WCC California Syrah Blind
at Mo's BBQ, Troy, NY (11/17/2005)

The WCC met at Mo's BBQ in Troy, NY, for a blind tasting of California Syrah. The food was Mo's fabulous smoked chicken, pulled pork, and ribs, with plentiful sides of cole slaw, sweet potato fries, and turnip greens. The food here is outstanding. Mo.s is a hidden gem! [Sadly, Mo's closed around 2007.]

All the Saxum, Alban, Pax, and Ojai wines were brought by me and the reds were decanted between 5pm and 6pm. Tasting started at about 7:30. The Jade Mountain and Jaboulet wines were decanted ahead as well. I believe all the others were opened at the tasting. The order of the wines was random. Only 4 wines got any votes from the group. The notes and the points at the end of each note are mine.

I took home some leftover wines. My notes on the following days are not blind.

Flight 0

2004 Pax Rosé, California [60% Syrah, 40% Grenache]
As serious as a rosé can get, but still delightful. Goes quite well with smoked chicken and pulled pork. A real pleasure. The flavor of red wine without the body or tannin. 91 points.

Flight 1

2001 Saxum Vyds, Bone Rock, James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles
[Hands down Group #1 (23 points): 7 out of 8 first place votes, one 2nd] Deep purple color. Gorgeous nose of ripe, dark fruit and subtle spices. Thick, ripe, young, super tasty chocolate and spices. Penetrating. Wow! Graphite finish lasts 2 minutes. Unmistakable greatness! The one empty bottle at the end of the evening! 96–98 points.

1997 Ojai Vyds, Cuvée Henry Daniel [75% Thompson Vyd, 25% Bien Nacido Vyd], Santa Barbara County
[Group #4 (3 points): one 2nd place vote, one 3rd] Blacker color than 1, but not as opaque. Earthy, complex nose. Light in the mouth. Complex with an appealing herbaciousness and tons of earthy fruit. Great complexity in the mouth. 95–97 points.
Day 2: Huge, smoky, raspberry nose with hints of flowers and spice. Huge in the mouth. Still quite tannic. Wait 5–10 years for my second (and last) bottle. A great wine!

1998 Jade Mountain, La Provencale [Mourvedre, Syrah, and Grenache]
Smoky nose. Tight, short, and a bit bitter. 87 points
Day 2: Very simple stuff. A little green. 85 points.

Flight 2

2000 Alban Vyds, Lorraine Estate Vyd, Edna Valley
[Group #2 (12 points): 5 second place votes, 2 third place votes] Same nose as the first wine above [Saxum]. Gobs of fruit in the nose with a bit of white spice. Thick, black fruit. So ripe and yummy! Great with ribs. So sweet! 94–97 points.
Day 2: Glorious nose of acacia flowers and ripe red fruit. A delicious pleasure-giving wine that should be great for at least 5–10 more years. Wow! 96–97 points.
Day 3: Amazing, penetrating nose of blackberries and black tea. Silk in the mouth. Now it's a stunning wine of glorious black fruit, cocoa, and spice that lingers in the mouth for over one minute. Wow! I think it will get better and better for the next 8–10 years. Great! 97–99 points.

2003 Pax Wine Cellars, Castelli-Knight Ranch, Russian River Valley
Red fruit and black pepper. Ripe fruit up front, but something weird on the finish. Everyone is trying to identify it: Eucalyptus Bay leaf Rubber. I think it is just the black pepper in the extreme and will eventually fade away. Others think it's a flaw and will stay. NR
Day 2: OMG this is a bruiser! Backward nose of blackberry jam and wood smoke. Thick, ripe fruit, but with rough stemmy tannins beneath. I think this has just shut down with a vengeance. It needs 8–10 years. Not nearly as forward as the bottle at the Pax dinner [6/29/05]. 93–95 points?
Day 3: Striking shoe polish, black pepper, and red fruit nose. Well built, thick fruit, but that same weird chemical in the mouth. Don't try again for 3–5 years.

2001 Jonathan Edwards Winery, Napa V [Made in Connecticut from Napa grapes.]
Waxy, bacon fat nose. Dry, tannic, reserved, but tasty. I think this one might be a Rhone ringer. 92 points.
Day 2: More austere, but I still like it!
Day 3: Dry tannic. Nice fruit. Needs a few years. 91 points.

Flight 3

2003 Léal Vineyards, Estate Grown, Unfiltered, San Benito County
[Group #3 (11 points): one 1st place vote, one 2nd place vote, six 3rd place votes. No doubt about it, this was the surprise of the night. I had never heard of this winery, but this wine is terrific!] Inky color. Nose like 1 and 4. Thick, sweet, jammy, chocolaty. So much fruit! So tasty. Great stuff. Very young, but very delicious. 94–97 points.
Day 2: Huge nose of ripe red fruits and pine needles. Hugely extracted in the mouth with gobs of ripe fruit covering significant tannins. A complex and delicious wine. Available locally for $32 and from the winery for under $30! Wow!
Day 3: Tannins a little softer, but the fruit is still raging all over the place. This is decadent stuff! Yum yum! 95 points.

1986 Jaboulet, Hermitage La Chapelle
Nasty gym socks nose. Loads of wet cardboard. One of the most obviously corked wines I have experienced. NR

2001 Domaine de Puech Chaud (R. Rostaing), Coteaux du Languedoc
Musty nose. Too medicinal. Just after I wrote that, the doctor next to me said This smells like the hallways in my hospital! Yeah! NR

2001 Failla Vyds, Estate Vyd, Sonoma County
Pleasant. Hard to say more. I think the last 2 wines killed my palate. NR
Day 3: Smoky, dried-berry nose. Dry, even austere. More classic Hermitage than California. Needs 3–5 more years to show its best. A touch of sour cherry in the finish. I like this a lot. 92–94 points.


1988 Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Sauternes
Alcoholic, brown sugar nose. Sour and sweet. I have liked this a whole lot more in the past. Did those 2 bad wines really kill my palate? NR




All original content © Ken Vastola