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by Tom Hill

A 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.

Some New Syrahs - August 16, 2006

We tasted last night (8/16/06) Some New Syrahs:

  1. Mas du Petit Azegat VdP Bouches du Rhone (13%) Mme Compagne/Gimeaux/Arles 2003: Med.dark color; some bretty/horsecollar earthy/rustic/unclean little fruit some volatile nose; bit bretty/horsecollar rustic/metallic/bitter no fruit flavor; med.short rustic/unclean/ bretty finish w/ no fruit; maybe needs to breathe but why bother. $15.00
  2. Jean-Luc Colombo Syrah LaViolette VdPd'Oc (12.5%) 2003: Dark color; slight horsecollar/ bretty dusty/earthy light berry fruit nose; tart/green bitter quite bretty/barnyardy/ unclean earthy/dusty no fruit flavor; rather tannic/rough/rustic slight berry/Syrah quite bretty/barnyardy/unclean finish; maybe worth breathing. $14.00
  3. CyclesGladiator CentralCoast Syrah (13.5$) 2004: Very dark color; strong blackberry/Syrah rather herbal slight toasty/oak herbal/grapey/fruity/lush nose; soft/fat/lush chocolaty/ blackberry/Syrah/plummy somewhat herbal /Monterey slight bitter flavor; med.long herbal/ Monterey chocolaty/plummy/ blackberry/Syrah finish w/ little tannins; a pretty tastyexample of Monterey Syrah for a great price. $7.00
  4. Duxoup DryCreekVlly Syrah (13.5%) 2002: Med.dark color; rather green/grapey/stemmy/grape
    seed simple nose w/ no Syrah or DCV/spicy character; tart/thin/green herbal/bitter little fruit flavor; med. hard/tannic/bitter green herbal no fruit finish; tastes of very underripe grapes w/ no Syrah nor DCV character. Not worth $12.00
  5. CougarCrestWnry Syrah WallaWallaVlly (EG; 13.5%) 2002: Very dark color; quite smokey/roasted/coffee plummy/blackberry/Syrah very lovely/WashSt Sytah complex nose; soft/lush very coffee/roasted/espresso WashStSyrah rather blackberry/blueberry/Syrah/plummy flavor; very long toasty/ roasted/espresso/coffe mocha/blackberry/plummy/Syrah flavor w/ light tannins; a terrific example of Rhonish WashSt Syrah. Dave&Gloria's mystery. $26.00
  6. CougarCrestWnry Syrah WallaWallaVlly (EG; 14.2%; www.CougarCrestWinery.com) 2003: Black color; rather horsecollar/bretty dusty/earthy slight roasted slight blackberry/Syrah nose;soft/fat/ underacid slight coffee/espresso quite bretty/horsecollar flavor w/ little Syrah character; med.long soft/fat rather unclean/bretty slight blackberry/Syrah finish w/ little tannins; lack structure and waaay too unclean; nowhere near the '02. $36.00
  7. Terry HoageVnyds Syrah TheHedge PasoRobles (15.8%; www.TerryHoageVineyards.com) 2004: Blackcolor; some alcoholic intense blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah/jammy/chocolaty slight toasty/oakvery ripe nose; soft very ripe rather toasty/smokey/oak very strong blackberry/boysenberry/jammy/chocolaty flavor; long bot chalky/tannic soft/fat very rich/lush blackberry/jammy/boysenberry/chocolaty some hot/alcoholic finish; big/huge/extracted Syrah but a bit overripe/over-the-top and alcoholic for me. $47.00
  8. Redline Syrah BlueOaksVnyd/PasoRobles (13.8%; < 1/2 ton/acre; www.RedlineWine.com; 118 cs) 2004: Med.dark color; rather roasted/toasty/coffee somewhat Rhonish rather strong blackberry/Syrah very attractive nose w/ little of that jammy Paso character; tart/bit lean rather coffee/roasted/ toasty/oak quite blackberry/spicy bit tannic/hard flavor; long/elegant bit tannic/lean/hard strong blackberry/Syrah coffee/toasty/roasted finish; a rather understated wine for Paso grapes that needs several yrs. Great price at $24.00
  9. Redline Syrah EaglePointRanch/Mendocino (15.2%; 116 cs) 2004: Dark color; strong blackberry/Syrah slight grapey/tomatoe sauce/Mendo very spicy/peppery/perfumed slight earthy/dusty almost Zin-like/spicy nose; tart slight hot very spicy/arugula/peppery rather blackberry/Syrah light toasty/oak bit hard/tannic flavor; long bit hard/tannic very spicy/peppery rather blackberry/Syrah finish; quite a peppery/spiciness to it; needs several yrs; very good example of Mendo Syrah. $32.00
  10. Redline Syrah CedarLaneVnyd/ArroyoSeco (15.4%; 62 cs) 2004: Black color; very strong
    blackberry/blueberry/Syrah some herbal/dusty some roasted/toasty/oak nose; tart very spicy/herbal blackberry/blueberry/Syrah light toasty/roasted/oak flavor; very long rather herbal/dusty very strong blackberry/Syrah bit toasty/roasted oak finish w/ ample tannins; seems a bit hard & closed right now; needs 2-5 yrs age; should be a good one down the road. $30.00
  11. SanSakanaCllrs Syrah LasMadresVnyd/Carneros (14.5%; www.SanSakana.com) 2004: Very dark color; beautiful toasty/roasted/pungent/espresso/coffee very Rhonish strong blackberry/Syrah complex nose; soft beautiful roasted/coffee/pungent/smokey/espresso strong blackberry/Syrah some spicy/ peppery very Rhonish flavor; very long/lingering roasted/espresso/coffee/mocha/oak very strong blackberry/blueberry/Syrah light toasty complex/Rhonish finish w/light tannins; bit lacking in structure for the long haul but a beautiful Rhonish nose; much like the Neyers Cuvee d'Honoree w/ less roasted character; fairly priced at $39.00
  12. Pax Syrah Castelli-KnightRanch/RussianRvrVlly (15.6%; 336 cs; www.PaxWines.com) 2004: Black color; beautiful very peppery/spicy/cracked black pepper intense blackberry/Syrah very complex/ pungent/smokey bit Rhonish nose; tart very intense cracked black pepper/spicy intense blackberry/ boysenberry/cold-climate Syrah some toasty/charred oak flavor; very long very intense blackberry/ Syrah/boysenberry bit earthy very cracked black pepper some toasty/charred oak finish w/ ample tannins; needs 2-8 yrs; a stunning Calif Syrah w/ lots of Rhonish character. $70.00
  13. BrocCllrs Grenache DryStackVnyd/BennettVlly (14.8%) 2004: Dark color; lovely chocolaty/
    strawberry very spicy light earthy light toasty/oak nose; tart very bright strawberry/chocolaty light toasty/oak slight tannic flavor; very long chocolaty/strawberry/alpine strawberry light toasty/oak finish w/ some tannins; not the depth & structure of the Syrahs but quite a lovely/rich Grenache. $34.00
  14. BrocCllrs Syrah DryStackVnyd/BennetVllyVnyds/BennetVlly(15.5%; www.BrocCellars.com)
    : Very dark color; very spicy toasty/charred/oak very strong blackberry/Syrah some
    grapey/ripe bit alcoholic nose; soft bit lean/tannic slight hot/alcoholic very strong blackberry/ blueberry/ Syrah light toasty/charred/oak flavor; very long bit hard/tannic strong Syrah/blackberry finish w/ some tannins; needs 2-5 yrs yet; pretty big/rich Syrah. $30.00
  15. BrocCllrs Syrah DryStackVnyd/BennettVlly (15.5%) 2004: Black color; beautiful toasty/
    roasted/charred/oak very strong blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry/ripe bit alcoholic some complex/ Rhonish nose; tart/rich structured blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry rather roasted/ charred/oak some tannic flavor; very long toasty/roasted/charred/oak very strong Syrah/ blackberry/boysenberry fairly ripe complex finish w/ some tannins; needs several yrs yet;much improved over the '03 version; terrific Calif Syrah. Good value at $34.00

And ramblings from the BloodyPulpit:
  1. 1. CyclesGladiator: This is a second label of HahnEstate. The two CG I've had before were very
    underwhelming, dull, insipid. This wine was amazingly good. No structure or tannins, but plenty of Syrah varietal character and ample Monterey herbal terroir. A very good value when you're wanting to drink cheap.
    2. Duxoup: I've followed this wnry from the very start, but have not tasted anything for the
    last 10 yrs or so. This Syrah was not a good omen for what they're doing now.The have made Charbono, Gamay Beaujolais, Zinfandel, and Syrah for a fair number of yrs. I was excited to find out they were making Syrah very early on. Whatta disappointment.
    That first Syrah was much more like Beaujolais than Syrah. All of their wines tasted like
    CarbonicMaceration wine, at the expense of any varietal character. Alas, this Syrah did
    not taste like Beaujolais. Worse, it tasted like Syrah that had been harvested way to
    underripe. But for those folks who decry the alcohol levels in Syrah, then this is your
    wine....it's what you've been asking for...enjoy!!
    3. Redline: This is the new label from LarryRoberts, formerly CaernevonCllrs. These are easily
    the best wines I've ever had from Larry. A big part of it, I suspect, is that he bought
    some very high quality grapes this year. The grapes DO make a difference. Some would even
    go so far as to say "The wine is made in the vnyd", but Larry should get SOME credit.
    Coming after the Hoage, people were really impressed with the restraint and elegance
    and structure the wines showed. Even though two of them were > 15%, they did not show the
    alcohol and had no overripe character.
    I was particularly struck by the BlueOaks. Paso Syrah often veers to the overripe &
    jammy side. This was not at all like that. To repeat, in a different context.."for those
    folks who decry the alcohol levels in Syrah, then this is your wine....it's what you've
    been asking for...enjoy!!"
    My favorite was the EaglePoint; by far the most interesting of the threesome. Rumor has
    it that that Hartlip guy knows a bit about farming grapes. This wine certainly shows that.
    Least impressive was the CedarLane. It is a huge/extracted Syrah that, I suspect, will
    be the best of the three down the road. But it's pretty hard & closed right now.
    And the prices are very reasonable, given today's Syrah market in Calif. Redline is
    a wnry to keep your eye on. You, too, can follow them from the very start.
    4. SanSakanaCellars: A new wnry for me (www.SanSakana.com). One of the principles, Bettina
    Briz, was coming to SantaFe a few weeks ago and oferred to bring samples of their current releases. We had the two Viogniers two weeks ago and I liked them a lot. This Syrah was even more impressive. Loaded w/ Rhonish character, it reminded me a lot of Ehren Jordan's
    Syrahs he makes for Bruce Neyers. A wnry to keep your eye on.
    5. Broc Cllrs: This is a new wnry started by Chris Brockway, winemaker at JC Cellars. Focus is,
    I gather, on Rhone varietals. A wnry to watch in the future. I was very impressed by his '04 Syrah.
    6. BennettVlly: A relatively lesser-known growing area just south and east of the town of
    SantaRosa. Cold climate area. Home of one Russell Bevan. I've been mightly impressed w/ the
    wines coming from this area by Mike Officer and Adam/Diana Lee. The Grenache from here may
    be some of the best outside the EdnaVlly. An area that is potentially one of the great
    areas in Calif for Rhone varietals.


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