Saturday, May 9, 2015

Constant Queen of Diamond Syrahs Highlight BBQ Rib Dinner

Constant Queen of Diamond Syrahs Highlight BBQ Rib Dinner

For a BBQ rib dinner wine buddy Bill brought a Constant Diamond Mountain Syrah 2010 which I matched with a 2006 for a comparison tasting. I wrote about our visit to the Constant Estate high atop Diamond Mountain in northwest Napa Valley in a blogpast last fall when we toasted producer Freddie Constant who had recently passed away unexpectedly. Our estate visit and tasting was one of the highlights of our Napa Valley Wine Experience 2011. For further comparison tasting we opened a favorite Syrah we've been tasting regularly as a benchmark - 90+ Cellars Lot 101 Columbia Valley Syrah.

Prior to dinner we opened a Brewer Clifton Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay 2007.

Brewer Clifton produce an extensive collection of nine different single vineyard designated Chardonnays each crafted to reflect the distinct terroir of each vineyard site.

Crisp, restrained with lively acidity, kiwi, lemon and lime citrus tones with a layer of flint, hints of melon and peach.

RM 88 points.

Tonight, comparing two vintages of Constant against a benchmark domestic Syrah we know well and have been drinking regularly, was great fun and quite revealing.

Constant Diamond Mountain Queen of Diamonds Northern Sonoma Syrah 2010

We discovered and acquired this label during our Estate visit mentioned above. Bill subsequently acquired this later vintage from the producer/winery through the club allocation. Wow, delicious. This has to be at the apex of its drinking window here at five years of age. I can't imagine this improving any with further aging. Of course, I am partial to and prefer the sweeter tasting profile such as this.

This was reminiscent of and almost as good as another memorable Napa/Sonoma region domestic Syrah, Kongsgaard Napa Valley Hudson Vineyard Syrah 2007, with a similar tasting profile, although it was perhaps not quite as complex or polished.

Its also up there with another favorite Napa Valley Syrah with a similar tasting profile - Arns Melanson Vineyard Syrah 2008 - although Arns is from the opposite side/corner of Napa Valley up near Atlas Peak, Pritchard Hill. Well, the stage is set for a future ultimate Syrah domestic tasting challenge! 

The 2010 Constant was dark inky purple colored, full bodied, full forward flavors of bright expressive black raspberry and blue berry fruits, a layer of sweet dark chocolate, clove and tones of what reviewer Steve Tanzer calls 'bacon fat' and Robert Parker calls 'wild meaty notes'. All I know if its really good and tasting great right now.

RM 93 points.

Constant Diamond Mountain Queen of Diamonds Northern Sonoma Syrah 2006 

Perhaps due to an additional several years of age, and likely also characteristics of the vintage, while tasty and having a similar tasting profile, this was a shadow of the 2010 vintage, less flavorful, less complex or concentrated and less polished. Yet, this was very tasty pleasant drinking. That's how extraordinary the '10 was!

We last tasted this label a year ago when I wrote the review below and tonight's tasting experience was consistent and similar: "The 2006 Constant exhibited dark inky purple color - medium-full bodied, nicely balanced and polished bright full flavors of blue and black fruits with a layer of ripe plum and sweet clove, hints of tea and cedar on the lingering finish. While this is tasty now, it lacks backbone and structure for longevity."

RM 91 points.

Ninety Plus Cellars Lot 101 Syrah 2009

Like several earlier tastings against several Shiraz' or Syrahs, this has served as a tasting benchmark. Against several, this came out as the standard bearer. Hence, tonight was a great comparison test and it met its match (es).  

I've raved about this wine several times in this blog, but tonight it came across as simpler, less complex, and less polished than the 2010 Constant. It was less flavorful than the '10 but matched up better against the 2006. 

However, we shouldn't forget that this negociant label is less than half the price of the Constant, so we shouldn't be too disappointed. It still may be one of our favorite drinking wines in our cellar right now, certainly at this price point!

Dark inky garnet colored, medium to full bodied, this full throttle Syrah reveals layers of blackberry and black currants fruits with tones of sweet vanilla, caramel and spice with hints of black pepper on a lingering smooth silky tannin finish.

RM 90 points.

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