WTN: More syrah than a girl can handle

The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.

Moderators: Jenise, David M. Bueker, Robin Garr

WTN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Jenise » Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:13 pm

I've long understood that I don't drink enough syrah to be particularly discerning about degrees of flavor, the way I would be about pinot or cabernet say. And last weekend proved it again, where over dinner with 16 friends I tried 18 North American syrahs, blind, in three flights. That is, I'm virtually guaranteed to like the drier, more acidic syrahs a lot and the sweeter, heavier styles not at all regardless of other attributes. The 18 wines included three ringers, of which I detected the French wine as an outsider but not the Aussies. Even though I knew that the 97 E & E Black Pepper was in there--couldn't find it, and neither did the Aussies stand out in an "oh yeah!" kind of way once they revealed. Some impressive showings by a couple California wineries I've never even heard of like Margerum and Tensley.


Flight #1 (in which my preference went 6, 1, 5, 4, 3, 2)

1) Very tannic, black cherry, full bodied. I like it better and better as it sits. 2003 Provisor (Dry Creek). My 2nd.

2) Corked.

3) Minty, sweet finish. Didn't show it's age at all. 98 Stolpman Reserve (Santa Inez).

4) Floral, grapey, sweet, very sweet, good tannins, blueberry, acidity improves with air. Group #2. 2002 Quivira "Wine Creek Ranch".

5) Sweet complex fruit, grilled meat, licorice, good acidity and balance. 2004 Three Rings Barossa Valley Shiraz. Group #1.

6) Spicy, black pepper, chocolate, good acidity. 2001 Jaffurs (Santa Barbara County). Group #3.


Flight #2 (my preference was 4, 5, 3, 1, 6, 2)

1) Not brand new, not sweet, good acidity, refreshing, closes down too soon or would have ranked higher for me. 2001 Tardieu-Laurent St. Joseph (Northern Rhone)

2) Heavy, sweet, very Paso, grilled, jammy, low acid, hi alcohol. Yuck. 2002 Tobin James (Paso Robles)

3) Yum!! Delish, not sweet, baked herbs, very complete. Almost French in style compared to the others. 2002 Burrowing Owl Syrah (Okanagan Valley).

4) Bright, black cherry flavors with some secondary development amid the primary fruit. Finally, a syrah I can love. 2001 Dehlinger Syrah (Sonoma). Group 2nd place.

5) Full-bodied but not extracted or gobby, sweet but not over the top, good balance, peppery and complex. 97 E & E Black Pepper Shiraz (Australia). Group 3rd.

6) Sweet, low acid, blue/black, heavy, extracted, similar to #2. 2001 Tobin James Silver Reserve. Group 1st.


Flight #3 (my preference was 6, 1, 4, 3, 5, 2)

1) Bright with interesting barnyardy notes. A bit closed on the mid-palate (which opened up overnight--this and the Dehlinger were my favorites on the next day re-taste). 2000 Dobra Zemlja (Amador County CA).

2) Jammy, huge and sweet, tannic, gobby, popular, I hate it. 2002 Tantara (Santa Maria County CA). Group 3rd place, my last.

3) Very low acid, otherwise nondescript. 2000 Curtis Reserve (Santa Barbara)

4) Tough and tannic, brutally dry, artful. Improves impressively in the glass. 98 Tensley (Santa Ynez). My third place and group last, which figures.

5) Interesting, a bit sweet for me but with a semi-redeeming red dirt earthiness to it. 2000 K Syrah "End of the Road Ranch" (Red Mountain, Washington). Group 2nd.

6) Bright, acidic, complex, berry-cherry, very attractive overall, even the Tobin Jamesers get it. 2001 Margerum "Great Oaks Ranch Vineyard" (Santa Barbara County). Group first, my first.
Last edited by Jenise on Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
Jenise
FLDG Dishwasher
 
Posts: 26198
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm
Location: The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Marc D » Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:46 pm

That's a lot of syrah. Were you surprised that the Aussies didn't stick out from the US versions? I like the Jaffurs, I think they need some age to show best, but the 01 sounds like it is pretty good right now. And now my same old lament in regards to the Burrowing Owl, it is a shame that many of these really fine Okanagan wines never make it out of British Columbia. Any idea of the price on the Margerum, that one sounds like it is very good and a crowd pleaser.

Enjoyed the notes, thanks.
Marc Davis
Marc D
Wine guru
 
Posts: 580
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:44 pm
Location: Bellingham WA

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Jenise » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:14 pm

Yes, I was surprised that the Aussies blended in so well with the Californians, but that's more about my inexperience with California syrahs. I honestly hadn't realized just how huge they'd gotten--why the E & E was downright restrained in comparison. I was especially pleased with how the Dehlinger and the Burrowing Owl, both my wines, showed. I bought the former on reputation and that was the first I opened, I happily have several more.

No, no idea on the Margerum. That was Ines' wine, if I can get her to drop in maybe she'll offer that tidbit.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
Jenise
FLDG Dishwasher
 
Posts: 26198
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm
Location: The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Otto » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:28 pm

Thanks for the notes. But I am curious: what was the corked wine in the first flight? And I'm also curious to note that you found out the Tardieu-Laurent as a ringer. Most T-Ls I've had have been so oaked and so "modern" in style that I would never have managed such a feat! I would have unhesitatingly gone to the new world with them. Probably you are just a much better blind taster than I am, but was this St.-Joseph really so old world in style, or were there some "modern" or spoofulated elements noticable also?
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.
User avatar
Otto
Musaroholic
 
Posts: 4040
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:07 pm
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Dale Williams » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:45 pm

I also found it surprising that the T-L was notable for good acidity, as most I've had were overoaked and under-acided. A Costieres de nimes was so blackberry jammish I felt like toasting bread to spread it on!

Thanks for notes
User avatar
Dale Williams
Compassionate Connoisseur
 
Posts: 7851
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:32 pm
Location: Dobbs Ferry, NY (NYC metro)

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Paul B. » Fri Apr 14, 2006 1:00 am

Jenise wrote:Tough and tannic, brutally dry, artful. Improves impressively in the glass.


Sounds like something I'd have said ... funny you didn't get any "rolling eyes" responses to it like I might have ... 8)

Actually, it does sound delightful. I wish I knew which wineries whose wines actually make it to Ontario employ this style. No matter what the grape, I love such a style.
Hybrid Wines Online:
http://hybridwines.blogspot.ca
User avatar
Paul B.
Hybrid Guru
 
Posts: 2024
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:38 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby David Lole » Fri Apr 14, 2006 4:22 am

Jenise,

Last year, at a post-competition tasting, I was lucky enough to assess blind 18 Syrahs/Shiraz/Viognier blends from 3 countries (6 supposed top examples from Australia, New Zealand and the US) in the identical order as they were served to the senior judges. Unfortunately, I didn't keep the list/scores of the wines shown, so my argument may look a little lame, but most of the wines showed extremely well (the bottle of 2002 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier (Canberra, Aus) was not showing well at all) and it was incredibly difficult to pick the country of origin on most of them (naturally, a few of the Aussies were a little easier for me to pick correctly). The only notable observation we made after the labels were revealed, was a predominance of overt American oak in some of the US entries. The majority of wines were raised in French oak, only a few in a mixture of both.

I can remember my top two wines - the 2002 Craiglee Shiraz from Sunbury, Victoria and the 200? Craggy Range Le Sol from Hawkes Bay, NZ. The Le Sol got my nod by a whisker (both scored 19 points). There were many other gold medal winners in the line-up including a couple from the States.

A fascinating experience, indeed.
Cheers,

David
David Lole
Wine guru
 
Posts: 1556
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 4:49 am
Location: Canberra, Australia

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Bill Spohn » Fri Apr 14, 2006 10:59 am

Had the Montes Alpha 200 last night - that would have been an iinteresting addition - very French yet not quite....

The 2002 BO has a rep for bad bottles - glad yours was good. The 2003 may be even better - remind me to pull a cork this summer some time.

And if you have any more of the 1997 E&E, I can pull out a 1996 so we can settle which is the better vintage once and for all......
User avatar
Bill Spohn
He put the 'bar' in 'barrister'
 
Posts: 5011
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:31 pm
Location: Vancouver BC

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Paul B. » Fri Apr 14, 2006 11:33 am

Randy R wrote:Maybe the fact that she actually tasted the wine before talking about it


Awwwww, Randy ... you know that every wine I praise for its brutish tannins receives that praise precisely because it's done a "Moe" on my palate ... :!:
Hybrid Wines Online:
http://hybridwines.blogspot.ca
User avatar
Paul B.
Hybrid Guru
 
Posts: 2024
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:38 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Jenise » Fri Apr 14, 2006 11:39 am

Otto Nieminen wrote:Thanks for the notes. But I am curious: what was the corked wine in the first flight?


It was a homemade wine, actually, made by one of the guests who has been making some pretty competent wines for a novice. This was his first syrah--and apparently, his first experience with a corked bottle. He was devastated, at first, thinking it was simply awful wine. And it wasn't--in that way you can see through that flavor and know there's something good behind it, Mr. L. had actually made a good wine.

Re the T-L--thanks for the compliment, but it would have been as obvious to you and Dale as it was to me. That St. Joseph was so vastly different from the others--I understand T-L's rep for oak, but in that grouping it just didn't show.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
Jenise
FLDG Dishwasher
 
Posts: 26198
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm
Location: The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Jenise » Fri Apr 14, 2006 11:44 am

Bill Spohn wrote:Had the Montes Alpha 200 last night - that would have been an iinteresting addition - very French yet not quite....

The 2002 BO has a rep for bad bottles - glad yours was good. The 2003 may be even better - remind me to pull a cork this summer some time.

And if you have any more of the 1997 E&E, I can pull out a 1996 so we can settle which is the better vintage once and for all......


Would love to, but that wasn't my wine (mine were the Dehlinger and the BO). I knew it was there because I was staying with the hosts of this event, and it wasn't possible to hide our wines from each other. Maybe I can talk them out of one of their remaining five. As to which is the better vintage--I'll bet you this: the 96 will be the better vintage according to conventional definitions of 'better', but I'll like the leaner 97.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
Jenise
FLDG Dishwasher
 
Posts: 26198
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm
Location: The Pacific Northest Westest

Quo Vadis Syrah?

Postby Hoke » Sat Apr 15, 2006 12:01 pm

Jenise, I'd say your tasting experience depicted here pretty much mirrors my recent experience at the San Diego International Wine Competition. My panel tasted through several different aggregations of wine, from the usual Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Chenin Blanc, White Italian Varieties and Ports.

The most difficult to pin down, the most elusive, the most chameleonlike, was Syrah. With very few exceptions the Syrah we tasted showed little regional characteristics....and distressingly, often little varietal character as well.

And since this was an international competition (which means the majority of the wines would be US West Coast, but could be from anywhere, and were) the range should have been noticeable. It wasn't.

Most distressing for me was the obvious trend to 'sugaring up' the wines--either by going for over-ripe fruit and turning out a high-alcohol raisin bomb, through over cropping in torridly hot growing regions, or by outright addition of residual sugar (whether by legal or illegal means). By far most of the Syrahs we tasted (and I was not the only judge to say this, I note) were syrupy, goopy, soft, boneless, flaccid and unimpressive, with very few definitive varietal characters.

On the brighter side though, Cabernet Franc managed to pleasantly surprise us with its quality and style. And from the Foothills too!
User avatar
Hoke
Achieving Wine Immortality
 
Posts: 10364
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Quo Vadis Syrah?

Postby Jenise » Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:24 pm

Hoke wrote:The most difficult to pin down, the most elusive, the most chameleonlike, was Syrah. With very few exceptions the Syrah we tasted showed little regional characteristics....and distressingly, often little varietal character as well.

And since this was an international competition (which means the majority of the wines would be US West Coast, but could be from anywhere, and were) the range should have been noticeable. It wasn't.

On the brighter side though, Cabernet Franc managed to pleasantly surprise us with its quality and style. And from the Foothills too!



HOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How good it is to see you. <light peck on cheek>

But yeah, "could have been from anywhere". The thought crossed my mind that one could have shoved a 16% Marquis Phillips into this group and not have been able to pick it out for the Tobin James and Tantaras. Can we now say that the Australian export style has been internationalized?

I'm glad that I took the wines I did, not that it was a hard choice since I owned only six that would fit the theme. So I chose the Dehlinger for it's famous name, the BO because it would be so exotic, and kept my ESJ's to myself.
Last edited by Jenise on Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
Jenise
FLDG Dishwasher
 
Posts: 26198
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm
Location: The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Quo Vadis Syrah?

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:43 pm

Hoke wrote:Hoke
Just got here


Hey, guy! What Jenise said. Except for the cheek peck. [eeeuuuwww]
User avatar
Robin Garr
Forum Janitor
 
Posts: 16985
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm
Location: Louisville, KY

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby JoePerry » Sat Apr 15, 2006 4:01 pm

Welcome back, dood!
User avatar
JoePerry
Wine guru
 
Posts: 1100
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:07 am
Location: Boston

Re: Quo Vadis Syrah?

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Sat Apr 15, 2006 4:44 pm

Hoke wrote:On the brighter side though, Cabernet Franc managed to pleasantly surprise us with its quality and style. And from the Foothills too!


Foothill cab franc that was good? Which one? Most I've had have come from what I'd regard as second-tier producers. They've been pretty unexciting but they also haven't tasted like generic foothill wine. Made me think that if someone took the stuff seriously they might be able to make some pretty good wine, particularly in the higher elevations.

And as the others said, it's good to see you here!

Mike

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field" - Niels Bohr
User avatar
Mike Filigenzi
Known for his fashionable hair
 
Posts: 6925
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 5:43 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Hoke » Sun Apr 16, 2006 2:41 am

Mike F.: Yes, seriously good Cabernet Franc from the Foothills. Surprised me too. Indian Springs, from up near Nevada City. Really stood out in a field of 17 CFs (and I can remember not too long ago that the concept of a CA wine competition with 17 CFs would never have been imagined).

To All: Thanks for the warm welcome. Appreciate it.
User avatar
Hoke
Achieving Wine Immortality
 
Posts: 10364
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am
Location: Portland, OR

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Sun Apr 16, 2006 2:55 am

Hoke wrote:Mike F.: Yes, seriously good Cabernet Franc from the Foothills. Surprised me too. Indian Springs, from up near Nevada City. Really stood out in a field of 17 CFs (and I can remember not too long ago that the concept of a CA wine competition with 17 CFs would never have been imagined).

To All: Thanks for the warm welcome. Appreciate it.


I'll be damned. I hear advertisements for that winery on the Nevada City radio station all the time, but I've never tried their wines. I'll just have to go get a bottle...


Mike

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field" - Niels Bohr
User avatar
Mike Filigenzi
Known for his fashionable hair
 
Posts: 6925
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 5:43 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Bill Buitenhuys » Sun Apr 16, 2006 8:48 am

Hey Hoke! Good to see you here, man.
User avatar
Bill Buitenhuys
Wine guru
 
Posts: 1505
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 2:47 pm
Location: Phoenix metro

Quo Vadis Syrah?

Postby Marc D » Sun Apr 16, 2006 12:11 pm

The most difficult to pin down, the most elusive, the most chameleonlike, was Syrah. With very few exceptions the Syrah we tasted showed little regional characteristics....and distressingly, often little varietal character as well.


Hoke, I am glad you said that. I often find that as the grapes/wines get riper it is often difficult for me to distinguish any varietal character, and not just with syrah. Even with grapes like merlot and cab sauv the differences blur in the sur maturité wines. I guess when CS has the green bell pepper note it becomes more apparent. I have only been really trying to taste and discern things like this for a short time, and maybe it becomes more obvious with greater tasting experience, but often in the hotter climate wines, forget about finding regional character, I struggle with finding varietal character.

Best,
Marc Davis
Marc D
Wine guru
 
Posts: 580
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:44 pm
Location: Bellingham WA

Re: TN: More syrah than a girl can handle

Postby Bob Ross » Sun Apr 16, 2006 3:02 pm

Welcome, Hoke. It's good to see your name here.

Regards, Bob
User avatar
Bob Ross
Wine guru
 
Posts: 5862
Joined: Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:39 pm
Location: Franklin Lakes, NJ


Return to The Wine Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot], Tim York, Yahoo [Bot] and 10 guests