Syrah: Varietal of the Month

Marcy Gordon on Jan 21, 2022

Syrah, a Rhône varietal, is a medium bodied to full-bodied dry red wine. For many years Syrah was ignored by consumers, it struggled to find it’s place at the table and stylistically many Syrah’s were pushed to the far side of the jam jar. Today winemakers embrace the inherent wild nature of the grape and coax it to its full natural expression of flavors from bright to savory, making wines of great structure and complexity with a balance of fruit, tannin, acidity and alcohol. Syrah is a many splendored thing, a poem of scents, flavors and textures; it’s a varietal worthy of your attention and ultimately your love. 

Here are capsule reviews of Syrah you may find along the Wine Road. Note: These wines were tasted over several days and I recommend decanting Syrah for 30 minutes or more, to experience how the wine may change and develop.

Alexander Valley Vineyards 2018 Syrah, Alexander Valley

The Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah is comprised of 98% Syrah 98% and 2% Viognier, which is often added as a stabilizing factor for color and tannin with Syrah. The color is a dark inky purple with a brick red at the rim. On the nose, a bouquet of chalky dusty violets, sage, and a touch of white pepper. Dry and balanced and full of red fruit flavors such as raspberry, pomegranate and plum on the initial sips, followed by rich dark fruits of blackberry, boysenberry and plum. Nice acidity with notes of leather graphite, cigar box and licorice on finish. Further tasting revealed softer tannins and a wonderful lingering note of mocha and mint.
ABV 14.0%

Baldassari 2018 Syrah Bennett Valley  

This eye opening Syrah is bight and energetic, juicy and packed with flavor. On the nose notes of black pepper, licorice, sage and eucalyptus prevail. Intense and exiting it opens up to with fresh dark fruits of blueberry and olallieberry, and delivers a long and lingering spicy finish with notes of black olive and spicy pink peppercorns. Very kinetic at first, with a griping crunchy minerality that settles nicely into a balanced smooth grove of rich lip smacking flavor. 
ABV 14.3%

Balletto 2017 Syrah BCD Vineyard Russian River Valley

The Balletto BCD Vineyard Syrah has a captivating perfumed nose of black pepper, anise and plum. On the palate, bright juicy acidity leads to a steady savory wave of blackberry, tobacco and woody sweet briar. Earthy and lyrical it has great integration of fruit, acidity and tannin with layers of flavor and depth. The smooth velvety tannins carry out to a long plush satisfying finish. Immensely enjoyable with all the earmarks of complexity and cohesiveness that make for great wine experience. 
AVB 14.3%

Cast 2019 Syrah Sonoma Mountain

Dark and bold, the Cast Syrah has a deep violet color with notes of spicy carnation and cocoa-mocha on the nose. Bold flavors and primary notes of black olive and juniper berry come to front of the palate and mingle with bright red fruits of pomegranate and raspberry that bring great acidity to the mix. Brambly and bracing this Syrah is alive with texture and typicity of the grape—a crisp crunch and snap of pink peppercorns that harmonizes seamlessly with lush black fruit flavors of plum and blueberry. The powdery tannins deliver a velvet glove finish. Earthy, lithe and full of flavor, it’s deeply satisfying and exhilarating. 

Dutton Estate 2018 Syrah My Father’s Vineyard Russian River Valley

The Dutton Estate Syrah presents as dark ruby in the glass with a bluish edge. The nose is a soft bouquet of floral and herbal notes opening with violets, fennel, black pepper, dark plum, chaparral, and sweet tobacco. An unmistakable Peppermint Patty note shines through on both the nose and palate. It’s unquestionably dry, with layers and layers of deep dark fruits, savory smoked meat and leather. Smooth and opulent each sip presents a new facet such as cedar, licorice, mulberry, menthol, and clove. The ample body is full of oomph and vitality with soft powdery tannins on the long silky finish. Beautiful and enchanting—it’s like liquid love. 
ABV 14.9%

Frick 2019 Syrah Owl Hill Vineyard Dry Creek Valley

The Frick Syrah from Owl Hill Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley is a deep garnet color with subtle aromas of mocha, dusty rose, and lavender. The initial flavors are vibrant and bright with juicy black cherry, boysenberry, and plum studded with cloves and licorice. Harmonious and balanced with nice body and earthy, savory notes of bacon fat, sage, green peppercorn and sassafras on the long elegant finish. A thought provoking and engaging wine, perfect for a special date night. 
ABV 14.4%

Limerick Lane 2019 Rocks & Fog Syrah Russian River Valley

The Limerick Lane Syrah is composed of 79% Syrah 13% Grenache 5% Viognier and 3% Petite Sirah. Inky purple in the glass, this Syrah has a bouquet of dark plum, black cherry, sweet tobacco and baking spice. The overall structure is well balanced and lithe with high acidity and flavors of black olive, bramble, cardamom, pencil shavings and a wonderful note of petrichor. Long powdery tannins deliver a velvety finish that thrums with savory, smoky notes of sage and chaparral. 
ABV 14.7%

Posted by Marcy Gordon

Marcy Gordon is a freelance wine and travel writer. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Wine Enthusiast, San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma Magazine, The California Travel Guide, and Forbes Travel Guide. In 2017 she was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. She is the co-host of the award winning Wine Road Podcast.

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