Drinking OFF Camera: Syrahs that Shine
Not every wine I drink ends up on camera. There are times where some wine ends up missing the casting call or they are a little camera shy. Some of these wines are amazingly talented and their art should be shared with the world. In the end the glow of the bright lights never illuminate their glory for the camera and the world to see. So, sadly they end up never seeing the stardom they deserve and are destined to the non-camera, off Broadway, performance that is this post…Drinking Off Camera.
2008 L’Ecole 41 Seven Hills Estate Syrah
I’ve previously reviewed several great L’Ecole wines (Apogee, Perigee, Luminesce, Seven Hills Merlot, and the Walla Walla Cabernet). From these reviews it is clear to see the consistent quality that connects each L’Ecole wine. While I haven’t tried everything, I can safely say that this little Walla Walla school house is tops in its class.
This 100% Syrah is a collection of grapes from three blocks in the Seven Hills vineyard. Winemaker Martin Clubb fermented the Syrah in stainless steel tanks before aging for 18 months in 40% new French oak. The result is about 1000 cases of a dark inky Syrah that comes in at 14.8%ABV. The strong dark plum color changes to moderately clear at the edges and gives off strong spicy aroma before even putting your nose to the glass. While the typical Syrah characteristics are present with bold jammy fruit, there is also a nice layer of smoke and earth. The mouth feel is moderate with the full flavor enveloping your tongue. The dense fruit quickly makes way for a velvety mid-palate and a finish of spice and strength. The Seven Hills Syrah provides a good layered flavor that would pair perfectly with pork, steak, and hearty pasta dishes. At $36, this may not be your every day Syrah, but it is certainly something to bring out when you want something “wow.” 4/5
2007 Gilbert Cellars Allobroges
Recently, I spent a weekend with Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report. Our agenda was world wine blogging domination but we did manage to get out and about in the town of Yakima for a few hours of wine tasting. One of our stops was the highly recommended Gilbert Cellars. The stop did not disappoint.
The Rhone inspired Allobroges is Gilbert’s flagship wine. At only $20 the Syrah focused blend of 55% Syrah, 31% Mourvedre, and 14% Grenache is a wonderful blend of smooth spice, dried fruit, and earth driven structure. As we tasted through the selection of wine, the Allobroges stood out as being balanced and intriguing. I expected it to be at the top of their price tier, not the lower end. With a 700 case production, winemaker Justin Neufeld fermented the grapes in small one ton bins before moving the juice to age for 22 months in 17% new French and American oak barrels. 14.7%ABV. 4/5
2007 Molly Dooker Blue Eyed Boy
Molly Dooker has come on the scene like gang busters since 2005. Their wines have earned high praise from the magazine elite for amazing value “Lefty wines” and “The Boxer.” Their spendy “Velvet Glove” was their fifth wine to receive a 99 point score and was rated a “Classic” wine by Wine Spectator. I briefly tried the Velvet Glove and was very impressed with its smooth fruit and seemingly endless finish. The weight of the wine was impressive but the tasting scenario did not allow for a formal review.
I recently received several Molly Dooker wines and am excited to taste through each to see what all the fuss is about. The 2007 Blue Eyed Boy is certainly an impressive looking wine in the glass. The thick ink looks like jewelry and is reflective like purple crystal. The bold aromas are playful and jump out of the glass. From a distance a thick heavy blackberry fruit and licorice can be detected. When taking a deep sniff there are classic aromas of pepper spice and cedar. The 16.5%ABV is immediately detected on the nose and lead me to believe that if the wine lacks balance, we may be in for a hot sting upon swallowing. The mouth feel is elegant, opulent, and smooth (and other words similar in description). I can certainly understand the 85-90% Marquis Fruit Weight that is described a “the percentage of your palate that is covered by the velvety sensation of fruit, before you experience any of the structural components of the wine.” The wine is almost everything that it is cracked up to be. The finish is where the wine loses points (in my opinion). Even while letting the wine linger in my mouth I could feel the heat rising. After the fruit dissipated and upon swallowing, there was a less than moderate stinging sensation from the high alcohol. Every sense screamed love this wine but the lack of balance on the finish left the alcohol so dominate that it threw off the whole experience. At $55, this palate says 3/5. I look forward to comparing the 2009 vintage as the listed ABV is significantly less.