Friday, May 4, 2012

Another Reason I Love Mendocino Syrah

Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard (Purple Teeth Cellars, LLC)
Anyone who’s drunk or talked wine with me has probably heard me rant about my love of Mendocino syrah. First of all, I love Mendocino. It’s a magical place of jagged rock mountains, dry valleys, breakneck turns and a brutal “Land of the Lost”-style coastline. I also love syrah, its uncanny ability to take translate the specific time and place it comes from into aromas and flavors in the glass.

After visiting Copain’s winery in March and tasting through a lot of their new releases, I figured it was about time to open up an older bottle and see how it was doing. (Click here for my March post on Copain’s winery and current releases.)

I decided on the 2003 Copain Syrah EaglepointRanch vineyard. The fruit comes from a nearly three-square-mile vineyard in the Ukiah Valley. This vineyard sits at 1,800 feet in elevation, where the soils are a mix of decomposed sandstone and loam.

Out of the bottle, this wine shows a pretty black cherry color. The currant and plum fruit is soft and lush on the nose, coming across as very seductive. There’s an aroma that reminds me exactly of Ukrainian sausage, which is always spiced with paprika and garlic. I know it sounds like a strange connection, but I’m not kidding: this wine smells like Ukrainian sausage. The aromas shifted like a wave, turning smokier after an hour. After two hours open that meat aroma drifted away, and was replaced by green olive and dried cranberry aroma. Aromatically, this wine speaks to me. And I listen.

The palate shows fine tannins, which glide across the palate with ease. The black cherry fruit is fresh, not baked or goopy. That Ukrainian sausage flavor is delicious, and mixed in there with the fruit. After an hour or two the wine became tinged with charcoal, black pepper and olive tapenade. Over time I started tasting fresh currant along with beef broth and a distinct sage flavor. It’s got enough acid to keep it fresh, but it seems to me that the acid is a bit lower than some of the more recent vintages. The tannins come back out on the finish, providing solid structure as it lingers.

I don’t really believe in a specific “peak” time to drink a wine, but this wine seems to be in a very harmonious place right now. It has at least three to five more years of development ahead of it, and I’m really curious how those sausage and charcoal flavors are going to mature. Right now, I'd go 92 points.

Overall, this was a great display of Mendocino syrah from one of my favorite producers. I've got a 2004 and 2005 of the same wine, but I think I'll let them sleep for a few more years, if I can keep my hands off of them. 


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