self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico
and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National
Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale
code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates
locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area,
and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals,
such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and
ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport
fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing,
backpacking, mountain climbing.
Syrahs and Rhones - April 3, 2002
Cellars Lodi Viognier Ripkin Vineyard (14.6%) 2001:
Light gold color; slight volatile very fragrant/ perfumey/pear/Viognier/floral
powerful nose; soft/fat bit underacid pure peach/pear/Viognier
very floral/perfumey flavor; med.short pure/pear/peach/Viognier
finish; as pure an expression of Viognier fruit that you
can find; a wonderful Viognier at a great price; a slightly
saggy DollyParton, say DP at 70 yrs of age, Viognier.
& David Phillips Incognito Calif Viognier Ripkin Vineyard
(15.4%; 484 cs) 2000: Med.gold color; bit earthy/dusty
bit smokey light pear/Viognier slight herbal nose; soft/fat
some pear/Viognier some earthy/muddled flavor; pleasant
light pear/Viognier light dusty some appley/apple pie spicy
finish; pleasant Viognier but just that.
State Calif Syrah John Deiner Vineyard (14.35%) 1999:
Dark color; strong blackberry/ blueberry/Syrah slight coffee/mocha/toasty/pungent
almost Tensley/Santa Barbara-like quite attractive nose;
fairly soft rich blueberry/blackberry/Syrah light smokey/roasted/mocha/
oak quite lush flavor; med.short soft quite lush/blueberry
finish w/ light tannins; a bit on the soft side & lacking
structure to age but loads of blueberry Syrah fruit; a bit
pricey at $31 but amazing quality for a SanJoaquin Valley
Vista Sierra Foothills Celestial Syrah (13.8%) 2000:
Med.dark color; bit earthy/mushroomy spicy light oaked some
blackberry/Syrah nose;tart bit earthy/dusty some blackberry/Syrah/black
cherry/Zin- like light oaked flavor; med.long tart/hard
some blackberry/Syrah/Zinnish light earthy finish w/ some
tannins; needs several yrs of age.
Vista El Dorado Syrah RedRockRidge (EB; Chapoutier Clone;
13.1%) 2000: Dark color; big/ripe blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah
very spicy/floral/aromatic little ElDorado terroir nose;
rather sharp/ acidic/grapefruity very spicy/floral very
strong blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah light pungent/oak flavor;
very long tart/grapefruity very spicy lovely blackberry/boysenberry
finish w/ fair tannins; needs 2-5 yrs of age; terrific fragrant
nose but a bit hurtey on the palate; should age into a terrific
Syrah w/ the acidity.
Texier Vaison-La-Romaine Cotes du Rhone (NonFiltre;
14%) 2000: Med.dark color; attractive/ pleasant Grenache/strawberry
almost a Beaujolais/CM slight earthy nose; soft grapey/strawberry
some CM/Beaujolais flavor; med.short bright/grapey/strawberry/Grenache
finish w/ little tannins; lots of whole-berry fermentation
character; not worth the price.
Texier Chusclan Cotes du Rhone Villages (NonFiltre;
13.5%) 2000: Med.dark color; strong strawberry/ Grenache
bit more perfumed slight roasted/Rhone nose; soft attractive
strawberry/Grenache slight earthy/dusty slight roasted/pungent
flavor; med. strawberry/Grenache light earthy/roasted finish
w/ little tannins; pleasant CdR but prefer the Guigal or
Clos de Caillou.
Texier Chateauneuf du Pape ViellesVignes (NonFiltre;
13.5%) 2000: Med.dark color; rather strong bretty/horsecollar/gamey
slight roasted/dusty some strawberry/Grenache/bright fruit
nose; tart bit lean/hard rather bretty/horsecollar/unclean
some Grenache/strawberry gamey/earthy flavor; med.long quite
bretty/horsecollar/gamey some deep/Grenache/strawberry finish
w/ fair tannins; not a lot of fruit and maybe a lot of Mourvedre;
big & structured but a bit too unclean for me.
de la Terre Rouge Ascent Sierra Foothills Syrah (14.5%)
1999: Black color; beautiful roasted/pungent/mocha some
menthol/cinammon/nutmeg/complex very intense blackberry/boysenberry/
Syrah tons of fruit nose; big/rich mouthfilling very intense/extracted
boysenberry/blackberry/Syrah strong mocha/roasted/pungent/complex/Fr.oak
flavor; very long/lingering tannic very intense blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah
lovely/complex roasted/mocha/pungent/oak finish w/ ample
tannins; the 14.5% alcohol seems a bit off; no overripe
nor Amador/jammy character; definitely world-class Syrah
by any standard; killer wine. Yoikes at $75.00.
Napa Valley Rentless Syrah (14.9%; 19% PetiteSirah)
1999: Black color; loads of blackberry/ blueberry/Syrah/fruit
rather toasty/Fr.oaked very ripe nose; rich rather hard/tannic
rather blackberry/ blueberry/Syrah strong toasty/charred/pungent/Fr.oak
flavor; long tannic strong charred/toasty/Fr.oak/ pungent/smokey
strong blackberry/blueberry/Syrah finish w/ ample tannins;
tastes more like Napa Cabernet w/ only a hint of Syrah;
very good wine but not worth the $54.00.
Amador County Syrah (15%; #169 of 67 cases) 1991: Med.dark
color; some very ripe/overripe jammy/briary/Amador plummy/blackberry/boysenberry
spicy Fr.oaked slight hot/volatile nose; bit hot/fumey strong
briary/Amador/jammy blackberry/Syrah/Zinnish bit overripe
flavor; long jammy/briary/ Amador blackberry/Syrah bit hot/volatile
finish w/ light tannins; nice almost Zin-like wine but drying
out a bit and a bit hot/volatile.
all the usual ponderings (panderings?) from the bloody
- Incognito Viognier: This wine was what
the Phillips boys used to make as Roussanne. Now that it's
been DNA'd as Viognier, it's been miracuously transformed
into a super-clone of Viognier, put into an upscale btl
with a gimicky label, and... voila... $4/btl more in price!!!
It's a pleasant enough Viognier, but far preferred the Rosenblum.
- SierraVista Syrahs: These two Syrahs
were just bttld in late Feb and probably still need another
month or two to settle down. They are scheduled for a Fall
release. When I was at the winery, I tasted thru the
3 '99 Syrahs. They all had this rather hard/shrill/ grapefruity
acidity to them. These two '00 did not seem to show that
character, thoughh they did have a good acidity to them.
This '00 RedRockRidge I was particularly impressed with
and think it will age very well.
- Texier wines: I was pretty excited when
BotiqueWines of NM brought these in from NBI into NM. Alas,
I was a bit underwhelmed by these three. Pleasant Rhones
at a fair price. But I've been mightly impressed by the
Texier Brezeme and didn't think these were in that category.
- Terre Rouge Ascent: When I walked into
Bill Easton's tasting room a month ago, they had just started
to sell this wine. I thought "Great, another DdlTR Syrah
to add to the arsenal". Then I saw the price and my jaw
dropped. Had Bill lost his ever-lovin' mind???? $75 for
an Amador County wine??? Outta sight!! So I was all prepared
to NOT like this wine and diss it as another good $30 Syrah,
but way overpriced like the Konsgaard. Alas, oh alas;
Bill may be right on this price. It's as good as any Syrah
as I've had anywhere from Calif, I would say. Tons of Syrah
fruit. Not a lot of complexity yet, but I'm convinced that
will come with age. Probably the best Amador red wine I've
ever had and truly world-class Syrah. Too bad about the
price, but I got orders for nearly a case in my group; unheard
of for a wine of that price. If that's not a testimony,
I don't know what is!!
- Shafer Relentless: This is a wine that's
gotten a lot of buzz since it's the first Shafer Syrah.
I liked the wine...quite a lot in fact... but not for the
price. Tasted a bit like a Syrah made by a HillSide Select
producer. Good Syrah, but don't lose any sleep if you can't
find it; though it may age into something much better, I
have my doubts.
- Renwood Syrah '91: This was Scott's first
really good Amador Syrah. It's still a good Syrah but the
overripe/Amador character is really starting to dominate
now. Time to drink it up.
- The FSU Syrah was the one in the 5-pack
from Darrell Corti that was reported on elsewhere.
This was a Syrah that fermented out to 18.0% alcohol naturally,
made from SanJoaquinValley grapes. The wines were damn good
wines, I must admit. I was struck by two things: Wow....
that San Joaquin grapes can produce a Syrah that's this
good; and, for a 18.0% alcohol base wine, I was totally
unable to pick up any raisened or overripe or pruney character
in the wines that would normally be found in wines from
grapes of this high a sugar level.... no real identifiable
LateHarvesty character in the wines. Very impressive on
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