Syrah from the Sierra Foothills is a treat for anyone who loves this grape. I had a chance to taste several fine examples at the SyrahDay tasting sponsored by the El Dorado Winery Association recently. Eight wineries poured: Boeger Winery, Crystal Basin Cellars, David Girard Vineyards, Grace Patriot Wines, Lava Cap, Mount Aukum Winery, Shadow Ranch Vineyard, and Sierra Vista Vineyards & Winery.
Syrah is a wine that is not without controversy. Eric Asimov, wine writer for the New York Times, blogged this: “The real issue is why Americans don’t buy syrah. This question has caused great heartache and controversy, especially in the California syrah business,” Asimov noted. “This, I suggest, is why American don’t buy a lot of syrah: Too many of the wines seem generic, a blend of fruit and oak that may be vaguely pleasant but could come from anywhere and be made of any grape.”
“Conversely, the best American syrahs, in my opinion, are made by producers who have been inspired by the great traditionalists of the northern Rhône,” he said.
Sierra Foothills winegrapes come from terrain that is reminiscent of the northern Rhone, which is why they do so well both in the vineyard and on the palate. “The future of Syrah is all about fruit and getting that fruit - with the smoky meat, pepper and berry aspects that mark the variety - into the bottle,” said winemaker Mike Owen of Crystal Basin Winery.
|Mike and Melissa Owen,|
Crystal Basin Winery
|Lava Cap Winemaker,|
|Barbara & John MacCready,|
Sierra Vista Winery
very reminiscent of a Cote Rotie. Winemaker’s Notes on the 2005: “Deep purple in color with a wonderful bouquet of red berry and violets, the ripe, juicy raspberry and cherry flavors marry well with hints of oak and medium tannins. This wine will age nicely over the next 6 to 12 years