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A Syrah for All Seasons

January 4, 2011

Last Monday we had a Cottam Wine Society event. My biggest concern was that it was not truly official as the Grand Poobah wasn’t there. Oh well, he wasn’t there since he had to run a restaurant.


We had decided that we were going to have a Syrah off. Placing the local ones against each other on the field of battle. Tasting was done blind. We assigned Gary and Wanda’s daughter the task of setting up the samples. Eight per person, each numerated. The wines were not aerated, as is my usual practice and all was done blind.




Gary Killops:      writer of the Essex County Wine Review and Master Taster student

Wanda                his wife


Terry                  my significant other

Me                     a Master Taster, who per a reader (who will remain personna non grata in my world) is a vain incompetent with a drinking problem. I don’t quite understand as I have never had a problem drinking and I’m the calmest most laid back type B personality I know


The Wines:


Muscedere $40

View Pointe $22 this is the new one

Sanson $20

Aleksander $20

Pelee Island Reserve $19

Mastronardi $12.50

Pelee Island Restaurant this was liberated from a restaurant as it is not sold to civilians

Smith and Wilson from Gary’s cellar


The Process:


What surprised me was the similarities exhibited from the samples. Though one would think that the final rankings would mimic the list above (as it was done per price), this simply did not occur. What is funny though is that I went straight for the Muscedere after the test. One could tell the local terroir in each. None were bad and we all had one which we thought was “better”, then most grouped. I had a 3 way tie for 2nd. Then to make proper rankings I retested all randomly.


I really have issues with testing flights of wine. The samples are not really independent. The current sample hinges on the one before. This cannot be helped and I just cannot agree with a sip telling me all about a wine. I believe in getting to know a wine and that takes time and at least 2 glasses. Good wine changes and a sip doesn’t tell the story. So I guess you can say that I have little faith in competitions and the numerical ratings done while tasting a gazillion wines in a day. Yes professionals can do it but I think it totally misses the point of wine.


The Result:


For a rundown see Gary’s Blog…Essex County Wine Review. I was interested to see the top 3. These were liked by all and were all in the top 3 of all, just in different order.

The top 3 were: Pelee Island Restaurant, Sanson, and Aleksander. Well the Pelee did surprise me. I have always liked this wine but it is a value wine and really should not have been that good. Oh well, quell surprise….The Sanson and the Aleksander were no surprise as the are wines we have always liked.


The rest kinda grouped up so that was ok.


Now what would have been the difference if we had aerated the wine. That would have added a variable that would have probably changed everything. But alas it does show other things.


  1. this area produces some really good Syrahs. Not syrupy fruit-bombs, but quite complex wines, with taste and complexity
  2. there isn’t a problem ripening grapes here
  3. I want to do this again in 5 yrs


It was a great time and next time I want to do a white wine…possibly a Riesling








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