Monday, August 16, 2010

Que Syrah, Syrah!

I love secrets.

Juicy, delicious secrets.

I shared one with you in the last post, about the outstanding Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc rebottled under the unassuming label “Maxwell Creek.” I have another. I have my sources.

Let’s just say a little sheep told me about this one.

The esteemed Saviah Cellars in my home state of Washington is well known for its fruit-forward Washington style wines. Their red blend, The Jack (featuring non other than the Jack of Clubs on the label) is widely available and widely enjoyed. But this post isn’t about The Jack. Or rather, it is … The Jack of Hearts. The 2008 Columbia Valley Syrah.

Where the sheep-sourced secret comes in is that this “Columbia Valley” Syrah actually came from a single vineyard in the Columbia Valley: Stillwater Creek. But wine lovers are not immune to the current economic climate, and so neither is the wine industry. This year, Saviah didn’t find its loyal fans quite as willing to shell out fifty bucks a bottle for their single-vineyard masterpiece.

So they relabelled it “The Jack Syrah” and started selling it  for fifteen bucks instead.

Needless to say, it’s astoundingly good. I’m saddened on behalf of the winery that they were forced to sell it for so much less than the fifty dollars it so clearly is worth. But on behalf of myself, and you dear reader, I’m glad. Glad, glad, glad, glad, glad! Fifteen bucks for a fifty-dollar single-vineyard Syrah? Are you kidding me? Unbelievable!

In the glass, it’s a beautiful deep violet, like a luxurious crushed velvet curtain. No, better yet – a King’s robe! You know, the kind lined with white leopard fur, like in the cartoons. On first pour, the nose exudes a symphony of black fruit: bing cherry, blackberry, blueberry, and a bourbony heat. Bit of rose on the back end.

Now, because my secret sheep informed me of the true nature of this beast, I then … poured another glass. Through my Vinturi brand instant aerator. Which I love. You should get one. They’re awesome.

The nose suddenly extended by a half mile or more, tacking on seductive spice notes of saffron, vanilla, and the trademark Syrah aroma: black pepper.

I returned to the first “pop and pour” glass for the initial taste. As one might expect from so young a Syrah of such high calibre, it was very tight with high acid. But even at this age, and with no decanting whatsoever, the tannins, while packing a wallop, were streamlined and disciplined. The finish was FANTASTICALLY earthy, with all the dirty Syrah flavors I love so much: gravel, cedar, tobacco, and a sort of damp, mossy, mushroomy flavor that brings to mind nurse logs for me. After aeration, the flavors remained (with the addition of a hint of oaky vanilla), but the texture became much softer and silkier.

I had it with The Brick’s Spaghetti and Meatballs from the Northern Exposure cookbook. Which I nailed, as per usual.

There is NOT MUCH of this stuff to go around, folks, so call your wineseller and get your paws on some quick! You have got to put this in your face. Repeatedly. Buy a case if you can find one, deals like this don’t come around every day.

Date: 8/10/2010
Wine: Saviah “The Jack” Syrah
Grapes: Syrah
Vintage: 2008
ABV: 14.1%
Columbia Valley, Washington (Stillwater Creek Vineyard)
Color: deep violet
Nose: bing cherry, blackberry, blueberry, bourbon, rose, saffron, vanilla, black pepper
Palate: black fruit, earth, gravel, cedar, tobacco, nurse log, vanilla
Price: $15

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