Well, it took me an entire year (not bad really), but I've now assembled a new tasting group, and we had our first tasting on Saturday. The group consists primarily of my colleagues from the college plus a few other friends, and they range from complete novices to very knowledgeable. I must say it's always fun to taste wines with other academics, because they bring that detail-oriented perspective, even if they don't yet know a lot about wine. In short, the evening was a hit, they all had fun and appreciated the experience. I chose Syrah because it was a tasting I had been wanting to do, and was a perfect, approachable intro tasting.
First my notes, with observations/reflections afterward:
Paul Jaboulet Aine, Les Jalets, Crozes-Hermitage 2009
Wonderful Northern Rhone nose, though definitely on the ripe side, with blackberry, raspberry, currant, smoked meat / gamey notes. Similar notes on the palate, rich and dense, with a good acid backbone. Medium-full bodied and succulent. Excellent, and also quite attractive. Very, very nice. Has 5 - 10 years ahead of it. 3.5 Stars [8/17/13]
d'Arenberg, Shiraz, The Footbolt, McLaren Vale 2009
Ripe, juicy fruit, black cherry, tart blackberry jam, some nice, gravelly, McLaren Vale earthiness, a bit of smoke, and chocolatey tannins. Very full bodied, but has some nice tart acid supporting it. As it opens, rather Italianate notes of tomato and orange rind emerge. A bit more integrated and harmonious the next day. Drink over the next 3 - 5 years. 3 Stars [8/17/13]
Columbia Crest, Grand Estates, Syrah, Columbia Valley 2009
Very nice nose, a bit Northern Rhone-ish, with smoked meat, roses, a hint of chocolate, blackberry, currant, and plum. Similar notes on the with palate, lush, somewhat dense fruit; dark tarry berries and a bit of sweet jam too, with loads of white pepper, and some mineral notes. Full, succulent body, with good acid tone; not terribly complex, but nice and a good value. Not much different the next day. Drink now. 2.5 Stars [8/17/13]
Alexander Valley Vineyards, Syrah, Alexander Valley 2007
On the nose, smokey, floral, a bit of leather, the sweet evergreen notes of Alexander Valley, with ripe berries. On palate, lovely, juicy, fresh red fruit, with dark brambly berry fruits underneath. Wonderful, succulent character; a bit peppery, with some mineral. This is so good, what a surprise. Drink now. 3.5 Stars [8/17/13]
Falernia, Syrah, Reserva, Elqui Valley 2007
Aromatic nose, smokey and meaty. Bolder but somewhat austere on the palate, with some nice, tarry dark berries, tart raspberry, and loads of pepper. Full-bodied and formidable. Will benefit from more time, and should develop nicely over the next 5 years or more. A screaming value if you like its style. 3 Stars. [8/17/13]
Fairview, Shiraz, Coast Regional 2010
[Day 1] A dark and not very aromatic nose, with pepper, tarry earth, blackberry, and cassis. Similar notes on the palate, with the addition of blueberry. Juicy and a bit simple, and very peppery, but pleasant with full body, and good acid.
[Day 2] The next day, quite a transformation: Really nice nose of smoke, game, and black soil (rather Northern Rhone-ish), with lots of pepper, some floral notes, a hint of citrus, loads of cassis, and nice blackberry / blueberry / damson notes. Similar on the palate, very peppery, but with wonderful texture and body, a hint chocolate, and chalky tannin. Full bodied, ripe, dense, and intense, but all put into relief by softer notes of juicy currant and plum. Really nice. Will develop nicely over the next 5 years, perhaps longer. 3 Stars [8/17/13]
The Jaboulet was very well liked by all (I think the ripe 2009 vintage helped out with approachability); it was definitely my wine of the night. The Columbia Crest was also liked by all given the quality and drinkability it offered for its modest price tag. The d'Arenberg was also generally well liked, but not by all, though some even preferred it to the Jaboulet. Opinion on the other three wines was somewhat divided. Though we never took a formal poll, my impression is that the Jaboulet was the consensus wine of the night--the one wine that everyone liked and agreed was excellent.
And even before the end of the evening they were asking me what the next tasting would be, so it seems I did my job well. So here's to new adventures!
Last edited by Ryan M
on Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The sun, with all those planets revolving about it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do"
(avatar: me next to the WIYN 3.5 meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory)