Out of the Shadows, Ex Umbris Syrah

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here is an Irish blessing for you:

Remember to Forget

Always remember to forget
The things that made you sad.
But never forget to remember
The things that made you glad.

That is something I handle well with wine… I never forget to remember the wines that made me glad. 🙂

While today’s wine is not Irish, it’s made by a gentleman named David O’Reilly at a winery named Owen Roe (I’m guessing there’s some Irish there). 😉

Since it is still Washington Wine Month, it’s only fitting I introduce you to another of my tried-and-true go-to wines (wow, that was a heckuva lotta hyphens): Owen Roe 2020 Ex Umbris Syrah Columbia Valley.

The first time I had Owen Roe wines was at a now defunct wine bar in Fremont. This was among my earlier wine tasting experiences and I just loved every single Owen Roe wine I had, and took home most of them, including the Ex Umbris Syrah. Ex Umbris is Latin for “out of the shadows.”

Here were my tasting notes on the 2010 Ex Umbris:

“Virtually flawless Syrah. Delectable. I want more!”

And, amazingly, I still share those same sentiments in 2023!

According to the winemaker, Ex Umbris was first made in 2002 “… after a wild fire struck the vineyard’s surrounding hillsides. The residual ash and smoke resonated in the Syrah grapes, creating a very memorable wine.” Thus they produce this Syrah every year in keeping with the style of the first vintage. Just to be clear, this does not mean you taste wildfire smoke, not at all.

This is one of my all-time favorite Syrahs, Washington or otherwise. I keep going back to it because it is consistently great and at a very comfortable price for such a high quality wine. Everyone I’ve recommended it to or gifted it to has loved it. And the wine doesn’t lie – winemaker David O’Reilly carefully selects only premium Syrah grapes from top Washington vineyards in Columbia, Yakima, and Walla Walla Valleys for this wine.

Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah wine

I love the script on the label. Brings back memories of taking calligraphy in middle school.

Here are the details and my impressions of the wine:

  • $17.47/bottle at Total Wine, slightly less at Costco, $21.00 at winery
  • Deep ruby color
  • Full body, 14.1% ABV, mostly dry
  • Aromas/Flavors: Plum, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, pepper, clay, floral
  • Lush, full fruit flavors, touch of spice, vanilla on the palate
  • Soft yet strong background tannins that offer good support in the wine
  • Good, balanced presence of acidity
  • Long-lasting, gentle finish

In sum, this is a fantastic introductory teaser to the epic level of quality that Washington Syrah can achieve.

I really need to do a road trip and visit their tasting room in Wapato, WA. Not only do they specialize in Washington reds like Syrahs, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc., but also in Oregon reds like Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs. Some of the best of both states, and my top favorite types of wine. But alas, when? Think I’ll go pine away for now….

Anyway, you can purchase Ex Umbris Syrah at Total Wine and certain Costco locations, and obviously through the winery itself. In fact, if you’re a really big fan, you can purchase a case of Ex Umbris directly through the winery and each bottle comes to about $12.42/bottle (before tax, etc.). Unbelievable! (Sadly, this option is sold out at the moment). 😦

So for those of you who prefer red wine to green beer, Guinness, or Bailey’s, raise a glass of Ex Umbris Syrah and proclaim, Sláinte!

1. Cavoto, Erin, “50 Best Irish Blessings to Read Aloud on St. Patrick’s Day”, The Pioneer Woman, March 1, 2023, accessed March 15, 2023, https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/holidays-celebrations/g35219151/traditional-irish-blessings-prayers/?slide=14


When Time Isn’t On Your Side: What to Drink

All too familiar scenario: you drag through the door on a Friday night after a long week of work and while you would love to immediately start indulging in a glass of wine, you have a moderately nice bottle that requires a couple hours worth of aerating/decanting (for optimal taste, you’re a wine connoisseur, after all) and you absolutely cannot wait. Seriously, who has time for nonsense like that at times like these? It’s time to start winding down from your long week and focus on relaxing. A glass of wine is a lovely addition to this process and you need unfettered access ASAP.

This past week was brutal. I was unusually overwhelmed by things that needed to get done, and wasn’t easy on myself about them. Rest assured, my week ended joyfully, but during much of it I was super pressed for time, cramming umpteen tasks that I needed to get done into every minute of the day. This is only natural on weeks where there is more to do than usual. I don’t mind being busy, but I need space and time to relax and recharge. I do better that way. But I also don’t want to miss out on fun activities or neglect the things I really do need to get done (you know, like showering).

A tempting treat from the Land Down Under that’s under $10 a bottle, 2010 Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Shiraz is a wine that drinks BEAUTIFULLY without needing decanting. You can drink it the second you pop the cork. I poured some in our decanter but it made scant difference. Voila instant gratification, pour away!

From the tasting notes: “A full bodied, juicy sweet palate with cherry, chocolate and plum flavours with a smooth finish.” I find it smooth and easily drinkable, but it possesses enough flavor complexity to pair very well with red wine foods, particularly a rich beef stew or pasta, or even Afghan cuisine (yes, I’ve had this wine with Afghan cuisine at a local restaurant, and it’s awesome). On its own, it’s mellow and yummy.

For those of you who pride yourselves on time-saving tricks and tactics, put this red wine at the top of your list for “time-saving” wines. Now go have a glass and relax!

Time is
Too slow for those who wait
Too swift for those who fear
Too long for those who grieve
Too short for those who rejoice
But for those who love
Time is eternity.

~ Henry Van Dyke