Syrah, Shiraz, Sirah
Tasting of Syrah, Shiraz, and Petite Sirah - Saturday, August 22, 1998. Results from a tasting at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Fifteen wines were poured for a tasting fee of $16.
The wines, in the order tasted:
'96 Domaine Clavel, La Copa Santa - Languedoc. $14.99.Young, dark
ruby garnet color. Nose of shoe polish, blackberry, and crushed roses.
Fleshy and chewy mouthfeel. Smooth and seamless fruit, with trace of heat
on long finish. 100% syrah, and just delicious!
'95 Bernard Chave, Crozes Hermitage - Rhone Valley. $12.99. Ruby
garnet color. Nose of roses, Bactine, horsey leather, and shoe polish.
Lots of beries present in mouthfeel, with an oaky and floral quality.
Surprisingly chewy and tannic, with a definite oak bite on the palate.
Far better tasting than smelling, the medicinal aspect to the nose was
a real put-off. About 95% Syrah.
'95 Clusel Roch - Cote-Rotie. $24.99. Ruby garnet color. Nose
of rose petal, geranium, shoe polish, blackberry, and honey. Fleshy and
chewy mouthfeel; oaky tannins at mid and back palate, very long finish.
5% Viognier. Interesting floral qualities seem to abound in this wine.
'96 Saxenburg Shiraz, Private Collection - Stellenbosch, So. Africa.
$19.99. Young garnet-ruby color. Nose of sweet blackberry, raspberry,
and cranberry - definite Grenache aromas. Fleshyslightly sweet fruit.
Big and chewy, yet with a soft feel to the fruit. Very nice crisp medium-long
finish, with a nice toasty quality to after palate. As a southern hemisphere
wine, this has a little more age on it than the French and US 96s.
'97 Glen Fiona Syrah, Bacchus Vnyd - Columbia Valley, WA. $24.99.
Dark ruby-purple color. Wow! Huge berry and shoe polish nose. Very lush,
concentrated and immense. Sweet fruit, massively chewy mouthfeel. Smooth,
with excellent balance and a very long finish. Great tannins - felt like
my teeth had been electroplated. Stunning wine!
'96 Cambria Syrah, Tempesquet Vnyd - Santa Maria Valley. $12.99.
Medium-dark ruby color. Nose of blackberry, cranberry, pomegranate, shoe
polish, plus an obvious leafy or vegetal Santa Barbara Co quality. Fleshy
and chewy, the stern acid backbone supports ample fruit. Generally smooth,
with a hint of coarseness and heat at the back palate. The leafy/vegetal
quality wasn't the least bit obtrusive, and in fact seemed to give the
wine an added dimension.
'96 Qupe Syrah, Bien Nacido Reserve - Santa Barbara Co. $21.99.
Medium-purple garnet color. Nose of shoe polish, blackberry, and interesting
floral qualities. Sweet fleshy and absolutely delicious mouthfeel. Good
flavors of blackberry and raspberry, and long satisfying finish.
'96 Alban Syrah, Reva - Edna Valley. $19.99. Very dark ruby-purple
color. Huge sweet crushed berry nose. Nearly suffocating. Other aromas
of smoke, shoe polish, and burnished wood. Sweet fruit, with chewy and
fleshy mouthfeel. Smooth seamless flavors, imperceptable acids, yet not
the least bit flabby. Very ripe and ver-r-r-y delicious.
'95 Jade Mountain Syrah - Carneros. $16.99. Medium garnet ruby
color. Nose of shoe polish and raspberry, with fresh mint and floral tones.
Elegant, flush, and lovely. Semi-sweet, fleshy, spicy mouthfeel. This
wine seems to have the edge of a file, yet is quite smooth on the palate.
This figures to only get better with age.
'95 Edmunds St. John Syrah, Durell Vnyd - Sonoma Valley. $24.99.
Big shoe polish nose. Fabulous, though slightly dumber than rest of flight.
Semi-sweet, fleshy, chewy, and a bit crisp in structure, with a staisfying
long finish, if a bit bitter.
'95 Preston Syrah, Vineyard Select - Dry Creek Valley. $16.99.
Medium ruby-garnet, light extract. Nose of leafy tobacco, shoe polish.
Very nice. Slightly fleshy mouthfeel, with surprisingly considerable extract.
Moderately spicy and fruity. A junior welter-weight.
'95 Lolonis Petite Sirah, Orpheus - Mendocino Co. $14.99. Purple
garnet color. Sweet blackberry and cranberry nose. Big and beefy at mid-palate,
but retreats very quietly and softly. The wine's a fruit bomb in the center,
with a sweet toasty oak finish.
'95 Penfolds Shiraz, Kalimna Bin 28 - So. Australia. $15.99. Sweet
and berryish nose, with hint of port and wood shavings in the nose. Fleshy
and slightly tart fruit. Smooth mid-section - but, a bit more crisp and
bitter than I prefer.
'96 Pikes Shiraz - Claire Valley, So. Australia. $16.99. Deep
sweet and seductive nose of shoe polish and raspberry fruit. Big mouthfeel
with slightly tart quality to its fruit. Nice long and satisfying finish.
Not huge, but very nicely made.
'96 Elderton Shiraz - Barossa Valley, So. Australia. $22.99. Garnet-purple
color. Wow! The sweet berry nose of this wine smells like a big Zin visiting
Shiraz country. Fleshy and slightly sweet mouthfeel. Smooth and very,
very interesting licorace taste, and mid and back palate kil-ler.
Overall impressions: clearly (well, to me), the major wines here were the Alban and the Glen Fiona. Both solid wines, with the Alban being the richest and the ripest, and the Glen Fiona the representative iron fist in the velvet glove. I felt the big value-to-price winner was the Jade Mountain. What a value, at $17. I felt the Domaine Clavel was far, far superior to the other French Rhones tasted. And, I felt that generally, the Aussies out-performed them as a group. The Saxenburg from South Africa was a nice surprise. And, the Cambria was a very well-priced sleeper.
All-in-all it was a great group of wines. However, with no Ojai Syrahs
in the lineup, it was something of a hollow victory.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
'96 Alban Syrah, Reva - Edna Valley. $19.99
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