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Syrah for All

November 8, 2009

I always find it odd when local wine geeks refuse to try local wine, but are so quick to buy from any new wine region which the lickbo is promoting. True our region only has a limited number of wineries with limited to no support from lickbo or the local hospitality industry, so trying them requires effort…much more effort than it should btw.

So what happens when we take a local wine and have it go against a Sonoma, then a French wine. How can it hold up?

Last night we bbq'd some lamb, so what goes with this??? Syrah of course. Add to that we made an Herbes de Provence infused olive oil to marinade the chops and the Rhone wine should shine..right??.

We started with the Californian, Cline Syrah. This is a fine wine that Vintages carries all the time. It lacks that burnt fruit tastes and seems a bargain at the price.

Next was the Syrah from Ruthven via Mastronardi. My review tells what I think of it. Lean, not burnt fruit (basically can't happen here). It goes to say that I like this wine. Syrah can't grow here of course…but I love the local ones who somehow defy the spoken truths of the wine snobs.

Third was Venus Lauree, Cotes du Rhone Villages from of course the Rhone Valley in France. A very nice wine.

All are about the same price so there isn't a ringer.

The lamb chops marinated for about 2 hours. The oil was an extraction from Herbes de Provence and garlic. I was saddened that we didn't get local lamb but this was still good. We grilled them with pecan wood chips. Frenched green beans in garlic butter and a free form gratin aided as sides.

So how did it go? All 3 were great with the lamb and what was interesting was that all were fairly similar and none either stood out nor fell behind. That is interesting as the three regions are very dissimilar, but they had basically the same grape ( the Frenchy was a Grenache-Syrah blend which is typical from the Rhone). All blended well to the next.

It just confirms what a local winemaker keeps telling me. He believes that this area is wonderful and is the best area other than Napa and Sonoma in North America. He points to the development of the grapes which mature completely at harvest time. In hot areas the grapes may have the sugar, but they aren't mature therefore the have to hang and the sugar goes way up and the acid falls way down. The result is a 15% Pinot that is all fruit and no subtleties. Here the acid stays up and the sugar is there but not too high resulting in12-13% Pinot which is right in the sweet spot. Besides that, the good stuff in wine is more abundant in cool climate wines so the local wine is really good for you.

So it was fun and good to see that the local champion held its own . A winner wasn't chosen but I liked them all.

We just have to keep screaming that our local wine is as good or better than the imports. Just wish that the lickbo would support them rather than Yellow Penguin.



getting ready to rack it as the primary fermentation looks to be almost done. Maybe Thursday

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