Monday, June 6, 2011

Washington Syrah v. France

This week the pros head to the Southern regions of France to race the Criterium du Dauphine'.  Many of the pro peloton use this as their final tune up for the Tour de France.  This week we head to the Rhone region and matchup a Washington State Syrah against a Crozes-Hermitage Syrah.  Let the smack down begin...

Washington State Syrah from the Columbia Valley  v. Crozes-Hermitage

Dunham Cellars 2006 Syrah v. 2006 Domaine Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Nouvelere

Tale of the tape

2006 Dunham Cellars Syrah

100% Syrah from the Lewis Estate Vineyard, Frenchtown Estate Vineyard and Double River Estate Vineyard.  Aged in French and American oak barrels. Purchased from Full Pull wines for 17.99

2006 Domaine Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage

Another mystery contestant.  This time representing the Rhone region of France.
Purchased for $13.80 from Garagiste.

More mystery.  Let's see if the French contestant puts up as good a battle in the ring as it does in protecting its identity.

Round 1.  First Opening:

On first opening the Dunham Cellars has a nose of red fruit, mineral and a bit of white pepper.  The palate is all about rich dark fruit with some slight pepper and baking powder spice that ends with a lingering long tannic white pepper finish.

The Philippe & Vincent has a nose of red fruit, stone, peat and pepper.  The palate is showing nice tart red berries with light pepper and cedar with a dry cedar finish.

You would thing with a name that includes two luchadors the Frenchy would have twice the style.  It is showing an angular and jagged style.  The Dunham Cellars is suave, smooth and round on the palate.

Round 1 goes to Dunham Cellars for its bold, fuller style.  I have a suspicion that the Rhone Ripper could build up and kick some tail in the later rounds once it warms up.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Dunham is building and getting bolder.  The nose is showing black fruit, seaweed, spice and light pepper with a palate of black fruit, cola and cedar spice box that finishes with black cherry and hints of cedar and spice.

Philippe & Vincent is also stepping up.  The nose is developing dark black fruit and cedar spice.  The palate is very ripe with black cherry, cola and spice with a sweet finish.

These two Luchadors are really demonstrating similar qualities in round two.  The finish is the difference maker.  Dunham Hills has a bigger spicier finish compared to Philippe & Vincent which finishes sweetly.  Sweetness is nice, but it will not take you far in a Lucha Vino match.

Round 2 is close, but goes to Dunham Hills.

Round 3. One day later

The Dunham Cellars luchador is going strong with a nose of black cherry with some juniper and cedar spice.  The palate is building to black cherry with some cola and espresso bean on the finish.

Philippe & Vincent has built up a very interesting nose of dark black fruit, mineral, pepper,smoked beach wood and tobacco.  On the other hand, the palate has diminished a bit and is showing more character of cherry and herbs with light pepper notes that extend into the finish.

Both combatants have held up well into the third round.  Philippe & Vincent have taken an unusual angle by building a nose with some unique character.  The Dunham Cellars has stayed closer to its roots making the final round a close one to call.

Based on the unique character of the Philippe & Vincent nose I am awarding it the 3rd Round for a final score of 2 to 1 in favor of Dunham Cellars.

Wrap up and over all observations

Both of these Syrahs were very nice, bold and some hints of spiciness.  I wasn't sure what to expect in comparing a Washington Syrah to a Rhone Syrah.  My only expectation was that the two regions would produce wines that were significantly different from one another.  I was wrong for this match.

This is another match where I am going to rate both wines the same, each Luchador earning a solid 87.

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