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What is a Rhone wine – WBW71 post

Wine Blogging Wednesday 71

Wine Blogging Wednesday 71

One of the issues many new to the wine world face is learning the grapes certain wines are made with. This is more an issue with old world wines, such as Italy and France, though it can be an issue in the US as well. For example, when I tackled today’s Wine Blogging Wednesday post, Rhone not from Rhone , I had to first recall exactly which grapes make up Rhone wines. The main ones are GSM, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, if you weren’t sure. However, there’s a great supporting cast of cinsault, petit sirah, viognier, roussanne and marsanne. For today’s WBW post I selected a Paso Robles cuvee, or a blend, of Rhone varietals and am excited to tell you about it.

By way of background, Lenn “Devours” Thompson started an initiative to corral wine bloggers, getting them focused on the same topic once a month, called Wine Blogging Wednesday. Each month a different blogger would come up with a topic, and we’d all write about it. I didn’t join the fray until 2008, years after WBW was in motion. However, it’s a great way to get different perspectives on the same topic. It shows that even the experts see grapes differently.  Today’s topic is Rhone Wines not from Rhone, brought to us by Tim Elliot of Winecast.

As I mentioned, wines made in the Rhone style include Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre grapes. I could have selected a Grenache from Spain, or a Syrah from California for this article, however I’ve wanted to write about my dinner and interview with Austin Hope of Hope Family Wines and thought tasting his Liberty School Cuvee was the perfect opportunity. I’ll first cover the wine, then a little about Austin and dinner.

Liberty School Cuvee 2007

Liberty School Cuvee 2007

The folks at Liberty School believe that the Central Coast of California is perfect for Rhone varietals. If their 2007 Cuvee is any indication, I say they’re right. A cuvee is a blend, and this wine is a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Viognier. I’ve often said that I’m not a fan of Syrah from California, as it comes in big and jammy, and I prefer the more restrained, earthy Syrah from France. However, at 13.5% ABV the Liberty School Cuvee is not a big wine, and it’s anything but jammy.

I taste the wine at three intervals, right after opened, after 10 minutes of air, and after 30 minutes of air. While it definitely opened and changed, it was fairly consistent throughout. The wine was a dark inky purple, and the cork bottom was almost black. At first, the nose had a very meaty bouquet, with a note of cocoa and spices. It had a great lush mouthfeel, and after 10-30 minutes there were dark berries balanced with some earth and nice leather notes on the palate. When I say leather, I could envision a well polished leather chair in a stately mansion, regal and sophisticated. The wine was definitely dry, though not tannic very tannic. Towards the end I started to taste secondary notes on the finish of spiced cherry pie and smoke, with a finish that lingered. I grabbed this wine at the grocery for $15, and it’s definitely a wine to try. We paired this wine with hamburgers, though we could have thrown a variety of grilled, roasted or smoked meats it it successfully.

What I enjoyed most about the wine was how it captured the essence of old world Rhone wines, with a touch of new world finesse and approachability. I’ve planned on tasting some more Hope family Wines and Libery School Cuvee against some Rhone wines in the near future and compare and contrast. I had taste several Paul Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage a few weeks back, and while they cost a bit more, I’m interested in the taste profiles as a comparison. I’ll be sure to let you know.  I’ll also let you know more about Paso Robles, home of Liberty School and Hope Family wines, as I’m visiting the area next week.

I hope to catch up with Austin Hope again when in Paso. He’s a great guy. very dynamic, and passionate about wine and all that it entails. My interview of Austin turned more into a dinner with a great guy, as the restaurant was too noisy to record our conversation, and we talked too quickly and about too many topics to take notes of any quality. We did, however, cover a few topics that I thought were quite interesting, such as multi-vintage wines and box wine, as well as a hot project that make change the way you look at Paso in the future.

Austin feels that the concept of multi-vintage wines needs to be looked at a bit more closely. He maintains that by using wines of different vintages, winemakers will be able to capture the youth and expressiveness of younger vintages, with the maturity and complexity of older vintages. He believes by doing this, wines will be more approachable upon release, and offer more than any young release wine can. I’m excited to see what he does with this concept. Austin also believes that he can put out a box wine of sufficient quality to carry a Hope Family Wines name. Expect a spring or summer 2011 release of his box, and I will definitely get my hands on it. I expect it to be a very approachable and affordable wine.

As for the last project, well, that one I can’t talk about yet. However, when Austin told me about it, I found myself secretly rooting for him to succeed. We’ll see soon!

Have you tried a Rhone style wine, whether from France, California or elsewhere? Let me know what you thought!

 

A Look a Red Wine Blends from Chile

Tasting Wines of Chile

Tasting Wines of Chile

As a wine writer, it  is sometimes difficult to know exactly what your audience will want to read. Do they want to know about wines that are fruity,  jammy and just easy to drink? Do they want to know about complex wines that have multiple layers of flavors or perhaps need food to be enjoyed? One thing I know, almost everyone drinking wine is focused on its quality to price ratio or QPR. I recently participated in an event that allowed me to taste some wines from Chile, typically known for it’s QPR wines. These wines ranged from $15 to $50, which may push the envelope for QPR wines, but they definitely were worth trying.

In the fourth such event, the PR folks from Wines of Chile sent eight wines, this time blends of different red grapes, to sample and write about. Over 40 wine writers had the opportunity to join Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer as he moderated a video conference with the eight Chilean winemakers in  Santiago, Chile. We had an absolute blast not only talking, but also joking with the winemakers to learn about them and their masterfully made wines. We had a fun time sipping and tweeting, and now writing about wines I’m excited to share with you.

Valdivieso Eclat 2005

Valdivieso Eclat 2005

The first wine of the evening was the Valdivieso Vineyard 2005 Eclat, from the Maule Valley. A blend of 56% Carignan, 24% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah, this wine retails for about $27.  The winemaker, Brett Jackson, was one of the only non-Chilean wine makers at the video conference, as he hails from New Zealand. The wine’s bouquet was bursting with lush red berries, fresh, and was very inviting. The palate was full and silky, with more earthy and spicy notes than the nose eludes to. It was the lightest of the eight wines, though full bodied, and even though it was aged 12 months in French Oak Barrels, the oak flavors were well integrated in the wine. I loved that Carignan was the predominant grape in this blend, as it’s often a subordinate blending grape. Carignan lends this wine it’s deep ruby coloring, and is typically high in acidity, making it a great food wine. You can throw a steak at this wine, and enjoy, though the winemaker recommends soft meats such as lamb, turkey, fish, or lightly sauced pasta.

De Martino Las Cruces 2006

De Martino Las Cruces 2006

The next red blend wine comes from the De Martino winery, founded in 1934 in Isla de Maipo, Chile. The blend of 66% Malbec and 34% Carmenere comes from a single vineyard planted in 1957 in the Cachapoal valley. While Malbec is a grape most associated with Argentina, Chile’s neighbor on the other side of the mountains, I’ve seen some great offerings from Chile. Wine Maker Marcelo Retamal has been with De Martino since 1996, and is very focused on the Terrior, or the location to grow the right grapes. The wine’s nose has a fantastic mint component, while the palate was a silky smooth symphony of great, dark flavors, subtle fruit and sweet spices. No flavor competes with another, and they work beautifully together. I found this wine very easy to sip on, and it worked nicely with the steak I had that evening.  The winemaker suggests pairing this wine hearty dishes such as lamb or venison. The De Martino Single Vineyard Old Bush Vines “Las Cruces” 2006 retails for about $45, and while not an inexpensive wine, I thought it was a wine worth trying at the price.

Estampa Gold Assemblage Carmenere 2008

Estampa Gold Assemblage Carmenere 2008

Our third red blend of the evening was the Estampa Gold Assemblage Carmenere 2008, from Colchagua Valley, Chile. A blend of 57% Carmenere, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot, this dry red wine worked best with food. Winemaker Ricardo Baettig has been with Estampa since 2004, and his wines have earned quite a few awards. I noticed the nose, which was sweet red fruits reminding me of Hubba Bubba bubble gum with some woody brambles underneath, was nothing like the palate. The palate was very earthy, with tobacco and leather coming through. The wine was very typical Carmenere, which is a favorite varietal of mine, and was quite dry. The Estampa Gold Assemblage Carmenere retails for about $22.

Montes Liited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2008

Montes Liited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2008

While the Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2008 was the most inexpensive wine of the evening, it’s price was certainly not indicative of quality. Montes makes a number of different wines at different quality and price levels, and I’ve enjoyed many of them. Winemaker Aurelio Montes Del Campo joined the winery in 2007, and has a history of making premium wines in Chile. This 2008 Montes Limited Selection is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Camenere, and was aged in American oak for 6 months. The nose may be a bit awkward for some, and I can only describe it as a barnyard smell, but in a sexy way.  Think earthy, organic scents, almost primal in nature. Pair that with the palate of great earthiness, amazing spices, and subdued fruit, and you’ve got a very interesting wine at $15. One of the interesting notes of the tasting, Montes plays classical music in the barrel aging room 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and practices Feng Shui. Whatever they’re doing, I think it’s working!

I’ve got four more wines to discuss, but I’ll save them for tomorrows post.  I’m curious if you’ve had any of these Chilean wines before, and if so, your thoughts. If not these Chilean wines, how about sharing the last Chilean wine you had, even if it wasn’t a red blend! I’d LOVE to hear from you!

What wines will you serve for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Is Upon Us

Thanksgiving Is Upon Us

Wine Experts are bombarding you with the perfect Thanksgiving wine ideas right now. You’ll see them on TV, you’ll read about them in the newspapers, and probably get an email or tweet about them. While I did indeed visit Kara Kostanich and the folks at CBS12 here in West Palm Beach to talk about wines that you can serve with your Thanksgiving Cornucopia, I rather point out a few wines that go well with the various dishes you may find on your table this holiday season, and let you pick which one you believe is perfect.

Thanksgiving is about, well, giving thanks, whether it’s for family, freedom, or the bounty we call our daily lives. It’s one time a  year that everyone stops and takes stock of what they have, and celebrate with friends or family or strangers in doing so. That celebration often takes the form of a large meal, and undoubtedly some libations. For us, that libation is wine, and pairing wine with food is one of my favorite parts of the feast.  Food and wine pairing is intimidating for some, and fascinating for others. While some may break out into a sweat trying to pick a wine that will go with your steak, I always love pairing food and wine and coming upon one that reminds me of a waltz, two parties dancing gracefully together in close proximity. This short video will talk about three of the wines, and I’ll have more information below about them, as well as three other options for you to choose from in another post.

Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Rose

Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Rose

The first wine in the segment was Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Rose, from the Rhone in France. This $15 wine is made from three different grapes, Grenach, Cinsault, and Syrah. It’s light enough to have as an aperitif, but weighty enough to stand up to your cheeses, appetizers and even your main course, should you prefer rose wines. The nose is great strawberry with a light floral aroma. There is good acidity on this wine, which as I mentioned in the clip, lends itself to pairing well with food. There is a nice fresh fruit forward palate, strawberry and raspberry, with an almost citrus feel from the acidity. The finish is great white pepper and spices, and it balances the fresh fruitiness of the wine wonderfully.  As an aside, you pronounce Cinsault as San-Soh , not sin-salt as I mentioned in the video. Pair this wine with turkey or ham if that’s what’s on your table, as well as the various cheeses and appetizers you may have. Or, just sip on it and enjoy!

Oliver Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles

Oliver Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles

Next our holiday wine selection takes us to Burgundy, France, where we meet up with an Oliver Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles 2007, $20-25. Made from Chardonnay grapes, this Bourgogne Blanc is fermented in a mixture of 60% oak,10% of which is new, and 40% stainless steel.  What does that mean for you and your taste buds? You’ll experience some of the vanilla and spice from the oak, but the pear and apple characteristics of Chardonnay will still shine. There is a harmony of crisp meets creamy in the mouth, and this becomes an exciting and versatile wine. Of course, this would go with your Turkey, but also your fish, fried shrimp or gator tail (hey, we’re in Florida).  We did our tasting with roasted chicken and potatoes with rosemary and garlic, and it was fantastic.

Coto de Imaz Rioja

Coto de Imaz Rioja

Finally we have Coto de Imaz Rioja 2004 Reserva. This red wine, made from 100% Tempranillo and aged 18 months in oak and another 24 months in bottle comes from Spain, and will certainly grace our holiday table this year. On it’s own, it has flavors of dark fruit and leather, and is quite dry. However, when paired with beef, the palate was a silky indulgence of chocolate and coffee mixed with earthy flavors that just were amazing. For a $20 wine, there was great complexity that beckoned you to take another sip, and another bite, to discover what flavors would show next.  If your family has a beef dish, such as prime rib or perfectly grilled steaks, or perhaps serves roasted lamb, this is your go-to wine.

The three wines I discuss were all provided by the folks at Frederick Wildman, importers of fine wines. While they were indeed provided as samples, this in no way influenced what I spoke about on TV, or what I post here. I freely selected the wines, based on what I like and what I support, and there was no influence or pressure to do discuss them.

I leave you this something Richard Auffrey said quite well - dont be merely a glutton. Find ways to not only be thankful for what you have, but also to give freely to others. Regardless of how hard your year has been, or how difficult things may be for you, there is someone, somewhere, who could greatly benefit from whatever charitable act you can muster. Whether it’s a monetary donation, articles of clothing, or your time at a local shelter or soup kitchen, someone needs what you have to offer. Please, offer it this holiday season.

Some information about the Syrah grape

Shiraz Grapes

Shiraz Grapes

You may have read some of my recent articles and thought they were amazingly interesting, save one little thing. I have gone into great detail on what the wine taste like, where it came from, and how it was fermented, but I didn’t explain the grape itself. For all you knew I was talking about pickles from Mongolia turned into wine. Therefore, I’ll give you some basic information about the grapes in the wines I talk about, starting with Syrah.

A dark, almost black grape, with a thick skin, Syrah creates a wine that offers many expressions. It’s a grape that takes on the characteristics of the terroir, the earth that the grapes come from, and will be different depending on where it is grown. While more than half of the world’s Syrah vineyards are in France, the grape can be found in “new world” areas such as California, Washington, South Africa, and Australia.

Called Shiraz in Australia, the wine will typically have dark fruit flavors with an intense, peppery component when grown there. In contrast, Syrah you’ll find in California often can be round and fruit focused to jammy. French Syrah, used to make many Rhone wines from appellations such as Cote Rotie (pronounced Coat Row-tee) , Hermitage , and Chateauneuf de Pape, is often considered intense or strong when young, with great potential to age. These are of course generalizations, and the wine can have a very “old world” style while made in California, for example.

Syrah is a great food wine, and is definitely at home around a backyard BBQ. Paired with grilled meats, whether steaks, hamburger, sausage, or lamb, a nice Syrah from Washington will work well. Syrah (or Shiraz) can work well with other foods, such as pizza, game such as venison, boar, or pheasant, cheeses such as cheddar, aged Gouda, or Roquefort, and even duck or chicken if it’s grilled or barbecued.

Please feel free to add some comments below about Syrah or Shiraz!

Gramercy Cellars and DeLille Cellars Washington State Syrah

The non-profit group Hospice du Rhone endeavors to educate about and promote the Rhone grape varietals. Rhone varietals include Grenach, Mouvedre, and today’s topic, Syrah, along with other lesser known grapes such as Bourboulenc and Camarese. Syrah is a grape that offers many expressions, from the peppery Shiraz you’ll find in Australia, to the round and fruit focused Syrah you’ll find in California. It’s a grape that takes on the characteristics of the terroir, the earth that the grapes come from, and will be different whether from France, California or Washington. A group of wine writers received four Washington Syrah samples from Hospice du Rhone, and taste the wines together, using twitter to discuss our notes. I fired up the grill, cooking some mild Italian sausage and some hamburgers, and set out to taste the first two of the four wines.

Gramercy Cellars 2007 Syrah

Gramercy Cellars 2007 Syrah

The first wine of the night was from Gramercy Cellars which was founded in 2005 by Master Sommelier Greg Harrington and his wife Pam. The 2007 Lagniappe Syrah is co-fermented with 2% Viognier, which will add floral notes to the wine, and is then aged 15 months in neutral French oak. It’s made with fruit sourced from neighboring vineyards in Columbia Valley, while their own two vineyards mature.  Initially tight on the nose, displaying some “meaty berry” notes after about 30 minutes of air, the palate was subdued black fruit with some leather and pepper. However, paired with grilled Italian sausage, the wine began to shine, showing additional complexities including layers of mocha under the fruit.  With food, the pepper finish eased and the berry and mocha flavors come through, and the wine became a well balanced accompaniment to the meal.

The team at Gramercy indeed specifically makes their wines with a food pairing focus, and I found it all too easy to enjoy another sip after a bite of grilled hamburger or sausage. At $38, the wine not only complimented the meal, but it stood up well the next day. On the second day, the Lagniappe Syrah’s bouquet opened a bit more, showing dark fruit on the nose. The palate seemed a bit rounder, with a jammy berry focus, similar to grabbing handfuls of fresh blackberries and shoving them in your mouth, until it overflows. The finish, however, retained it’s white pepper component and was still screaming for some food to help tame it. All in all a nice wine which is definitely made with food in mind.

DeLille Cellars Doyenne 2007 Syrah

DeLille Cellars Doyenne 2007 Syrah

Next up was DeLille Cellars 2007 Doyenne Syrah from Yakima Valley, WA. This Syrah was blend with 2% Viognier as well, though aging and fermentation information were not available. The nose was not very fragrant after being open 45 minutes, and it could have decanted over an hour and a half to reach full potential. It had that “meaty fruit” bouquet, but nothing stood out as “wow”. The palate was dark fruit and cocoa, similar to the Gramercy, with a soft silky approach and a powerful finish. However, the Doyenne Syrah really screamed when paired with food. Sipping after a bite of the grilled sausage brought out a cascade of flavors, especially spicy chocolate.

The second night found the Doyenne still smooth and silky, as the wine opened up in the bottle. There were great blackberry and black raspberry flavors, with the oak showing a little bit on the finish. At $50, I would have a hard time just plunking this wine down on the table to sip on. However, with a meal, such as grilled meats of any sort, I wouldn’t hesitate a second to pop open this bottle! I’d like to see how this wine matures over 3-4 years, and the DeLille Cellars website has an aging chart for their wines, which noted this Syrah as a “Hold”.

Have you had a Syrah from Washington, or anywhere, that really stands out? Let us know about it, leave a comment below. Next up, we’ll talk about the other two Syrah we taste that evening, including one from Charles Smith, the Food and Wine 2009 Winemaker of the Year.

Talking about Montemaggiore 2005 Syrah

A trip through Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma affords one plenty of opportunities to stop in to various tasting rooms and sample the wines they have to offer. However, it’s only when you travel off the beaten path that you’ll come across Montemaggiore. Nestled high on the mountainside, Montemaggiore isn’t “open to the public” per se. Rather, you need to call Lise or Vince Ciolino, owners of the vineyard since 2001, and make an appointment to take a tour of their beautiful property and taste their great wines. Our second stop on our Daytime tour through Dry Creek Valley brought us up the winding mountain road to their tasting room, and I’m excited to take you there on a virtual tour and tasting.

There are a few different wines available from Montemaggiore, from their Paolo’s Vineyard Syrah I discuss in the below video, to a Cabernet Syrah Blend named Nobile and even a Syrah Rose.  Additionally, the Ciolinos offer olive oil from the olive trees on the property. So, lets enjoy a virtual wine tasting together, and find out what I thought of wine from this vineyard that’s off the beaten path.

Talking about Montemaggiore 2005 Syrah from Matthew Scott Horbund on Vimeo.

Syrah is not a very frequently grown grape in Dry Creek Valley, with approximately 306 acres of syrah vines planted. This is a stark contrast to the 2,316 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, 2,251 acres of Zinfandel, and 1,500 acres of Merlot reported planted in Dry Creek Valley in 2006. However, I believe the Ciolinos have found a grape that they are able to successfully grow and turn into a delicious wine. As I mentioned in the video, it’s not very jammy like many California Syrah’s can be. Mind you, it’s not that jammy is wrong or bad, but I prefer my Syrah to be a bit more subtle fruit wise, and the spice and oak influence a bit more prominent when I drink a Syrah, and I think Montemaggiore has captured that in their wines. The Paolo’s Vineyard 2005 Syrah was rated a 92 by the International Wine review, and costs approximtely $35. It’s aged in a mixture of 84% French and 16% American oak, of which 38% is new.

Paolo Feeding Sheep at Montemaggiore

Paolo Feeding Sheep at Montemaggiore

Lise, pronounced Leezah, like the tower of Pisa, and her husband Vince care very much not only about the quality of their wines, but the impact growing them has on the land. They firmly believe in organic and biodynamic farming, and don’t use chemical products, but rather employ natural fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Their sustainable farming practice includes drip irrigation and natural compost, as well as several sheep that tend the grass and naturally fertilize the land. Vince will happily discuss the care they exercise in working the land they also live on during a visit. You’ll be able to hear from Vince and his farming practices at Montemaggiore during the Daytime segment.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot more to Montemaggiore than we’ve discussed here. The television segment of our visit to Montemaggiore airs on Daytime Tuesday November 17th. If Daytime isn’t on in your area, we’ll have the clip available online at tweetmetv.com shortly. I’ll update this post, perhaps put the link in the comments, and you can see Lise, Vince, and our fabulous trip to our second Dry Creek Valley winery. If you missed our first stop at Michel-Schlumberger, you will want to take a few minutes to see how wonderful that visit was!

Lets taste James David Cellars 2005 Central Coast Syrah

James David 2005 Central Coast Syrah

James David 2005 Central Coast Syrah

I absolutely love the tremendous amount of variety and diversity there is in the wine world. I love how the same grape, grown in the same area, perhaps even at neighboring vineyards, can taste so different.  The influence of the methods the winemaker uses to ferment and age the wine as well as the care and growing conditions the vineyard manager employs can change your perception of a varietal magically. I haven’t reviewed many Syrahs on the blog, and the ones I did review previously really didn’t trip my trigger, so to speak. It was, therefore, with a tad of reluctance that I accepted a sample of James David Cellars 2005 Syrah from proprietor David Cole, whom I networked with on twitter. I am happy to say that my excited video review is indeed an indication that James David Cellars put out some nice new world Syrah.

Though their family has been in the California farming and wine industry for some time, David and Kathleen Cole have only been at the helm of James David Cellars for a few years. However, their goal to create a wine that is easy to share with friends and family, good during a meal, or a good conversation, seems to be one they’ve already achieved with the Central Coast Syrah. A blend of grapes sourced from two vineyards, one in Monterey, the other in Paso Robles, only 350 cases of this easy drinking red wine were produced. Grapes from both Paso Robles and Monetery are said to exhibit true characteristics of the varietals. Grapevines there tend to bud a week or two earlier than other regions, and are harvested a week or two later than other regions due to the cool growing season. This means the grapes are on the vine longer, and develop an intense flavor.  Wines from these areas tend to have the peppery characteristics you find in Syrah from France (or Shiraz from Australia), and I enjoyed that very much on this wine.

Video-Let’s discuss James David 2005 Central Coast Syrah from Matthew Scott Horbund on Vimeo.

I chatted briefly with David about this wine, and he said that his favorite food pairings for the James David Cellars Central Coast Syrah would be pizza, or red sauce dishes like lasagna or spaghetti. Thea, a follow wine blogger and friend, agrees with David that this is a nice pizza wine. I’m not sure if $21 is in everyone’s budget for a pizza wine, and I think this wine is a tad more versitle than that. The pork roast that Robin made in the crock pot went very well with it, as would a nice salmon dish. The wine is light enough that it would pair favorably with the fish, and even chicken. Yes, I’m debunking the myth that chicken and fish only go with white wines!  I’m not sure how this Syrah will pair with a steak or lamb. David Cole mentioned that of the two samples he sent, this and the Eagle Point Ranch Syrah, the Central Coast  wine was more “French style” with a lighter nose and body than it’s big Californian brother. I’ve decided to review them separately, so check back soon for that Eaglepoint Ranch review.

In summary, for $21, I am happy to recommend you try the James David Cellars Central Coast Syrah. It’s well structured and versitle enough to pair with a decent range of foods. It also is easy drinking, and will do fine on it’s own, helping David and Kathleen achieve their goal of creating a wine that compliments conversation, as well as drive it. I believe this wine appeals to the “Old World” Syrah lovers, while still having some of the characteristics the “New World” Syrah lovers look for.  However, don’t just take my word for it. Find yourself a bottle of this wine, pour yourself a glass, and leave some comments below about your experience!

-Disclaimer- This wine was provided as a free sample from James David Cellars for me to review on the blog.

A video review of great red wine from Chile – Los Vascos 2006 Reserve

Los Vascos Reserve Chilean red wine from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

I love it when people drink the same wine across the world to compare notes, and the Wines of Chile blogger event in May 2009 was amazing for that opportunity.  You’ve probably seen my posts on some of the wines we enjoyed that night, the Cono Sur Chilean Pinot Noir for example. Additionally, you probably know I’m a big fan of wine from Chile; I feel Chile offers some great wines at quite reasonable prices. This event, hosted by the PR folks at  Wines of Chile, and moderated by  Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine, allowed 8 wine makers to answer  questions for the bloggers, so we could learn a bit about them, and their wines.

As you’ll see in the short video wine review above, I’ve discussed what my tasting notes were during the event, then revisited each wine the next day to see how they stood up. This wine, the Los Vascos Reserve (blend) was actually more enjoyable the next day, benefiting from some time opening. The Los Vascos vineyard has been part of  Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) since 1988, which is a wonderful pedigree to have associated with your wines. Los Vascos website does not seem to have information specifically on the blend we had the opportunity to taste with the bloggers event, but there is some great information on the site for your Chilean wine education.

Los Vascos reserve Chilean red wine

Los Vascos reserve Chilean red wine

During the tasting, the Los Vascos Reserve red had a bouquet of red berries and cherries, with some brambles. The palate was black cherry fruits with very earthy notes.  The wine had a rustic mouth feel, and the finish had some herbs and a dry, chalky component.  The finish was quite long, and I enjoyed it very much.

On the second night, the nose was quite similar to the first night, however it seemed to become a tad more dark and rich. Additionally, there was a chocolate component that showed up on day two that wasn’t present on the first day.  The brambles were still noticeable, but they seemed a bit more integrated and not as prominent as the previous night. The palate of the Los Vascos Reserve became much more fine and silky, and the chalky finish was no where near as noticeable.  The wine opened up nicely, with dark cherry from the Cabernet Sauvignon integrating nicely with the spicey, zesty, earthy Carmenere and the fruit and pepper from the Syrah.

Josh Reynolds from the International Wine Cellars rated this an 89, with the following notes

“Bright ruby. Highly aromatic nose offers a sexy bouquet of ripe cherry, blackcurrant, fresh rose, tobacco and cedar. Suave, supple and sweet, with smooth red and dark berry flavors, gentle tannins and refreshing mineral bite on the close. Very sexy and drinkable now.”

I could continue to write about the flavors this wine, but you can get more from watching the video above. At $20, I will let you know that not only do I find this wine to be one to add to the shopping list, Lenn Thompson agrees with me and thinks the Los Vascos Reserve Chilean Red Wine is a “buy again” kind of wine.