Tuesday, August 19, 2014

WA Wine Month Syrah Slugfest

August is Washington Wine Month and I've got the fever!  The only cure is more Washington wine...

This week's matchup features two Washington State Syrahs that are eager to duke it out for state supremacy.

In the blue corner representing the Walla Walla AVA is the Balboa 2009 Syrah

And in the red corner representing the Royale Slope is the Southard 2009 Syrah

Tale of the Tape

Balboa 2009 Estate Syrah
100% Syrah from the LeFore (Estate) vineyard in The Rocks district of the Walla Walla AVA

The LeFore vineyard was originally planted in 1999 and the 2009 vintage was the first as Balboa's estate vineyard. 

Purchased from Full Pull Wines for $21.99.

2009 Southard Lawrence Vineyard Syrah

This is Syrah has been proclaimed an "Under the Radar gem" by Paul Gregutt.  Check out his profile on the winery here

100% Syrah from the Lawrence Vineyard located on the Royale Slope

Purchased from Full Pull Wines for $21.99.

Round 1.  First opening

Southard has something to prove and is taking the attack straight at the Walla Walla Whopper from Balboa.  Southard is shaking things up with a nose of blueberry, licorice, orange peel, mint and candle wax.  The palate is bringing the pain with dark fruit, dry cedar spices and a tight tart tannin fueled finish that includes some notes of cocoa powder.

Balboa is looking dazed and confused - this luchador seems to be totally flumoxed by the bold attacking style of the Southard Syrah.  The Balboa is wound up tight with a nose of dark cherry, dank funky forest floor, mushrooms, smoke, leather and candle wax.  The palate also features dark fruit, spicy cracked pepper and blueberry overtones followed by tart dried blueberries on the finish.

Southard easily takes the first round.

Round 2.  One hour after opening

Southard is continuing the brutal assault with a nose of blueberry, orange peel, mint herbs and Asian spices.  The palate is building power with an attack of dark black fruit, dry cocoa powder, cedar spices and cracked pepper that is followed up with a round house kick on the finish of dry cocoa, mole' and Asian spices.

Balboa is reeling and trying to find its footing.  Drawing on some amazing reserve power the Balboa is coming back with a nose of black cherry, smoke, bacon and cocoa.  The palate features black fruit, spicy blueberry, dry cocoa powder and cracked pepper that carries over to a spicy finish that is still pretty dry and a bit thin.

Balboa is mounting a comeback, but it is not enough to overtake Southard.  Southard takes another round and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

Round 3.  One day after opening

Can the upstart from Southard maintain the furious pace?  Will Balboa make a comeback that would make Rocky Balboa proud?  Let's see what happens in this third, and final, round!

Southard is maintaining the stamina and working the crowd.  The nose is continuing to show blue berry, orange peel and notes of herbal underbrush.  The palate continues the theme with blue berries and smoky cracked pepper that is followed by a dry tart cocoa powder finish.

Balboa is mounting a serious comeback with some wicked body blows!  The nose shows dark dusty blue berries and coffee.  The palate matches the nose with notes of dark blue berry, cracked pepper and a tart spicy somewhat astringent finish.

Balboa showed some heart, but it wasn't enough to take the match.  Southard closed things out a dominant performance by taking the final round shutting out Balboa 3-0.

Wrapup and overall observations.

The Southard was a great find.  It is drinking great right now.  I would definitely recommend seeking out this Syrah if you like Washington Syrah.

The Balboa built power over the match and improved with air.  I would give this one a few hours in the decanter to bring out the best in its character.  After learning more about the LeFlore vineyard I will be curious to go back and taste the other bottles waiting in my cellar.

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