This post was first published on the daily wine blog Terroirist.
This week's tasting report is short and sweet: 5 California Rhone wines that rock. If Claifornia Syrah and Grenache-based blends are your thing, $30 can get you a whole lot of deliciousness. Additionally, Shafer's Relentless Syrah is a teeth-staining ball of awesome that deserves the praise it gets. It's not cheap, but wow.
These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind.
2012 Qupé Syrah - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
Deep-ruby color. Jammy black cherries on the nose along with a whole lot of black pepper, add in some smoke and beef broth. Medium-plus-bodied, dusty tannins, refreshing acid, adds up for a silky but fresh mouthfeel. Juicy yet tart fruit (black cherries, red and black currants). Lots of smoke, charcoal, graphite and black pepper. Mocha and cedar notes woven in well. Good to go, but I’d like to revisit this in three years to see more of these savory elements. Mostly Bien Nacido fruit with 25% from the Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, the wine is aged 22 months in 25% new oak. (90 points)
2013 Anaba Turbine Red - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma ValleySRP $28
Bright ruby color. Nose: Juicy dark cherries, sweet raspberries, notes of cola, rhubarb pie and lavender as well, opens up quite nicely. Chewy yet velvety texture, solid tannic grip, moderate acid, it’s all working really well together. Black cherry, blueberry and raspberry jam fruit, the fruit is dark and rich but open as well. Notes of cola, black pepper, leather, grilled mushrooms and dark earth add lots of complexity. The coffee, cedar and vanilla notes are woven in well and don’t overpower the other elements. Could definitely use some time to unravel, but a very pretty wine. A blend of 42% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 28% Syrah, aged in 30% new French oak. (91 points)
2013 KITÁ Syrah Camp 4 Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
Juicy purple color. Rich blackberry, blueberry and boysenberry fruit, but the non-fruit complexities explode from the glass (black pepper, soy, charcoal pit, roasted nuts and coffee). Medium-to-full-bodied, moderate acid, a fleshy wine with a velvety approach. The blueberry, boysenberry and black currant fruit is fully ripe but maintains a tart, crunchy edge. Complex black pepper, mushroom, balsamic, roasted herbs, so much savory complexity. I also get notes of coffee, cedar, sarsaparilla. Long finish, this needs years to fully express itself, but so much going on here. 13.5% alcohol, all Syrah, aged 18 months in 30% new French oak. (91 points)
2013 KITÁ Spe'y Camp 4 Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez ValleySRP: $30
Medium intensity, bright ruby color. Aromas are gorgeous: black cherries, tart red currants, roses, violets, pepper, bay leaf, rhubarb, just a whole lot of aromas to unpack. Medium-full bodied with full but smooth tannins and a bright, refreshing acidic presence. THe fruit is pure and delicious (juicy black cherries, raspberries, crunchy plums and currants). Non-fruit complexity all over the place: cola, rhubarb, sarsaparilla, clay soil, pencil shavings, nuanced kisses of oak and coffee. Long and complex but leaves the palate refreshed. I'd love to taste again in three-to-five years. A beautiful blend of 58% Grenache, 21% Syrah and 21% Carignan, aged 18 months in 25% new French oak. (92 points)
2012 Shafer Relentless - California, Napa ValleySRP: $85
Almost pitch colored. A dense and brooding wine that will take a long time to coax out all the nuances, but I get a mix of roasted fig, juicy blueberries, tart black currants and plum skins, along with tar, violets, white pepper, rich earth, mocha and anise cookie, hints of savory spice. Massively full-bodied and so chewy on the palate, sturdy tannins but not abrasive, some moderate-low acid ties it together and keeps it from feeling too heavy. The blueberry, black cherry and black currant fruit is pure, tart and juicy with intense ripeness all at once. I get complex notes of pepper, soy, violets, mint, root beer, toasted oak, mocha. Such a long finish, a bit of heat is my only complaint. A dense brick of a wine, yet it’s complex and focused. Very young wine with a very long life ahead. Syrah with 11% Petite Sirah, aged 30 months in all new French oak. (93 points)