Wine Blogging Wednesday 55 – Syrah Showdown

Bridgeman Syrah 2005Let me start off today’s Wine Blogging Wednesday post by saying no winemaker sets out to make a bad wine.  These men and women put their hearts and souls into each glass of their wine that gets poured. They create something they truly love and believe in, and put it out for the entire world to enjoy. Therefore, I have no right, ever, to say a wine is bad, or sucks, or undrinkable. I may utter those words, or worse, type them, but I have no right to. The “most” I am entitled to say is that I don’t enjoy the wine, whether it’s not my style or perhaps I prefer a similar wine for a better price.  So, whenever ou catch me saying “Wow, this is horrible”, translate that into “I really don’t enjoy this wine, it wasn’t for me.”

Wine Blogging Wednesday #55 is hosted by RemyCharest of The Wine Case blog this month, and it’s a really interesting theme. The theme is North versus South, or more specifically how the same grape varietal, grown in different regions, turns out different (or similar) wines. As I mentioned in the video part of the wine review, I had picked out three varietals, Syrah, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. Ultimately, the wines I drank were the Syrah, though had I had more time, I likely would have done all three grapes and done a wine review of each.

Now, I am sure you know that one of my favorite wines over the summer, that I drank cases of, was Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz as well as their  Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon Blend. Australian’s number one grape for fine wine is Syrah, which is called Shiraz in Australia, though it’s been called Shiraz in other parts of the world lately.  You can think of Syrah and Shiraz as interchangeable, or synonyms. There are many stories about how Syrah ended up in France, Australia and other parts of the world.  You can read about it on the Syrah Wiki Page, it’s quite an interesting read! Most of you know that I’m not a very technical wine guy, and I will leave it to the other Wine Blogging Wednesday writers to discuss how the warm weather of the southern regions can make the grapes more … well, I said I would let them do it, and I will.

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For my northern wine I selected a Yakima Valley, Washington wine from Bridgeman which is produced by Apex Cellars. Finding any information on the web about this wine is nearly impossible. Even Apex’s website is lacking for information, listing the most recent vintages as 2002 and 2003, where as this was the 2005.  I had done a review of Bridgeman’s Viognier recently, and the same lack of information issue cropped up.  All I can gather is that this tends to be smaller productions (500-1000 cases) and carries the historic William Bridgeman name.  W Bridgeman was the first wine maker in the Yakima Valley, and the first to plant wine grapes in the Yakima Valley, as the Yakima Valley AVA wiki entry discusses.

The nose of the Bridgeman was interesting, with blackberry and pepper on it. The palate really was lacking on the fruit, though the marketing collateral would have you believe this was a fruit bomb.  The finish was really all about the pepper. During the video I mention that you can feel the pepper in my chest, but frankly, that’s probably the alcohol and not the characteristics of the wine.  I would have liked a little more fruit to balance the pepper, and looked forward to it with a steak to see how that played on the flavors.  Robin was not a fan of the wine, and I think the pepper really wasn’t for her.   Frankly, while it paired with the steak, I didn’t find the structure change much.

Anakena SyrahMy southern wine was from the Rapel Valely in Chile, the Anakena 2006 Syrah (Single Vineyard). I’ve had a number of Anakena wines, and enjoyed a few of their Carmenere for another Wine Blogging Wednesday post aboutinexpensive chilean red wines. The nose was a ton of fruit, and really no spice at all. However, the palate really was different than the Bridgeman Syrah.  It was a tremendous oak influence, and was much drier than it’s northern counterpart. Interestingly enough, Robin preferred this wine for the evening, and drank considerably more of it than I did.

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Both wines were tasted without any decanting, and they did evolve a bit with about an hour of time. However, the changes were not so dramatic that I felt the need to re-video or even note them. As for which wine I preferred for my north v south showdown, you’ll have to watch the video. While I really didn’t write in the spirit of this installment of Wine Blogging Wednesday, I appreciate Remy for the topic. If nothing else, it gave me an excuse to drink two wines.  As always, a tip of the hat to LennDevours, the man who started and helps keep Wine Blogging Wednesday alive!

Later this week I’ll post another Syrah I had this night from Taft Street. I also have another Syrah from Longboard waiting for me at home to taste.  Additionally, at this weekend’s Wine Road Barrel Tasting, I had some GREAT Sonoma Syrahs that I look forward to tasting for you!

Until then, have a good time with wine!