This is a tale of two syrahs. No, not a sirah and a syrah but two syrahs! When I first heart about David Cole’s wine, he was working on another project called Redline, which I bought through my friends at WineQ. I knew then they this guy had talent, and I was very excited when I found out that he had started another project, James David Cellars.
Now, I’ve already reviewed the Muscat Blanc here, and you probably already know that I adore syrah. But let me tell you WHY I adore syrah. The vast differences in growing regions here in California, produce some unique and interesting syrahs that differ as much as Hetch Hetchy tap water differs from sulfuric spring water from the spa at Bath.
Syrah, which is certain southern hemisphere countries, or maybe even in Canada is referred to as Shiraz is a dark-skinned beauty which produces powerful red wines and luscious rose wines. It has a long and illustrious history as one of the primary Rhone varietals of southern France, but it’s origins are dubious at best. As near as we can tell, Syrah is the child of some grapes that I’ve never heard of, which are native to a small area in southeastern France, making Syrah one of the original Rhône grapes.
Syrah here in the US is typically one of two types, warm climate, or cool climate. Now these are very different types of wine, and it’s fun to compare the two side by side to see the difference. In warmer regions, like Paso Robles, it can often be blended with other Rhône varieties. One example, and a personal favorite, is a GSM or Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre blend. The cooler coast and mountain growing regions tend to produce more single varietal syrah.
Here, we start with the 2005 Eaglepoint Ranch Syarh from Mendocino. Eaglepoint Ranch is a vineyard that is a partnership between John Scharffenberger, of both chocolate and sparkling wine fame, and viticulturist Casey Hartlip. Eaglepoint produces Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Grenache. James David’s syrah from this vineyard gave me aromas of coffee, chocolate, and cedar. It was dark and brooding, just what I love on a cold fall night. On the palate I tasted espresso, bright red fruit, smoke, juniper and burnt toast, and the hint of prunes followed by caramel. With a layer of black pepper, the black fruit of this wine was perfect in front of the fireplace on the rainy night I pened it. This is a classic cool climate syrah, with firm and chewy textures followed by smoked meat flavors. The wine that drinks like a meal! Priced at $24, this wine tastes a lot more expensive and is worth it. STRONG BUY
Next, I tried the 2005 James David Cellars Central Coast Syrah. This wine is a blend of two vineyards from the Central Coast region, one in Paso Robles, and one in Monterey. It’s what I imagine when I think of warm climate syrah, with tons of fruit and juicy flavors. On the nose, I smelled a lot of plum and red fruit, which was followed by blue fruit, and juicy dark raspberries on the palate. This is a great pizza wine, and is easy drinking and more simple than the Eaglepoint Ranch above. At $21, it’s also worth trying to see a classic Paso syrah in action. BUY
I’m excited that David is coming out with a Pinot and Cab in the near future, so please go out, try the syrahs and stay tuned for more! Tell em The Wine Brat sent you