Tasting Notes contains just that notes on wines I have tasted!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Que Syrah, Shiraz and Sirah

This is the fifth in a series of wine tastings being held on a monthly basis at Vintage Wines, San Diego, California. The event was billed as:

Que Syrah, Shiraz and Sirah
August 19th, 6:30-8:00PM
"This is the fastest growing varietal in wine sales today! We will explore the differences between regions in California, Australia, France and even Spain. You will explore the same grape varietal grown around the world and how these separate regions express this grape. Some of the wines to be tasted will be 2001 Castello di Ama, Spain; 2000 Elderton Command Shiraz; 2002 Garretson, Bulladoir, Central Coast."

The wines were poured between 2-3 hours before we tasted them. Unfortunately they had been grouped according to their region of origin rather than lighter through to the heavier styles. So although I tasted the wines blinded to the order it was not too dificult to sort out where the wines might have come from, but more on that after the tasting notes. My notes are in the order the wines were presented.

Tardieu Laurent Vieilles Vignes, St Joseph 2000 (Rhone, France) $29.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Notes of charcoal, smoked meat and lychees. Medium weight, with well integrated tannins. Considerable acid carried the finish. Flavors carried through on retronasal. A pleasant, structurally sound wine.

Jean Luc Columbo Les Collines De Laure Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaneinnes 1999 $29.99USD
Cherry red with a slight shade of orange brown to the edge. Medicinal and smoky at first. This wine developed the smell of pure ethanol. Medium weight with astringent tannins. Flavors did not linger on retronasal.

Bernard Burgaud Cote Rotie (Rhone, France) 2000 $39.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Initially closed with just some sulfur stink and dusty oak, this wine developed a distinct chicken coop smell. In the mouth the predominant character was mouth watering acidity. While the wine finished clean and the flavors carried through and lingered on retronasal, the acidity put the wine out of balance for me. And while it may soften in 10 or 20 years I consider so much acidity a fault.

Garretson Hoage Vineyard “The Bulladoir” 2002 (Paso Robles, California) $39.99USD
Deep, dense black cherry red with red edge. Very open with predominant blackberry and almost every other jam. On the palate this wine, well the WMD have been discovered! Too big, too powerful. Astringent beyond belief. And there is sweetness there as well. To give it some credit the flavors do linger on retronasal for an awfully long time. Maybe it will settle down, but it probably should not be released so soon. Oh, one other detail, it has 17% alcohol. You can’t taste it!

Copain Cailloux & Coccinelle 2002 (Walla Walla, Washington) $35.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Very open with nice floral notes that became asparagus and then vegetal. Developed licorice with time. Good mouthfeel, soft tannins and nice clean acid finish. A well structured wine. Flavors carried through on retronasal and lingered. Initially this wine was very appealing but the vegetal character became unattractive.

Darioush Signature 2001 (Napa Valley, California) $59.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Predominant character was toasted oak and the smell of fountain pen ink. Others could smell rubber tires and faint skunk. Soft entry with light weight on the palate. Some sweetness to the taste. Soft tannins and nice clean acid finish. Although lacking in body, this is still a well structured, nice wine.

Elderton Command 2000(Barossa)$54.99USD
Dense cherry red with pink edge. Smoke, butterscotch and caromel. Later menthol and dried tea leaves. Good mouthfeel, soft tannins, well integrated acid finish. Well stuctured wine. Great retronasal.

Ausvetia (McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Barossa) 2000 $49.99USD
Cherry red with pink, slightly orange tinged edge. Distinct aromatic notes of cigars and bananas.This could be a cabernet. Medium body with soft tannins and clean acid finish. Well structured wine with flavors carrying through on prolonged retronasal.

On my first pass through the wines, which is always an examinantion of color and smell, I though the Garretson might be a big, bold Aussie. But we had been told that there were two Aussies and as the wines had been grouped by region for the tasting I pretty soon realized that the wines either side of it were simply not Australian. The only choice for the Australians had to be the last two, even though both could really have passed for cabernets. The Ausvetia was my favorite wine of the tasting and the overwhelming favorite of the group. Neither wine is in the style of the currently popular fruit bombs and the Ausvetia never scores well with Parker. However there are those who will say that the Elderton did not show its true colors. But that Garretson is something else!

Given all the mud slinging that has been going on about Aussie shiraz on overseas BB (Ozstralian Wine Bashing) I find it interesting that the biggest wine in this admittedly limited tasting turned out to be Californian, and a style that Parker likes. The person who liked it at our tasting was a novice, a nice guy, but a novice. The most favored wine, the Ausvetia, is a wine Parker has trouble giving more than 90 points. The only problem I have is trying to decide whether I should stick with my decision to go with the RWT as my high end shiraz or buy the Ausvetia instead!


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