For those who know this great, under the radar, Walla Walla mainstay, they won’t be surprised by how good the new wines by Saviah Cellars are. While I am not surprised that the wines were this good, I was highly impressed after tasting truly one of the great overall lineups in Washington wine. Founded back in 2000, Saviah Cellars originally began as a mere 300 case production winery. Today they particularly gain fame from their Syrah wines that are sourced from their two estate vineyards in the Walla Walla Rocks District. Saviah was started by winemaker Richard Funk and his wife, Anita, who are both natives of Montana who moved to Walla Walla in 1991 and later planted their first vineyard in 2001. Saviah is a family name from Anita’s great-grandmother, a schoolteacher, artist and author, who settled in western Montana in the early 1900s.
Richard Funk is one of the great, down to earth people in Washington wine. With a foundation in microbiology, Richard previously worked as the Environmental Health Specialist with the Walla Walla County Health Department and is a self-taught winemaker. Richard has assisted several wineries with their start-up processes and served as the winemaker for Watermill Winery from 2006-2009, àMaurice winery from 2005-2006 and also has served as a consulting winemaker for several new wineries. His new red wine releases were really outstanding, coming from warm 2016 and 2017 vintages. With insanely good aromatic and flavor range the 2016 Saviah ‘The Stones Speak’ Syrah (WWB, 95) is one of the best wines that I have tried by Richard Funk, as this brilliantly showcases the rocky terroir of the Walla Walla Rocks District region. I was absolutely blown away with their 2016 Saviah ‘The Funk Estate’ Syrah (WWB, 96) which is the best wine I have ever sampled from this estate. This is one to not be missed for any serious collector of Washington wines. Learn more about this outstanding winery at https://www.saviahcellars.com/ Here are the outstanding new wines by Saviah.
2016 Saviah ‘Walla Walla Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon- Sourced from a host of great vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley, the 2016 Saviah Cabernet Sauvignon shows bright red and dark fruits on the nose that mingle with spice cake and shades of milk chocolate that all take their shape in the glass. The palate is juicy and decadent, delivering gobs of dark fruits that mingle with suggestions of chocolate fudge and clove. This is downright delicious stuff now, as this beautiful wine will evolve well over the next decade. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2017 Saviah ‘Une Vallee’ Red Wine- The ‘Une Vallee’ is a silky blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller portions Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark fruits mark the nose with shades of exotic spices and milk chocolate that all connect nicely together aromatically. The palate shows a soft mouthfeel and wonderful texture as wild blackberry preserves, black tea, and mocha flavors all meld together on the attack. This is seriously good in its youth but has both the stuffing and brightness to cellar well over the next decade. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2017 Saviah ‘Walla Walla Valley’ Syrah- The 2017 ‘Walla Walla Valley’ Syrah by Saviah shows rich bacon fat and blackberry cobbler aromatics that mingle with the underlying herbal tones on the nose. Rich and nicely balanced, showing a good sense of minerality, the wine unveils ripe black fruits that combine with lighter tar and smoked brisket tones on the palate. Drink 2019-2026- 92
2017 Saviah ‘Reserve’ Syrah- The ‘Reserve’ Syrah is a stunning bottling by the talented Richard Funk, as he chose to source this wine from ‘The Funk’ and ‘Watermill Estate’ Vineyards in the Walla Walla Rocks AVA. The stony character on the nose is lovely and melds with the salted smoked meats, leather and suggestions of wild blackberry that all take their cadence in the glass. The soft, silky texture really entices, as the wine unveils ripe black fruits that mingle with the stony and smoky undertones of the wine. This is seriously good now and will continue to evolve for the next decade. Drink 2019-2026- 94
2016 Saviah ‘The Stones Speak Estate’ Syrah- The 2016 ‘The Stones Speak Estate’ Syrah is another tremendous bottling by Richard Funk of Saviah fame. The spellbinding aromatics evoke serious range from Umami to horse manure, damp leather, wet stone and suggestions of green olive tapenade alongside lighter black fruits that all take their shape in the glass. Soft and generous on the mouth, the wine has racy acidity considering the heat of the vintage. The sense of balance is evident, as this seamless Umami and black fruit driven wine artfully glides across the mid-palate. The exceedingly long finish accentuates this beautiful bottling. While fantastic to savor in its youth, this will cellar well over the next decade. Drink 2019-2029- 95
2017 Saviah ‘The Stones Speak Estate’ Syrah- Now gaining age, Richard Funk’s ‘The Stones Speak Estate’ Vineyard is his second, ten acre parcel located in the Walla Walla Rocks District. Needing roughly an hour in the decanter to fully evolve, the 2017 ‘The Stones Speak Estate’ slowly awakens to ripe Kalmata olive, smoked pork shoulder, Hoisin sauce and hints of black forest cake with the wet stone undertones that all marvelously meld together in the glass. The silky texture really entices as deep dark fruits meld with the black tea, creosote, black olive tapenade and wet stone tones on the palate. Showing excellent verve and complexity, this beautiful wine will cellar well over the next ten plus years. Drink 2019-2029- 94
2016 Saviah ‘The Funk Estate’ Syrah- The 2016 ‘The Funk Estate’ is a stunning new wine by superstar winemaker Richard Funk of Saviah Cellars. Chosen to co-ferment 4% Viognier with Syrah, this immediately entices with bright citrus blossom aromatics that combine with the deep dark fruits, green olive, bacon fat and horse manure aromatics that all shine brightly in unison. Soft, round and generous, there is a seamless quality to this wine that is apparent. Black tea, clove, cigar ash, Umami, red cherry puree and suggestions of wild blackberry cordial all marvelously combine in this utterly thrilling palate. I really enjoy this sensational Syrah at this stage in its development, and my feeling is there is no reason to cellar it for more than another seven years. Drink 2019-2026- 96