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domaine de la terre rouge

In front of the camel

Terre Rouge 1999 Syrah Sentinel Oak Pyramid Block (Shenandoah Valley) — This is the first (from a once-mighty stash) that I’d call fully mature, though I say that believing it’s a bit of an outlier. A thicker, pastier version of the classic Rhône “meat liqueur,” here more texturally hide-like than the norm. It’s in a really, really good place…or, at least, this bottle is. (5/16)

Sentinental reasons

Domaine de la Terre Rouge 1999 Syrah Sentinel Oak Pyramid Block (Shenandoah Valley) – 14.5. Rich, ripe, round. Fulsome baked fruit, sun, arbor, and antique desk. While this has definitely matured, in some ways, I think its very far from anything resembling a demise, and so I continue to drink mine slowly. (8/12)


Domaine de la Terre Rouge 2008 Syrah “Les Côtes de l’Ouest” (California) – 14.5%. Beefy (not in taste but in texture) syrah that straddles the stylistic Old/New World divide by standing to the side. Not rounded so much as rhomboid, thick with forested dark fruit but not nearly as thick in the body as such flavors might suggest. I don’t mean to suggest it’s not fairly clearly Californian – it is – only that this grape can be pushed an awful lot harder (and is, even sometimes at the same winery), whereas this wears its heft with restraint. (7/12)


Domaine de la Terre Rouge 1999 Syrah Sentinel Oak Pyramid Block (Shenandoah Valley) – This is really singing at the moment. Very early maturity, but still enough maturity to have made it worth the wait. The wine is brown. Not in color, but in tone and aroma. There’s lingering purple, but mostly it’s brown. Baritone. Incipient autumnal. Late afternoon. I’m glad I have it in quantity, though the dozen bottles I wasted over the years hoping for the slightest bit of development…well, I wish I had them back. (10/11)

Guard do-tree

Domaine de la Terre Rouge 1999 Syrah Sentinel Oak Pyramid Block (Shenandoah Valley) – 14.5%. I bought a pretty fair quantity of this wine, a long while back, from a store that was closing (well, moving) and clearing out full cases of whatever it didn’t want to move at pretty extraordinary prices. This was one of the offerings, and I acquired it for a song. That song, however, has been playing the same tune over and over for about a decade, to the point where I had almost given up on the wine ever moving from its highly primary and decidedly uncomplex starting point. Well, things have changed, and in a hurry (at least based on this bottle). Wonderfully mature, though early in that period, with smoke and dust eddying bacon, dried quince, and hedgehog mushroom aromas into a low-atmosphere helix of deliciousness. The structure has not fallen away, but is well-resolved enough to really let these lovely aromas through. I have little confidence that the rest of the bottles will be identically expressive – that’s how bottle (really, cork) variation works – but there is, at last, a glimpse of this wine’s delicious endgame. (10/11)

Wear a côtes

[label]Terre Rouge 2001 Syrah “Les Côtes de l’Ouest” (California) – Sometimes, I wonder if this wine will ever show signs of maturity (it has mellowed a bit, but otherwise…not so much). Other times, I remind myself that this is the entry-level syrah, and I probably shouldn’t be looking for major development. And after all, consistency is a virtue: year after year, one knows what one is going to get from this bottle, which seems to appear and reappear as if the remaining bottles are mating, or cloning, or perhaps budding. The aromas? Black’n’blue fruit, some purple, some dark earth, some light tar, some faint rosemary, the faintest hint of soft pine…pretty much the same as it’s been since release. I suppose I need to really bury one of these under something heavy should I truly wish to find out what, if anything, will happen. (5/09)

London arenas

[label]Domaine de la Terre Rouge 2003 “RO2X” (Sierra Foothills) – An interesting tribute to the partially-oxidized style of wine one can find all over Europe, but rarely (except by accident) here. The grape is roussanne, and its Californian interpretation is most definitely on display here, as despite relatively restrained rancio there’s a great deal of lush golden fruit of an intensity not usually found in its old world models. This upsets the balance somewhat, but that could just as easily be a matter of expectations. I find this wine most enjoyable, and wholeheartedly support further experiments in this direction. Plus, anyone who loves a good pun as much as me has to like the name. (1/09)

Go Ouest, young man

Domaine de la Terre Rouge 2005 Syrah “Les Côtes de l’Ouest” (California) – Big and pleasantly blundering. The roasted coffee overlay isn’t too dominant, and the stew of sun-baked red fruit underneath is quite pleasant. It’s neither long nor particularly complex, but then that’s not really the point. (1/09)

Easton exposure

[vineyard]Easton 2006 Zinfandel (Amador County) – Comes in columns, with separation and little integration, of sweet black fruit, pepper-spice, wild-eyed – almost olive-like, though the wine doesn’t taste of olives – brininess, and minor structure. The finish is shorter than usual, and there’s a significant final chord of vanilla. This might just need a little bit of time to knit, but I think it’s not quite the wine it has been in recent years. (7/08)

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