Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Washington Syrah v. New Zealand

Pro cycling is in full swing South of the Equator with the Australian and New Zealand road championships happening over the past week.  In the mean time, the US National Cyclocross Championships were taking place in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin, Australia?  New Zealand, Wisconsin?

I don't know about you, but I am going with New Zealand and Australia!  All the National Championship races were exciting regardless of the hemisphere.  It was a weekend of "firsts" throughout all the races...

Jeremy Powers won his first US National Cyclocross Championship.

Simon Gerrans, from Australia's first UCI Pro team, fittingly took the Australian Men's road championship.

Over in New Zealand Michael Vink took the Men's road championship.  He is only 20 years old so that means he won the U 23 (under 23) championship too!  The first time that has ever happened in New Zealand.

To honor Michal Vink's achievment the Lucha Vino matchup features a Washington Syrah taking on a Syrah from New Zealand.

2008 Nine Hats Syrah v. 2008 Man O' War Dreadnought Syrah

Tale of the Tape


2008 Long Shadows Nine Hats Syrah

Nine Hats is the second label for Long Shadows.  The grapes for the Nine Hats Syrah were not quite worthy for the Long Shadows Sequel Syrah.  But still plenty good enough and a great value at 20 bucks!

94% Syrah and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Alder Ridge (Horse Heaven Hills), Klipsun & Candy Mountain (Red Mountain) and Lonesome Springs & Boushey Vineyards (Yakima Valley).

Aged for 19 months in French Oak Barrels.

Purchased from Costco for $19.99



2008 Man O' War Dreadnought


100% Syrah harvested from the steepest Man O' War estate vineyards

Aged for 15 months in 15% new French, 5% new American, 80% Old Oak.

Purchased at Esquin for $28.99.










Round 1.  First Opening

Is it Man O' War or Dreadnought?  Either name is enough to make an opponent want to run crying to their mama.  Let's see how this bad boy from New Zealand performs in the ring.  Stepping through the ropes the Dreadnought is already looking tough sporting a nose loaded with barnyard funk, smoke and brambly black fruit with a dalop of cream.  The palate is equally smokey with plenty of dark fruit finishing with sweet black cherries.

Nine Hats may need nine lives to survive this bout.  The nose shows sweet dark loganberry and  blackberry with some light smokey notes.  The palate has similar character of dark berries with a tart sweet finish. It is as if the Nine Hats is attempting to misdirect the Dreadnought's attention in order to mount a sneak attack.


This round goes to the Dreadnought.  The name could have been enough to win the opening round, but this Luchador backed up the bad ass name with some bad ass character. 

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Dreadnought is keeping up the fiery attack punishing your senses with a nose of smoked meat, musty leather, dark fruit, candle wax and some hints of salt n pepper.  The palate shows dark fruit and candle wax with a watery back end leading to a tart leather finish.

The Nine Hats is calling on backup hats and it looks like help is on the way.  Sliding into the ring with a lethal dose of rich dark fruit and baking spices on the nose and a similar palate of spicy dark fruits leading to a tart finish.  This Luchador still has more in store.  The tart tannin filled finish leads you to believe there is some serious staying power on tap here.

This round was much closer.  Dreadnought is working to light the ring on fire.  In the mean time, Nine Hats is calling on mystic resources for more lifeforce.

We had to go to the judges cards for this round.  Even the judges are split on this one.  Nine Hats takes the round based on growth potential and style.  Leaving the Dreadnought to ponder the value of playing with fire.

Round 3. One day later

The Dreadnought is really burning this thing down.  One day later and the nose is still showing smoky campfire with some forest floor and more notes of dark fruit.  The palate is also showing dark fruit with smokey leather and a finish of menacing dark leather.

The Nine Hats fights back with Kung Fu awesomeness rarely seen before.  The nose is showing dark black & blue berries, light smoked meat and some musty menthol.  The palate has plenty of black & blue berries, cedar spices and a tart dark cherry bark finish.


Round 3 is awarded to Nine Hats on the basis of style points.  It is hard to compete with the awesomeness of Kung Fu! 

Wrap up and over all observations

Nine Hats took this bout due to the resourcefulness and awesomeness of its Kung Fu.  The Dreadnought was a mighty challenger and a Luchador you want to keep away from the matches (if you know what I mean).

This was the first Lucha Vino match to feature a challenger from New Zealand.  I was really surprised by the big bold smoky character of this Syrah.  Surprised in a good way.  The results of this week's match certainly encourages me to continue to explore the wines of New Zealand.

The Nine Hats wines are the second label for Long Shadows wines, a really unique approach to making wine.  Long Shadows combines stellar wine makers from around the world with Washington State fruit.  The Nine Hats wines use grapes that are not selected for use in the Long Shadows.  The Long Shadows Sequel Syrah is made by John Duval.  One of the wine makers responsible for some of Pendold's most successful wines in the past several decades.

This was another close match with two different styles.  Both Luchadors were strong and stuck to their convictions.  I give both these wines a solid 88.

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