Saturday, June 15, 2013

Washington Syrah v. Northern Rhone

The pro cyclists are putting the finishing touches on their form for the Tour de France.  There are several 7 or 8 day stage races leading up to the tour that are used for their final tune ups.  Some choose the Criterium du Dauphine.  While others choose the Tour de Suisse.

One advantage to selecting the Criterium du Dauphine is that the race shares a promoter with the Tour de France.  That usually means you get an opportunity to race on some of the same routes that will be used in July for the Grande Bucle.

Team Sky sent their number one racer, Chris Froome, to the Dauphine this year.  Just like they did in 2012 with Sir Bradley Wiggins.  The results in 2013 were the same as 2012 - a general classification win for Team Sky.

This week's matchup features Washington Syrah vs. French Syrah from the Cotes du Rhone.

2006 Nicholas Cole Dauphine v. 2011 Yves Cuilleron Les Vignes d'a Cote

Tale of the Tape

2006 Nicholas Cole Dauphine'

100% Syrah from their Walla Walla estate vineyard.

Purchased during the Nicholas Cole "fire sale" when they were shutting down their operations.

The perfect wine to pair with the Criterium du Dauphine!

2011 Yves Cuilleron Les Vignes D'a Cote Syrah

100% Syrah

Aged for 8 months in vats and barrels.

Purchased for $21 at Bin 41.

Round 1.  First opening

The race's namesake from Nicholas Cole is shucking and jiving.  Showing an unusual mix of power and agility.  The nose shows floral notes, cedar and dark smoky berries and plums.  The palate is dark and spicy with cocoa, roasted coffee and menthol and clove spices signing off with a slightly spicy white pepper finish.

The Cuilleron seems to be intimidated by the Dauphine's eclectic style.  The nose doesn't show much fruit and is dominated by funky sandalwood and a bit of sulphur.  The palate features medium dark tart cranberries that dwindle to a tart, dry slightly funky finish.

The Dauphine' from Washington is dishing out some serious punishment taking the first round with relative ease.

Round 2.  One hour after opening

The Dauphine' is building power and bringing the pain.  The nose is showing dark fruit, licorice, dusty menthol and some earthy funk.  The palate features red dark fruit, cracked pepper and tart menthol and clove spices.  The finish is packing a wallop with slightly tart cocoa powder followed by spicy coffee bean.

The Cuilleron is building strength and flashing some style, but is still running for cover.  The nose boasts dark sandalwood, roasted coffee and hints of lavender.  The palate has notes of medium red berries, smoky roasted meats and a touch of white pepper.  The finish is dry with tart smoky sandalwood.

The Syrah from France showed more confidence in the second round, but it wasn't enough to overcome the sure brute force of the Walla Walla Syrah from Nicholas Cole.

Round 3.  One day after opening

The Walla Walla Syrah is blowing things up with darkness and a sinister stare.  The nose is loaded with smoky, earthy, dark fruit and menthol spices followed by hints of floral meadow.  The palate is equally bold with dark fruit, smoky cracked pepper, cocoa powder and toffee with a finish that is a slightly tart with notes of coffee bean.

The Luchador from the Rhone appears to be looking for a tag team partner to tag into the match.  With no assistance to be found the Cuilleron is counter attacking with dry subtle character.  The nose has evolved to show sour pie cherry and cedar notes with some slightly floral character lingering in the background.  The palate is showing consistency with medium bodied cranberry and cedar spices that lead to a tart slightly sweet cherry finish.

Wrap up and overall observations

The Nicholas Cole Dauphine was all focused brute force while the Yves Cuilleron from the Rhone leaned heavily on style and panache.  Nicholas Cole took the match 3 rounds to zip with a dominating performance. 

Both of these Syrahs were superb.  The Nicholas Cole stands on its own while the Yves Cuilleron would be an excellent dinner companion.  You can still find the Yves Cuilleron but will have a hard time finding the Nicholas Cole.  The owners had a falling out and the winery disintegrated.  If you do run across any of the Nicholas Cole wines I would definitely recommend purchasing as much as you can afford!

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