Posts Tagged ‘syrah’

You shook me all morning long

June 4, 2010

Hospices du Rhône.  Day 2.  What happens when you take several hundred (probably hungover, definitely tired) wine writers, bloggers, lovers, and somms, and throw them in a conference room at 9am with eight glasses of wine in front of them ?  Lots and lots of champagne.  that’s what happens.  wait…strike that.  Reverse it.  But you can’t!  I was pretty well baked by my Cold from Hell, but to be up bright and early so as not to miss the Walla Walla sneak peak, I was given a delicious treat of several glasses of some damn tasty grower champers that Chaz brought in at his own expense to wake us all up.  YUM!

Ok enough of the 9am drinkfest.  On to the syrah.

K Vintners was started by Charles Smith, who used to manage rock bands and lived in Copenhagen for 11 years before moving to Walla Walla.  Always having passion for wine, he’s an innovator, a marketing genius, and loud.  Roll all that together with walla Walla wine, and you get a larger than life character who defies the rules.  The winery is located at the base of the Blue Mountains, and opened to the public in 2001, producing wines from Wahluke Slope and Walla Walla Valley, primarily syrah as well as field blends.

Smith believes K is about KOMMUNICATION and, bad puns aside, he says that people should use language that people can communicate with internationally; that language is wine.  Smith feels that too much of wine is making beauty where there is natural wonder; he focuses on showing off the unique fruit of Washington, and uses subtle oak influences as to not overpower the natural beauty of the wine.  He is, in some ways, the ultimate terrorist.  wine should be about a feeling, and here in Walla Walla, Rhone producers are small.  Wine is what they live for and they are passionate enthusiasts.

K focuses on syrah for several reasons; first, it has a distinctive quality that no other wine has.  Additionally, the high steep slopes in the Walla Walla area are difficult to work, which makes for more interesting wine and a challenge.  Syrah is global, with France representing the old world and ancient vines.  Australia shows us the AC/DC of the varietal, with a new world fruit bomb style (think Angus with the flaming red hair) that is indicitive of the passion and terroir of the Barossa.  Finally, when you get to Walla Walla, you have the geology of tumbled river rock, salty soils, and a long growing season o the high desert plains of Walla Walla.  There is a pioneer and rogue belief system in Walla walla, which allows them to do anything the want to with little thought about if anyone did it before them or was previously successful.

Charles Smith

2006 Syrah Pheasant Vineyard Wahluke Slope – was a chewy caramel dusted in mocha bramble berry, with  baked plums and bittersweet chocolate.  I tasted black cherry, dried orange rind as well with just a slight hint of herbal flavors.  This is a very dense wine, but it was smooth and mellow with a plush finish.  It was quite refined and let’s just say I struggled to spit this out at 9am.  This vineyard was planted in 2000 along the Columbia River, on sandy loam and peaty gravel in the Wahluke Slope AVA.  This sandy soil makes for a more floral and herbaceous wine.

2006 Syrah The Deal – Sundance Vineyard Wahluke Slope – shows a meaty smoky wine with blackberries and tar.  The refined tannis show notes of tangerine, and while it was a bit gamey at first int he glass, that soon blew off to a smooth long finish and nice mouth feel.  The Deal is all about respect, integrity and doing what you want to do in the vineyard.  The Sundance Vineyard has a slight northerly slope which creates a cooler site, in a very warm region.  This wine tastes of cool climate syrah, and is grown in sadny loam over coarse sand which provides excellent drainage.  Only two miles from Pheasant Vineyard, it was planted in 1997 and creates a very different wine profile.

2006 Syrah Cougar Hills, Walla Walla – has more minerality than the first two wines, with lots of lavendr and orange marmalade, followed by graphite.  the Couger Hills Vineyard is located in the southern region of the Walla Walla valley, and has loamy soil with river rock and gravel, as well as a layer of volcanic ash.  This ash adds complexity to the vines which were planted in 2000 and are sustainably farmed.

2006 Syrah Wells, Walla Walla With only 1.5 barrels made of this wine, we were in fro a rare treat.  that’s about 35 cases in the world, and it was made as an experiment in 100% whole cluster fermentation.  the Wells vineyard is half an acre that sits 1500 feet up on the south fork of the Walla Walla river, and has rocky cobblestone soil.  I tasted fresh cherries, strawberries, and vibrant red and black fruit.  This was brighter and fresher than the earlier syrahs and just lovely.

2006 Syrah Phil Lane, Walla Walla – is the estate vineyard.  Three barrels of this wine were made from 1.5 acres of grapes planted in 2001, which produces a highly aromatic wine with bright raspberries, rose petals, and flavors of mole sauce.

Chief Mutineer Alan Kropf "moderates" the champagne bottle

2006 Syrah Motor City Kitty – Stoneridge Vineyard, Royal Slope Columbia Valley is created from a resurrected vineyard which lay fallow on the ground for years before Charles Smith rescued it.  The Stoneridge Vineyard has very rocky soils, and with six different rocky types, produces very different wines.  It is windy up there on the hill, and the the thick skinned fruit creates inky black juice with robust and smooth wines.  I found a very dense, sweet cherry wine with flavors of cough syrup.  The wine sits for 23 months in neutral barrels and is then hand bottled, to produce 50 cases of a powerful and rich wine with whole berry fermentation.

2006 Syrah Royal City – Stoneridge Vineyard, Royal Slope Columbia Valley – includes some of the Stoneridge Vineyard fruit and had flavors of coffee, milk chocolate, and black cherries.  It was chewy and dense but well balanced and had some lovely spice notes on the back end.

In closing, ALL of these wines that were poured were rare and small production.  They were all amazing and each one shows a slightly different slant ont he Walla Walla terroir and what is going on in Washington wine.  I am very much looking forward to tasting more Walla Walla wines in a few weeks at the Wine Bloggers Conference!

Special thanks to the Hospices du Rhone team!


Bring on the BACON! Yes I said bacon.

April 24, 2009

When the box first arrived in my mail room at the office, I was slightly scared that someone was playing a bad joke on me.  Or just didn’t like me very much.  Or I had really made it big in the wine blogging world.

Why you ask?  Well, the box that I received was stamped, in large size letters, “Trinchero Family Estates”.  Now, for me, when I hear Trinchero, I either think of my friends parents and their dinner parties with Vera, or I think with shock and horror of the Sutter Home domination of the white zinfandel market.  To say I’m not a fan of the pink stuff is being too kind.  I hate it!  I abhor it!  It’s worse than Sunny Delight, a product that though is made of juice, tastes nothing like it.  So goes my thoughts of the wines of the Home.

That said, the history of Sutter Home and therefore White Zinfandel, is a good one.  At a time when most vineyards were ripping out Zinfandel, which has now become American’s Hertiage Grape, Sutter Home and a handful of other wineries, kept hte vineyards by making sweet pink wine for the masses.  For that I give them kudos, as I really like a good RED (yes there really is only one) Zinfandel.

Now, back to the story.  When I got the dreaded box back to my desk, I knew I couldn’t wait until I got home, and ripped it open right away.  WOW!  Was I happily surprised!  Inside, came a 4-pack of samples from the new Napa Valley winery, Napa Cellars.  Now, when I was asked if I wanted to try these wines, having never heard of them, I said of course.  I’d love to try a new winery.  This goes to show you, even this jaded fool can be swayed by good marketing efforts.

So the first wine I opened from this lot was the 2006 Napa Cellars Napa Valley Syrah.  This is a winery exclusive, but you can find the tasting room int he same building as Foie a Deux, in Oakville.  The fruit was sourced from Carneros, which is a cooler climate for syrah and the first thing I noticed when I sipped the dark deep brooding wine was that it was classically cool climate.  This was not a hot Dry Creek fruit forward syrah.  A cool climate syrah takes longer to ripe, which gives it a longer hangtime, which producers a more intense wine.

I found this a very rich and dark syrah, and was a bit difficult to drink at first.  I definitely suggest decanting this beast.  At first it h

ad bittersweet chocolate notes, with currents and dried plums.  I also tasted smoked meats, which is why this is being posted on my Bacon Friday post!  There was a tasty bit of anise, and soy sauce – which normally your wouldn’t like in a wine, but here it fit in well.  There was a nice finish of black pepper and blackberries.

After enjoying a glass on the first night, I decided that I would let it air out over night.  Normally, i would decant such a wine, but sometimes being a single girl has it’s downfalls.  It’s easier for me to leave a bottle open sans VacUVin than it is to decant, since I can store it more readily for further consumption.  On night 2, even having enjoyed the meaty wine on night 1, I enjoyed it more.  I tasted more espresso and molasses, along with minerally black pepper and cedar.  I also tasted a lovely black cheery note, with hints of leather and campfire smoke.

I really enjoyed this wine, and it’s a great big giant meaty syrah.  I would pair this with steak if I ate steak, but I enjoyed it with a BAPT (Bacon Alv

acado Provolone Turkey) sandwich.  This wine retails for $34, and is available at the winery.  Why not go by and check it out?

Bacon is BACK! A day late, a strip short.

February 28, 2009

Yes I know, I started Bacon Fridays, and then promptly dropped it when my time was not my own.  I am BACK!  BACON is back!

One night this week, I got home and was mildly irritated at myself to discover that i really had no food in the house.  Fortunately for myself, I had a half open bottle of wine and the basic food groups –

  • pancake mix
  • butter
  • syrup
  • BACON!

Sometimes, you just need to have breakfast for dinner!  I also found blueberries and bananas in my bag of tricks, so I cooked up a stack of pancakes and some applewood smoked bacon.

After pouring myself a glass of Calaveras County Syrah, I added the requisite butter and pure maple syrup to my pancakes.  IN the process, the syrup sneaks up on the bacon.  The taste sensation that maple syrup drenched bacon provided is, in a word, orgasmic.

Add in a smokey, blueberry infused syrah, and I was in love.  Pure love.

Everyone should have blueberry pancakes, bacon, and syrah for dinner soon!  P.S.  i recommend the warm climate syrah over a cool climate syrah as it has the fruity smokiness that pairs well with pancakes and bacon.  Cool climate syrah is equally delicious for other reasons, and would go well with meaty dishes including bacon.

Happy short stack to you!

Tweeps, Eats, and East Bay Drinks!

September 14, 2008

Wow what a busy week this has been! Where have the last two weeks gone? I can’t find them. Have you seen them? Hmm might have to look under my chair, or in my stair, over here, over there. In recent happenings, fellow wine bloggers met to taste through several delicious wines. From left to right: Marshall & Brittney of WineQ, (@wineq, @wineqt), Ward of WineLog (@drxeno), Farley, late of Behind the Vines and currently of Rosenblum Cellars (@WinePoet), Megan of Wannabe Wino (@sonadora) and Russ of California Wine Hikes (@winehiker). Togeter, we had some great wines and great dinner and talked blogs, politics and wine!

The following day, Brittney, Megan and I headed up to Michel-Schlumberger in Dry Creek Valley, where we were treated to a tour of the vineyard and an amazing tasting afternoon. Judd led us through the organic garden out back, before taking us up the hill to admire the grapes as well as the view. After scrambling down a few hills (yes I’m a girl, and wasn’t wearing hiking shoes), we headed in to the luxe Club Room to taste through their current offerings.

Highlights for me were the Pinot Noir and the Syrah, but the library reserve vertical of Cabernet Sauvingnons was amazing too! I confess, I was being lazy, somewhat induced by a cold, so i didnt’ take great notes. Head on over to Wannabe Wino for a complete report shortly!

Amazingly, we spent over 2 hours enjoying our day, and were somewhat remiss in keeping our lunch date with Patrick of Iridesse Wines (@oenophilus) at Bovolo in Healdsburg. Once there however, we were all drooling over the multiple forms of bacon offered. Three of us ordered the decadent Carbonara, which was served with black pig bacon. And of course, we had a side of bacon to go with that!

After lunch, the girls and I headed across the street ot Stephen & Walker, before heading to the south end of town. After Stephen & Walker, we headed south to Longboard Vineyards, where we were fortunate enough to hit a clearance sale on their 2005 Syrah which was only $15. For a daily drinker, I really enjoyed this wine with a rich & earthly character, balanced by dark fruit and spicy cola. I also picked up a bottle of the Dakine Syrah, which is the reserve offering. I especially enjoyed the Dakine for winter sipping in front of the fireplace.

After Longboard, we continued to the south end of town to the Front Street Five, a collection of small wineries. Here we stopped at Huntington and Camelia Cellars.

I have always enjoyed Huntington’s Petite Sirah, but this time I purhcased a reserve Merlot for fall sipping. At Camelia, they had a lovely soft Sav Blanc called First Kiss, so I brought some of that home too.

You can find all of these wines by using Vinquire my favorite search tool!

After two full days of tasting and laughing, I was ready for a good rest! After all, I needed to be perky for my next few wine activities!

Stay tuned for reports on those. Happy drinking!

Wine Blogging Wednesday #47 Brought to you by the Letter S!

July 10, 2008

So I’m a day behind – I totally forgot that Wine Blogging Wednesday has come and gone!
The regular posse was assembled for a truly Stupendous tasting.

You can see all the details here, but suffice it to say that Syrah won our little “S” hearts.

thanks everyone for participating, and next month we’ll pare down the craziness. I hope.