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February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by David M. Bueker » Sun Feb 02, 2020 1:09 pm

We have an extra day this February. Time for some hearty stews in the northern hemisphere, and a bottle of Syrah or Shiraz.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Robin Garr » Sun Feb 02, 2020 2:19 pm

Mmmm! (Wait! Is it February already! :shock: )
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Feb 02, 2020 2:44 pm

Should be some nice TNs this month.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Paul Winalski » Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:39 pm

I opened some 2013 Bonny Doon Le Pousseur syrah a couple of days ago. As one would expect from varietal syrah, it's a dark black/purple color. It's one of very few syrahs from California that has the smoky/meaty aroma characteristic of syrah from the Northern Rhone. As is typical of a Randall Grahm wine, it is very smooth and approachable, with no rough tannic or acidic edges. I suspect it will improve over the next five years or so, maybe even longer. Double Larry.

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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Rahsaan » Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:30 am

2011 Texier Brézème Pergaud VS
I drink less syrah these days so I stopped buying newer vintages, but I have a few 2011s and 2010s left and have been debating when to open. I saw a positive note from a Texier enthusiast and went for it. This bottle was definitely open for pleasure, so no problems on that front. And there was plenty of elegant fragrant fun that went well with dinner. But not as much depth or excitement as I had been hoping for. Will see how the rest of my bottles show.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by David M. Bueker » Wed Feb 05, 2020 1:41 pm

2012 Wind Gap Wines Syrah Majik Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (2/4/2020)
Long time since my last bottle of this. It’s still young. Not so grapey as it was in 2015, the focus is now on savory elements such as roasted meat, dried herbs and black olive, with dried blackberry fruit only in a supporting role. There is lots of depth, and also significant tannic structure. It’s really quite a lot of wine, and only 12% alcohol. I would not peg it as California if I was served blind, as it does not show the “sunny fruit.” It’s a very cool climate, reserved, intellectual wine. Glad to have one more bottle for another time.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Tim York » Fri Feb 07, 2020 8:47 am

For my palate Syrah shows itself at its self-sufficient best in the N.Rhône valley between Lyon and Valence. Here the wines tend to combine freshness with bright berry fruit, olive, spice and meat flavours together with depth and generosity.

Further south in the northern hemisphere, I find that wines from Syrah tend to become darker fruited, heavier and more alcoholic to an extent which needs blending in most places with other grapes to make a balanced cuvée.

I think from my limited experience the same goes in the southern hemisphere but the other way round. The only southern hemisphere Syrah/Shiraz which I have really enjoyed are Cloonakilla and one or two from New Zealand. I have to admit though that Southern Australian Shiraz, most of which I have found jammy, overblown and over-oaked, enjoys quite a lot of commercial success.

It's unlikely that I'll find a southern hemisphere Shiraz/Syrah this month but I may unearth one or two old TNs. Likewise for majority Syrah from southern Europe but again I may find some older TNs. Meanwhile here is a classic from N.Rhône. Unlike much other Côte Rôtie, Jamet's Côte Brune contains no Viognier.

2000 Domaine Jamet Côte-Rôtie Côte Brune - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (2/6/2020)
I had a stash of 3 bottles of 2000 but this is first time I noticed "Côte Brune" on the label. Whether the two previous bottles were the same or not I can no longer check, but the wines are very similar with fragrant aromas of griotte cherries, metal, grilled meat, violets and olives on the nose. Likewise the palate is medium bodied at most but with lovely savoury fruit, minerals, a little pepper, lively acidity, silky mouth-feel, enough tannic grip and decent length. At first sip before food, the acidity was prominent but a mouthful of duck sufficed to bring it into lovely balance. Very good.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Rahsaan » Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:30 am

2005 ESJ Bassetti
It's been a while since I opened one of these, so figured it was time to check in. Decanted off sediment and the deep dark minty aromas and flavors are very seductive and distinctive from the beginning. The body leans acidic for a while, but fills in a bit over several hours of air. It also starts to show more of those ripe sunny CA fruit notes. By the end, the nose is gorgeous and very expressive. In the mouth it is tasty, but not quite up to the level of the nose.

It's a 15-year-old wine, so I suppose one could debate whether it is on the downslope towards becoming thinner and more shrill over time (in which case I would be well served to drink up and enjoy it now). But, there is a great track record for the winemaker (if not the site, how much do we know about aging Bassetti?) So I'm guessing there is potential for further integration and textural evolution, and will place my bets on time, for now.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by David M. Bueker » Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:39 am

Jamet and ESJ. This is already a classic thread!
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:03 am

  • 2002 Lagier Meredith Syrah - USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder (2/10/2020)
    Lagier Meredith Syrah never seems to reach full maturity. That's true for this bottle, which still has vivid blackberry fruit, though it also has some of those maturing elements. Dried herbs, old leather and roasted meat supplement the fruit, yet it's still that fruit which takes center stage. Good showing, if surprising with its youthfulness.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Patchen Markell » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:07 pm

Pax 2018 North Coast (California) Syrah. 12.6% abv, $32.00. The first wine I've had from the Pax label, though I've had and enjoyed Pax-made Wind Gap wines. This is vivid and densely purple. The first impression is of slurpably juicy, varietally transparent Syrah, with a layer of olive peeking out around the fruity edges; it's enjoyably balanced now, and will probably get a little subtler with a few years of age, though there isn't a ton of structure to burn. It wouldn't fool lovers of northern Rhônes, but it would probably please them, and isn't that the point?
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:14 pm

Patchen Markell wrote:Pax 2018 North Coast (California) Syrah. 12.6% abv, $32.00. The first wine I've had from the Pax label, though I've had and enjoyed Pax-made Wind Gap wines. This is vivid and densely purple. The first impression is of slurpably juicy, varietally transparent Syrah, with a layer of olive peeking out around the fruity edges; it's enjoyably balanced now, and will probably get a little subtler with a few years of age, though there isn't a ton of structure to burn. It wouldn't fool lovers of northern Rhônes, but it would probably please them, and isn't that the point?


Did you pick up much carbonic fermentation character? Pax has been doing more of that lately, and I have been moving away from his wines as a result.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Patchen Markell » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:22 pm

It didn’t come to mind as I was drinking (and I don’t claim to be especially skilled at detecting it) but I suppose that could account for the sense of it “not having much structure to burn” relative to the aromatic density. Whatever was responsible for that, it would make me reluctant to buy in quantity for cellaring, but not for near-term consumption.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Robin Garr » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:06 pm

Reader's Digest version of last week's Wine Advisor: When I picked up a bottle of Cline Family Cellars' 2018 Sonoma County Syrah the other day, I chose it mostly for its $15 price tag, frankly. I've long thought of Cline simply as a reliable source of drinkable if not memorable Zinfandel from Contra Costa County. But the sustainable, eco-friendly wines from its Sonoma Coast estate vineyards seem to punch at a higher weight. Sure, this Syrah won't play as a Côte-Rôtie ringer, but it's Euro-style, balanced, with a light touch of French, not American oak. I could mistake it for a Cotes-du-Rhone from the northern slopes or even maybe a Saint-Joseph. For $15, it's a damn good value.

Cline 2018 Sonoma Coast Syrah ($14.99)

This 100-percent Syrah shows dark purple with a thin, clear garnet edge. Black plums, black cherries, and a whiff of something like tobacco leaf on the nose, leading into a mouth-filling black-fruit and black coffee flavor framed by fresh acidity. Its 14.5% alcohol and persistent tannins dry the insides of your cheeks; an aftertaste of fragrant black pepper, typical of Syrah, becomes more evident with time in the glass. Interesting wine. Its origin in Sonoma County's cool-climate Diamond Pile Estate vineyard and its subtle French oak imparts a surprisingly Rhône-like character for a California Syrah. (Feb. 6, 2020)

FOOD MATCH: Syrah's natural companion is rare red meat, beef, lamb or game, or flavorful Cheddar and similar cheeses.

WHEN TO DRINK: Its fruit and tannin and sturdy Syrah backbone suggest that it should cellar well and perhaps gain complexity over up to five years.

VALUE:
It's a great value in the range of my local $15 price and Wine-Searcher.com's $14 average U.S. retail, and is available for as little as $10 from a few vendors listed at Wine-Searcher. It sells for a bit more from the winery, going for $18 on the Cline website.

WEB LINK
Here's a fact sheet about Cline Syrah on the winery web page. You'll find a more detailed fact sheet in PDF format at this link.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Check prices and find vendors for Cline Sonoma Coast Syrah on Wine-Searcher.com.

Read more about Cline Cellars and follow this Wine-Searcher link to find vendors and prices for many Cline wines.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by David M. Bueker » Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:32 pm

  • 2009 Cowan Cellars Syrah Dry Stack Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Bennett Valley (2/12/2020)
    My last bottle, and I wish I had more. Solid blueberry fruit complemented with leather, spice and earth tones, is supported by balanced tannins and fresh acidity. The finish has a bramble berry note that carries to a deep mineral bath. Delish!
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:53 pm

I opened a 2011 Edmunds St. John Syrah Fenuaghty Vineyard over the weekend, and it was still youthful, and a bit closed in. Some air opened it up, but it was surprisingly primary. Interesting note is that the closure was a DIAM5. I thought Steve was using DIAM10.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Tim York » Tue Feb 18, 2020 8:47 am

Here is a Syrah dominated wine from the south of France. However like most from the south, Syrah is not alone and here only represents 60% of the blend alongside Mourvèdre 25% and Grenache 15%. It has none of the cloying heaviness that can afflict warm climate Syrah but I don't have the knowledge to say how far that is the contribution of Mourvèdre (usually structure) and Grenache (usually fat and greater sweetness). Another key to success with Syrah in the south of France is altitude but I can't find any information of that on the estate's website.

Incidentally Domaine Treloar is owned by an Anglo-New Zealand couple, Jonathan Hesford and Rachel Treloar. Jonathan is an unusually thoughtful vigneron and a regular contributor on Tom Canavan's UK Wine Pages.

2012 Domaine Treloar Côtes du Roussillon Tahi - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon (2/17/2020)
This is one of the best I have had from Roussillon. A GSM blend with 60% Syrah and expressive on both nose and palate, it was quite full bodied showing a delightfully bright balsamic and varnish edge to its complex dark plum tinged fruit, hints of lavender, tobacco and chocolate, good depth and suave texture together with good balancing acidity and firmness on the finish. It was a perfect match for rich boeuf bourguignon. Very good.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:44 am

I have had a few Treloar wines in the past, and enjoyed them. They are not as readily available as they used to be in my buying area.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Robin Garr » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:51 pm

Barnard Griffin 2016 Columbia Valley Syrah ($21.99)

This 100% Syrah from Washington State shows very dark purple in the glass, all the way to a thin, bright garnet edge. Scents of plums and red berries lift from the glass in an aroma of fresh, forward fruit. Red fruit flavors follow the nose, framed by bright acidity and firm, astringent tannins, with 13.8% alcohol claimed. It's a pleasant table red, not overly complex. (Feb. 19, 2020)

FOOD MATCH: The winery suggests pairing it with tender cuts of beef, particularly with a Syrah-based wine reduction sauce. In general it should go well with red meats or firm cheeses.

WHEN TO DRINK: Forward fruit, acidity, and firm tannins suggest decent potential for aging over the next five years, perhaps more under temperature-controlled cellar conditions.

VALUE:
My local $22 price is a fair-size step up from Wine-Searcher.com's $18 average U.S. retail.

WEB LINK:
Read a short fact sheet on the 2017 vintage on the winery website. Still, it's a good wine in the range of upper teens to lower $20s.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Check prices and find vendors for https://www.wine-searcher.com/find/barnard+griffin+sra+columbia+valley+washington+usa?referring_site=WLP on Wine-Searcher.com.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link for an article about Columbia Valley and links to dozens of the region's wines.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 21, 2020 5:23 pm

I visited Barnard griffin in 1999. while I was there they had a massive fork truck accident.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Robin Garr » Sat Feb 22, 2020 12:21 am

:shock:
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Steve Edmunds » Sun Feb 23, 2020 2:34 pm

David, regarding the Diam5 closure question, in thinking back, I remembered that when we bottled the '11 Fenaughty, the 5 was the only one on offer. The 10 came a couple years later, I believe.
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by David M. Bueker » Sun Feb 23, 2020 2:52 pm

Thanks for the info!
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Re: February Wine Focus: Syrah from both hemispheres

by Jenise » Sun Feb 23, 2020 9:36 pm

Patchen Markell wrote:Pax 2018 North Coast (California) Syrah. 12.6% abv, $32.00. The first wine I've had from the Pax label, though I've had and enjoyed Pax-made Wind Gap wines. This is vivid and densely purple. The first impression is of slurpably juicy, varietally transparent Syrah, with a layer of olive peeking out around the fruity edges; it's enjoyably balanced now, and will probably get a little subtler with a few years of age, though there isn't a ton of structure to burn. It wouldn't fool lovers of northern Rhônes, but it would probably please them, and isn't that the point?


As soon as I read "vivid and densely purple" I cringed. Made me realize something about my relationship with syrah--though I have grown to love the grape (did not always, particularly in the new world), it remains true that I don't appreciate young syrahs where young cabernets can be delightful.
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