Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Washington Syrah v. Australia

The pro cycling tour kicks off with a bang Down Under in January.  The Australian National Championships, Tour Down Under and Jayco Herald Sun Tour all take place in January.  The Tour Down Under features my favorite hill climb in all of cycling - "Corkscrew Hill"  This may not be the most difficult, or decisive, climb that the pros face during the year, but it definitely has the best name!

The Australian racers are always in top form for these races since they have just finished competing for their National Championships.  This year was no exception with plenty of battling for the top spot on the Tour Down Under podium.  Ultimately, Simon Garrens took the overall victory after winning back to back stages (stage 3 and stage 4), including Corkscrew Hill, to establish his superiority.

This month's matchup features a Washington Syrah from Red Mountain taking on a Syrah/Petite Sirah blend from the McLaren Vale.

2012 Ward Johnson Syrah v. 2012 Flegenheimer Brothers Reserve Red

Tale of the Tape

2012 Ward Johnson Syrah

100% Syrah from Ranch at the End of the Road vineyard on Red Mountain

Purchased for $27 at the winery.

2012 Flegenheimer Brothers Reserve Red

85% Syrah / 15% Petite Sirah all from their estate vineyard in the McLaren Vale.

Purchased at Esquin for $26.

Round 1.  First opening.

The Red Mountain Marauder from Ward Johnson wastes little time asserting its dominance.  This 100% Syrah Luchador is showing strength with a nose of blue berries, dark cherry, dusty candle wax and savory pepper.  The palate is equally bold with dark fruit, blue berry, leather and savory cracked pepper that intensifies on the finish which also incorporates some cocoa notes.

The Australian Flegenheimer challenger is attempting to fight back with a nose that is funky and dark with notes of black fruit, raspberries and forest floor.  The palate gives a one-two punch of darkness with black berries, tart cranberry, white pepper and dry herbal flower petals that give way to plums and more spicy cracked pepper on the finish.

Ward Johnson takes the first round with a complex attack that the Flegenheimer was not able to counter.

Round 2.  One hour after opening.

Ward Johnson is going Beast Mode on the challenger from Down Under, dropping into the ring off the top rope with a stinging, savory attack.  The nose features dark fruit, blue berries, dusty minerals, savory bramble and umami spices.  The palate is showing dark fruit, spicy cracked pepper and floral notes of lavender and violets that carry over to the finish that also incorporates spicy white pepper.

The Flegenheimer appears to be stunned by the Ward Johnson Syrah's flying assault.  The nose is dark and smooth with logan berries, plums and light mineral over tones  The palate is similar with more notes of logan berry, dark fruit and sweet light dry white pepper that lingers onto a smooth rich finish.

Ward Johnson takes another round, taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

Round 3.  One day after opening.

Ward Johnson is showing the dominance, power and stamina associated with Luchadors from Red Mountain.  The nose continues to showcase dark fruit, blue berry, minerals and savory spices.  The palate is still going strong with notes of dark fruit, spicy cracked pepper and floral top notes followed by a finish that features cracked pepper and dry cocoa powder.

Flegenheimer is trying to win the the match by sweet talking the judges.  The character of the Luchador from Down Under is continuing to mellow out.  The nose is dark, round. lush and sweet with plenty of dark berry notes.  The palate is similar with flavors that are primarily dark and sweet with some added notes of licorice joining the fray.

The judges aren't fooled by the tricky Flegenheimer maneuvers.  The final round is awarded to Ward Johnson and the Washington Syrah takes the match with a commanding score of 3-0.

Wrap up and overall observations.

2012 looks (and tastes) like it is going to be an excellent vintage for Washington wines.  This Syrah from Ward Johnson is showing nicely right now and will definitely continue to develop with some time in the cellar.  Drink it now or later.  Either way, you will enjoy this Syrah that showcases classic Red Mountain style.

The Flegenheimer Brothers Reserve Red will suit your fancy if you enjoy your red wines on the rich and slightly sweet side.  I was surprised the Petite Sirah did not add some more lively spicy character to this Luchador. 

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