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March 13, 2000 • The Vineyard Restaurant

We explored California Syrah, as distinct from Petite Sirah, Australian Shiraz, etc. The overall effect of this tasting was to decide that we simply are not drinking enough of this varietal. Syrah offers very enjoyable and unique complexities and the general level of quality displayed by this group of wines was excellent, with some great value "sleepers". They partnered well with the selection of cheeses and grilled sausages Chris Mariscotti served to accompany.

Vintage & Varietal or Type
Appellation -$ price
Consensus Tasting Notes
Buying Advice

1996 Syrah
Santa Barbara - $35.

Very dark purple; very ripe, orange peel, and dried fruit aroma with noticeable earth, alcohol, toast, smoke, barnyard, seaweed and iodine elements; pleasing, blackberry and roasted oak flavors with complexities of mushrooms and minerals; medium to medium-full body, quite rich; balanced; drying tannins; long, warm finish.

Very Highly

1997 Syrah
Monterey - $18.

Somewhat lighter color; fruity, earthy, cola, coffee, toasty, clove, and spicy aromas, with hints of smoke, charcoal, barnyard, and band-aids; sweet, raspberry, fruity, faintly herbal (clove) flavors; light to medium body, supple and slightly rich; good balance; medium tannins; short, faintly harsh finish.

Very Highly

Andrew Murray
1997 Syrah
Santa Barbara - $18.

Deep purple, violet edge; cassis, beet, cola, berry, earth, and cedar aromas with some bacon fat, roasted oak and overripe hints of ethyl acetate and volatile acidity; ripe, sweet, cherry and plum fruit flavors, somewhat closed, slightly musty; balanced, round; big, chalky tannins; astringent finish.

Very Highly

1997 "Canterbury"
Napa Valley - $28.

Dark purple; black fruit, cherry, plum, earthy, musty, leathery, coffee bean, cigar box, cedar, and charred aromas; sweet, complex, cola, berry, chocolate, bacon fat and ethyl acetate-touched flavors, tarry; balanced; upfront tannins leave a somewhat disappointing short finish.

Very Highly

R.H. Phillips
1997 "EXP"
California - $11.

Dark purple; licorice, blackberry, cola,cassis, meaty, tobacco, cedar, vanilla, and violet aromas; big, ripe, young, clean, slightly oaky, blackberry fruit flavors; rich, medium to medium-full body; good balance; faintly bitter tannins in long finish.

Very Highly

Pepperwood Grove
1998 Syrah
California - $6.

Medium purple; bright, clean, direct, youthful, somewhat Beaujolais-like, blackberry fruit aroma with some wood and an odd element (burnt butter?); sweet, slightly underripe fruit; light to medium body, slightly rich; balanced; very pleasant and quaffable.


1996 Syrah "Reserve"
Santa Barbara, "Bien Nacido" - $34.

Medium purple, brick edge; shy aroma with hints of black cherries, cassis, earth, meat, bacon fat, barnyard, iodine, smoke and rubber; pleasant entry, deep blackberry and dried fruit flavors with roasted grain notes; medium body with some richness; nicely balanced, good structure; soft tannins, faint heat in finish.


1996 Syrah "Reserve"
Santa Barbara "Hillside Estate" - $30.

Medium purple; cherry, clove, and black fruit aromas, smoky and somewhat vegetal with a noticeable hydrogen sulfide funk; cherry, tarry, slightly burned flavors; medium body; balanced with good acidity; dusty tannins; medium finish with a sweet edge.


1998 Syrah
Santa Barbara - $20.

Deep purple, violet edge; earthy, flowery, grapey, anise, and tar aromas with hints of vanilla and eucalyptus; similar fruity, faintly herbal, black fruit and tar flavors; medium body with some richness; soft, chunky tannins; medium finish.


Sobon Estate
1997 Syrah
Shenandoah Valley - $12.

Medium purple, crimson edge; vinous, smoky, and sour with some initial hydrogen sulfide and burnt rubber stench; sweet, dried cherry, raspberry, and basil flavors are somewhat thin, slightly stemmy; medium body; flabby balance; dusty, chalky, slightly bitter tannins.


This Panel included Regulars Mark, Deanna, Diana, Roy,
Marlene, Jon, Jim, Chris, Ron, and James

About Syrah




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