Friday, April 9, 2021

Syrah Syrah for big red tasting ...

Syrah Syrah for big red tasting ... two diverse contrasting styles from two disparate regions for a comparative varietal tasting ...

Sis-in-law Dr Pat in town for the family gathering this weekend, the ladies wanted a big bold red wine for tasting. I pulled from the cellar two contrasting style Syrahs to share and compare. 

We acquired this unique label last month and wrote about it with the info below in recent blogposts.

Babylonstoren Simonsberg-Paarl South Africa Shiraz 2018

This South African Shiraz is a current special offering from local merchant Vin Chicago. We had to try it and are glad we did! It is from the Simonsberg-Paarl ward or appellation, (what in the US would be called an AVA, or an AOC in France, DOC in Italy), the most granular South Africa wine area designation, within the Paarl District, within the Coastal Wine Region of South Africa, located in the southwestern tip of the nation.

I gained an appreciation for South African wines during my South African Wine Experience visit there two years ago when I had the chance to drink some popular and limited release wines.

This label is 100% estate Shiraz. This release was awarded 96 points by Decanter World Wine Awards in 2020.

Winemaker: Charlenes Coetzee Tasting Notes: "Aromas of cassis, pencil shavings, ripe fruit, a little dustiness and fragrant violets. Matured in French oak, this delicious Shiraz has a fresh mid-palate with dark cherry and soft prune flavours and a hint of spice. The mouth-feel is rich and velvety and the finish long and pleasing. A firm favourite of ours."  

At slightly more than $20, this represents good value high QPR (Quality Price Ratio). 

What you would hope for in a big full throttle Shiraz - dark inky purple colored, full bodied, slightly flabby, concentrated dense black berry and sweet black cherry brambly fruits with a layer of smokey menthol and black olive, spice, graphite and hints of cassis and white pepper with tongue coating acidity on the lingering finish.  Lacks elegance or polish, a bit obtuse, but tasty and enjoyable.

RM 90 points.

twitter : @babylonstoren  

We then opened this Sonoma Coast Syrah for a fun and interesting comparison tasting. This provided an interesting comparison tasting of two diverse styles from two disparate regions producing the same varietal wine, the South African vs this aged Sonoma County Syrah, produced in the Northern Rhone style. 

I wrote recently about the Sonoma County region as an emerging area for Burgundian varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It has also been known to produce Rhone style Syrah's such as this label which has been around for more than a decade. I wrote about this label, Domaine Des Chirats Rockpile Vineyard Syrah 2013 in a blogpost back in late 2018

Domaine Des Chirats Sonoma County Rockpile Vineyard Syrah 2013

This is produced by Jeff Cohn, former winemaker at Rosenblum Cellars in collaboration with Yves Cuilleron from the Northern Rhône, third generation proprietor of Cave Cuilleron founeded by his grandfather Claude Cuilleron in 1920. Yves took over in 1987 from his Uncle. The 150 acre estate produces over 430000 bottles of wine annually. Jeff Cohn and Yes Cuilleron teamed up in 2013 to produce this wine in the historic Northern Rhône style from fruit sourced from Cohn's Rockpile vineyard. Through their collaboration they have crafted this wine in the style of a Northern Hermitage or Côte-Rôtie.

Fruit for this label is sourced from the Rockpile vineyard in the Rockpile appellation in Sonoma. Cohn calls it "a special place for Syrah". Sitting at 2010 ft. elevation, Syrah 20 plus year-old vines are grown above the fog line allowing for plenty of sun to reach full ripeness. The vineyard gets its name from the rocky soil that stresses the grapes resulting in richness and concentration. Jeff began working with the Rockpile Vineyard over fourteen years ago.

Jeff strives to achieve the aspects of terroir and minerality found in France's legendary historic winemaking regions in wines sourced from California fruit. He has traveled across California, from Santa Barbara to Mendocino, searching for the finest fruit and the best vineyards. Among Jeff's most important discoveries was the Rockpile region in Sonoma where he began sourcing Syrah grapes for a portfolio of wines including this label. He strives for elegant and complex wines and he believes the craggy soil of the aptly named Rockpile produces some of the most complex and distinctive minerality in all of California.

The 2014 vintage of this wine was rated 95 Points by Robert Parker.

Dark purple garnet colored, full bodied, complex and concentrated but polished and elegant, blueberry and blackberry fruits with notes of floral, anise, meaty bacon fat and spice, crisp acidity with firm but approachable tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 92 points