Sunday, December 18, 2011

Washington Syrah/Cab Blend v. Australia

The end of the year is coming and I can't help myself, the new year brings the start of road racing.  Don't get me wrong,  I love cyclocross.  But, so many of those races happen in Belgium, a great country for bike racing and beer, but not much for inspiring Lucha Vino wine match ups.

So, I am already looking toward the new year.  The Aussies kick off the pro road season with a series of criteriums called the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic January 1 - 4.   The Lucha Vino matchup looks toward the future with inspiration from Australia (and the past).  This week's featured challenger is the Penfold's Koonunga Hill Seventy Six - an homage to the first vintage from this estate that features a blend of 72% Shiraz and 28% Cabernet.  Taking on the challenger is a Rulo Syrca from Walla Walla.  A giant killer that consistently delivers quality while staying out of the limelight. 

2008 Rulo Syrca v. Australia's 2006 Penfold's Koonunga Hill 76

Tale of the Tape

2006 Penfold's Koonunga Hill 76

70% Shiraz
30% Cabernet Sauvignon

Sourced from premium vineyards across South Australia, including parcels from McLaren Vale, Barossa and the Limestone Coast.

Purchased from Garagiste for $11.76

Note the link is to notes on the regular Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet blend.




2008 Rulo Syrca


72% Syrah sourced from the River Rock Vineyard
28% Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the Red Mountain AVA.

The Syrah was aged for 22 months in 30% new French Oak barrels from Billon, Cadus and Francois Freres.  The remaining 70% was aged in 1-3 year old French Oak.

The Cab was also aged for 22 months in 100% new French Oak barrels from Seguin Moreau and Taransaud.

Purchased by a friend at the winery for $15.00.
Special thanks to Kurt and Vicki Schlicker for sending me the details for the tale of the tape.

Round 1.  First Opening

Penfolds Seventy Six appears to be showing the wear and tear of being in the wrestling ring for 30 years.  The nose has character of dusty floral perfume, brambles and dark fruit.  The palate is also showing dark fruit with a tart cedar toned finish.

The Rulo Syrca is rocking right from the bell.  This Syrah/Cab blend is a bruiser.  Showing a nose of currant, dust and light pepper funkiness.  There are also subtle floral notes intended to distract the opponent from a barrage of body blows that are about to follow on the palate which shows currant, clove spices and black cherry cola that persists on to the finish.

Round 1 goes to Rulo nearly knocking the Penfolds back to the 1970's.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Penfolds is showing some inspiration fighting back developing a nose of barnyard funk, clove, all spice and dark fruit.  The palate is similar with a tart sandal wood finish.

The Rulo Syrca fights fire with fire showing a nose of smoke, barnyard funk, dark fruit, coffee bean and leather.  The palate also shows dark fruit with cocoa and a sweet tart and spicy finish.

A major comeback by the Penfolds in round 2 is not enough to fend off the Helicopter Karate moves of the Rulo Syrca.  The judges award another round to Rulo.

Round 3. One day later

The Penfolds Seventy Six is reaching into its bag of tricks.  Some say that old age and treachery will defeat youth and skill.  Let's see what happens.  The Penfolds has a nose of dark fruit, light pepper and sandal wood.  The palate is dark fruit, tobacco, sandal wood, olives and pepper especially on the finish with a bit of clove and menthol on the finish as well.

I'm not sure it is possible, but the Rulo is continuing to bring the power.  The nose has developed rich cocoa, espresso and dark fruit with a palate of dark currant, menthol and clove spices with a tart dry cedar pepper finish.

Style points to the Penfolds for continuing to add to its attack with a variety of grappling moves that have not been witnessed since the late 70's.  Unfortunately, the late show of style is not enough to overtake the Rulo which continued to build a massive attack.

The final round is close, but ultimately Rulo prevails taking the match three rounds to nil.

Wrap up and over all observations

The Penfolds Seventy Six seems to have lost a step.  Despite a valiant effort it was not able to overcome the youth and power of the Rulo Syrca.  The Rulo is truly a giant lurking in the shadows.  The 2008 is sold out so you may need to wait until the 2009 is released to experience the power of this wine from Walla Walla that shows an exceptional QPR.

Both of these Luchadors are worthy of seeking out for further fights to be conducted in your own homes.  Warning, any damage incurred is not the responsibility of Lucha Vino!

I give the Rulo Syrca an 89 and the Penfold's Seventy Six an 87.

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