MWG July 17th tasting: Syrah shoot-out
Syrah 2010, Okanagan Valley, Le Vieux Pin ($54.00, 12178674)
Mostly Syrah from vines between five and 11 years old grown in two Okanagan sub-appellations. As is often the case in Côte-Rôtie, a dollop (around 2%) of Viognier is added prior to fermentation. Matured 17 months in French oak barrels, 20% new. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Les vins Alain Bélanger.
On the nose and in the mouth, predicated around a core of sweet fruit and overtoned with spice, meat, graphite and oak. The medium weight, lean tannins and sleek acidity prompted on taster to describe the wine as “linear,” with all that implies in terms of flow and depth. Elegant for a New World Syrah, though I’d like it even better with less oak. Still quite young at this point, so a few more years in the bottle may digest the wood and deepen the fruit. The New World aficionados around the table preferred this to the Côte-Rôtie. (Buy again? Maybe.)
Côte-Rôtie 2012, Nature, Jean-Michel Stephan ($72.75, 11953616)
Last year the “nature” on the label was blacked out with a magic marker; this year it isn’t. A blend of Syrah (90% or 80% depending on whom you believe) and Viognier (10% or 20%) from organically farmed vines between 15 and 45 years old. Half of the Syrah – a clone (some would say a separate variety) known locally as Sérine – underwent semi-carbonic maceration. The Viognier was macerated on the skins for 15 hours, then destemmed and pressed. Alcoholic fermentation (with regular pump-overs for the first two weeks) took place at 15°C for five days, then at 31°C until complete. Matured 18 months in Burgundy barrels ranging from two to six years old. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Glou.
An echt-Syrah nose of violets, black pepper, red berries, animale. Sits suppley on the palate yet is intensely present. The remarkably pure and fresh fresh fruit is supported by a framework of fine tannins, carried on unfurling skeins of silky acid and sustained well into the long, aromatic finish. Time in the cellar will surely reveal more depth but, for drinking here and now, this is a joy, albeit an expensive one. (Buy again? Budget permitting, yes.)