Tag Archive for syrah

Review: 2013 Zenaida Cellars Zephyr

We came across Zenaida Cellars towards the end of a recent Paso Robles trip. It was supposed to be our last winery of the stay as we made our way out of town, but upon the recommendation of the woman serving us 10:30 a.m., we headed up the road to Ecluse. We are now members at Ecluse and I am always so grateful for the recommendation.

In addition to the wonderful recommendation, Zenaida had solid wines of its own. The 2013 Zephyr, especially. This blend is 55% Syrah, 40% Zin, 5% Viognier (!!!, more on the !!! later).

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It’s smooth, velvety and just lovely. The meaty red blend has notes of cherry (it’s fruit-forward no doubt), too. Now you may ask, what’s with all those exclamation points? Well I was surprised to see Viognier, a white varietal, mixed in with the predominantly Syrah/Zin blend. Not only was this a yummy wine, but it provided a teaching moment. File under: TIL!

The white grape once was commonly blended with Syrah in France as the varietals grow alongside each other in a region in the northern Rhone Valley. The practice still occurs in France, but not as often as back in the day. You will also see it done in Australia.

As an aside, Zenaida also has a cute little loft on the property where you can stay. The room was out of our budget, but if you’ve got the dough, it’s a good location.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Zenaida Cellars
Type: Syrah (55%), Zin (40%), Viognier (5%)
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2013
Price: $42
Alcohol content: 15.8%
When to drink: With a juicy, rear steak.

Review: 2013 Morgan Winery Cotes du Crowes Grenache Syrah

I’ve had my share of GSMs (Grenache, Syrah, Mourevadre), but it wasn’t until my birthday earlier this week when I tasted just a GS.

Distinctively missing the high tannin, rich Mourevadre, this unique blend of 52% Grenache and 48% Syrah really caught my attention. Let the wine breathe for a bit if you don’t want a high kick to the cheek. This wine, featuring two prominent Rhone varietals, is not a shy wine at first sip.

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Full of plum and other dark fruit flavor, the wine smells delicious. The scent is very inviting and just a hint of smokiness near the finish makes your lips magnets for the glass. It’s a nice pairing of the lighter Grenache and the plummy Syrah, which gave it some upfront flavor.

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I had this blend at my birthday dinner in Atwater Village with one of my best friends that I’ve known for 10 years and my fiance. My friend wanted a red and I was vacillating between picking a pure Syrah and the GS. But a little nudge from our waiter at All’Acqua, and we were sold. (By the way, we were first-timers at All’Acqua and it was great. That silk handkerchief pesto pasta…yum!)

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Morgan Winery
Type: Grenach Syrah blend (52% Grenache, 48% Syrah)
Origin: Salinas, CA
Vintage: 2013
Price: $44 at the restaurant, $14 retail, according to wine-searcher.com
Alcohol content: 14.2%
When to drink: Surrounded by good friends in the midst of good conversation. Seriously, if it wasn’t a Monday night, I think the three of us could have kept on gabbing and finished a second bottle.

Review: 2012 Wolff Vineyards Syrah

So good. I mean it’s so good. That’s all my fiancé and I kept saying as we finished a bottle of 2012 Wolff Vineyards Syrah, which we picked up on a recent trip to San Luis Obispo.

Funnily enough, when we tasted the Syrah on the vineyard’s patio, which is super cute and worth a visit, we liked it, but not as much as we did when we popped the cork at home a few nights ago to finish up the final season of Parks and Recreation (The show’s finale was so good, too, so we were on quite a roll with our entertainment choices that night).

Plus, I had found a home for this cute stray and I needed to celebrate, which made finishing the bottle on a weekday an easy task.

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This Edna Valley syrah has a hint of pepper and a full-bodied toastyiness that smoothly slips down your tongue. The longlasting flavor kinda tastes like a delicious berry jam, when it’s cooling down to be canned. You know that kind of warm, juicy, stewed flavor? It has a bit of a leathery texture, but it’s not overwhelming.

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These are words that I don’t hear often coming out of my jokeleaning other half when we taste wine at home: “I dig it, a lot.”

Now I just wish we had brought home more than one bottle of this smooth Syrah!

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Wolff Vineyards
Type: Syrah
Origin: San Luis Obispo
Vintage: 2012
Price: $24, $19 if you’re part of the Wine Club
Alcohol content: 14%
When to drink: Take this to your next family dinner to impress the folks.

Review: 2012 Hahn Winery GSM

This blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourevedre is fruit-forward with a long, dry finish. The grenache makes it bold and the meaty mourevedre sews it all together. I tasted dark fruits–blackberries and blueberries–in this deep ruby-colored wine.

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I enjoyed it a lot with some meaty pasta at one of my Favorite Italian joints, Fritto Misto, which lets you BYOB for just a $2 cork charge. Not bad.

This is a solid blend and I would recommend a buy.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Hahn Winery
  • Type: GSM (Grenache, 67%, Syrah, 28%, Mourevedre, 5%)
  • Origin: Napa
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $10-$20, according to wine-searcher.com
  • Alcohol content: Forgot to write it down, shame on me!
  • When to drink: I think this is a solid everyday red wine. Always a good idea to have one in house when you need a bottle.

Review: 2010 Tablas Creek En Gobelet

Friday night was frustrating. On my way to pick up the other half from the train station, I get pulled over by a cop who gives me a ticket. Then my car won’t start and the cop just drives off. Triple A comes and saves me and lover drives home.

What a sucky start to the evening.

So sucky that we decided to pull out our Valentine’s Day wine and drink it with our Matzoh pizza–what Jews eat during Passover, imagine mushroom, spinach, goat cheese, mozzarella, and pizza sauce over a thin, crackery crust. We missed out on the Valentine’s Day wine, which we had been saving since our Paso Robles trip Valentine’s 2013 because we were traveling in Argentina this past February, drinking lots of Malbec.

We had picked up the 2010 Tablas Creek En Gobelet while wine tasting and with the happy memories of our first trip to Paso Robles flowing, we uncorked the bottle. On first sip, though, I was disappointed. The wine had this unpleasant alcoholic burn. After letting it air for a bit, though, the burn mostly disappeared and was replaced by a pleasant warmth.

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This red was pungent, bold and definitely had characteristics of Grenache and Mourevadre, the two big players in the blend. The Grenache gave it this long-lasting flavor and full-mouth feel, while the Mourevadre gave it a gaminess of sorts, which was hard to get used to. It wasn’t too fruity, as I’d expect from a Grenache, and it wasn’t jammy like Mourevadre blends I’ve had in the past. The Syrah and Tannat made it dark and smoky.

It reminded me of a dark chocolate flourless cake,which I’m not a super fan of. Not in the flavors, there was some chocalatyness to it, but that was in the background; rather in the hit or miss quality. Flourless chocolate cakes always sound so good to me, but then the intense flavors can overwhelm. This is a slow-drinker; not a gulpable wine.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Tablas Creek
  • Type: Blend (37% Grenache, 28% Mourevadre,  13% Syrah, 12% Counoise, 10% Tannat)
  • Origin: Paso Robles
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Price: $40
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: After you let this wine aerate for a bit, drink it while reading on your tablet. This is a slow-drinking wine, perfect for swigs every now and then.

Review: 2012 Planeta Syrah/Nero d’Avola

Tangerines! That’s the first thing I thought of when I sipped this rose that look more orange than pink. I’ve been on a rose kick since I had the La Ferme Julien Rose and decided to order a glass of this sucker after waiting in a very long line at a pizza place that was having a Pi Day deal ($3.14 for a pizza) only to get out of line in frustration and hunger and go to a fancy Neopolitan pizza joint across the street.

I had this lovely pizza with mascarpone, mozzarella, roasted fennel and onions. Yum! I also had a glass of the 2012 Planeta Syrah/Nero d’Avola. Now this is a blend of Syrah, which is a varietal you probably recognize, and Nero d’Avola, a varietal I had no clue existed.

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Nero d’Avola is largely grown in Sicily (which is where Planeta is based) and also goes by the name Calabrese. It comes from a dark grape (nero means black) and according to wine-searcher.com “younger wines show plum and juicy red-fruit flavors, while more complex examples offer chocolate and dark raspberry flavors.Nero d’Avola typically has high tannins, medium acid and a strong body. However, it can also be very smooth if grown at higher elevations where the air is cooler and alcohol levels are restricted.”

This orangey wine, due to its citrus flavors, reminded me of brunch. It’s tart and slightly tingly from the acidity. After it warms up a bit, it makes your tongue want to rub up against the roof of your mouth because of the lingering flavor, kind of like a dog licking peanut butter off a spoon.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Planeta
  • Type: Syrah/Nero d’Avola blend
  • Origin: Sicily
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $8 for a glass at Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana in Pasadena
  • Alcohol content: unknown
  • When to drink: I imagine drinking this during a summer lunch featuring lots of Italian antipasti dishes at a garden cafe–in Sicily preferentially–but your hometown will do. 

Top produced wines: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

Although they’ve been in the top 10 for more than two decades, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot had been bringing up the rear back in 1990. But now, they’ve catapulted to first and second place when it comes to top produced wines.

Other wines such as Syrah made even bigger jumps, with that varietal running up the ladder from 35th to 6th, according to a December study from the Wine Economics Research Centre at the University of Adelaide.

The top 10 of 2010

Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Airen
Tempranillo
Chardonnay
Syrah
Garnacha Tinta
Sauvignon Blanc
Trebbiano Toscano
Pinot Noir

 The top 10 of 1990

Airen
Garnacha Tinta
Rkatsiteli
Sultaniye
Trebbiano Toscano
Mazuelo
Merlot
Cabernet Sauvignon
Monastrell
Bobal

So what happened? Why did some wines move up the chain, and others such as Bobal and Sultaniye fall off the chart, and I’d say out of public knowledge, at least in the U.S.?

Well, according to the study a few things to note:

1. Six of the most common wine grape varieties back in the 1990s fell off the popular scale, especially Airen and Sultaniye, which were considered low quality wines. At the same time, the popularity of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay beamed as “regions sought to improve the quality of their wine grapes.” I might note also that I went to several weddings last year and this trio was the only wine offered at all of them.

2. Wine areas in country’s across the globe started to grow more of just their top variety.

3. Between 2000 and 2010, French varieties–such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon– dominated New World and Old World Vineyards, increasing from 53% to 67% and  20% to 27%, respectively in those regions.

Not surprisingly, most vineyards are in Spain France and Italy. The “big three” accounted for more than half of the world’s wine grape vineyard area in 2010, according to the study. The United States and Argentina are fourth, but they each account for less than 5%.

Read the whole study here.

Review: 2012 Apothic Red Winemaker’s Blend

After a day full of skiing in Big Bear, your body craves Alleve and warmth. Apothic Red is the next best thing.

The sweet, vanilla-y red blend will soothe what ails you and warm you right up, especially if you have a glass or three.

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The mixture of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon is an easy-drinker, minus the alcohol tinge at the end. But the major fruitiness of the blend makes up for that negative. If you like your fruity reds bold and smoky though, I’d stay away from this saccharine libation.

Making the drinking experience all the better, I got to hang out with this fine Australian Shepherd.

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Apothic Red
  • Type: Winemaker’s blend (Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Origin: Modesto
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $7
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: After a day of skiing the slopes!

Review: Arrogant Frog Syrah Rose

Twist off!

I am a cork lover through and through, but I’ve been seeing more screw caps as I browse wine store shelves and honestly, they have their benefits. Think of all those times you headed to a picnic with a beautiful bottle of wine only to get there and uh-oh, you forgot the cork screw! This has happened to me many times and I have tried to life hack, unsuccessfully…more on that in another post.

I was scavenging for a rose at BevMo the other day during their 5 cent wine sale. They don’t have a lot of Roses covered by the discount, but Arrogant Frog Syrah Rose fit the bill.

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I unscrewed the bright pink cap earlier this week and poured the translucent pink liquid into a glass. The bottle calls it “Lily Pad Pink”–how cute! I was busy shooting off emails and picking out new glasses as I sipped. The wine smelled like cherry blossoms and tasted like them too, at least what I think they’d taste like. Very flowery; the taste of candied fruit lingered on my tongue.

It reminded me of cherry blossom season in DC, my favorite time of year when I used to live in the capitol. Look how pretty the trees are! I have this first picture hanging in my living room.

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I tried the Syrah Rose again a couple of days later at dinner and it got tarter with time, but for me, that was a good thing.

It’s creator, Jean-Claude Mas, is known as the “humble winemaker” and he harvests grapes from the five main valleys in the South of France: Aude, Orb, Herault, Peyne and Uzes valleys. How fun are those names!

I’d buy this again for a picnic or as a gift to a floral wine lover, but I probably wouldn’t get it again to keep around the house.

Nuts and Bolts

courtesy of food.com

courtesy of food.com