We got lost on the way to the Roskamp Vineyard to meet Co Dinn. In Washington’s Yakima Valley, GPS service here can be sketchy, and even when you look it up ahead of time, sometimes roads have gates and you find the maps program tried to take you in a locked back door. So after a bit of driving for us and Co talking us in through landmarks we were unfamiliar with, we finally connected and headed up to the Roskamp Vineyard in the Snipes Mountain AVA. Co sources grapes here, for his Syrah and Chardonnay and it is a great vantage point to see the Yakima Valley.
Co Dinn is an expert on the soils and topography of the region. As we walked the vineyard he pointed out the large rocks that had been tumbled through with the Missoula floods. This is “ancestral Columbia River gravel soils, uplifted atop a sharp south-facing ridge top”. You can feel the difference in the wind from this block, to the Chardonnay block on the south side. Block 2 is on an edge at 1150 feet and the block is very exposed to wind. These low vigor vines in these conditions give small berries so you get more structure.
As we stood there in the wind we could look across to Painted Hills and Horse Heaven Hills on one side and Elephant Mountain and the Rattlesnake Hills AVA on the other. The views are really spectacular and listening to Co explain how this land was transformed by the Missoula floods I could picture the floods and the land moving and shifting.
While we had to run off that day to another appointment, we were able to return a few days later to meet Co in his tasting room in Sunnyside. It is a restored historic building that was the city waterworks.
Co showed us the winery and we tasted through a series of his wines. We left with a Chardonnay and with this Syrah.
Co Dinn 2015 Roskamp Vineyard Block 2 Syrah
This Co Dinn Roskamp Vineyard Syrah is fermented in one-ton bins. He presses when he feels the tannins are structured by not too grippy. The wine does secondary fermentation in neutral French oak.
100% Syrah. 14.6% abv SRP $45
This wine is a burgundy purple color and it is glass staining.
It has an intense nose of dark fruit with red notes. Red currant, cocoa powder, espresso, baking spice, anise, and brown sugar come to mind. Kinda sounds like dessert right? (We’ll get to that later).
In your mouth, it is intense again and warms and coats your teeth and gums. Flavors of dark tart black cherry, and blackberry with notes of anise.
We did a full meal to go with this! I was inspired.
BBQ chicken, grilled eggplant with chimichurri sauce, and smoked gouda mac and cheese with Co Dinn Roskamp Vineyard Syrah
We made BBQ chicken thighs with my special blend BBQ sauce. I played to the wine with my flavors, including black cherry preserves, and spices, a bit of espresso and cocoa, along with my usual mix of tomato paste, ketchup (yes, or catsup if you prefer), Worcestershire sauce, soy, honey, cider vinegar, balsamic, paprika, nutmeg, and assorted other spices. We did these in the slow cooker. If I do them again I will skin the chicken. Alright, I like fat and the flavor it imparts, but in this case, my sauce didn’t get to permeate the meat as well as I would have liked.
We also did grilled eggplant. In his tasting notes, Co mentions the wine will pair well with eggplant dishes.
Lastly, I made a smoked gouda mac and cheese. This made the whole thing feel like a Southern picnic to me and well, there is a little bit of pandemic virtual travel to be had in that!
All the dishes paired beautifully with Co’s Roskamp Vineyard Syrah, but the smoked gouda mac & cheese was my favorite.
Black Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches
To complete our Southern picnic theme, I made black cherry ice cream sandwiches. Okay, I made the cookies for them and bought black cherry ice cream which I thought would pair well with the wine. The cookies though included cocoa and espresso powder which I hoped would pair well with this Roskamp Vineyard Syrah.
Indeed they did! It was delicious! You know, those moments when you take a bite and a sip and close your eyes and groan with pleasure just a bit. Yeah, that kind of good!
Finding Co Dinn Wines
Co Dinn’s wines are wines that you should search out. These are made in small quantities so they are rare finds. When you can visit his beautiful tasting room at 501 Grant Ave in Sunnyside WA.
In the meantime, you can head to his site and order this Roskamp Vineyard Block 2 Syrah as well as his current releases.
More by Crushed Grape Chronicle on the Yakima Valley and Co Dinn
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.