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Having grown up in Sonoma, I’d like to say that I’ve been into wine for my whole life but the truth is I really only got heavily into wine about five years ago. In about two years of reading and ingesting everything I could, my wine knowledge grew exponentially.
As I tasted, my palate also grew and changed. Initially I was into fruity wines. One of my early favorites was Peachy Canyon’s Incredible Red at Trader Joe’s. For less than ten bucks I thought it was the cat’s meow. I used to love going to Paso Robles for its high-powered Zinfandels and jammy Syrahs.
But, the more I tasted, the more I began to crave acidity in wine. I began to gravitate towards off-fruit flavors and savory complexities. I began to love Pinot over Zins and Cabs, and not just any Pinots but Anderson Valley Pinots, with their high acidity. I also started to drink more white wines and actually for years I’ve been loving Italian whites for their acidity and food friendliness. I became more sensitive to oak and I began to notice when wines tasted “hot” or high in alcohol. On my last trip to Paso, the only wine I bought was a cooler-climate Syrah grown closer to the coast, because to me, the rest of the wines just tasted simply like jam. I didn’t hate those wines but they just didn’t pique my interest.
The first cool-climate Syrah that I fell in love with was a Spicerack Vineyards “Punchdown” Syrah made by Susan and Jonathan Pey. This was the wine that got me excited about the future of cool-climate Syrah. I wish I had written tasting notes on it but suffice to say, it was delicious. I began to seek out these wines and on my subsequent trips to Anderson Valley I would surprise the tasting-room pourers with my interest in their Syrah over Pinot (an added benefit was that the Syrahs were always about ten dollars cheaper). I found myself coming home with these wines and also wondering why there weren’t more of them. Hope you’ll seek out cool-climate Syrah and that you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. Let me know your thoughts!
*** Update (2.20.13):
As this blog has evolved over the past year, I’ve been surprised at how many cool-climate Syrahs from California I’ve actually been able to find. I knew about many of the big-name wineries but along the way I’ve found a lot of smaller ones making amazing Syrah in areas where I didn’t even know it could be planted.
I’m so grateful for the opportunities this blog has afforded me, and I’ve met some amazingly talented and smart people and have had wonderful conversations. But I think it’s time for this blog to evolve a bit—if only slightly. It’s time to spread my love of Syrah to other countries. Initially I planned to really stick with American Syrah but I think it’s time to mix it up a bit and expand this blog to include cool-climate Syrah from anywhere I can find it. I’m excited to share my finds from the Northern Rhone, New Zealand, and who-knows-where-else? I’ve been drinking these wines all along and now it’s time to write about them, share them with others and in the process learn more about them. So this is an announcement, get ready for an explosion of cool-climate Syrah.
It’s time for the blog to evolve again: As much as I’ve tried to avoid using the 100 point scoring system, I think I’m going to give it a go. I think people are looking for recommendations before they spend their money. I know I used to pay attention to points when I was getting into wine and it was a helpful way to inform my decision about whether or not to spend my hard-earned cash on a bottle of wine.
Also, I’m going to stop just writing about “cool-climate” Syrah. This is going to be a place to come to read about Syrah from anywhere. Chances are I won’t be crushing on big over-ripe and over-oaked Syrah but I will be open to trying wines from warmer areas that I still think might be balanced.
You should probably know that I tend towards Syrahs that aren’t too oaky and aren’t too ripe. I like my Syrah to be meaty and savory. I’m also not afraid of it being too light. I enjoy the elegant low-alcohol high acidity iterations of Syrah.
Cheers, and I hope you enjoy the slightly altered format!
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