich structure is quaffable, yet balanced, finished with milk chocolate. Suggested pairings including a peppered flat iron steak, caramelized onions and roasted Brussels sprouts. These wines are available in Vancouver, Wash., at The Grant House and Vinotopia and in the Tri-Cities at Cheese Louise, Wine Notes, Grill on Gage and Italiano’s Serious Pies & Pasta.

Rating: Excellent

Production: 75 cases

Alcohol: 15.5%

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