Friday, January 20, 2006

Vertical Tasting

I don't know if this is really a vertical tasting in the true sense, but the Monkey Mama and I opened a 2001 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah (on sale for about $12) two nights ago, and a 2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Shiraz (about $9) last night. We had some of the 2001 left over to make a direct comparison. (Some might be surprised at that.)

The idea behind a vertical tasting is to drink different vintages of the same wine. This allows the taster to consider the effects of age and differences in climate while holding constant the soil and (to an extent) winemaking style.

Syrah and Shiraz are two names for the same grape, with the former being the French way to say it and the latter Australian. So we're vertical there. But to Columbia Crest, use of the two different names references different winemaking traditions, and therefore winemaking styles. Also, the "Grand Estates" label indicates more care -- and a slightly higher price point -- than "Two Vines."

Anyway, the 2001 kicked ass, but the 2003 was pretty good too.

The 2001 was deeper and more complex than I usually associate with a Syrah. Syrahs are usually good food wines, a little fruity and not too tanic. But this one had depth and linger that made me think of tasting expensive Cabernets that I couldn't afford to buy in vineyard tasting rooms. A little bit smoky and silky. Deep red color.

The 2003 had a nice deep red color, but smelld unexpectedly of strawberries. The strawberry aromas carried into the taste of the wine, but integrated into the medium-bodied wine instead of riding on top. That is, the wine had a satisfying balance, and wasn't some jammy fruit bomb.

We also got the Grand Estates/Two Vines Cabernets. I'm sure we'll get to them this weekend.


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