Thursday, February 2, 2012

Washington Syrah v. France

The European road race season kicks off this weekend with the Grand Prix d'Ouverture la Marseillaise.  This is a one day race that takes place in the South of France making a big loop and finishing in the city of Marseille.  There is some superstition around this race that says if you win you will not win another race the rest of the season.  Samuel Dumoulin from the French team Cofidis won this year's edition.  Let's keep an eye on him and see if the hex holds true.

Moving from the Southern hemisphere to the South of France we have a matchup this week that pits a Syrah from the South of France against a Syrah from Walla Walla Washington (South East Washington).

2007 Tulpen Syrah v. 2007 Chateau Val Joanis Tradition Syrah

Tale of the Tape

2007 Tulpen Syrah

76% Syrah from Mill Creek and Dunham's estate Lewis Vineyard.  Cofermented with 4% Mill Creek Viognier and then blended with 10% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre.

Purchased from Full Pull Wines for $17.99

2007 ch Val Joanis Tradition Syrah

Majority Syrah with some Grenache.  Aged for 3 months in two year old barrels.

Purchased at Wine World for $12.99
Round 1.  First Opening

The Tulpen Tornado enters the ring with some serious fanfare.  The nose is showing dusty medium red berries and slight hints of cracked white pepper.  The palate is darker featuring dark red fruit, leather and spicy pepper that continues on to the finish turning slightly acidic at the very end.

Chateau Val Joanis is an old world veteran and it shows.  This Luchador appears to need some time to warm up showing a nose of mineral red fruit with some floral notes.  The palate is light to medium red berries with an extreme mouth drying finish.

Tulpen takes round one easily overpowering the French challenger.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

Tulpen is gaining power spinning up like a tropical storm gone bad.  The nose shows deep dark fruit, blueberry, light Asian spices and some hints of barnyard funk.  The palate is equally bold with dark red buttery fruit that goes to spicy pepper on the back side of palate and then to a peppery vanilla/caramel tinged finish.

The Val Joanis is sneaky, lurking in the shadows and looking for a weakness to exploit knowing this is a match of guile vs. strength.  The nose shows dark fruit with notes of floral and slight hints of menthol.  The palate is showing medium red berries with dry cedar pepper notes.  The dry finish continues to dominate the essence of this Luchador.

Another round taken by Tulpen as the Washington State Luchador shows no respect for the old world challenger.

Round 3. One day later

Tulpen will take no prisoners demanding that you respect its authority with a nose of dark fruit, plum and soy with earthy mineral notes.  The palate is bruising with dark fruit, black pepper and a spicy tart menthol finish.

Val Joanis, come out to play!  The French Luchador continues to counter-attack, but is trying to step up its game for the final round.  The nose is dark fruit, soy and some dusty floral notes.  The palate is showing medium red fruit and light spices with a dry finish of tart cherry bark.

Down goes Val Joanis and the Tulpen Tornado celebrates with a spinning back kick.

Wrap up and over all observations

This match was dominated from the beginning by the Tulpen Tornado.  The French Luchador showed some old world character that ultimately translated into old world fragility in the ring.

The styles of these two Luchadors were distinctly different.  The Tulpen was big and bad, a powerful Syrah that reflects the strength of Walla Walla.  The Val Joanis was understated, looking for an edge, but unable to scale the mountainous Tulpen Syrah it confronted in the ring today.

I give the Tulpen an 88 and the Val Joanis an 86.

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