Over the weekend, I did a little Spring cleaning here at the Drunken Cyclist. I was going through all of my drafts and deciding whether or not to finally finish some of them and hit “Publish”. I ran across this article, which was practically done, just needing a couple of edits. Since it was about some samples I received, I felt compelled to get it up on the blog.
I thought for sure that I had published it, but after searching for it repeatedly, I came to the conclusion that I had not. I am sure some out there will let me know if I had….
Over the winter, I published a couple of articles called “Taking a Ride in the Dark” in which I wrote about the joys of riding a bike after the sun sets. The piece was also about how I normally stay away from bigger fruitier wines–dark wines, if you will.
I so enjoyed my foray to the dark side, that I decided to go there yet again this past month, but this time with another variety with which I do not have a ton of experience: Syrah.
The beginnings of my wine education are firmly rooted in the vineyards of Champagne, Burgundy, the Loire, Alsace, the Jura, and tiny portions of Switzerland and Germany. These were the main areas where I led bike trips during the summer and part of the job was learning about the local wines.
None of those regions (with the possible exception of the Western Loire) are known for having anything that approaches a big, juicy, dark red, which is at least part of the reason that my taste for these wines is not as developed (at least that sounds like a reasonable explanation to me—I ran it by a psychologist friend of mine and he nodded as he poured himself some more wine, which I took as a “yes” in his expert opinion).
Syrah is grown in France (mostly in the Northern Rhône), but similarly, I never led any trips there. (While I was not allowed to lead trips through Bordeaux and the Dordogne—a post for another time, the company I worked for did not offer any trips in the Rhône, which is the main reason I have never been). Regardless, I have had a bit of French Syrah, as well as many from California and Washington, but it has not really registered on my radar (Syrah represents less than 5% of my cellar). And when it comes to “Shiraz” (Syrah made more in the Australian or New World style), I have even less exposure.
Thus, when a few samples showed up, I was excited to give them a bit of a spin. To help me out, I called up a few of my wine drinking buddies and suggested a night of poker and Syrah. Being the freeloaders that they are, they eagerly agreed to “help me out.”
(They are actually not a bunch of freeloaders, but the story is much more interesting if you think they were.)
2009 Waterstone Syrah: Retail $22. Upon pouring, this was dark and brooding in the glass with a great nose of black cherry and vanilla. On the palate, the wine was rich and full with a hint of earth. Finish a bit short but very nice. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
2009 Penley Estate Shiraz Special Select: Retail $50. Not quite as dark as the previous, and supplied more raspberry than cherry, but still plenty of vanilla. Big fruit with some complexity and a finish that endures. Really good. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
As for the cards, I hasten to admit that I cleaned up a bit by the end of the night. We do not play for big stakes: I think I had the unofficial biggest haul of all time—$19.75. The key to my strategy is to give the guys a bunch of free booze and then play pretty obscure versions of poker so that they are utterly confused. It seemed to work for me on this night!