Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tasting Report: California Syrah & Blends

Disclaimer: I love California syrah. Unlike many of my wine nerd friends, my palate never outgrew the stuff. I drink it all year round, with grilled summer steaks and by itself on cold winter nights. Recently, I tasted my way through a bunch of California syrahs and found, yet again, why I keep coming back for more.

All wines were received as trade samples and tasted blind.

2010 Epiphany Révélation - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $40
Love the aromatic display of sweet plums, raspberries, violets and cinnamon. Plush mouthfeel with medium-grain tannins and enough acid. The plum and raspberry fruit flavors are pure and delicious, and they’re matched with notes of clove and tobacco. I also picked up a flavor that reminded me of sweet BBQ sauce and charcoal, which I love. A hint of toast and pepper on the finish. A juicy wine with lots of personality and deliciousness. A blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache. (90 points)

This tasty syrah blend pays homage to New Orleans.
2010 Fess Parker The Big Easy - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $35
The dark plum and blackberry aromas smell roasted and sweet, and there are also aromas of tar and rich potting soil. Rich and extracted on the palate, the blackberry and blueberry fruit comes in waves. Supported by medium acid and fine tannins, this fruit-bomb also shows notes of fig paste, mocha and toasted oak. After ten minutes, just a hint of black olive comes out. Hedonistic, not much subtlety here, but up there on the delicious scale. Could use a year or two. I chuckled when I unveiled this wine and saw it was named “The Big Easy” because that name perfectly sums up this wine’s worldview. A solid blend of 66% Syrah, 19% Petite Sirah and 15% Grenache. (88 points)

2010 Fess Parker Syrah Rodney's Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
SRP: $49
Lush aromas of blackberries and blueberries, caramel and charcoal. Palate is full and rich with mixed berries, but there’s just enough acid and some fine tannins, so it all works together. Dark and smoky as well, with mocha, coffee, charcoal and carmelized sugar notes. A bold, bombastic wine, but the purity of flavors and the seamlessness of the wine make it irresistible. Could benefit from a long decant or a few years in the cellar. (89 points)

From Fields Family Wines.
2010 Fields Family Wines Syrah Estate - California, Central Valley, Lodi
SRP: $22
Dark and sweet on the nose, like raspberry jam and plum cake mixed in with an earthy-smoky note. Bright plum and raspberry fruit on the palate with velvety tannins. A ripe, soft and easy-drinking approach. The toasted coconut and creamy oak is actually integrated quite well. An unashamedly fun wine that I cannot help buy enjoy. (88 points)

2009 Azari Winery Syrah Corkscrew - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $19
Smells of wild blueberry jam, plum skins, also some chocolate shavings and spiced coffee. Full and plush feeling on the palate, with fine-grain tannins. The acid is present to balance the rich plum and blueberry fruit. These white pepper and spiced coffee notes are woven throughout, and I’m really liking it. Big, yet elegant and deep, and capable of at least a few years in the cellar. It seems like it could unwind and develop some more nuance. (90 points)

2008 Azari Winery Shiraz - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
SRP: $60
Aromas of plum sauce, the juiciest blackberries, along with notes of kalamata olives. The palate shows fine tannins, medium acid and loads of juicy blackberry fruit and plum fruit. Bold but still restrained, and I love the secondary flavors of potting soil, sweet cola and peppered steak laced throughout. A note of coffee on the long finish. A very nice example of Sonoma Coast syrah. I know it’s three times the price of the 2009 Corkscrew Syrah, but, in my opinion, this wine didn’t have the same levels of depth and complexity. (88 points)

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist, which just won Best Overall Wine Blog at the 2013 Wine Blog Awards!

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