For entertainment, we compared two bottles of syrah last night with home-smoked chicken, what better time than that, to test our impressions, gathered singly, that one was hopelessly modern and the other really and truly traditional since after all, they're both Washington syrahs. You can only do so much with that. It's a comparison that forces the Otto ratings.
2004 Long Shadows Sequel: Opened Saturday, so it had a 24 jump on the next wine, this showed sweet black currant and blueberry fruit and violets with malt and spicey wood notes not unlike cherry pipe tobacco. On the palate, the fruit is saturated and extracted, and there's a bit of sea salted caramel on the finish. Acid and tannins are very good, and it's a balanced, pleasant wine of obvious quality though fairly monolithic: though it improved from Saturday to Sunday, the change was minor. It was equivalent to me turning up the volume on our Denon reciever from 43 to 45.
Long Shadows is a winery made up of several small "wineries", or so the PR goes and that's a lot of poetic license from my point of view. In reality it's one winery with five or six distinctly different products, each with it's own proprietary name, all of which are tended to by the same Assistant Winemaker who is in reality the head winemaker. Each wine was the initial vision of some World-Famous Winemaker brought to Washington around 2003 to make his wine with our grapes: Philippe Melka, Randy Dunn and Michel Rolland among them. Though no one has produced proof that said World-Famous Winemakers have ever touched down here again--and one wonders, since none of the subsequent vintages have been a match for the inaugural offerings of each IMNSHO--the wines continue to be made and sold as "made by" that guy.
So keep that in mind when I tell you that Sequel is 'made by' John Duval, he (formerly) of Penfolds Grange fame. I bought some 03s and was duly impressed, and added some 04s and 05s before coming to the realization that the sophomore vintages were closer to Rosemount Balmoral than Grange and just not what I prefer. Tasting the 04 this weekend and comparing it to another local wine with entirely different aspirations brought all that home. It tastes Australian. It's squeaky clean and all about the fruit and oak. Admirably youthful, but the downside is that there's almost no secondary development hence no clue where it's going from here. Might be another in the legions of Washington wines that don't mature, they just get tired.
Otto would hate this wine.
2003 Delille Doyenne Syrah: This wine was one of those interesting chameleons that evolved beautifully in the glass, where every sip was a little different and every sip got better. Initial dominance by black fruit segued into a panopoly of spicy dark red fruits with roasted meat, earth, fennel seed, white pepper and garrique. Over the three-hour course of the night bacon notes came and went along with sage and savage little hits of black raspberry and espresso. Overall it's more savory than sweet and acting very much like the complex and fascinating Northern Rhone syrah it purposefully made in the style of. Just now entering it's prime drinking window, for my tastes.
It was so weird to sit there on the sofa with a glass of each of these in hand and contemplate the fact both were made and grown in Washington just one year apart.
Otto would dig this wine.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov