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Heads Leeuwin, tails you lose

[leeuwin estate]Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” 1999 Shiraz (Margaret River) — Blackberry syrup and soy. I suppose this has aged, but my memory is that it was less sludgy in its youth. It’s in no danger of cliff-diving, so I suppose it might be interesting to see where it goes from here. (11/16)

Fewer Coynes in the fountain

[coyne]Thomas Coyne 1999 Syrah Detjens Farms (Livermore Valley) — Pepper, herbs, liquid smoke, a lot of humid airspace. Whatever maturation was going to happen has, I think, happened, and now it’s a process of thinning. Drink up. (10/16)

Hounds, unreleased

[esj bassetti]Edmunds St. John 2001 Syrah Bassetti (San Luis Obispo County) — The reason I work out: I want to be old enough, one day, to say that I’ve had an ESJ made from syrah or the Southern Rhône grapes that was over the hill. Leather and dried blackberry jerky, powdery soil, firm structure, but mostly just about force without excess. Let it age. (7/16)

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)

Knows down

Edmunds St. John 2002 Syrah “The Shadow” (California) — The crazy trajectory of this wine (ready, not ready, past ready, not ready, etc.) continues. This is the not ready version, and so the strappy, leathery tannin still battles with the deep bass throb of the fruit. I’d say time will tell, but it’s really that the next bottle will be completely different. (5/16)

This is the Awa has come

[te awa]Te Awa 2004 Syrah “Zone 2” (Hawke’s Bay) — Faded into generic dried blueberry leather innocuousness; in other words, tired syrah. I would have expected a slightly better showing.

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)

It doesn’t know, yet

Edmunds St. John “Wayward Pilgrims of the Vine” 2002 Syrah “The Shadow” (California) – If this wine has gone anywhere since my last check-in a few years ago, it’s not evident from this particular bottle. The rest stays in the cellar, for now. (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)

Columbier day

Domaine du Columbier 1999 Hermitage (Rhône) – Hard as nails at uncorking, and this tight clench takes hours to loosen. Thickened by ultra-fine tannin to neutron star-density, even for Hermitage this is hyper-reticent and parodically masculine. After the aforehinted hours of aeration there’s some dry black fruit residue to contemplate, and a little more textural generosity. It’s hard to say if this is on the decline or not yet done with its journey, but with more confidence I can fit this into a longstanding personal narrative in which, for me, even the best Hermitage (and this is not) is more a wine of cold intellectual fascination than pleasure. I’m getting mightily tired of its opposite as well (the glou-glou genre), so maybe this is just another manifestation of my curmudgeonry. It won’t be the last… (6/12)