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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 Jaffurs Syrahs - February 13, 2008


We tasted last night (2/13/08) some Jaffurs Syrahs :

  1. Jaffurs SantaBarbaraCnty Viognier (14.5%; 33% StolpmanVnyd, 38% BienNacidoVnyd,
    29% ParadiseVnyd + Roussanne; 888cs) 2005
    : Med.gold color; lovely pear/peach very floral/
    aromatic slight waxy/dusty lovely/perfumed nose; soft/fat/lush/unctuous waxy/floral/pear/peach/
    Viognier rich flavor; very long lush/unctuous waxy/floral/peachy finish; more unctuous &
    interesting than the '06; great price at $23.00
  2. Jaffurs SantaBarbaraCnty Viognier (14.2%) 2006: Med.gold color; very bright floral/pear clean/
    fragrant bit spicy nose; tarter rich pear/Viognier bright/clean slight minerally flavor; med. long bright/spicy/floral light pear/Viognier finish; very attractive young Viognier. $25.95
  3. Jaffurs SantaBarbaraCnty Roussanne (13.2%; 34% WesterlyVnyd +StolpmanVnyd; 240 cs) 2005: Med.gold color; big/huge floral/honeysuckle slight herbal some toasty/pungent/smokey/oak slight valve oil/minerally nose; very soft/fat some floral/honeysuckle bit pungent/toasty/oak rather
    light flavor; very short soft/fat/glycerined slight floral/honeysuckle almost no finish; a lovely/rich Roussanne nose but not much flavor & very short finish. $27.00
  4. Jaffurs BienNacidoVnyd/SantaBarbaraCnty Syrah (15.3%; 240 cs) 2004: Black color; beautiful pungent/licorice/plummy/classic BNSyrah intense blackberry/black cherry/Syrah slight toasty/oak some complex nose; slightly hot/alcoholic very lush/blackberry/black cherry/plummy/ BNSyrah light toasty/smokey/oak slight licorice/gamey bit hard/tannic flavor; very long bit hard/ tannic slight smokey/toasty/charred/oak plummy/black cherry/Syrah some complex finish; needs 2-6 yrs; showing some development but still a pup; lovely/classic BN Syrah. Steal at $28.50
  5. Jaffurs Syrah BienNacidoVnyd/SBC (15.3%) 2005:Black color; very intense blackberry/black cherry/Syrah/boysenberry/plummy bit Oz-like some roasted/pungent/coffee beautiful nose; tarter richer/ intense black cherry/blackberry/Syrah slight roasted/pungent/licorice bit tannic flavor; very
    long bit tannic rich/intense/plummy/blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry light toasty/oak/roasted finish; needs 2-10 yrs; bit bigger/richer/riper/Oz-like than the '04; beautiful/textbook BN Syrah at a very good price. $32.00
  6. Jaffurs VernasVnyd/Melville/CatCanyon/LosAlamos/SantaBarbaraCnty (15.0%; Estrella,Clones 1,877,174; 160 cs) 2004: Black color; intense blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry bit Rhonish/green olive/roasted some toasty/oak/smokey complex nose; tart rich/blackberry/Syrah some roasted/green olive/Rhonish some pungent/smokey/oak flavor; very long some tannic blackberry/ boysenberry/Syrah some roasted/Rhonish/green olive finish; terrific Syrah that needs age. $35.00
  7. Jaffurs Syrah Verna'sVnyd/SBC (15.5%) 2005: Black color; intense boysenberry/blackberry/ Syrah less toasty/oak huge fruit slight smokey/pungent light roasted/coffee complex nose; tart huge fruit/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah/ripe light toasty/smokey/oak slight pungent/roasted some tannic
    flavor; very long/lingering huge fruit/boysenberry/Syrah slight pungent/smokey some tannic finish;
    needs 2-10 yrs; huge fruit & less Rhonish but terrific Syrah. $35.00
  8. Jaffurs Syrah AmpelosVnyd/SBCnty (15.3%) 2004: Black color; beautiful intense/blackberry/ Syrah/boysenberry clean/pure/varietal/Syrah slight toasty/pungent/oak beautiful nose; very tart
    very intense blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah some peppery/cold-climate light toasty/pungent/oak
    flavor; very long/lingering very intense/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah light toasty/oak slight
    peppery rather tannic finish; needs 3-10 yrs; a purity of spicy/peppery/Syrah fruit w/ little
    Rhonish character; a laser-beam Syrah on the palate. $38.25
  9. Jaffurs Syrah AmpelosVnyd/Sta.RitaHills (15.5%; www.JaffursWine.com)2005: Black color; very intense blackberry/boysenberry/framboise/Syrah/huge fruit slight roasted/toasty/smokey/ pungent/oak slight spicy/peppery beautiful nose; tart pretty tannic very intense blackberry/ framboise/Syrah bit toasty/pungent/oak slight spicy/peppery beautiful flavor; very long/lingering rather tannic/hard huge/intense blackberry/framboise/Syrah light pungent/toasty slight peppery/ cold-climate finish; bit more intense fruit and less complex than the '04 but another stunning
    Ampelos Syrah. $39.00
  10. Jaffurs ThompsonVnyd/SantaBarbaraCnty Syrah (15.1%; 240 cs) 2004: Black color; big spicy/blackberry/Syrah some peppery some toasty/charred/oak maybe a bit closed/tight nose; tart
    rather hard/tannic some blackberry/Syrah/peppery/spicy bit toasty/oak flavor; med.long hard/
    tannic some blackberry/spicy/peppery/Syrah light toasty finish; seems to be pretty closed &
    tight right now, but should evolve into a classic Thompson. $32.00
  11. Jaffurs Syrah ThompsonVnyd/SBC (15.3%) 2005: Black color; intense blackberry/boysenberry/ Syrah strong toasty/charred/oak huge fruit slight peppery nose; tart rather toasty/charred/oak/ smokey pretty tannic big/blackberry/spicy/Syrah bit peppery flavor; very long big/hard/tannic rather
    toasty/charred/oak/pungent big/blackberry/Syrah/boysenberry/spicy some peppery/licorice finish;
    a big huge classic Thompson Syrah w/ huge fruit; needs age badly. $32.00
  12. Jaffurs Upslope Syrah SantaBarbaraCnty (15.2%;Thompson/Ampelos/Melville/BienNacido vnyds;best 6 barrels; 142 vs) 2004: Black color; intense blackberry/boysenberry/quite spicy/Syrah rather hard/tannic rather toasty/charred/oak/pungent somewhat complex flavor; very long spicy/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah fairly tannic rather charred/toasty/oak finish; big fruit but
    huge structure for the long haul. $63.00
  13. Jaffurs Syrah Upslope/SBC (15.1%; Thompson/Verna's/BienNacido vnyds) 2005: Black color; huge/intense blackberry/boysenberry/framboise/Syrah rather spicy/peppery less toasty/ pungent/oak some complex nose; softer some toasty/pungent/oak huge/blackberry/boysenberry/ Syrah more spicy/peppery rather tannic flavor; very long lush/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah some toasty/pungent/oak some tannic finish; bit softer/lusher more intense fruit & less oak than the '04; terrific/big classic Jaffurs Syrah, as good as any from Calif. $67.00
  14. PaulJaboulet Cornas (13%) 1999: Dark color; bit funky/bretty/horsecollar more SouthernRhone/
    aged Grenache little Syrah bit aged some earthy/dusty slight blackberry nose; soft rather funky/
    horsecollar/leathery bit aged/earthy/dusty low fruit somewhat CdP flavor; med. earthy/dusty/
    rustic bit funky/bretty aged bit tired/astringent/dried-out finish; little NorthernRhone character and more like an aged/slightly-tired CdP. Costigan mystery wine.
  15. Jaffurs Syrah MelvilleVnyd (14.7%) 2000: Very dark color; beautiful smokey/pungent/toasty/oak
    rather roasted/Rhonish/coffee strong peppery/cracked black pepper/blackberry/cold-climate Syrah
    complex quite Rhonish nose; tart strong cracked black pepper/blackberry/spicy light toasty/
    smokey/oak classic cold-climate some tannic flavor; very long very strong cracked black pepper/
    classic cold-climate Syrah fairly complex finish w/ some tannins; still in great shape and can
    go another 4-8 yrs. Sterbenz mystery wine.

And the usual profound musings from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Roussanne: The '05 was a bit of a puzzle to me. When we first got it in last yr, I really
loved this wine...textbook Roussanne it was. The one we had tonight had a lovely, if a bit
subdued, Roussanne nose, but it had very little flavor and almost no finish. The cork
seemed fine, but I suspect sub-level TCA may have been going on here. Will try another btl.
2. Syrahs: A mighty stunning collection of Syrahs, I must say. The BienNacidos were pretty classic BienNacido Syrah. The Verna's struck me as better than the Verna's from the past..maybe the vnyd maturity. They seemed a bit more Rhonish than in the past. The
Ampelos has rapidly become the favorite Jaffurs Syrah in my book. It has a zingy acidity and a
purity of intense Syrah fruit, plus a bit of pepper that I really like. The acidity should carry it a
long way. The Thompsons were pretty classic Thompsons, w/ that pepper and spice I typically find from that vnyd. The Melville Syrah was, I believe, from the original planting in the Sta.RitaHills afore the Verna'sVnyd had come on line; classic cold-climate Syrah. The UpSlope Syrahs are supposed to be the selection of the very best barrels of the Syrahs from all the vnyds. It seems to be somewhat bigger, more tannic & structured, bit more toasty oak; but not sure it's worth the additional tarrif, IMHO. Probably meant for people who need a
prestige wine and know you can't get a great wine w/o paying big $$'s. But, if it's a Syrah and says Jaffurs on the label...you just can't go wrong.
3. Jaffurs: Followed CraigJaffurs wines from the very start. Way back when, when he was making his wines up at the SantaMaria coop; BobSenn suggested that I meet CraigJaffurs, since I was rather interested in Rhone varietals. So, on a cold/foggy/misty earlySpring morning; LarryArchibald & I sat out on the LosOlivos W&S Emporium front porch and chatted
wine w/ Craig. He brought a couple of samples in small jars that we tried. I'd like to say we
were blown away by them...but they were much too young and I couldn't tell what they'd become. But I was struck by Craig's passion for what he was doing (still had his day-job at this point) and knew his was a wnry to watch. Been watchin' ever since.

Larry also likes to brag that he knew Craig from the very start. But it's a false "know", only because he was part of my entourage can he make any such claim. And he likes to brag
about how he "makes" the ThompsonVnyd PetiteSirah ArchibaldCuvee wine. Another false claim. He simply gets to pluck the earwigs from the bins when they come in. Actually, it's his
ugly Hawaiian shirt that stampedes them into taking flight.

It's been fun to watch the evolution of Craig's wines. The early whites were much more lean
and austere than they currently are. I should dig out a few of those early ones to see how
they've evolved. The more recent whites are much richer and perfumed in character, but still
show good restraint and balance. DollyParton Viognier they ain't. His Syrahs have just been getting better and better over the yrs. They're easily some of my most favorite of Calif Syrahs. And they're still reasonably priced. My group buys a $hitload of them every year. The addition of DaveYates to the team several yrs ago has done a lot for the visibility of Jaffurs wine. He's not one of these handsome/slick/chic marketing guys with whom your first reaction is to protect your wallet. Great wines from great people.
4. Futures: Dave tells me that Jaffurs will have their '06 Futures offering of vnyd-designate Syrahs, UpSlope, and PetiteSirah thru the month of May. Alas, the famed ArchibaldCuvee, earwig free, only comes to the LosAlamos group.


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