Tag Archives: syrah

A Wine that’s Almost Classic!

Tessellae Old Vines, Cotes du Roussillon, 2013Tessellae

A beautiful and richly balanced aroma of dark fruits and wood tones, highly appealing; almost perfect balance on the palate and in the mouthfeel; a little too crisp for the garnering of a higher score in the classic range; the finish is long and lasting, coating the mouth with no indication of unripe tannins or bitterness; full and satisfying — right from the start, you can see this is a wine that is rating over 90 and is in the outstanding range of scores. 

There’s a blend of grapes here: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.  What gives this wine an added appeal is the harmonious blend of its grapes.  Not all winemakers can blend and make a synchronous marriage of grape varieties that have their own characteristics, which want to express themselves and be somehow noticed but yield to each other in this way.  Yes, you could guess the grapes used in this wine, but individuality has been obscured as much as possible to provide a unity, and this wine has succeeded. 

There are notes of black tea, raspberry and loads of blackberry to keep it mellow, and hints of dried strawberry.  From the world of oak come dark chocolate, clove and a background of leather (faint but present).  It is a GSM on which to model your taste and idea of this classic blend.  Keep it a few years, as it is still young with promise. 

Rating:  94

Emotional rating:  the pleasures of harmony are outstanding and it is highly pleasing

Available:  widely

From Gigondas, France to Rotie Cellars in Washington State

Autumn Grape Vines, Red Mountain, Benton City, Washington

Autumn Grape Vines, Red Mountain, Benton City, Washington

Compare Rotie Cellars 2012, Southern Blend, Washington State 

With 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah this is a blend of the grapes similar to the  Southern Rhone that will approximate Guigal’s Gigondas Rouge.

It  would appear at first impressions that more new oak has been used on the Rotie wine.  Oak

Rotie Cellars 2012 Southern Blend

Rotie Cellars 2012 Southern Blend

aromas and ripe dark fruit dominate on the nose.  Prune (for some noses, plum) with coffee and smoke create a solid aromatic foundation.  The expected effects of Mourvedre are easily detected.  This is a much darker wine than the Gigondas and although the individual flavors are not so apparent on the nose, a soft attack (which this dark wine does not forecast) is however what we find on the palate.  The synchronism of the elements make for a harmonious experience in the mouth.  This is a soft monster.

A New World wine often shows these characteristics: fullness and softness.  Riper fruit, deeper tones, application of noticeable oak and the overall attempt by the winemaker clearly stated by this wine that “I am something.”  Both wines stimulate our emotional responses.  The Rotie also asks the question, “Do you really think I come from the New World and am crafted for New World palates?  And have I succeeded?”  Answer: Yes, if this is your style.

What about Old World mineralogy?  Any of that here?  Hardly!  One might strain to notice it, but the design is fruit at its fullest with character added for distinctiveness.  Personally the prune/plum character is not my favorite and the grapes were a little too ripe at harvesting for me, but that’s a style issue.

Make your analysis.  Which do you like best and why?  What are the similarities and dissimilarities?  Does the comparison advance your knowledge of what is happening in France these days?

Rating:  89

Chateau Trillol Vallee des Hautes Corbieres 2011 — A Wine with Real Depth

Chateau Trillol GSC

Chateau Trillol GSC

Chateau Trillol Valle des Houtes Corbieres 2011

44% Grenache, 29% Carignan, 27% Syrah

The character of the Syrah comes through and gives this wine real depth.  At 14.5% ABV, it is big, but not a fruit bomb. Rather, it is a balanced wine with earth, oak and fruit blending into attractive savoriness.  It is an expression of French Syrah (as opposed to Australian Shiraz) that is much more fruit driven.

A full wine, dark with power, overlaid with oak flavors, minerality and smoke and a solid blackberry fruit base.  The oak and earth flavors dominate.  Fresh acids increase in their strength all the way to the finish, which is bright and lasting.  The wine’s persona is strength, presented with soft power.

Trillol is really a strong mouthful and a wine on the savory side, as expected with French Syrah.  Perfect balance, without losing the acid and the flavors, is expertly maintained.  Even though it has a touch of warmth, the alcohol is not out of balance.

Compare this with a Californian Syrah, but don’t expect a comparison of apples with apples.  The comparison is rather a comparison of apples and oranges.  Trillol is a blend, but 27% Syrah is enough to make a comparison with a 100% Syrah from the New World.  Syrah is a powerful grape and a little goes a long way.  I hope you are getting an increased understanding of the difference between Old World and New World wines

Syrah — Another New World vs Old World Comparison

Overlooking the vineyard

Overlooking the vineyard

Tardieu Laurent Cotes du Rhone Villages 2013

Here we have a Syrah (60%) Grenache (40%) blend from the Southern Rhone valley.  The Cotes du Rhone Villages offers great value and can be very appealing.  The style of this wine is finer and more reserved than the Guigal we evaluated in the previous post, but its emotional appeal is in emotion:  charm.  With a faint nose, dark fruits emerge: blackberry, huckleberry, and notes of leather and dark chocolate.  Raspberry lurks around the edges of the aroma.

This wine is very complex.  It ends with a balanced, medium finish and lots of pleasure.

Rating: 90

Compare the Tardieu with Luca Syrah, Lafarge Double Select 2011 from Valle de Uco Mendoza, Argentina.  

Again we are treated to full but delicate flavors.  Star anise, lavendar, bramble, blackberry, rhubarb, allspice and oak aromas combined with earth and herbs make for complexity and depth.  It is a sophisticated wine — somewhere between an Australian Shiraz and a Rhone Syrah.  As you sip this wine, note the difference that terroir makes to both the style and flavors of the wine.  I would not call this wine silky; rather more tactile, perhaps like velvet.

With these comparisons, you will see wine in its many expressions.  All are red with similar grapes, but all are so very different.  Seek to express your own emotional responses to them.

Rating:  90

An Excellent Syrah from Outstanding Red Mountain Vineyards

Tamarack Ciel du Cheval Syrah 2010

Tamarack Ciel du Cheval Syrah 2010

Tamarack Cellars “Ciel du Cheval” Syrah, 2010, Red Mountain

Dark wine with a light ruby edge, coffee on the nose with toasted notes, hints of rubber and cedar on a base of dark fruit aromas, highly attractive mouthfeel — succulent, juicy and soft — with a balance leaning toward an emphasis on acids, but not objectionable.  This is definitely a food wine and ready to take on the richest of cheeses and dishes.  The finish is a little bitter, meaning the tannins need time to soften and meld with the other flavors.  It has promise of a long age and shows a reasonably long finish.

Red Mountain fruit is herein displayed in all its power.  The wine is well made according to its purpose.  It is not meant to be a ultra smooth, undefined wine.  It is what it is: a powerful wine with plenty of punch and character.  Tamarack Cellars have given us a wine for the table of a rich and meaty meal.  “Delicate” is not the descriptor for this well structured wine.

Rating 90+

Emotional rating: As a food wine, strong and won’t be easily overshadowed.

Availability:  Try the usual internet sources.