Friday, November 06, 2009

You Say Shiraz, I Say Syrah: A Tasting with Marcus and Friends

Marcus was one of the first wine bloggers I ever exchanged comments with, all those years ago....but Marcus has moved off the blogosphere and onto Facebook, so I see less of him around these parts. No matter - instead of sharing electronic wine commentary we get together regularly (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) and share a glass of the real stuff!

To celebrate moving into his new apartment Marcus invited a few friends over for Syrah/Shiraz tasting. It was a diverse group of tasters, a wide range of wine experience, and an ecclectic collection of wines, but tonight this combined with a casual, laugh-out-loud, wine-tasting atmosphere that was simply a ton of fun.

So how did we get six Shirazes and not a single Aussie wine?! Strange, but it gave us a chance to try a few South African we go.

First Flight:

Our first wine was the 2008 Errazuriz Estate Shira , a very modern-styled Syrah that could easily have passed for entry-level Oz Shiraz. Chocolate, sulfur, and medicinal notes, some violets and tar. Big fruit, soft and smooth, with delicate tannins and a short finish. Nothing fancy, but actually very nice at this price - it could easily compete with some of the more famous entry-level Aussie Shirazes. Score: 15.5/20

The 2006 Tardieu-Laurent "Les Grands Augustins" was very French. Stark, with grenadine and flint, meaty, cheesy and minerally, some tar as well. Very elegant, very polished on the palate, with wet gravel binding the crisp cherry fruit tightly. A tremendous finish, a vin de garde (for a modest price), and (ever-so-slightly) my favourite of the evening. Score: 17.5/20*

The 2005 Bellingham "The Maverick" Syrah was a very good wine. Cherries and herbs, wet black earth, a can of stale cola with spicy oak overpowering all. Heavy, tannic, brooding, getting jammy over the evening, but keeping its velvet spiciness. A bit too heavy on the oak, but deliciously complex nonetheless...Score: 17/20

Second Flight:

Not a bad wine, but the 2004 Graham Beck Shiraz didn't stand out either. A pretty nose, cherry, cheese and wet dog (yes, wet dog can be pretty...). Jammy and chocolatey on the palate, a decent finish. Score: 16/20

Wow! Surprise, surprise. Knowing there was a Canadian Shiraz I automatically assumed it would suck, so this wine taught me a valuable lesson. And I didn't think it would suck because it was Canadian, I just thought Mission Hill sucked - I was wrong (at least with this wine)... The 2006 Mission Hill Reserve Shiraz was stunning - spicy sausage and black fruit mix with violets and green tannins on the nose. Light, fresh, a touch bitter on the palate, but delicious fruit. Very much like the Tardieu-Laurent, but with better fruit. Score: 17.5/20

My contribution of the evening was a very unimpressive bottle of Cornas, even more disappointing as I have tasted this bottle before and I thought it was a shoe-in for the gold medal. The 2003 Delas Chante-Perdrix Cornas was easily the priciest wine of the night, embarassingly so. A nose unlike anything else - cream soda, some jammy fruit, but otherwise rather uninteresting. A soft, vanishing palate with no acidity - not offensive, just ... boring. Could this bottle be dead? I hang my head in shame...Score: 14.5/20

So, chalk one up for Mission Hill and a big thanks to Marcus. If you are a member of Facebook, check out Marcus' photos and notes here.


Shea said...

Wow, I'm surprised that Mission Hill showed so well. Now I'm enticed. I must find a bottle. Tardieu-Laurent is also my favorite Rhone negocient.

Edward said...

But where was the Yellow Tail. . . I know how much Marcus loves this stuff :)

Joe said...

Hi Shea - I was very surprised, very very very surprised. I bought a few more for the cellar because I think it might get better. Love the Tardieu Laurent, but I was VERY disappointed with the latest 2007 version of this.

Ed - you have to wait for April Fool's to see the Yellow Tail - patience!

Shea said...

Ya, I've had the TL you did - it's really quite disappointing.

Marcus said...

Edward, you have a good memory! I will regret blogging one day.

Joe, your blog is amazing. It has just celebrated our 10th wine event - I never realized we staged all these opportunities for you to post. Intrepid wine journalist you are.

Thanks for the link to facebook - it is a fan page on facebook, not a profile page, so your readers should know that the content I put there is viewable to the world (no sign-in required) and not just facebook members, though members interact with some of its feature more robustly shall we say.

I noted some austerity for the Canadian - may not be the wisest use of the word on my part. I agree with your assessment that it will age and it will get brighter with time, and the fruit and tannin integration will get rounder and more giving.

Joe said...

Intrepid wine journalist? Obsessive compulsive, perhaps. Austere is a perfect word for that Canuck Shiraz, a word I rarely associate with Canadian wine. I only suspect it will get better, but my conviction is such that I've stashed a few bottles away. Did you say cheaper in Ontario for these? I look forward to another tasting soon, cheers!