Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Erie Avenue Blind - $30 Syrahs

This is getting old! Ceja again wins top honors. Not that we mind honoring a good winemaker, but Renee will now be impossible to live with after two first places in a row. The trash talking is becoming unbearable. The streak will end however, as next month we will be reviewing $20 Rose's. As Ceja doesn't make a Rose, Renee lobbied hard to change varietals. That having failed, she vowed to call Armando to see if he could whip up a special cuve'e. For the record, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot won't cut it, and we will need to see Ohio label approval!

Ten "judges" reviewed 8 Syrahs from $10 to just over $30, from Spain, Washington and California. To cleanse the palate we started with a bottle of Fox Creek's Vixen, a sparkling blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon (54%, 32%, 14%). Afterwards, we were treated to a cellar selection of a 1996 Edmunds St. John, Durrell Vineyard Syrah from Sonoma that showed a softened elegance of 8 years of bottle age. And a surprise blind bag of 1999 Burnet Ridge Que Syrah was well received and would have, in my opinion, done well tonight in the contest. Finally, the 2002 Inniskillin Ice Wine Vidal was a special treat and made for a great dessert after assorted curries and tandori chicken.

The results are slightly different than announced last night due to continuing mathematical programming errors. Someone besides me needs to do the math if we want the correct results!

  • 8th - 68 points - 2002 Robert Hall, Paso Robles ($17) - This tasted great in the warehouse, but the last two bottles were, in my opinion, "off, medicinal, funky". I wasn't alone in ranking it last. It got four 8th place votes, and three 7th place votes. Now, what to do with the 5 cases I ordered!
  • 7th - 61 points - 1999 Andrew Murray, Roasted Slope ($30) - Five 8th and 7th place votes. This was supposed to be a ringer and therefore demonstrates the beauty of blind tasting. [Ed. note: It has been recently brought to my attention that at least one taster thought this bottle was off and that is why it showed so poorly.]
  • 6th - 56 points - 2003 Michael & David Phillips, Sixth Sense, Lodi ($15) - Three votes for 8th and 7th, then mostly 6ths and some 3rds.
  • 5th - 48 points - 2001 Martin Ray, Angeline, Paso Robles ($10) - One vote for 1st, two votes for 7th, then mostly 4ths and 5ths. Not bad for a $10 Syrah against a bunch of $30 bottles. A little simple but well made. Martin Ray has stopped bottling this varietal and will mix their Syrah into other blends. There are 8 cases left in the warehouse!
  • 4th - 36 points - 2001 Finca Sandoval, Manchuela ($33) - A blend of 93% Syrah and 7% Mourvedre from Spain. Three votes for 2nd, and then mostly 4ths and 5ths. Only 1 point behind 3rd place. Some commented on it being "fat, thick, spicey, smokey".
  • 3rd - 35 points - 2002 Melville, Estate, Lompoc ($25) - Two votes for 1st, one vote for 2nd, but one vote each for 7th and 8th. Some commented on its "depth and finish."
  • 2nd - 31 points - 2002 L'Ecole No. 41, Columbia Valley ($32) - Four votes for 1st and one vote for 2nd, but several votes for 5th and 6th hurt. This was my favorite and others liked the "balance and silkiness."
  • 1st - 25 points - 2002 Ceja, Sonoma Coast ($32) - Seven votes for 1st or 2nd and only one vote for 7th. This time it wasn't me. I gave it a 2nd. People liked the "balance of fruit and tannins" and enjoyed the "finish." I remember this wine being "bigger" when I tasted at the Wine Festival, but now it was refined and elegant.


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