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Snooth User: brodyluv

Que Syrah Syrah

Posted by brodyluv, Jan 4, 2010.

I am a big fan of Syrah. I host a wine seminar at a resort every friday and one of my favorite topics is the introduction of Syrah to beginner drinkers. I have been a little disillusioned by tasting some of the Rhone offerings that I was looking forward to. A.Clape Cornas Rennaissance 2002 was disappointing as well as a M. Chapoutier L'Ermite 2002. Both were leaner, more tart and less robust than I had hoped for. Our local central coast offerings are much more flavorful, brawny, and richer. Is this a stylistic difference that is common between the rhone and california?

Replies

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Reply by chadrich, Jan 4, 2010.

What you said almost perfectly encapsulates my general thinking of French versus US wines. I know that I lean toward bigger and more highly extracted wines and therefore I think many wines in the Old World style are too subtle for my palate.

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Reply by brodyluv, Jan 5, 2010.

sounds like I'm not the only one. I guess it boils down to what you like. The Chteauneuf du papes and cotes du rhones usually work for me but I thought the northern rhone was supposed to be a meatier wine since it is all syrah. Oh well. My favorites in the central coast are Ojai Vineyards Santa barabra 2006 syrah or one of his many single vineyard syrahs. The beckmen syrah are also very tannic and robust.

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Reply by chadrich, Jan 5, 2010.

Like Beckmen a lot; visited there last August. For good (and robust) GSM blends, also try Edward Sellers from Paso Robles.

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Reply by brodyluv, Jan 5, 2010.

That is quite funny. I had an Edward Sellers Grenache in Paso at a restaurant called Bistro Laurent (great restaurant) about 5 months ago but I couldn't remember the name until I saw your reply. Thanks!

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Reply by amour, Jan 12, 2010.

SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS SYRAH ....these are supposed to be good...
even stunning
at times.
The producers there seem to be experimenting and steadily developing.
some of the labels there are:
PISONI
TESTAROSSA
LUCIA
ALESIA
TANTARA

ALL ARE RICH AND OAKY but it has been said that SYRAH is proving very tricky
in the SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS.
Also, the fruit is sometimes harvested too late and is therefore too over-ripe.
The other problem,I am reliably informed, is that too much leaf-thinning
may be causing the clusters to become over-exposed to sunlight.....robbing
the wines of the beautiful aromatics that we so desire!

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 12, 2010.

Hols d on there. In a previous thread there was discussion of comparing like vintages to like vintages, which makes some sense.

2002, in the Rhone, on the other hand is a vintage that should best be compared to no vintage. To put it mildly, it was a stinker of a vintage, cold and damp.

Having said all that, it is true that Northern Rhone Syrah will tend to be lighter, more elegant than their west coast counterparts, but in good vintages they do not lack richness or depth of flavor. Take a look at wines from the exceedingly hot 2003 vintage if you want to see them at their richest, or 1998 which is almost as extreme, though overall a better vintage.

I can't guarantee that you'll enjoy Syrah as it makes wine in the Northern Rhone. I absolutely adore some of the wines but they certainly are a different expression than west coast or southern hemisphere examples, but don't make the mistake of pigeon holing them on the basis of the weakest vintage in years!

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Reply by amour, Jan 12, 2010.

How interesting GREGORY...THANKS !

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Reply by gregt, Jan 12, 2010.

In 2002 much of the Rhone Valley was under water. The next year was the hottest on record and people died. Don't compare either of those vintages in the Rhone to any others.

The syrah from the north is also a little different from that in the south. That in the north, is, IMHO, some of the best wine on earth. It's not viscous or super-ripe like many of the CA wines, which tend to be more like southern Rhones than north. At it's best, it can be leathery and spicy, with peppery notes and a meaty or bacon character over big, but not thick fruit. Those pepper notes are missing in most wines from CA with few exceptions, and it's a shame because it's what gives syrah so much interest.

There are a few producers in CA who are making wines that resemble those in the N. Rhone a little more. The new project by Pax called Wind Gap is one, Edmund St. John is definitely another, and there are a few floating around. There are even a few in Australia like that, although they tend not to be. Austria and Hungary are probably the closest, but good luck finding any of those in the US.

It's not a good or bad thing, but in CA I think most winemakers tend to push the syrah a little more than they need to. On the other hand, some of the N. Rhone syrah producers put out wines that are full of brett. Some of them are also using more, or new oak, which some people object to.

I don't think I've ever had a syrah from the North Rhone that I'd mistake from CA. In general, even in ripe vintages, they'll have higher acidity and won't be as brawny as they can get in CA. I don't know if that's a stylistic choice or due to the location of the vineyards. Both can be delicious however,

Brody - you're doing seminars on syrah? I'm sure you realize that it originated in the Rhone.

Anyhow, if those are the first you've had, like Greg said, don't draw conclusions from one of the worst vintages ever.

Cheers.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 12, 2010.

If you want to get a different view of syrah from the Rhone, brodyluv, try some from the 2006 and 2007 vintages. 2006 tended to produce larger, more powerfully fruited wines, and are a year older, so they might be a place for you to start. The 2007, as far as I've been able to tell so far, is a more complete vintage allowing rounder, more complex wines closer to perfection, often allowing a more elegantly feminine character to appear in the wines. Lots of lovely wines from both the northern and southern Rhone, and many of the 2007 Côtes du Rhône blends from the south have high syrah content, quite reasonable pricing, and are just plain delicious.

Since the '90s, thanks to Robert Parker and others and the ensuing realities of the marketplace, Rhone wines have tended to get bigger, with more use of oak. Guigal was one of the leaders in this trend, so you might try some of their wines, too.

Personally, I prefer a more oldskool approach to Rhones, and like GregT I find some of my finest drinking experiences from the northern Rhone. Unfortunately the dynamics I referred to in the previous paragraph mean that a) wines there have been steadily getting bigger and more 'modern'/'international', meaning more manipulated, and b) prices have been steadily rising. Prices for wines are way up for the consumer, but part of that is because for producers prices for land are up, and prices for capital investment to keep up with the trend also bring upward pressure that seem, for many of them, to necessitate a number of accommodations and compromises.

St. Joseph is an area of the northern Rhone that has become a port of refuge of sorts. Costs are lower for the producers there and consequently to us as consumers. A number of iconoclastic trend-resisters have been creating a community there where less manipulation means more of the true essence and detail of the grapes and terroir in their wines. I've found that the St. Joseph reds of Domaine des Miquettes are reasonably priced, delicious old-skool Rhone syrahs. Because they are more traditional, though, they take a few years to open, so if you get the 2006s that are now on the market you should lay them down for a few years before opening. You might also keep your eyes peeled for any Dard et Ribo St. Josephs or Crozes Hermitages you might run across, as well as those from Herve Souhaut (Domaine Romaneuax Destezet) who is located just outside the Rhone classification and thus usually has vin de pays Ardeche on his labels. His Sainte Epine is actually from St. Joseph, though not labeled as such, and is worth the hunt.

Most of these wines are likely a bit past what you likely introduce in your resort seminars, brodyluv, but I thought that if you were interested in finding out more about syrah you might like to give them a try.

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Reply by amour, Jan 12, 2010.

CROZES HERMITAGE.....GREAT PRICES IN LONDON , ENGLAND THROUGHOUT
THE 1990's....I do recall....mainly red but a little white too.

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Reply by amour, Jan 13, 2010.

I have now had time to read and both digest and assimilate the fine contributions
of Gregory and GregT. Thank you. So much food for thought!

Yes...SYRAH should exhibit that WHITE PEPPER flavour.....its true HALLMARK,
I dare say !

I always remember that underestimated Wine Spectator contributor, MATT KRAMER,
who said...."AN ABSENCE OF PEPPER NOTES IN SYRAH IS A DEFICIENCY !"

Some have further suggested that it is the use of inappropriate clones that
cause the weakness or play a part in robbing us of the true flavour.
Perhaps there is a need for a new clonal mix, one that matches the cool climate
of the SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS. (THERE ARE SEVERAL SYRAH CLONES.)

We would all continue to applaud
and forever treasure that most excellent
and outstanding 2004 FAIRVIEW RANCH VINEYARD SYRAH
(SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS)......with its pepper hallmarks
and blueberry flavour and enticing scent as well as citrus notes......mmmm!
WHAT A MEMORY and I am not a grand Syrah fan, may I remind.

GARY PISONI and son MARK are doing a great job...I AM TOLD.
MORGON WINERY has also been developing well.
THESE PRODUCERS ARE ALWAYS EXPERIMENTING AND
TRYING TO GIVE US VALUE FOR OUR MONEY AND MORE!
HAS ANYONE BEEN TASTING ANY OF THESE?
(Syrah is trickier than Pinot Noir in SANTA LUCIA HIGHLANDS at any rate.)

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Reply by brodyluv, Jan 14, 2010.

Thank you all for your detailed and in depth comments. Since I live in Ojai, I am privy and priveleged to consume an inordinate amount of Ojai Vineyard Syrah along with the likes of Beckmen, Melville, etc. I will continue to keep my ears and mouth open, only so I may consume more wine. I will, by all accounts, not write off the rhone. Cotes du rhone provide such good values and chtneuf's are some of my favorite.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 14, 2010.

I grew up in the Ojai/Santa Barbara area, but that was before good wine was being made there. Ojai Vineyard does have some good wines, including their syrah. Moving up towards Santa Ynez (and also upwards in price), how do you find the El Corazon and La Sangre offerings from Jonata?

Two of my posts in the thread below list some good Cotes du Rhone offerings from the 2007 vintage. KLWines in Redwood City and elsewhere carries them in their store and online. North Berkeley Imports might have some, too.
http://www.snooth.com/talk/topic/wh...

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Reply by amour, Jan 14, 2010.

dmcker...Thanks for reminding us all of KLWines in REDWOOD CITY.
THEIR WAREHOUSES ARE STOCKED!

Because of the wines I select, I sometimes must order.
And KLWines are nearly always able to supply.
Most of the times, my wines are
available only in the REDWOOD CITY warehouse!
CHEERS!

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Reply by amour, Jan 16, 2010.

2004 CARMEN RESERVE PETITE SIRAH VALLE del MAIPO, CHILE

PETITE SIRAH LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE!!!!!!!

VIOLETS VANILLA AND DARK CHOCOLATE INDEED!

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Reply by amour, Jan 16, 2010.

STILL ON FRENCH SYRAH...
WE HAVE HERE IN THE US, THE FRENCH SYRAH BEAUTY......

GREAT AT PARTIES WITH CHEESE... EVEN WITH GOOD CRACKER BARREL
CHEDDAR !!.....

CAVE COOPERATIVE de TAIN L'HERMITAGE SAINT JOSEPH...
it is very similar to a BEAUJOLAIS with a big berry nose !


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