Mostly Syrahs -
Notes and impressions from a primarily Syrah tasting - Saturday, Oct 14, 2000, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Twenty-two wines were poured for a tasting fee of $20. Fourteen of the wines were Syrah, and 8 of the wines were various other varieties. All wines were served single blind.
The wines, in the order tasted:
1997 Fontodi Syrah Case Via - Italy. $44.99. Dark ruby
violet color. Big nose of sweet spicy blackberry/raspberry, shoe
polish, and wood. Spicy fruit on the palate, but the mouthfeel seems
1998 Neyers Syrah - Hudson Vnyd. $49.99. Dark garnet color. Herbaceous
nose of blackberry, shoe polish, with a hint of beet. Big mouthfeel, slightly
sweet/sour fruit, with a slightly bitter/sour finish.
1997 Veritas Shiraz - Hanisch Vnyd, Barossa Valley. $69.99.
Dark ruby garnet color. Very ripe nose, with hints of brown sugar, raisin,
burnished fruit, and vitamins. Sweet mouthfeel, good acid edge, and off-sweet
1998 Lewis Cellars Syrah - Napa Valley. $44.99. Dark ruby
garnet color. Nose of gorgeous ripe toasty fruit, vanilla, anise, and
bleu cheese. Huge, ripe and chewy mouthfeel, with a delicious long toast
and jam finish. Trace of heat noted on finish.
1998 Clarendon Hills Shiraz - Piggot Range, Australia. $84.99.
Dark ruby color. Slightly funky and earthy nose of fruit, chocolate, and
herbs. Huge chewy mouthfeel, young sweet/sour fruit through mid-palate,
with long off-sweet finish.
1997 Mathilde et Yves Gangloff - Cote Rotie. $59.99. Dark
garnet ruby color. Nose of raspberry and blueberry, with some green and
lima bean notes. Tart and slightly sour mouthfeel, with an obvious acidic
bent and a vegetal quality to the taste.
1998 Sean Thackery Orion. $79.99. Very dark ruby purple color.
Bright, floral, off-sweet nose, with lots of blackberry/blueberry fruit,
along with some leaf, stem and chocolate. Big mouthfeel, semi-sweet blackberry
fruit, chocolate, tar, leaf, and stem, with a long toasty finish
1998 Qupe Syrah Hillside Reserve - Santa Barbara County.
$35.99. Dark ruby violet color. Nose of mocha, blackberry, tar, and
earthy and stemmy qualities. Full mouthfeel, with a slightly tart/sour
quality to the fruit, and long finish.
1998 Kevin Arnold Shiraz Robert Charles - So. Africa. $24.99.
Dark garnet ruby color. Funky, stemmy and very herbaceous in the nose.
Sour toasty fruit, with medium long finish.
1997 Penfolds Shiraz RWT - Australia. $54.99. Dark cola
garnet color. Burnished and paint-like nose, with toasty, sweet wood and
anise aromas. Off-sweet mouthfeel, and moderate fruit. Interesting taste,
but the fruit falls off at the finish.
1997 Delas Le Bessards - Hermitage. $75.99.
Dark ruby garnet color. Lots of raspberry, blackberry, and boysenberry
in the nose; toasty and complex. Sweet/sour fruit, with a light mouthfeel,
but tasty finish.
1996 Elderton Shiraz Command - Australia.
$51.99. Dark ruby garnet color. Ripe, burnished and slightly
oaky fruit in the nose. Toasty mouthfeel, with lots of cocoa and
cassis, leading to a long finish.
1998 Chateaude Vaudieu Preference - Chateauneuf
du Pape. $39.99. Medium dark ruby color. Very fruity nose, with
a bit of stem, chocolate, and anise. Medium-full mouthfeel, with good
fruit spread throughout, leading to a medium-long finish. A nice
wine, but it's light palate-feel makes it seem more like a quaffer.
1997 Tardieu Laurent Coteaux - Cornas.
$38.99. Medium dark ruby color. Nose of faint fruit, leaf,
green bean and tofu. Medium mouthfeel, slightly sour fruit, medium-long
finish. On one hand, this was an interesting wine. But, for
the money, it was a stinker.
1998 Paul Autard Cote Ronde - Chateauneuf du Pape. $49.99.
Medium ruby garnet color. Slightly sweet burnished nose of blackberry,
cheese toast, and chocolate. Nice full mouthfeel, toasty sweet fruit,
and a tasty long finish.
1997 Lorca Petite Sirah - Napa Valley. $34.99. Very dark
violet purple color. Huge nose of burnished ripe fruit, smoke and
anise. Massive on the palate, with lots of blackberry and black
licorice flavors, and a bit of cocoa and tar on a long tannic finish.
Want to paint the barn, and drink wine too?
1996 Alvaro Palacios Priorat Finca Dofi - Spain. $41.99.
Dark ruby garnet color. Slightly herbaceous nose with a bit of leaf,
cocoa, anise and burnished woods. Lots of tannins and slightly tart
blueberry fruit on the palate, with a long toasty and tannic finish.
1999 Tikal Corizon - Argentina. $19.99. Dark violet ruby
color. Herbaceous nose of blackberry, blueberry, tar, anise, and
shoe polish. Lively mouthfeel, sweet/sour fruit leads to semi-sweet
toasty finish. Blend of 65% Bonarda, 35% Malbec.
1998 RJB Mourvedre/Grenache Theologicum - Australia. $27.99.
Medium-light garnet ruby color. Nose of strawberry/raspberry, smoked
cheddar, and toast. Lively, yet smooth mouthfeel, with a long ripe
fruity finish. Very nice. Much more than I expected, given
the extraction level.
1997 Clerico Arte - Italy. $39.99. Medium dark ruby garnet
color. Fruity nose of strawberry and raspberry. Quite tart
and sour on the palate, the fruit seems underripe, leading to long tart/sour
acid-driven finish. Food certainly can't hurt this wine.
1996 Bodegas Mauro Vendemmia Seleccionada - Spain. $59.99.
Medium dark ruby color. Herbaceous nose of ripe raspberry, chocolate,
and mocha. Tasty and smooth mouthfeel, lots of fruit, with a long
toasty, if slightly tannic finish.
1997 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Cru Rancia - Italy. $35.99.
Medium-dark ruby garnet color. Somewhat oaky nose of dried cherries,
herbs and anise. Somewhat tart and tannic mouthfeel, with a long smooth
Overall impressions: This single-blind tasting had been arraigned in two flights -- Syrahs and non-Syrahs. Overall, a couple of big surprises for me were the Lorca Petite Sirah and the Tikal Corazon. At $35 for a Petite Sirah, which we have all come to denigrate as not being "noble," it does seem a bit pricey. But, for what's in the bottle ...well, it awfully good juice! This is the 2nd time I've discovered a very tasty wine from Tikal in a blind tasting.
Big surprises? Well, I was more than a little shocked that I apparently didn't enjoy the Veritas or the Neyers nearly as much as the last time I tasted them. Also, I was surprised to find out I didn't enjoy the Sean Thackery better than the Lewis. On the other hand, it's a good thing from a monetary standpoint, since the Lewis is nearly half the price. Finally, it was shocking to see the prices on some of these wines. There were lots of wines in the $40-60 range that had only moderate appeal to me. But, I bet they'll appeal to someone.
Here is my order of preference, listed in order and by tier, of the wines tasted.
1998 Lewis Cellars Syrah - Napa Valley. $44.99.
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