Seattle native Sean Boyd began his career as a geologist working in oil and gas exploration before he ventured out into the world of wine. With an already vast knowledge of soil and science under his belt, Sean worked a harvest at Waters Winery in 2004 and learned several positions within the company. Over time, his personal drinking preferences turned towards Rhône Valley wines due to their “freshness, structure and range within the region”, and he grew inspired to craft traditional, Northern and Southern Rhône-style wines with Washington state fruit. Hence, Rotie Cellars was established in 2007 in Walla Walla Valley with the motto: ‘Old World Wines from New World Vines’, and a focus on wines that are generally lower alcohol, less ripe, less oaked, balanced, finesse-driven and mouth-coating. Sean believes that “90% of making wine occurs within the vineyard” and thus, only sources fruit from top-notch sites like his prized Rotie Rocks Estate vineyard which is comprised of mineral-rich, basalt-based soils and conducive to early bud break, flowering, veraison, and ripening. Sean does not attempt to produce a signature style from year to year, but rather enjoys the individuality that each vintage brings; thus, he endeavors to not get in the way of the 10% of the process that he believes winemakers have control over, but rather, let the grapes speak for themselves.
As is tradition in the Northern Rhône Valley, Sean co-ferments this blend of 94% Syrah with 6% Viognier to add floral aromatics and structural balance to the wine. The viognier characteristics are highly discernable on the nose, imparting Intoxicating aromas of jasmine and violet that compel you to take that first sip. The palate, which is lush and brimming with black cherry and dark plummy fruit, turns savory quite quickly and offers notes of smoky bacon fat, eucalyptus, white pepper and bittersweet chocolate. An expertly crafted blend that despite being aged for 15 months in 2nd and 3rd fill French oak barrels, exhibits vivid fruit, balancing acidity and silky tannins. The duality of pretty floral aromatics and plush fruit against the earthier elements makes for a truly intriguing wine and one that would be easily mistaken for a top vintage Côte-Rôtie! Pair with a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin or Peking duck.