A Syrah Tasting

The day had started off as gorgeously cool and sunny. But as we headed up north to Eric and Abby’s for a Syrah blind tasting, a thick blanket of fog suddenly descended upon us. It was so dense that we couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us, and could only make a faint blur of the cars’ tail lights. Lake Michigan, to our right, was completely enveloped in white.

Although Eric had planned for an outdoor tasting in his backyard, the sudden dip in temperature sent us fleeing back indoors. After some chit chat and a chilled glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, we wrapped the 4 bottles we had all contributed in aluminum foil and started tasting.

Hehe, I correctly guessed the regions of all the wines! The group favorite of the night was the J.L. Chave Sélection “Offerus” St.-Joseph Rouge from Rhone, with earthy notes and smooth tannins. Our second Rhone bottle was the J.L. Chave Sélection “Mon Coeur”, which blew us away its sheet pungent aroma. It was so strong! I had to check to make sure it wasn’t the stinky cheese I was standing next to. Miguel really liked it though. I would have enjoyed it more if the nose was a little more subtle, because it was so beautifully rounded and soft in the finish.

The third bottle, a Halter Ranch 2008 Syrah that Miguel had brought back from Paso Robles, had an incredibly sweet nose, especially when drank in sequence after the Mon Coeur. It reminded me of the aromas of caramelizing sugar over a candle. Tons of vanilla in the body too…In Mig’s words, it was a “bodacious” wine. I think I would have enjoyed it more had I not just tasted the Offerus and the Mon Coeur.

The final blind tasting bottle of the evening was Eric’s Copain mailing list wine, a 2006 single vineyard wine. In nose, it was most similar to the Offerus, though we easily guessed that it was a New World wine for it’s much fuller body of ripe fruit.

By then, it was probably past 10pm. Everyone had a pleasant buzz going. We ought to have ended the evening here, but nobody protested when Eric busted out another Syrah, a 2006 Dumol Russian River Valley. It was good, and I’d rate it between the Offerus and the Copain. 🙂

It was a very delightful way of passing an evening, though I paid for it the next morning; we ended up leaving only when it was half past 12. Still, I’m happy to be doing wine tasting with small groups of friends again. 🙂


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