Tag Archive: Syrah

College Cellars Continued

The remaining wines from the Walla Walla Enology & Viticulture Center:

Syrah 2014: By far, my favorite of the bunch, according to the four hearts I drew next to it! This was co-fermented with 7% Viognier, which adds preservative qualities, preserving color, adds green grape aromatics, with almost a Gewurztraminer spice. This wine is much more fresh than I’ve ever had with a straight Syrah. There are hints of spruce, and juniper. It would have been excellent with cedar plank salmon and a beautiful, joyful finish that is constantly evolving.

Cab “Seven Hills” 2015 – This cab is young, but it’s rich and luscious with dense fruit. The tannins don’t overpower this wine. The tannins and fruit aren’t warring, they’re dancing, in red velvet slippers. This cab smells of earth, tilled farm soil, and has a beautiful balance, with anise seeds and dark cherries.

GSM 2015 – A typical name that I would see through out my visit. This stands for Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre. This is a nice, simple wine, for all that’s blended into it. It is cherries and eucalyptus, and would be great with food.

Carmenere 2015: This Carmenere is a rich herbal paint splash of licorice, anise seeds, celery and basil, outlined in staunch red fruit, and forest greens. If I recall correctly, Tad said, “It’s like one big green grape, trying to stuff itself up your nose.”

Malbec 2015 – This Malbec is precisely what you would expect of a Malbec. It’s nicely herbal, with a pleasing balance between tannin and red plum juice. It’s weight is surprisingly hefty, contributed to by the Oak Program that the Enology & Viticulture Center offers its students as a learning tool.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Enology & Viticulture Center. I hope to return at some point, and spend more than just a delightful afternoon there.



“Kosmos” 2014

Kosmos 2014 is an organic red blend made by Gerard Bertrand. This wine is simply classified as “Vin de France,” from the South of France, which allows Bertrand more freedom, than a more stringently regulated classification.

Warm florals, beautiful spice, but big, black plums, fresh plum  juice, and blueberries, evolves into raisins. The body is nice and comfortable, but not not flabby or lean. The finish lasts on the palate, complimenting baklava nicely. This wine is composed of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cab sauv, merlot, Malbec, and Marselan. I haven’t seen Marselan in years, but I’m thrilled that it’s back- the last time we carried this wine at the Pan Handler, I bought many bottles, both as gifts and for personal consumption. This is one of the wines that we sampled Friday morning, to consider bringing it on board at work.

My nose, while much better than it has been, still isn’t 100%. My palate is back, as though I were smelling with it, but it’s weird…

Hopefully it will just get better from here. Kosmos was my favorite of the three wines.

Cuvee du Vatican 2000

This is a delicious Chateaneuf du Pape was a gift to me for my birthday. This CDP comes from the Cuvee Du Vatican vineyard, owned by the Diffonty family,  that was christened such in 1958, with the blessing of Pope Saint John xxiii. The Diffonty family is an long standing family in the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation from 1673. A common mistake, one I made, was thinking that this wine was created specifically for the Vatican. Blessed, yes, served there, I don’t think so.

That said, this wine is a deliciously blustery blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault. This wine is rich with figs, black plums, and tart cherries. A few moments later, there is fast moving acid that coats the tongue, which is kind of interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything quite like that. I opened this wine the same night, and it’s changed rapidly, within a few hours. The last time I tasted it, it was beautiful, dark and mysterious, with brown sugar, maple, black cherries and charcuterie spice. This wine is a coin with two sides, evolving fast.

Yellowstone Winery Tasting

Yellowstone Winery is one of those interesting places that purchases grapes from vineyards in a few different states to create their own blends, in Billings MT. Though, there are a few vines that were purchased by the winery for their own blending, in a sort of “rental” agreement, if my understanding is correct.

the Cab Franc by Yellowstone Winery was said to be a good herbal representation of Cab Franc, which is what it’s supposed to be. I didn’t experience it that way, but I also need more practice with red wines.

The Sauv blanc was pleasant, though I’ve never been that much of a fan.

The real star of the night, the wine I went to see, is called “Vin Cognito,” and is a personal blend created by my dear friends Martin and Steven, of Martin’s Wines. This blend is so fascinating. It was made from a 2011 vintage blend of Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Syrah and a barrel of mystery wine that was made on accident at the winery. Yellowstone Winery decided that because the blends in the barrels that the inexperienced makers made and forgot to label weren’t bad, they’d sell them as required in proprietary blends.

“Vincognito” is disconnected, at first, like going through a wardrobe that one hasn’t looked at in years, with all the flavors and items that are distinct, but not necessarily connected. A week later, the bottle I purchased came in, and upon opening, I discovered a much more coherent outfit. This wine opens with amazing black and red cherries, candied black currants, rounded with sage, thyme and a beautifully big meatiness that fills one’s mouth, framed by black pepper. I continued to drink this bottle through out the week, and was pleased the entire week. it developed chocolate, cherry cider, leather and blueberry flavors and a lovely minty eucalyptus finish that just left me wanting more.

I love this wine. Love it.Picture1019150110_1

Penya Vin de Pays

Penya is a deliciously nostalgic red blend from Roussilon, France. It is comprised of 20% Syrah, 65% Grenache, 12% Carignan, adn 3% Mourvedre. For a simple, cheap little wine, it’s like a warm blanket that smells like home, when you’re away at college, or studying abroad.
This wine is dark garnet ruby, with aromas of roses, sparkling red grapes, and on the tip of your tongue, just a hint of residual sugar. I’m not a fan of chaptalization, though over a few days, the minorly jarring effect wore off. This wine is filled with dark fruits, plums, figs, and black melons.
This wine is a delicious little red blend for a relaxing night.

Mas Donis Rosat 2013

Mas Donis Rosat 2013 was my second favorite Rose of this tasting. his wine comes from Capcanes, Spain. It’s composed of Grenache, Syrah, and Merlot. All of these grapes can be used for blending, Syrah, having the least history as a blending grape. All of these are big and juicy, yet the blend that Celler de Capcanes has created is light and delicate, like a rose, itself. It’s nose is roses, white peach stones, apricots, strawberries, and dark shale with hints of lava stone. Mas Donis Rosat is everything that a rose’ wine should be to me. It’s light, summery, enough body to feel like it was there, enough of a pleasant finish to ease you back to your feet after a “hello twirl” from a friendly companion, but doesn’t keep spinning you unpleasantly.
I was just speaking with a friend of mine about Rose’ wines. He said that he prefers them to reds, and wasn’t sure why. My response:
Rose’s are carefree, and light. They don’t feel like an undertaking. They’re a group out at the beach, or a road trip with hair blowing in the breeze. Reds are backbone, tradition, the cathedrals, and mountain top monasteries. Even at their lightest, reds are a night on horseback with a campfire. They still require planning, and at the least, already having the equipment in place.

The Celebration of Kurt Winegarder’s Life was held at Winegardner’s Wine’s Reception hall this afternoon in Bozeman. Over 100 people turned out to celebrate this quiet giant of a man’s life, along with his amazing wife Melinda, their children and grandchildren. Bob Dylan was playing in the background, as family members spoke, and a slide-show of life played on. The food was fantastic, and the wines were perfectly paired.
The wine I enjoyed best, was called “Le Pigeoulet 2013”. This wine is by Frederic & Daniel Bruner. This is a red blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan to form a delicious Vin de Pays Vaucluse from Provence France.
Le Pigeoulet is a beautifully balanced fruit, full of red raspberries, whispers of cranberries, like tinkling crystal chandeliers, in a Christmas Church, “The Church of the Common Denominator” surrounded in love and memories, with Bob Dylan playing in the background. When Kurt officiated his son’s wedding, he was ordained online, and made up that church as a response.

The Prisoner 2011

This is one of the wines from Winegardner’s Wines, a lovely, deep dark zinfandel blend with cabernet, syrah, petite sirah, and charboneau. This leads to an inky, dark wine that is huge, but perfected in it’s light age. It opens with warm stunning blackberries, with fruit so pungent that when I inhale and swallow, I can taste the fruit on my tongue. It progresses to sage, thyme, black cherries, strawberries, and sun-warmed leather. This wine is the patch of sunlight that the Prisoner sees from his shadow shrouded cell.
The Prisoner is so amazingly intense, surprisingly flavorful, and mellows out across the palate, a crusade, really. This wine is perfect with chocolate.

Baby Bear Syrah 2010

This is a special wine in the Bear series, Baby Bear Syrah, and Pursued by Bear Cabernet, made by Eric Dunham and his partner winemaker, Kyle MacLachlan. Eric Dunham passed away this year at 44, taken by his own hand. It was a great tragedy to the wine community, and our hearts go out to the Dunham family.
I had to obtain this particular wine out of homage to a winemaker native to Walla Walla, where a good deal of my family is from. It certainly did not disappoint, and could have sat in a cellar for quite some time. However, I ended up giving it as a Christmas gift, and they were kind enough to share. Baby Bear Syrah is rich, luscious, and overflowing with blackberries, licorice, thyme, red apple skins, and is truly a magnificent composition that took an hour or two to open properly in the glass. The potential of this syrah is a new experience for me, usually finding a structure like this in a cabernet or an older French wine.

Dunham’s Baby Bear Syrah is like a New World Cathedral, modeled to interpretation on an Old World gargantuan on a smaller scale.

This is an old, old French vineyard in Cotes-du-Rhone France. The blend of ancient vine’s grapes, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. It smells immediately of black licorice, anise seeds, and red cherries. This Oraison’s wines bare the Pope’s sigil, on the label. It could have been classified as a Chateaneuf du Pope, but chose not to, in order to maintain creative integrity. This wines opens delightfully to black plum, thyme, cassis, and vanilla extract. This is a delicious wine, though as far as contemplation goes, I think that I had drunk it before I was ready to contemplate it. Perhaps in another week, I will be ready- though a different bottle will be procured.