Blind Wine Tasting Notes: Syrah

At our Syrah tasting event last Thursday evening, six of us compared six bottles of Syrah – four from California and two from France. It was a pretty good lineup, but the top three finishers were all from California’s Central Coast appellation. It was clear that all six of us who formed the night’s tasting panel have true California palates.

The colors in our glasses were a deep violet – two with a slight degree of gold banding about the edges – but the aromas and flavors were richly contrasting between spiciness, fruitiness, and smokiness. A moderate degree of chewiness was present in most; aroma, taste, texture, and finish all combined to generate an exceptionally high score in the night’s eventual winner.

None of these wines were older than the 2003 vintage, yet all are drinkable now.

Paired with our Syrah were whole-wheat seeded breads, a sharp Wisconsin Cheddar cheese, a softer Edam cheese, and an excellent sun-dried tomato/cream cheese fondue prepared in my kitchen by Chef Tanya. All were terrific accompaniments to our Syrah wines.

About the wines
The wines listed below are ranked top-down, most favorite to least favorite; each is followed by the wine’s heat (alcohol content) and the price per 750ml bottle. In the left column is the actual group score for each wine using my handy-dandy Wine Scoring Sheet, which is based on the 20-point Davis scale. If no link is present, purchase information is not available online.

Below the group ranking, I’ve employed the scoring sheet to tabulate my thoughts about each individual wine.

Group Ranking

+4

2004 “R” Runquist, Paso Robles, California

14.4%

$25

+3

2003 Thomas Fogarty, Fat Buck Ridge Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains, California

15.0%

$32*

+1

2004 Andrew Murray Tout Le Jours, Central Coast

14.5%

$15

-1

2003 Mas Grand Plagniol, Costieres de Nimes, France

14.0%

$20

-2

2004 Concannon Stampmaker’s, Livermore, Califronia

13.5%

$15

-5

2004 Emmanuel Darnaud, Crozes-Hermitages, France

12.8%

$NA


Winehiker’s Ranking

19pts

2004 “R” Runquist, Paso Robles, California

14pts

2004 Andrew Murray Tout Le Jours, Central Coast

12pts

2003 Mas Grand Plagniol, Costieres de Nimes, France

13.5pts

2003 Thomas Fogarty, Fat Buck Ridge Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains, California

11.5pts

2004 Concannon Stampmaker’s, Livermore, Califronia

8.5pts

2004 Emmanuel Darnaud, Crozes-Hermitages, France

In this tasting, the group scores, as well as my individual scores, were quite widespread; in both we had a clear favorite in the Runquist and a clear nonfavorite in the Darnaud, which exhibited an incredibly earthy taste. I loved the fruity aroma, the rich vanilla smokiness, and the velvet textures of the Runquist; the only criterion I did not score it highest on was finish, which lingered perhaps only 15-20 seconds. My selection for the evening was the Fogarty, purchased directly at the winery above Palo Alto; I had liked it enough to buy it this summer during a post-hike visit, but it was much more of a hit with the group than it was with me. Indeed, I liked the Plagniol more.

Winehiker’s Bottom Line
If you would buy a California-grown Syrah priced in the mid-twenties, you cannot go wrong should you choose to lay in a stock of the Runquist and the Fogarty.

~winehiker
*It would appear that Fogarty’s 2004 Fat Buck Ridge Syrah has gone up in price in the few short weeks since I purchased it; it’s now $50 per bottle.

Advertisements

Feel free to comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s