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FRIDAY SIPS - SYRAH - Northwest and Northern Rhone
Today August 28 from 1:00 - 6:30
Contrasting styles, contrasting regions but overall a delicious education in fine Syrah. Come by today to taste 2 wines from France’s Northern Rhone region along with two from Washington.
Having been in existence since 1983, L'Ecole No 41, led by MIT-educated Marty Clubb is one of the pioneering producers of the Walla Walla region and one that is more known for their Bordeaux varietal wines. What isn’t as well known is that this prime estate has been working with Syrah since the 2002 vintage.
Blended from five vineyard sites and dosed with a portion of Grenache, the harmonious style of L’Ecole never leaves this rather hearty version. Lush plum-pepper scents combine with allspice, violet and underlying herbs and exotic spices roll from the glass and follow through to a texture that while deep and penetrating, carries terrific balance and smoky tones throughout. Long and lasting on the finish, this deep red that carry over to the dinner table for that standing rib roast. Drink over the next 6-8 years.
Few things in the wine biz excite me as much as old school B from France’s Northern Rhone Valley. Long established in Mauves, the Blachon family has been delivering handcrafted, pure expressions of Syrah from this cradle of the original St-Joseph appellation for over 30 years and to this day, these wines do not disappoint.
The Cuvee Hommage Roger Blachon is produced in honor of their father; Sylvain and Delphine Blachon have followed their famed papa’s path exquisitely. Made from the very steep, monopole vineyard of Les Cotes Saint-Joseph, this stellar red has the fine combination of power and smoothness as well as highlighting the vineyard’s granitic soils. The 2012 is dazzling. Youthful flavors and aromas of black cherry, licorice, smoke meat, olive and truffle, coat the palate, possess nervosity and grip and wind it all up with a provocative and lasting finish. This perhaps is one of most perfect matches for game and red meat, such as duck, rabbit, and venison. Drink this sublime Syrah through 2024+.
Located in Yakima, the wines emerging from Gilbert Cellars are solid contenders when it comes to price/quality rapport when it comes to Washington. A combination of fruit from the Wahluke Slope's Doc Stewart Vineyard and Northern Yakima’s Washington Good Earth Vineyard, this Syrah is unapologetically warm-climate Washington.
Juicy, plum-pepper aspects and dusty earth shine from the glass, but there is also plenty of sensuality. The flavors are full, smoky and alluring. Drawn-out and revealing dimension, it is broad, yet never heavy, with nice extension and fine potential for aging. Enjoy through the end of the decade with grilled lamb or pork.
Alain Graillot is the King of all Crozes-Hermitage producers and a Syrah icon whose colleagues include the likes of Chave, Clape and Jamet. We lovingly refer to Alain as a frustrated Cote-Rotie producer particularly because his holdings are in the humble Crozes-Hermitage appellation that smell and taste as though they come from the Northern Rhone's territories that are more regal.
The 2012 Graillot Crozes-Hermitage is magnificent, but it has a real problem. The conundrum in question is that the wine is almost TOO irresistible! Do not be fooled, this wine will age stupendously. Lavishly smoky with perfumy, aromatic black raspberry, smoked bacon, black olive and roasted coffee permeate from the glass. In the mouth, it is sensual, graceful with excellent richness that submerges the structure. Concentrated and never heavy, there is ample granitic-spice and elevated red tones on the mighty finish. Somehow, this is very accessible. I have been buying, selling, cellaring and drinking these wines since the 1988 vintage and not only are they terrific values, but they age stupendously. Accessible at this point however, it will ultimately be in its finest form 2016 – 2025++. A Grand Vin from a very special producer in a very special vintage!