January 30, 2014

California Syrahs, on Such a Winter’s Day

WINES OF THE TIMES

by Eric Asimov

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ABSTRACT: I think I can speak for all of us when I say that our initial impression was, “Wow!” The quality of winemaking was high and their identities were clear. Now, 20 bottles is a small sample of the syrahs produced in California. Yet, almost all showed great syrah character, even as the bottles ranged from wines that would not seem out of place among a lineup from the northern Rhône to examples of powerful, modern New World wines that value impact over finesse.

The panel was also impressed by how careful producers seem to have become in their use of oak barrels. We all had feared that we would be facing a lot of wines lashed by the vanilla and chocolate flavors of new oak. Instead, overt oak flavors were barely discernible in this group.

…our No. 2 bottle was from the Enfield Wine Company, one of the newer and smaller producers in our tasting. This rustic, savory syrah was not the sort of wine that you can encapsulate by listing a bunch of flavors. It simply was filled with soul and pleasure.

The Enfield Wine Company, $47, *** Syrah Coombsville Haynes Vineyard 2011 Savory, spicy and rustic, with plenty of soul.

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