Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

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Re: Wine Focus for October: Nominations Please

Postby ChaimShraga » Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:40 pm

Thanks, Tim, that was educational and fun.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Nominations Please

Postby Victorwine » Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:17 pm

Hi Tim,
Totally agree with most of what you posted. But I just don’t understand why some (from the Southern Rhone) would consider Syrah an “interloper” (“outsider” or “meddler”) Researchers tell us that the Syrah’s grape origins might be that of the Northern Rhone. While Grenache’s origins might be that of Spain. The term “old vine” actually has meaning here. Where else can one find so many “old vine Grenache” 40 to 140 years old? (However, the region itself has a much longer “history” in winemaking). Only after the phylloxera outbreak (of the mid to late 1800’s) was Grenache almost exclusively planted in the Southern Rhone, mainly because it was fairly easy to graft the vine with a high rate of success and it produced wines with high alcohol. Massive amounts of Southern Rhone wine was shipped north and west to both Burgundy and Bordeaux to “strengthen” and “improve” their wines while recovering from the phylloxera outbreak. Thus the “rise” of Syrah today could be viewed as a possible “comeback”.

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Re: Wine Focus for October: Nominations Please

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:15 pm

Victorwine wrote:I don’t believe there is a stipulation in the rules and regulations of the CdP AOC governing allowable percentages. So technically any (single) varietal wine made in the region from any one of the 13 or so “allowable” grape varieties could be labeled CdP.

That's my understanding too, Victor, although the only major example I can think of is Rayas = 100% Grenache. Can you think of any others? I doubt that any of the major players do so.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Nominations Please

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:22 am

Somebody does a cuvee syrah - can't recall who right ow.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Nominations Please

Postby Salil » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:26 am

Rayas/Fonsalette!

(And it's freaking amazing, unsurprisingly.)
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Gary Kahle » Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:28 pm

Andre Brunel of Les Cailloux has made a 100% Syrah Cuvee Boreale CdP in several vintages. I know there was a 1995 (I had a case), 1996, 2000 and others.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Victorwine » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:29 pm

Mas de Boislauzon does a CdP from 100% old vine (80 year old vines) Mourvedre called Tintot. Tintot is one of the older, original names for Mourvedre.

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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Jon Leifer » Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:21 pm

While I certainly agree that Fonsalette is terrific, last time I looked, it was a Cotes du rhone and a blend of 50% Grenache 35% Cinsault and 15% Syrah..When did it become a CdP? and 100% Syrah?
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Rahsaan » Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:35 pm

The 'regular' Fonsalette is a blend but they also make a Fonsalette Cuvee Syrah.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Jon Leifer » Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:40 pm

Just took a look in my cellar book and I found entries for 1989 Fonsalette Reserve that was a Syrah and the 1990 Fonsalette Reserve which I think was also all syrah and my notes indicate that both were superb,,However, they were both cotes du rhone and not CnDP..all subsequent entries in my book re Fonsalette appear to be the basic cotes du rhone cuvee..Not sure if Rayas still makes the Syrah cuvee of Fonsalette..If they do, am sure it would be a terrific wine, regardless of appellation.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Tim York » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:06 pm

Jon Leifer wrote:Just took a look in my cellar book and I found entries for 1989 Fonsalette Reserve that was a Syrah and the 1990 Fonsalette Reserve which I think was also all syrah and my notes indicate that both were superb,,However, they were both cotes du rhone and not CnDP..all subsequent entries in my book re Fonsalette appear to be the basic cotes du rhone cuvee..Not sure if Rayas still makes the Syrah cuvee of Fonsalette..If they do, am sure it would be a terrific wine, regardless of appellation.


Judging from the estate's website, it would appear that there is no longer a Syrah cuvée http://www.chateaurayas.fr/vinsfonsalette.htm . The basic red here is often a superb wine.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Salil » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:01 am

From a few different bottles of Levet enjoyed over the last couple of weeks...

2009 Bernard Levet Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche
Really primary at first, dominated entirely by ripe berried and plummy fruit. There's a sense of remarkable juiciness and freshness to the fruit flavours though and with a little air it becomes more savoury, floral and spicy, all the while showing a wonderful textural finesse and silken touch on the palate. There's great balance here, and I'm looking forward to seeing it develop once the primary fruit recedes some.

2006 Bernard Levet Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche
Quite a contrast with the '09; the fruit's nowhere near as dense and ripe here, and the meaty, saline and floral flavours are much more prominent here. Again there's a sense of finesse and elegance to the texture that makes it very appealing to drink with fine grained tannins, and impressive length. Levet always seems to deliver.

1998 Bernard Levet Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche
A lighter, more delicate expression of Cote-Rotie, rather high acid and nicely developed with meaty, leathery, sous bois and black olive flavors on a surprisingly lean frame. There's still a bit of grainy tannin on the back end, but it's drinking quite nicely right now.

2007 Bernard Levet Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche
Just a fantastic expression of traditional N. Rhone syrah, combining black olives, pepper, a bright florality and vivid meaty notes into a very fragrant, polished whole. The tannin here is incredibly fine grained and a lot of the structure comes from the acidity, making it really easy to drink now - there's a seamlessness on the palate and a sense of real purity to the flavours. Great stuff.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Victorwine » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:47 pm

Just for a minute lets get back to producing some “untraditional” CdP. With only 10 to 15 percent of your acreage dedicated to Syrah your not going to produce a 100% Syrah cuvee every year, sometimes its “necessary” to use it in the “blended” cuvee (or more “traditional” cuvee). But in years where it is not “required” the producer might decide to make a 100% Syrah cuvee instead of just releasing the wine to the “bulk” market. Now whether or not the producer releases the wine as a CdP (there is nothing in the rules or regulations that forbid this as long as all the other rules and regulations (AOC CdP) where adhered too) or as a Cote du Rhone, that’s up to the producer to decide.

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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:18 am

2002 Edmunds St. John California Syrah "The Shadow"
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of grapes...
Probably not so much. Haven't opened one of these in a long time, but a series of reminders got me thinking of opening my last bottle. It's such a contrast to the 2001 ESJ California Syrah that it's hard to believe they even come from the same state. Where the 2001 has a richness and depth of intensity, the 2002 is laser focused, shot through with an acidic structure that reminded me of some of those Texier Brezeme wines. The fruit is a red/black blend, with the lighter fruits (berries) showing up on the finish that also hints at earth and meat. It's a tasty wine, though not as engaging as its 2001 cousin.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Rahsaan » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:12 am

David M. Bueker wrote:2002 Edmunds St. John California Syrah "The Shadow"
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of grapes...
Probably not so much. Haven't opened one of these in a long time, but a series of reminders got me thinking of opening my last bottle. It's such a contrast to the 2001 ESJ California Syrah that it's hard to believe they even come from the same state. Where the 2001 has a richness and depth of intensity, the 2002 is laser focused, shot through with an acidic structure that reminded me of some of those Texier Brezeme wines. The fruit is a red/black blend, with the lighter fruits (berries) showing up on the finish that also hints at earth and meat. It's a tasty wine, though not as engaging as its 2001 cousin.


Thanks for this. Haven't had this in a few years but I remember that streak of acidity that might recall some of the earlier Texier Brezeme wines. It was always very different from the 01 CA Syrah, because of the back story, etc, and if I remember correctly Steve released this at $10 per bottle. For a while there it was a great way to help even out my per-bottle spending average!
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:30 am

I think I paid $12. This was the "house pour" red wine at Joe and Amy Perry's wedding! Somewhat appropriate then that I drank my last bottle on Joe birthday.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Tim York » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:48 pm

Saint-Joseph Le Paradis Saint Pierre 1995 – Pierre Coursodon – Alc.12.8%, 100% Syrah.
I bought a half-dozen of this wine untasted on the strength of a ***** rating in La Revue du Vin de France when young. What a mistake! The first two bottles were tightly acidic and tannic. I waited till 2010 to open the third and Jan 2011 the fourth; they still looked and tasted quite young but were at last beginning to open up but remained somewhat one-dimensional. Last night’s bottle, the fifth, was the first showing real signs of Northern Rhône distinction.

The palate was quite full bodied with more depth and roundness than before showing red fruit (attractive sour cherry and some black currant) and minerals and there were some secondary notes of tar and discreet leather; the tannins were firm but still a touch dry and acidity was very lively but both were more civilised than with earlier bottles and length was good. The overall effect was savoury and robust quite like Cornas but without the fragrance, elegance and charm of Côte-Rôtie, St.Jo from, say, Gonon or Crozes from Graillot. Still not a ***** wine but close to ****; 16/20+ but I did have to wait a long time and consumed 4 bottles before getting here.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby ChaimShraga » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:30 pm

People, I have got just the right wine for this month's topic, that a guest brought over. He's the winemaker at Tzora, so he's a co-stablemate of the following wine in the Skurnik catalog.

Domaine De Montcalmes, Coteaux du Languedoc, Terrasses du Larzac, 2008

Shiny black fruit with such an overt presence of black pepper you have to wonder what they put in the juice besides Syrah - it's two thirds Syrah, the reminder made of equal parts Grenache and Mourvedre, according to the Michael Skurnik fact sheet, so what you have here is a baby CdP. You also have to wonder what they pay Saint Joseph in royalties, it sure doesn't feel like anyone paid the Chateauneuf model too much attention.

Returning to a glass full leftover a couple of days later, this is now in Cornas territory, with notes of leather and olive brine. Cool.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby OW Holmes » Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:54 pm

St Cosme does a cotesdu rhone cuvee that is 100% syrah, mostly fron vinsobres grapes, and d'Andezon does a fabulous Solomon cuvee cotes du rhone that is 90% syrah. A couple of years ago a friend brought over a d'Andezon that he lost in his cellar for ten years, and it was so good you simply could not recognize itnas a cotes du rhone. More like a Hermitage with 20 years of age. I immediately bought several vintages and hoping, but not expecting, that kind of result.
Tonight, however, i opened a 2009 Berthet Rayne CdR. This is a little estate next door to Beaucastel, and my wine merchant says that the Perrins have been trying to purchase this property for ages. This is a blend, mostly grenache but the syrah spice is unmistakeable, not exactly purple, but clearly some bluish tint in the ruby colored wine. Fabulous structure with mostly red tasting fruit, though a bit of animal nose to it, along with a floral component. Very long aftertaste for a $12 wine. Very proper, and i have a hunch this will be better in another three to five years.
And i have had a few bottles of prior vintages of CdP from this estate, for about $35, that were very good traditional animalistic wines such that i didn't hesitate to snap up every 2007 and 2010 i found. Unfortunately, it wasn't many. I really like this estate.
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Jemrose Syrah Cardiac Hill - bring the crash cart

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:36 am

2008 Jemrose Syrah Cardiac Hill Bennett Valley
Consumed half the bottle over the course of about 2 hours, and just never really warmed up to this wine. There's certainly good fruit (black and red), and a bit of a meaty element as well, but it has a huge hole in the mid-palate and just craters on the finish. Essentially it's a front of the palate wine, which would be fine for a cocktail party where nobody is paying any attention, but not so good if one gives even a moment's thought to what is in the glass. Really disappointing.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Salil » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:02 pm

That sucks. I really liked it when younger and in barrel. I've got a few buried in the cellar, will just keep my hands off and hope it comes around.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby OW Holmes » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:49 pm

2006 d'Andezon Cotes du Rhone. 90% syrah, 10% grenache. One of the very few Cotes du rhone wines so heavy in syrah., and it shows. Very dark and dense, almost black, with nose of black fruit, licorice, animal fur, raw bloody meat, lavender. Powerful nose. Huge. I love sitting here with my nose in the almost empty glass. Nice sweetness, too. Very deep and full but maybe lacking just a touch in the acid department, but with very nice mouthfeel and good long aftertaste. Spicy, Sweet aftertaste. And it lingers too. Yum. A bargain at around $12.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby JC (NC) » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:59 pm

Two Washington State Syrahs
2007 POWERS SYRAH RESERVE, COUGAR VINEYARD, WAHLUKE SLOPE (COLUMBIA VALLEY), WA. $17.99 at Westgate Wine, Raleigh. 14% alcohol by volume. Dark purple color, opaque, viscous. Dark berry flavors, mild spiciness, lengthy finish. Rich tasting with a pleasant savory note to complement the dark berry fruit. Enough tannins for grip and probable aging; yet smooth drinking now. When held in the mouth for an extended time, there are no sour notes or misfirings. Enjoyed this with a taco dinner. Very attractive even to someone who is somewhat "picky" about this grape variety and even without food before dinner. Great QPR. Perhaps best on the second evening. I would award it 89 or 90 points.

2008 EX UMBRIS SYRAH, COLUMBIA VALLEY, WA (Produced and bottled by Owen Roe.) $28.00 at the Wine Shop at Elliott's on Linden, Pinehurst, NC. 14.1% abv. Very dark purple and opaque. Blackberries imprint the nose and palate. Smoke and herbs lend nuances. In the finish it comes across as smooth-drinking. Medium- to full-bodied wine. A good Syrah but I got more pleasure from the 2007 Powers Cougar Vineyard Syrah Reserve. This did pair pretty well with an Irish hard cheese and Canadian bacon.
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Re: Wine Focus for October: Syrah and Syrah blends

Postby Mark Lipton » Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:24 pm

Taking this topic to its (blended) limit:

1998 Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée
nose: gamey meat, dark cherry liqueur
palate: velvety smooth, rich midpalate, great balance

Easily the best showing of this wine I've yet had, with the Brett held carefully in check in favor of the fruitier elements. Despite the power and intensity of this wine, there was no sense of the alcohol and no sense of overripeness. There was just enough acidity present to keep the whole package in balance and no sense of confection. Really lovely with grilled ribeyes.

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