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David M. Bueker

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October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending friends

by David M. Bueker » Thu Sep 30, 2021 5:30 pm

We're into the last quarter of the year, and time to get into some more advanced Wine Focusing. We're going to start blending. This month it's Syrah and its favorite blending partners - Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier, etc.. Everything is up for grabs, from a classic Chateauneuf du Pape to a new world Syrah/Viognier blend made in the sprit of Cote Rotie, to even a Mourvedre/Carignan (Syrah is not mandatory!) that's representing the interest and opportunity of a winemaker looking to do something different.

The weather is getting cooler in the Northern Hemisphere, so make up a hearty stew or soup, and pop a robust bottle of red.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Tim York » Fri Oct 01, 2021 7:26 am

The last two reds I have opened have both been Syrah blends. The Minervois is a traditional Languedoc AOP blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan while the Ugaba from Stellenbosch contains a large amount of CabSauv as well as small amounts of PV and Malbec. I opened the Ugaba after finishing off the Minervois and took some time to adjust to the sharper fruit.

2018 Château Sainte Madeleine Minervois Reserve - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Minervois (27/09/2021)
For its price of <€5, this Minervois from Grenache, Syrah & old Carignan provides unusually suave drinking with its medium/full body, ripe dark fruit, a touch of liquorice balanced by fresh acidity and completed by velvety tannins. Good wine and stunning QPR.

2018 Anwilka Ugaba - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch (27/09/2021)
I enjoyed the 2013 vintage of this wine but I think this 2018 is rather different in character due to the proportion of Syrah falling from 83% to 56% in favour of Cabernet Sauvignon now up to 37%. This accounts for rather sharper and brighter fruit giving a more Atlantic rather than Mediterranean character (if I may be allowed European analogies?) and perhaps a tad more structure. So we now have a wine which is dark coloured and quite full bodied showing vigorous and bright red fruit tinged particularly with red currant, some spice and liquorice together with fresh acidity and less perceptible oak influence than in its older brother. This is a good easy drinking wine and reasonable QPR at c.€10.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Jenise » Fri Oct 01, 2021 4:07 pm

This will be fun! Just checked CT: I have 193 bottles (and typical me, of 105 different wines so lots of only children) of wines called syrah. Probably more where 'Red Rhone Blend' would be the more apt descriptor.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Jenise » Sat Oct 02, 2021 4:30 pm

Last night my brother invited us over for lamb chops and I took these two wines:

2010 La Celestiere Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Red Rhone Blend
Wish CT offered two like buttons: 'Liked it a lot' and 'It was just okay'. There can be such a huge gap wherein the neutral option seems a little unfair but "I liked it" overstates things. This is one such wine. Decanted only half an hour before serving, it showed no flaws per se but it was starchy with some asphalt notes amid the earth and reticent black fruits and was, therefore, 'just okay' for three of us at the table though mysteriously my brother in law--who adores fat, oaky new world chardonnays above all wines--preferred this to the more joyful new world wine below. A bottle a year ago July showed much better.

2015 Two Vintners Syrah Some Days are Stones Walla Walla Valley
Lapin cherry with some spices and a very nice core of minerality. Most importantly, the 15.4% alcohol doesn't show. Not a long-hauler but bright, satisfying and well-made for current drinking.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Oct 02, 2021 6:09 pm

2 no-namers there Jenise eh
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Jenise » Sat Oct 02, 2021 8:48 pm

Not sure what you mean? Two Vintners, aka II Vintners, is a newish Washington winery but they've made a very nice name for themselves throughout the state and I'm one of many fans of what they do. Tom Hill has reported on them as well.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Robin Garr » Sun Oct 03, 2021 3:47 pm

A surprisingly nice GSM plus C(arignan) Ventoux that, unfortunately, looks like a bit of a unicorn ... Wine-Searcher shows only Canadian vendors, but I swear a stash of it showed up in Louisville, so it's apparently pretty random. Worth grabbing if you see it, though!

Bonpas 2019 Grande Réserve des Challières Ventoux ($12.99)

Bonpas 2019 Grande Réserve des Challières Ventoux offers the characteristic aromas and flavors of the Southern Rhône and Provence in its mix of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre grapes plus a splash of Carignan. Ripe raspberries show up first in the aroma, but juicy black plums are there too, with notes of freshly ground black pepper showing as the wine opens up in the glass. Flavors mirror the nose, red and black fruit with mouth-watering acidity and soft tannins; a touch of stony minerality appears with balanced fruit and acid in a long finish. U.S. importer: Boisset America, St. Helena, Calif. (Nov. 26, 2020) (Sept. 11, 2021)

FOOD MATCH: Well-balanced fruit, acidity, and tannins make for a food-friendly wine, and this one passes that test. Roast beef or steaks, lamb, or even roast chicken should serve it well; the winery suggests pairing it with barbecued pork ribs. It was delicious for us with a simple bowl of pasta in a fresh, garlicky tomato sauce.

WHEN TO DRINK: This wine is delicious right now, so there's no need to wait; but balance and sufficient tannins suggest that it should hold under good cellar conditions for three to five years.

VALUE:
Wine-Searcher.com lists a $14 average U.S. retail for the similar Cotes du Rhone Reserve de Bonpas.

WEB LINK:
Here's the winery's fact sheet in English.

For more information, check this fact sheet from Importer Boisset America.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Oddly, Wine.Searcher.com shows only Canadian vendors for Bonpas Grande Réserve des Challières Ventoux.

If the Ventoux Grande Reserve de Challieres is hard to find, check Wine'Searcher for the similar Cotes du Rhone Reserve de Bonpas.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for dozens of other wines from Ventoux.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Peter May » Tue Oct 05, 2021 11:42 am

I used to really like Syrah, I enjoyed its pepperiness, but now that same pepperiness puts me off with the result I now have no Syrah varietals in my cellar. But I do like Grenache/Syrah blends, and on Sunday with roast chicken we had

20211003_weekend-wines-Sun-2-small.jpg
20211003_weekend-wines-Sun-2-small.jpg (33.15 KiB) Viewed 2820 times


2018 Château La Sauvageonne (Gérard Bertrand) Grand Vin (France, Terrasses du Larzac)

A Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan blend according to the back label or a Grenache, Syrah, Carignan blend according to the fact sheet on the website (dated 2015) - whatever, it is super but a frightening 15.5% abv.

Dense, almost black colour, harmonious fruit and spices flavours and extremely drinkable. Aware of the high abv we tried to restrict our input but found ourselves just pouring more until the bottle was empty.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Jenise » Tue Oct 05, 2021 11:48 am

Gerard Bertrand? That brand has invaded America with it's cleverly designed rose bottle. Every grocery store has it, it seems. Also not long back a friend served a chardonnay from him/them that's pretty horrible in the same bottle. I've done no research, but it must be some giant negociant type house.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Tim York » Wed Oct 06, 2021 6:05 am

Gérard Bertrand has become quite a prominent brand here in France. He centres on Languedoc and produces a series of wines, both from his own estates and as a négociant, which are usually well made but haven't so far moved me a lot in terms of personality. Sauvageonne is owned by Bertrand.

His headquarters are at the beautiful Château de L'Hospitalet estate in the La Clape sub-region where we once stayed briefly as guests of the previous owners, neither of whom had a wine background unlike Bertrand who is a real professional. As well as being a wine man, Bertrand clearly understands marketing and self projection. He could be the force which finally propels Languedoc to the forefront in the wine world even though IMO there are many artisan producers making wine more interesting than his.

https://en.gerard-bertrand.com/collecti ... dAQAvD_BwE
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Peter May » Wed Oct 06, 2021 7:23 am

Thanks Tim, Jenise

I'd never heard the name before, but yes, the website does show a lot of brands and wines.

I can speak only of that one wine, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Jenise » Wed Oct 06, 2021 2:35 pm

I briefly visited the link Tim provided (thank you, Tim). 24 roses! Including, of all things, a collaboration with Jon Bon Jovi called Hampton Water. [shakes head in disbelief] But wow, ambitious.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Paul Winalski » Thu Oct 07, 2021 1:05 pm

You can find a review of some older Hermitage and Cote-Rotie here.

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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Robin Garr » Fri Oct 08, 2021 12:13 pm

The weather isn't getting cooler in this part of the Northern Hemisphere yet, so I decided to pop a bottle of robust rosé. Glad I did. Chateau Lancyre has long been a Languedoc favorite for me, and this one justifies its high-for-rosë $20 price tag in my opinion. This rosé has previously born a Pic St-Loup appellation but is now generic Languedoc; importer Dan Kravits told me it's still mostly St. Loup but now adds some grapes from select nearby vineyards. Doesn't matter to me, this is still a damn good pink wine.

Château Lancyre 2020 "Le Rosé" Languedoc Rosé ($19.99)

A blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Cinsault, Château Lancyre "Le Rosé" Languedoc Rosé shows a light salmon color in the glass. On the nose there's a rather subtle scent of fresh raspberries doing an alluring dance with the mixed-herb scents of rosemary and thyme that's called "garrigues" in Languedoc. Surprisingly full and ripe for a rosé, it fills the palate with red-berry and herbal flavors wrapped in gentle but ample acidity to build structure. Red berries and "garrigues" herbs linger in a long, refreshing finish. The label claims 14.5% alcohol, but alcohol isn't evident in its delicious flavors. Be careful out there! U.S. importer: Hand Picked Selections Inc., Warrenton, Va. (Oct. 5, 2021)

FOOD MATCH: The back label suggests matching it with roast chicken or pork, charcuterie, or stuffed tomatoes, and those all made sense to me. It worked delightfully for us with the Roman pasta dish cacio e pepe, and it was also a surprising delight with chunks of juicy, meaty Italian oxheart heirloom tomatoes.

WHEN TO DRINK: Most rosé isn't made for aging, and I see no reason not to enjoy this fresh 2020 vintage now and then move on to the next one.

VALUE:
I paid a couple of bucks over Wine-Searcher.com's $18 average U.S. retail, which is getting into high altitude country for a rosé. But this one is exceptional, and I'd buy it again.

WEB LINK:
Here's a quick fact sheet from importer Hand Picked Selections.

You can also view the winery's English-language page on Le Rosé.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Check prices and find vendors for Château Lancyre "Le Rosé Languedoc Rosé on Wine-Searcher.com.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link for dozens of other wines of all colors and styles from Languedoc's excellent Pic St.-Loup.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by David M. Bueker » Fri Oct 08, 2021 7:07 pm

  • 2015 Edmunds St. John Rocks and Gravel - USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley (10/8/2021)
    It’s a multi-year goodbye to the last vintage of ESJ Rocks & Gravel. My last bottle prior to this one was a few years ago, and I would never have predicted this trajectory. Perhaps it’s still in a middle/developing phase, as it’s showing much more light bodied than expected. There’s some real elegance, with red fruit and subtle framing tannins. The dusty, earthy undercurrents have not developed yet, so I will stay hands off my remaining bottles. In several more years it will likely have more to say, though it will do so in a quiet, but firm voice.

47% Mourvèdre, 39% Grenache, 14% Syrah
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Tim York » Sat Oct 09, 2021 12:40 pm

I have a definite preference for cool climate Syrah and find many unblended examples from S. France and further afield too heavy and jammy for my taste especially those labelled Shiraz from the southern hemisphere. I was curious to see how this 100% Syrah wine from Provence managed the grape grown in Mediterranean conditions. It is outside the AOP system and is labelled Vin de France, which allows a lot more flexibility. I notice that French wine critics and wine lovers are now taking such unorthodox wines much more seriously.

2016 Les Masques - Y.Cuilleron - C.Mestdagh - Exception Syrah - France, Provence (08/10/2021)
This 100% Syrah wine comes from about 15km north of Aix-en-Provence but, if I had been blind, I'd have taken it for a northern Rhône. Altitude of 500 metres and association with Yves Cuilleron, a tenor from the north, probably have a lot to do with this. Colour not especially dense and a quite fragrant nose lead to a medium bodied palate showing linear shape, fresh red berry fruit with a lot of griotte cherry, notes of olive and grilled meat with a little pepper, fine minerals, lively acidity and a finish supported by fine tannins. Very good.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Tim York » Sun Oct 10, 2021 6:15 am

I had a glass of this Priorat after finishing the Les Masques Syrah on which I posted yesterday. The contrast was quite striking, the Priorat being much darker, sweeter and more dense. The back label states a varietal composition of "mainly Garnacha and Carignan", so there may also be a touch of Syrah and/or Cabernet Sauvignon. I think that the wine might have benefited from some of the brightness and elegance of that provençal Syrah but I'm not sure that the grape would give that in Catalonia.

2012 Marco Abella Priorat Loidana - Spain, Catalunya, Priorat (09/10/2021)
This wine is, I guess, now at its peak or even a bit beyond it. There is quite some depth with sweet mature dark fruit, plenty of spice, lots of Mediterranean herbs as well as touches of anise and liquorice and the finish is becoming a little porty. Very good and I'll buy more if the store still has some at its bin-end price of <€10.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by David M. Bueker » Sun Oct 10, 2021 11:04 am

From your preamble I didn’t expect you to like it, but from your note you clearly did!
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 11, 2021 7:54 pm

  • 2018 Château de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône Coudoulet de Beaucastel - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône (10/11/2021)
    Red fruit, spice, leather, but a notable heat that is off putting. Drop the alcohol a percent or so, and this would be very good. As is it feels like lighter fluid, and that’s no fun. Glad this was a solo test bottle.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Steve Kirsch » Tue Oct 12, 2021 2:34 pm

2012 Chave Saint-Joseph
Starts off tasting quite young despite a double decant an hour or two earlier. After and hour or two the wine begins to display those mysterious and wonderful aromas that we all know and love about aged No. Rhone Syrah. With more time the experience becomes borderline mystical. I completely forget about Syrah every Spring and Summer and then reawaken to it when cooler weather arrives.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Tim York » Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:24 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:
  • 2018 Château de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône Coudoulet de Beaucastel - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône (10/11/2021)
    Red fruit, spice, leather, but a notable heat that is off putting. Drop the alcohol a percent or so, and this would be very good. As is it feels like lighter fluid, and that’s no fun. Glad this was a solo test bottle.


Thanks for the warning. I have been a fan of many Coudoulet past vintages and could well have reached for a bottle of this 2018 at a store.

Following on the Priorat, whose porty streak had become more clearly oxidative 48 hours later, I opened another similar blend from Catalonia, Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, but this time from the French side of the border and much younger.

2020 Mas Amiel Côtes du Roussillon Pur Schiste - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon (11/10/2021)
I've bought most vintages of this Pur Schiste cuvée since 2011. Between 2013 and 2014 it dropped Villages off its appellation. This 2020 is drinking remarkable well in its youth with just a touch of rawness in its aromas and still shows deep colour, medium/full body and lots berry fruit laced with orange peel and lightly sprinkled with spice and pepper but I think less minerality and acidity and darker fruit, less raspberry, than in most earlier vintages. There is a well supported finish which may owe something to 14.5% alcohol but I detected no burn. I see this less on the shelves than formerly so it may cease to be a good value (c.€10) standby for many of my meals. Good wine though.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by David M. Bueker » Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:08 am

  • 2013 Enfield Wine Co. Syrah Coryelle Fields - USA, California, Sonoma County, Fort Ross - Seaview (10/13/2021)
    A little over a year since my last bottle, which was quite open, and this one took its own sweet time giving up the goods. After about two hours the smoke, meat, herb and olive elements all came out to play, but it wasn't the immediate pleasure that had come with the previous bottle. The wine moves at its own pace. Still one left to see how things go with several more years of bottle age, as there is still plenty of material (and good balance) to hold up for more age.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by David M. Bueker » Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:13 pm

  • 2019 Domaine Charvin Côtes du Rhône (Le Poutet) - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône (10/13/2021)
    This is one of those wonderful wines that delivers a drinking experience well above its price point. It’s really more a baby Chateauneuf than “merely” a Côtes du Rhône, and brings the full flavors of cherry, earth, wild herbs and sun-soaked stone to life. It has some brightness on the palate, even though it finishes with a kirsch and olive bass note. So darned satisfying, and only a $20-$25 wine.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Wine 401 - Syrah & its blending frie

by Jenise » Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:40 am

Joined friends in BC's Okanagan Valley and opened this one for our shared Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.

2010 Pax Griffin's Lair Syrah, Sonoma
Fairly opaque blackish garnet. Great nose of beef broth, bacon, blackberry, pepper and iron. Dry berry and bacon finish, very balanced with, at this point, soft acidity and tannins. Drinks perfectly right now, wouldn't hold.
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