Thursday, October 25, 2012

Washington Syrah v. Sonoma

Lance Armstrong's sponsors were dropping him faster than a sommelier drops a corked bottle of wine last week.  Not only did he lose his 7 Tour de France victories (the UCI agreed with the USADA lifetime ban and removal of all results from 1996 forward), Lance also lost his sponsor deals with Trek, Nike, Oakley, Anheuser-Busch and others.  He also stepped down as CEO of Livestrong.

The biggest heroes definitely make the biggest thud when they fall.

Personally, I am tired of the whole thing.  I have two hopes for all of this:  Pro Cycling can focus on what is happening now and in the future.  That focus needs to include deterants that will eliminate doping from the cyclists "preparation" and training "programs."  My other hope is that Livestrong can continue to provide resources to people fighting cancer and cancer survivors despite the damage that Lance has done to his personal reputation.

The pro road race season is done.  Cyclocross is the focus for the elite racers from now until February.  So, this is the time of the year where I start exploring other parts of the world.

First up is Major League Baseball's World Series featuring the San Francisco Giants v. the Detroit Tigers.

Now, on to the bay area and this week's battle.

2006 Saint Laurent Estate Syrah v.  2004 Arrowood Russian River Valley Syrah

Tale of the Tape

2006 Saint Laurent Estate Syrah

100% Estate Syrah grown on the Wahluke Slope AVA

Aged for 18 months in mostly French Oak Barrels (21% new)

Purchased from Full Pull for $14.99.

2004 Arrowood Russian River Valley Syrah

96% Syrah co-fermented with 4% Viognier from the Saralee Vineyard in the Russian River Valley AVA

Aged for 16 months in mostly French Oak barrels

Purchased at Corky Cellars for $15.29.

Round 1. First opening

Arrowood isn't waiting for the last moment like the Giants.  Instead, this Luchador is firing on all pistons straight out of the starting blocks.  The nose is flush with ripe raspberry, dark cherry, earthy tabasco, smoke and pepper.  The palate is featuring rich black cherry, tart Asian spices, coffee notes and a nice tart semi sweet chocolate finish.

The Saint Laurent is realing from the force of the Arrowood attack.  Mustering up some courage, Saint Laurent fights back with a nose of dark berries, salt and pepper and some notes of soy.  The palate shows juicy dark berry, menthol spices and tart light cocoa notes that linger on to mix it up with some cherry bark on the finish.

Right away we can see that this is a battle of opposing styles.  What makes it more interesting is that the Washington Syrah is not showing the typical style I have come to expect from the Wahluke slope.  I would have to call the Saint Laurent "reserved" or "reluctant."

Round 1 goes to Arrowood.

Round 2. One hour after opening

There is no slowing down for Arrowood.  This California Syrah is showing some serious stamina with a nose of black cherry, currant and pine.  The palate is also showing black cherry, cocoa, menthol & clove spices that all linger to the finish along with some smoky pepper.

Searching for a response the Saint Laurent comes out battling.  The nose has bulked up with some dark fruit, roasted meat, soy and cracked pepper.  The palate is showing dark fruit, black cherry and licorice with a menthol and spicy black pepper finish.

The Washington Luchador stepped things up a notch, but it wasn't enough to overtake the California Syrah from Arrowood.

Round 2 also goes to Arrowood.

Round 3. One day after opening

The only hope for the Washington Luchador is a knock out.  What does the Saint Laurent have up its sleeve?  Things are getting spicy with a nose of sultry dark berries, dusty pepper, smoke and soy.  The palate is plush with dark fruit and tart cracked pepper that continues to the finish that is slightly hot.

Arrowood is changing things up too, confronting the Saint Laurent in the middle of the ring and dropping an atomic elbow drop on the Washington State Luchador.  The nose features dark fruit, herbal pine and eucolyptus along with some notes of white pepper.  The palate is menacing with dark fruit, leather and earthy menthol spices that lead into a tart cracked pepper finish.

That's pretty much it for the Wahluke Slope Syrah.  A gallant effort, but not much defense against the brutish Syrah from the Russion River Valley.  Arrowood follows through with a clean sweep, taking round three and the match.

Wrap up and overall observations.

I have to say I was surprised by the Saint Laurent syrah.  This wine is from the Wahlukc slope, an AVA that I associate with big ripe wines.  This Syrah was not as big and bold as I expected.  Even so, it was still quite enjoyable.

The Arrowood from the Russian River Valley was a surprise bringing bold character to the ring and putting the pedal to the metal right from the opening bell.

I would give the Arrowood an 89 and the Saint Laurent an 88.

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