Browse Tag



Ethan 2009 Syrah Sawyer Lindquist (Edna Valley) – Black pepper and coal (in rock, rather than its usual dust, form). And then things get ugly: well-toasted spices heavy on clove, spiced cherry pie, and all the sickly trappings of modernity. There are wines (though few syrahs) that can take this sort of theatrical makeup, but this isn’t one of them.

Alisos from captivity

Longoria 2008 Syrah Alisos (Santa Barbara County) – 15.2%. Somewhat reduced, which makes it difficult to taste. But there’s muscularity to the blackberry-dominated fruit that powers through the difficulty. Smokes up a bit at the end. This might be excellent, but I’d need a less reduced sample to know more. (11/11)

Longoria leché

Longoria 2009 Syrah “Vino Dulce” (Santa Ynez Valley) – 375 ml, 18%. Moderate volatile acidity, blueberry, blackberry. Sweet, fruity fun. (11/11)

Lovin’, Detjens, Squeezin’

Thomas Coyne 1999 Syrah Detjens Farm (Livermore Valley) – Interestingly, there is no alcohol indication anywhere on the label. I thought that was a regulatory no-no. Anyway, this has aged and not-aged, in a way that’s become fairly typical of California syrah. Smokier and more sepia-toned Old Western than it was, yet still full of primary-textured heft. This has not moved so much as…slid. Will more time help? Perhaps, but I lack another bottle with which to find out. (12/11)

Carina way

Carina Cellars 2007 Syrah (Santa Barbara County) – Identifiably pinot noir syrah, with smoke and dark berries. There are flecks of char and dark chocolate shavings, though, and in the end it doesn’t really amount to much. (11/11)

Rocky 99

Gaillard 1999 Saint-Joseph “Les Pierres” (Rhône) – Straight from the domaine, and thus the French (rather than the NBI) bottling, which usually means less new oak. As massive as it was the day it was born, layered with mille-feuille tannin, dried peppercorns, lead, and lead-infused dried black fruit paste. There’s only the barest hint of maturity in a bit of browning herbality that malingers out back, but for all the primary fruit and wholly unresolved structure I just don’t know how much longer this should be held. I mean, nothing’s yet mature, but the balance of fruit to structure is now heavily weighted in favor of the latter, and coupled with the oak treatment – quite manageable here, but hardly absent – what I taste and what I predict based on experience are in conflict; going on pure taste, this has another decade or more to go, but based on good sense and experience it’s only going to get tougher. Someone who owns a bottle will have to settle the debate one of these days, because this was my last one. (12/11)

Faury or againsty

Faury 2010 Indication Géographique Protégée Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah (Rhône) – Seems to exist on two planes at once; the first earthy, herbal, a little porcine, and the second a high-toned, edgier, sort of nervous black fruit that’s not all that fruity. I suspect the twain will integrate in time, but it’s still appealing now. It just takes a little more energy to corral its dualism in the glass. (11/11)

Free Jasmin

Jasmin 1996 Côte-Rôtie (Rhône) – This is the first bottle of a quantity of these that has not been a wretched, stewed mess (and/or corked). And while it’s no great wine, it is at least good…and, for a change, tastes like a Côte-Rôtie rather than a toxic waste dump. Keening acidity, brittle and somewhat flaky dried-meat aromatics that blend seamlessly into an equally brittle and flaky structure, and a dusting of blended peppercorns. Quite pleasant. Of course, a Jasmin Côte-Rôtie should be a good deal more than “quite pleasant,” but at this point I’ll take what I can get. (11/11)

Silver syrah

Sierra Vista 1999 “25th Anniversary” Syrah (El Dorado) – 13.5%. Succulent maturing-blackberry fruit braced by leafy and somewhat brittle tannin and coal dust. A bit coniferous. This wine is diverging in a fashion that should lead anyone still holding it to make a choice: wait for further maturity in the fruit (which will undoubtedly occur), or recognize that the structural elements are not aging on the same curve and choose to drink up before they become actively intrusive (which I also think is somewhat inevitable). Right now it’s in a good place, but whether or not it ever gets to “better” will very much depend on one’s view of that choice. (10/11)


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)