Two Syrahs

2nd October 2009

Apologies for long absence. A dalliance with flu (porcine or other), and trips to the Rhone and a holiday have taken me offline...

A couple of Syrahs tasted side by side recently, and both impressively powerful and rich, in different ways.

First the northern Rhone model, the bio-dynamically farmed, St. Joseph Les Serves, from Domaine Monier in the heatwave 2003 vintage (so 14.3 degrees): opaque; scents of cooked black fruit and grilled meat; first impression is all dense texture (yields were only around 12 hl./ha that year), but behind is a less black-fruited palate, with hints of redcurrant. Not in the least sweet, but very concentrated and finishing with black pepper. Aas ever with Monier, both the oak and the tannins are handles with such suavity.

This was followed by Tabali's new Reserva Especial Syrah from Chile, which we have in both bottles and magnums. In the fascinating, limestone-rich terroir of the Limari Valley, supercool (and apparently very popular with the ladies) young winemaker Felipe Muller is beginning to specialise in superb coolish climate Syrah and Chardonnay.  You could argue that this Syrah is a bit over the top, with its extravagant cassis and woodsmoke tone. The alternative view is that this is one of Chile's increasingly successful efforts to make Hermitage-like Syrah, with interesting mocha and roasted notes, and offering some medium-term ageing potential. Make your own mind up!

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