Syrah is an interesting varietal that I believe is emerging from
its dark period. Darwinistically most of the “weak” or the trend chasers who followed the inane idea that Syrah was the next craze have gone on to do other things, and serious growers a
nd producers are now left.
So much Syrah has been replanted or budded over, I expect over the next few years we will see a shortage, and Syrah prices regain lost price footing. This is not an industry to chase trends, especially for red wines, I wonder how many learned their lesson?
At the end of April is the unparalleled Rhone immersion, in Paso Robles: Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines.” Syrah of this caliber and profile will be one of the wine styles I will be seeking out and reporting back on.
Cool Climate vs Warm Syrah
As I have written before, one of Syrah’s “problems” with consumer identity is that it produces two very different wines, when grown in warm climates like Dry Creek Valley, versus cool climates like Russian River or Sonoma Coast.
Warm climate Syrah has more lush fruit, berry flavors, is usually higher in alcohol and tends to be popular with the average wine consumer. Cool climate Syrah is leaner, lower in alcohol, with notes of white pepper, olive, minerality – and is generally more appreciated by the more serious aficionados. Many wine consumers and even wine makers will observe their palate change and evolve over years, often to the leaner cool climate style. There is nothing wrong with either of course, but consumers buying Syrah should pay close attention to where its from.
Certainly in France, the focus for the most lauded Syrah comes from Northern Rhone, cooler Côte-Rôtie region, where most Syrah is under 14% alcohol and balanced. I was quite amazed and pleased to hear from several vintners in Châteauneuf-du-Pape during my recent trip there, that they don’t like a lot of Syrah in their blends as they don’t like what it does
in the Southern Rhone, and were slowly supplanting Mourvedre, which does very well in the heat there and ripens more slowly.
Thank heavens for the big Rhone Rangers tasting last Sunday (and Social Media). It’s ironic that Petrichor is quite nearby, and that Margaret Foley and I are Facebook friends, but had never met. She was kind enough to give me a bottle.
When I went to the website and learned their winemaker was Duncan Meyers of cult producer Arnot Roberts, I knew I was in trouble.
Arnot Roberts produces wines of amazing balance and restraint, that I wish I could afford to consume daily.
Wine Review: 2009 Petrichor Les Trois Syrah, Sonoma County
I will cut to the chase and say this is simply a stunning Syrah, one of my new favorites. There wasn’t a lot of vinifcation information on the website, but I could glean that only a 140 cases of this gem produced, a blend of 86% syrah, 14% Grenache.
I feel confident much if not all of the fruit is cool climate, but since it says “Sonoma County” that means its been sourced from a variety of places that don’t have enough percentage to name an AVA, like Russian River Valley, or Sonoma Coast. Or perhaps they just preferred not too. They do have their own vineyard of 8,000 Syrah and Grenache vines, but its unclear when it was planted or what percent is in the wine. Any use of oak in this beyond neutral, seems minimal, and certainly complimentary.
To The Eye: The color is a deep purple, impenetrable to light, without tech sheets, I feel comfortable guessing unfined and unfiltered knowing the heritage of the winemaker .
One The Nose: A wonderful blend of earth, smokey meat, olive brine, red fruit and raspberry, hint of ocean salinity.
In the Mouth: Incredible. The aroma profile carries with saline and mineral notes that dance intermingled with white pepper, red & black fruit. Great supple structure that is elegant and soft, not over bearing, jammy, or puckering. Acidity that lingers and lifts up the wine. I’ll trade acid for tannins any day.
This wine proves again the benefits of cool climate, acidity, minimal-no new oak, in making wines that express themselves naturally.
Recommendation: I don’t lightly recommend a wine that approaches $50 but this is the real McCoy. Break open the piggy bank.
If you want to impress a true wine aficionado (and I don’t mean some Parker/Spectator score chaser who thinks Oak is the bomb) – buy this for a gift or bring to a dinner.
94 points. $48 – online.