Edmunds St. John 2000 Syrah Wylie-Fenaughty (El Dorado County) – 14.1% Corked. (6/12)
Clos Saron 2009 Syrah “Stone Soup” (Sierra Foothills) – There’s a touch of viognier involved, too. Huge and thick. A rhombus of a wine, structurally, with chunks much on which to chew. Tannins are, texturally, powdery. Observe that I haven’t mentioned fruit anywhere in this note; it’s not devoid, but it’s certainly not prioritizing any at the moment.
Clos Saron 2006 Syrah “Heart of Stone” (Sierra Foothills) – There’s a dollop of roussanne here. Very strong. Leather, blackberry, and a forbidding wall of dried fruit adhering to a currently-impenetrable wall. Broadens a bit as it pushes against that wall, but there’s little point in drinking this now.
Clos Saron 2006 Syrah “Heart of Stone” (Sierra Foothills) – Co-fermented with a little roussanne. Bell peppers dusted with black pepper. Gorgeous and expressive right now. There’s some jerky, or perhaps dried leather, late that is usually an early indication of age in syrah, but the wine’s actual future remains to be seen.
Clos Saron 2002 Syrah “Heart of Stone” (Sierra Foothills) – Weedy and starting to unravel. Lots of gravelly minerality, held together by tar.
Clape 2002 Cornas (Rhône) – From a local store’s closeout bin, at a low-for-Cornas price. That’s still way too high for this wine, which is basically fully mature, and tastes of a good aged Côtes-du-Rhône (syrah-based, of course): sepia fruit on a warm bed of brown soil and faded herb. There’s nothing about it that speaks of Cornas, which is why even the closeout price is too high. (5/12)
Lagier Meredith 2011 Rosé of Syrah (Mount Veeder) – Very pleasant, a bright pinkish-red berry on which one wishes to absent-mindedly snack. It doesn’t really submit to detailed analysis, but it’s nice. (5/12)
Chave 1994 Hermitage (Rhône) – At one time I owned some of this, back in the days when it was (relatively) reasonably priced. I don’t know what happened to it, and I certainly drank it too early, because this is where you’d want it…perhaps even a touch past that point…with a grittier, tooth-baring edge to its columnar masculinity. (Sometimes, a masculine column is just a masculine column. Or Chave Hermitage. Same thing.) (11/11)
Voyager Estate 2003 Shiraz (Margaret River) – Impatience is what caused this. I probably should have waited another ten years, at least, but curiosity overcame sense. This isn’t even particularly ambitious or artsy shiraz, and yet it has held and oh-so-barely developed without so much as a blink or a nod. Intense peppered blackberry compote, bark, a touch of tar. If one is waiting for this to turn into something, one will of necessity wait longer. (2/12)
Gilles Robin 2000 Crozes-Hermitage “Cuvée Albéric Bouvet” (Rhône) – Wan. There’s a little mature Rhônosity, mostly in the tarred meat vein, but that vein was opened and drained a few years ago. (2/12)
Maxime Graillot “Domaine des Lises” 2009 Crozes-Hermitage (Rhône) – Heavy, woody, impenetrably dense, and dead-fruited; if certain financially semi-solvent Australian importers of past repute (and bacon-of-the-month clubs) had ever worked in the Rhône, this is the sort of wine they’d have sought. I’m given to understand that there’s a familial connection to the great Alain Graillot here; if true, this is an embarrassment to his name. (11/11)
Edmunds St. John 2005 Syrah Bassetti (San Louis Obispo County) – Something I thought I might never taste: a mature Bassetti. Well, mature-ish. OK, not mature at all. There’s certainly no hurry. If there’s any benefit to Old World analogues, this is the Hermitage versus some of Steve’s less hyper-masculine syrahs, but it’s important to stress that it doesn’t actually taste anything like Hermitage; the only real commonality is the firmness of its structure, which is still quite evident. Otherwise, the dark fruit has roasted into soy-drizzled walnuts and dark herbs, porcini dust plays a role, and the lingering impression is one of persistent solidity. Very, very impressive. (11/11)