Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Great Syrah from a Lesser-Known California Region

2007 Tahto Syrah (USA, California, North Coast, Potter Valley)

The first time I tasted this syrah was from the barrel at a small winery in Potter Valley, California in 2009. I loved it then, and I've loved each of the ten bottles I've opened over the past year. This, by far, was the best showing yet. It has developed complexity and integration but remains fresh and lively.

I brought this bottle to the last night of my fiction seminar at Johns Hopkins University, and it was a joy to sip while discussing writing. Tasting notes: 5/2/2011 - rated 90 points - best bottle yet! the nose shows plums, cherries and meat drippings. still solid tannins, but they've relaxed a bit, and the fruit has softened. sweet cherries, black pepper, charcoal, just like previous bottles, but i get more of a beef jerky and tomato flavor now, especially on the finish. violets and roasted meat come out on the finish and linger. this reminds me of a really good northern rhone syrah, and that meaty violet aspect reminds me of an aged st. joseph. only one more bottle left. damn!

If you haven't heard of Pottery Valley, you're not alone. I may never have bought a Potter Valley syrah if my brother hadn't gotten married there. Not only is the area pristine and gorgeous, it's a wine region that is primed to really take off in the next decade. Mark my words. You've heard it here first. Actually, I've been saying extoling Potter Valley for two years now. But I still maintain that it is a great place for syrah, especially in the hands of a talented winemaker like Wayne Bauer, who hand-crafted this wine in miniscule quantities. He chose the fruit from a variety of sites around the valley, and it's obvious that Wayne knows good fruit when he sees, smells and tastes it. I don't think Tahto has distribution outside of a few areas in California, but I sure hope some importer out there gives Wayne some respect and buys up a future vintage of Tahto's Potter Valley syrah. This wine deserves some space on wine lists.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yeah, that Syrah was really, really good. I drank so much of it, I lost track of mentioning it to you.