Browse Tag


Shy oatmeal

Allemand 1999 Cornas Chaillots (Rhône) – Still sorting itself out, but the folders are starting to populate. In one, there’s an herb-infused slow-cooked meat, still enveloped in a certain mystery. In another, something very floral and even a little aggressively aromatic. In a third, rocks piled upon rocks. This is still headed somewhere, and though it’s quite approachable now I think there’s more to see before it decides to stop for a rest and an idealized drinking experience. (11/10)

Let’s go, man

Allemand 1995 Cornas Reynard (Rhône) – Hey Zeus, this is good. Entering a bit of a soy phase, but it’s soy-soaked springbok jerky, very saline and entirely meaty. There’s salty brown minerality, too. Herbs, sometimes (though not always) found in older Cornas? Not so much, but in their place is a sort of lurid necro-floral aroma that’s really much better than that descriptor makes it sound. Balanced, still muscled despite much maturation, and really beautiful…if you’re a carnivore, that is. (11/10)


Havens 2004 Syrah “MJ” (Dry Creek Valley) – Glancing at the label rather than actually reading the text, this looks like an Unti wine, which threw me a bit until I got my hands on the bottle. 14.5% alcohol. It’s syrah, all right, and New World syrah at that. And it’s tasty enough, getting pretty quickly to the leathery dark berry portion of the evening’s entertainment. Complexity? No, not really. But as a quaffer, it’s quite nice. (11/10)

Ata boy

Ata Rangi 2001 Syrah (Martinborough) – Aging faster than the pinot noir from the same house and year, which is probably a combination of site and vine, but could also just mean that more stake is placed on the success of the pinot. A well-read and somewhat intellectual wine with bushy eyebrows, seated in a well-worn leather chair in the corner of a dark, smoky drawing room, dusty tomes and old pipes strewn about the surrounding tables. I don’t know if I’d call it fully mature, yet, but it has probably learned all it is going to from its maturation, and the future might hold more unpredictability. This is the best aged New Zealand syrah I’ve had, but since that personal category is largely unpopulated there’s not much to that qualification. Perhaps more important: it was worth aging. (10/10)


Jasmin 1996 Côte-Rôtie (Rhône) – Just as bad as the rest of the bottles, though there’s still that fleeting, two- or three-minute flirtation with a lovely, entirely typical aroma of meat and violets. I’m not going to open these to drink anymore (I still have five, I think), but in the absence of actual flaws I think they might make decent enough cooking wines. As it, they’re merely an expensive lesson in unguarded enthusiasm for too-good-to-be-true pricing on older wines. (10/10)

Their Tablas is our gain

Tablas Creek 2005 Syrah (Paso Robles) – Burly but not overbearing, loading up the wagon with blackberries and blueberries, leather, roasted nuts, and rich California ripeness. There’s earth and baritone to this wine, and it’s balanced and structured enough to reward a fair bit of cellaring, I think. (8/10)

Durell hand cream

Edmunds St. John 1993 Syrah Durell (Sonoma Valley) – Glacially-cellared, and this was in mind as we opened the wine, because in retrospect I’m not sure I’ve ever had a Durell syrah that I thought was fully mature. This one gave its best effort, though, and is the closest I’ve come. Very masculine, all rippling muscles and five o’clock shadow, wrapping dark blackberry residue in leather and tarnished metal buckles. Lingers, a very long while. Very, very good. (8/10)

Hangin’ with Mr. Qupé

Qupé 2007 Syrah (Central Coast) – Purple fun. Fruity and only a little bit frooty, with fruit and a side of fruit. Finishes fruity. And despite all this (did I mention fruit?), it’s actually syrah-like. In a way, this is what California should be best at. Only they shouldn’t charge four or five times what Qupé is charging for this…and yet, they do. (7/10)

All together now

Copain 2007 Syrah “Tous Ensemble” (Mendocino County) – 14.2%. Very weighty and Californian, though appealing in that genre. Hot blue fruit, hot purple texture, hot black soil. Syrah, but only barely…though there’s structure and, eventually, the weight settles in. I suspect this will be better after a few years, but it’s not my thing now. (5/10)

Starship ballad

Michel Perraud 1999 Cornas “Sarah” (Rhône) – Grippy but light-styled, showing rough (and surprisingly red) fruit, earth, nuts, olives, and ground peppercorns. But really, that grocery list makes the wine sound more interesting than it actually is. Mostly, it’s simple and short…a wine with training wheels and a flimsy frame. (5/10)