Blind tasting of all 2009 kosher California Syrah
This past weekend friends from the kosher wine forum were coming over for the Sabbath and it was time to do my long-awaited blind tasting of the only 6 wines from California’s 2009 Syrah vintage (there may be another out there but it is not yet available). I wanted it to be blind, as all our favorites were in this one and I wanted all the table to vote without any prejudices.
Another friend from the shul brought two wines from Italy of which his brother is the kosher supervisor. We had the first one for kiddush and the second one later on, more on those in a minute. Finally, we my last – which was awesome!
For the fun we threw in another non- Cali Syrah (really an SMV) from Dalton – pre Shabbos meals, which was lovely – but not up to the caliber of the top wines we had later that evening.
Food wise, same old same old – which is great to me! We started the meal with some lovely Herb encrusted gefilte fish and then moved on to some sausage stew. For dessert, ER or HK made a crazy good blueberry topped crisp – which was served alongside some non-dairy vanilla ice cream. All in all a great meal, made better by the friends that were there – and of course by the lovely wines we had to enjoy with them all.
To start the evening we enjoyed a nice bottle of Dalton Alma, a lovely wine though not as complex as the rest of the big wines we had that night. Blue and lovely – a very nice wine.
The first wine of the meal we enjoyed was a VERY unique wine – one I have never had and one that I doubt has another kosher brother, but that is plain old speculation. The wine is called Bonarda – but as you can see from the page – that is like calling Chardonnay a white wine grape – sure it is – but it has many different names, depending on its region and manner of vinification. This particular Bonarda was grown in the Oltrepò Pavese Bonarda DOC, and was actually made from 100% Croatina, and produced in the larger Lombardia wine region. The wine region can be found in Italy’s northern central border. The wine was made in a frizette style and had some residual sugar (i.e. slightly off dry), but the shocker here was the dense tannin structure that did not relax for days later – this wine may not be on everyone’ to drink list – but WOW it was unique to say the least. The fruit was solid, the bubbles interesting, and the tannins gripping almost mouth drying in their intensity, with good earth and dirt – a very fun wine for me, maybe one day it will make its way here to the US.
At this point we started the Cali Syrah blind tasting. All the bottles were bagged and then poured in order (well almost in order) of the letters that were written on the brown bags that hid the bottle’s name and contents. The only con to this great idea was – I had no idea how much wine was in those bottles as I was pouring them and moving on to the next bottle. I always like to leave some wine in the bottle to taste again later that evening or the next day. However, the brown bags impeded my ability to realize that I had more wine left over in each of the bottles – which was great for me, so no complaints.
The first wine of the blind tasting was the 2009 Shirah McGinley Syrah – which rocked my boat! I loved the wine, like I have in the past. Shirah Winery continues to impress me with its spice, richness, and depth. The next wine was the 2009 Brobdingnagian – which was a total beast! The next wine was the 2009 Shirah Thompson Syrah – which was not loved by the table. Why? Because the McGinley is blended with 4% Viognier, which makes the wine slightly sweeter, more peach, and riper. The Thompson Syrah is darker, brooding, and more black flavors, with less ripeness – which some like and some do not. The next wine was the Shirah Power to the People – which was awesome as usual. The next wine was the sub-par Hagafen Syrah – which I knew when I tasted it at the winery, but hey this was blind and everyone panned it – not just me. The final wine was 2009 Four Gates Syrah. So, the winner? Most chose the Four Gates Syrah, some picked the McGinley Syrah, and some picked the Brob Syrah. All were great – except for the Hagafen Syrah, hey that is life! After that we had the Noble Semillon and Carmel 100 Brandy with dessert.
In the end, the star of the evening to me were my friends – who put up with my blind tasting approach and rallied to it! They seemed to have a good time with it and did not care about having to name the wines based upon our lettered wine bottles – excepting for the issues that stemmed from me serving B before A and the fact that there were two D labeled wines
The wine notes follow below:
2009 Dalton Alma Rhone Blend – Score: A-
What can I say all things SMV captivate me, the sweet blue and black notes are a siren that I am lost to ignore, and the control and finesse used throughout, shows Dalton as the winery I have always felt it is – top notch and professional. The wine is a blend of SMV, 82% Shiraz, 12% Mourvedre, and 6% Viognier. While, the wine does not start with that evocative and perfumed nose of peach and apricot that comes from the viognier, there is a perfume of floral notes that scream through the thick layers of ripe blueberry, blackberry, black plum, and of course root beer (AKA ginger on steroids), along with sweetened anise, graphite, mineral, dirt, and quite literally sweet and ripe raspberry jam. As always Dalton knows how to push the envelope but keep the wine from going over the cliff of sweetness, with a controlled sweet nose. The mouth is medium to full in body, more to the side of medium, and one that is in no way shy, with a concentrated attack of black and blue fruits that hit you in waves with good acid balance, filled with boysenberry, plum, and currant presented in a mound of sweet cedar, along with searing mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and spicy with crazy tart and ripe fruit, lingering long with sweet tobacco, espresso coffee, bakers chocolate, and many lovely spices, cinnamon, sage, cloves, leather, along with heaps of black pepper, and black and blue fruit covered with sweet vanilla.
2012 Fiamberti Oltrepò Pavese – Score: B++
To say this wine is fascinating is an understatement! It is slightly effervescent, and it is riddled with lovely blue notes, blueberry, dried cherry, raspberry, licorice, and good dirt. The mouth is shocking – I was ready for the bubbles, but I was not ready for the insanely gripping tannins, along with green notes, crazy mouth coating fruit, the experience is unique to say the least. There is residual sugar on this wine so be careful as this wine is a slightly off dry wine, the sweet notes do not dominate but are apparent. The finish has hints of coffee, along with dried and tanned leather, crazy tannin, spices, and more blueberry and rose. Unique – very unique! This wine was NOT beloved by all at the table – but a day later, without spending time in the fridge or with inert gas – this wine is still kicking – very interesting. Sadly this wine is not available here in the US< a friend of mine shlepped it from Italy.
2009 Shirah Syrah McGinley – Score: A- (and more)
First word is FILTHY! The wine is a Syrah sourced wholly from the Santa Barbara vineyards of McGinley Vineyards, along with 4% of Viognier that was co-fermented. What a nose, with time the wine opens to sweet fruit notes, candied fruit, and blueberry, pear, peach, passion fruit, watermelon, and black tea. The full bodied mouth is rich, layered, and concentrated with bramble, rich blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, dark cherry, and tannins that are still integrating, along with good oak. The finish is long and blue, with tons of roasted animal, rhubarb, licorice, along with chocolate covered coffee beans, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, and spice.
2009 Brobdingnagian Wines Syrah – Score: A- (and more)
This was another one of the “winners” of the evening – what a wine. The 2009 Brob Syrah is 100% Syrah from the Sonoma County. The nose starts off with clear blue fruit leaning, followed by tar, licorice, roasted animal, along with green notes and graphite. The mouth is full bodied and attacking with good integrating tannins, concentrated blackberry, blueberry, along with more red berries, mouth coating tannin, sweet cedar, and spice. The finish is long and tannic with great sweet notes, far more controlled in terms of sweetness than the Shirah wines, along with bell pepper, mineral, cloves, black pepper, and spice – BRAVO!
2009 Shirah Syrah Thompson Vineyard – Score: A-
This wine is the most non-Cali of the bunch, all 100% Syrah, this is far more black and dirty and more mineral than the others, but still equally lovely. The nose is black and blue with deep black fruit flavors along with blue leanings, but topped with serious mineral, dirt, and graphite. The mouth is rich and layered with super sweet cali fruit, sweet blackberry, sweet black plum, dark and concentrated blueberry, along with sweet cedar, sweet tobacco, and tar. The finish is long and spicy with more licorice, cloves, cinnamon, all spice, and great acid, vanilla, dark kirshe cherry, roasted animal, all wrapped up in a canopy of sweet herbs.
2009 Shirah Syrah Power to the People – Score: A-
This is the 2009 edition of the Weiss brother’s micro boutique winery production. Each year, since 2008, the Weiss brothers have produced wine that was generally available to the public. This is the inaugural release for their officially named winery – Shirah (now we can stop using the term Weiss brothers). It is a blend of McGinley Vineyard grapes and Thompson Vineyard grapes, both in Santa Barbara County and both cool weather vineyards. The wine is a blend of the two vineyard’s Syrah grapes and 2% Viognier grape. Having tasted both parts before tasting the blend – you can see how both parts make up this whole. The nose on this electric purple colored wine starts off with a unique attack of peach, apricot, and lovely violets and other floral hints. These stemming from the 2% Viognier, making one wonder how 2% of any fruit can impact a wine so. This wine is only four years old and still showing it well. As the wine opens more, the peach and apricot leave and the floral notes stand in their stead, both from the Viognier and from the Syrah. The wines from Shirah and the Weiss brothers never cease to amaze me with their sweet and ripe fruit that is also NOT overripe, hot, or overly new-world in style. The nose on this purple colored wine starts with the unique Viognier nose and then moves on to redolent notes of blueberry, black cherry, and blackberry. The mouth on this is rich, layered, and inky with pure and focused fruit, cedar backing, raspberry, sweet berries, and lovely spice that highlights the wine and comes together with mouth coating integrated tannins. The finish is long and spicy with animal notes, graphite, tobacco, and leather all coming together with blueberry, watermelon, and cinnamon lingering nicely.
2009 Hagafen Syrah Estate Bottled – Score: B to B+
The word that comes to mind when I smelled and tasted this 100% Syrah was cedar. This wine is a cedar bomb, with tar and tobacco to boot. The medium bodied mouth is rich with currant, blackberry, hints of blueberry, massive date, bell pepper, and more cedar. The finish is long with smoky notes, licorice, dirt, and graphite.
2009 Four Gates Syrah – Score: A- to A
This is one of those unique Syrah wines out there, with lovely blueberry, rich oak, nice bright fruit, and nice herbaceous qualities. The nose on the vibrant dark purple colored wine is redolent with rich oak, tobacco, citrus rind, blueberry, blackberry, black plum, blackcurrant, chocolate, and herb. The mouth on this rich and full-bodied wine is concentrated, and layered and massive with mouth coating tannin, oak extraction, along with blue and black fruit, inky and mineral structure, and lovely tangy wood all coming together into a crazy big mouthfeel. The finish is long, rich, and spicy, yet perfectly balanced with big black fruit, citrus, leafy tobacco, green tea, leather, herb, and nice vanilla. Drink by 2016 or later.
2004 Golan Heights Winery Yarden Noble Sémillon Botrytis – Score: A-
Deep gold in color, the nose on this wine screams with botrytis funk – an aroma that is highly enjoyable (hence the name noble rot), along with rich honeyed tones, pineapple, and baked maple covered peach. The mouth is rich and layered and oily in ways that are truly impressive, but with all the sweetness that almost puts you into a honeyed guava induced coma, the bracing acid pulls you out and makes you take even more notice. The finish is filled with creme brulee, hints of butterscotch, orange peel, and dried apricot on the long and spicy finish – BRAVO! The wine’s heft and viscosity balanced perfectly with good acidity allows for this wine to cut through most any dessert – we enjoyed it with a blueberry crisp and non-dairy ice cream and it handled it with aplomb.
2010 Azienda Agricola Chiusa Grande Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – Score: B (and a bit)
The wine is a classic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, deep scents of earth, roasted nuts, dirt, bramble, dark cherry, and cranberry, all wrapped in a canopy of green foliage. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich, round, and sweet with clear date leanings, searing tannin that have yet to integrate, blackcurrant, and more mineral. The finish is like a classic tart black moss-covered cherry sour, black tea, and tannins that linger nicely. This is a wine that will appeal to many but the lack of complexity and date leanings take it down a notch for me.
Posted on June 28, 2013, in Food and drink, Israeli Wine, Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged Bonarda, Brobdignagian Wines, Brobdingnagian, Croatina, Lombardia, McGinley Vineyard, Power To The People, Shirah Winery, Syrah, Thompson Vineyard. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.